You have these lovely images of somewhere like Hampshire, but you also have this darker undercurrent - and this fantastic music. That was what we were trying to do with Madness: show English life, but say it's not always jolly and, hopefully, have a few good tunes.
Sir John Betjeman (1906 –1984) became Poet Laureate in 1972. Between 1973 and 1981 He recorded four albums on Charisma Records .
On the albums Sir John read a selection of his poems set to music by
Jim Parker (born 1934), a composer from Hartlepool who went on to win awards for his TV work (Midsomer Murders) and also wrote the 'novelty' hit Captain Beaky.
The instigator of the project was Producer Hugh Murphy, who later worked with Gerry Rafferty and Bonnie Tyler .
They were terribly clever, Sir John said of the studio team when interviewed for The Observer. Hugh Murphy, the producer, has long gold hair and one earring, but he's a wonderful fella. You know, I don't like any of my poems, but I think the music did the trick.
*Sadly Nick is referring to one of the later LPs . The sound became more experimental. As a bonus I've also included the Licorice Fields At Pontefract from Late Flowering Love (1974)- a great chugging guitar track.