Album review by KevW
Joe Murphy and co. began to set the colourful history of the heads of the Catholic Church to music back in 2006 with the original intention of chronicling the story in the song, 'Here Come The Popes'. Due to the sheer volume of notable events and controversial tales that lurked in the annuls of the papacy, it wasn't long before we were up to 'Here Come The Popes Part 4', with each instalment seemingly progressing musically as the centuries unfolded, from traditional to nu-folk, then folk-rock and even funk. It was a commendable set, both lyrically entertaining (as well as eye opening) and musically superb. The account was far from finished, but now Sergeant Buzfuz have taken their report as far as the fourteenth century - enough for this album - with the 'Here Come The Popes' quadrilogy included in re-recorded form.
'Go To The Devil & Shake Yourself' begins with the aforementioned quartet which have lost none of their magic; they're a joy to listen to. From there on in it's a bit more hit and miss with the music not really straying from chamber-folk. However, if there was one genre suited to soundtracking the antics of the ancient popes then surely this is it. The real problem is that over the course of an album it's simply too heavy going. There's only so much bestiality an incest you can take in one sitting (and only so many ways to describe them/words that rhyme with them) and interesting though it is, the mind begins to drift elsewhere.
There's nothing wrong with any of the tracks on their own, barring a few ham-fisted lyrics (brothel doesn't really rhyme with florins), but as the talk of various Benedicts, and their high-jinks blend into one, some of the fun is lost and the album begins to feel a bit like a history lesson. There's is no doubt this album is a Herculean effort that's shocking, funny, endearing and imaginative, and contains some well written (not to mention researched) and instantly likeable songs such as 'Two Popes', the Belle & Sebastian-ish title-track and the dark atmospherics of'Council Of Pisa, but as an album some may find it overbearing. 'Go To The Devil & Shake Yourself' is more than worthy of investigation but rather like a lavish papal feast, it may be more palatable in bite-sized portions.
Sergeant Buzfuz's website
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