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Entertainment USA

by Billy Jenkins

Ray Charles 04:22
Johnny Cash 07:41
Doris Day 04:59
Don King 04:15



‘His gift for pastiche and even meta-pastiche is more evident still on the brilliant Entertainment USA, a collection of bilious and affectionate tributes to great American entertainers like Ronald Reagan, Oliver North, daffy-haired boxing promotor and philanthropist Don King, and Charles Manson, to say nothing of weightier individuals like Doris Day, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.’
*** The Penguin Guide To Jazz on CD

‘Entertainment USA’ was recorded during 1990-91 and first released on CD in 1994.
Inspired by the sound of alto saxophonist Martin Speake, whom Jenkins first played with for one night in a wedding function band, Jenkins took his Squire Stratocaster guitar (with whammy tremolo bar) into the studio with his then regular rhythm section of Steve Watts (double bass) and Roy Dodds (drumkit), with recording engineer and producer Tony Messenger capturing what the guitarist and composer sees and hears as ‘the madness of the USA’.
As is most of Jenkins’ work, musical pitch and rhythm are closely aligned to the subject matter, as the musicians weave an aural cartoon depicting the person, purpose and being of each portrait. Martin Speake no doubt ‘spoke’ up for many of the guitarist’s creative collaborators when (as noted in the Penguin Rough Guide To Jazz) he said, ‘I love the tunes and felt comfortable with Billy’s music and I could play how I wanted’.
With the quartet recorded, producer Tony Messenger bounced the eight track masters onto a sixteen track machine. Why? Because an extra analogue transfer would actually add a touch of 'backwoods field recording' to the finished article.
Sincere eight track simple miking of simple music could now be hung on a slightly more sophisticated piece of equipment - which would be used to add slightly more sophisticated sounds, or as Billy described it in a letter dated 29th June1990 to alto saxophonist Martin Speake:
‘ .....so Tony and me can carefully weave in a weird-monster-paste-up of all things American as seen by the disinterested but inevitably inspired and curious English person. So we have four sweet players busking away up front - of which your voice is the fulcrum. Behind - a morass!'
A book of poems inspired by the music on the CD (Entertainment USA: The Poems) and written by Ivor Cutler, Mick Gowan, Laurence Staig, Andrew Davies, Nick Moore, Rupert M.Loydell, Alexis Lykiard, Hugh Lupton and Fred Sedgewick was published by Stride Publications (ISBN 873012 99 3).
These poems, accompanied by the music were premiered live at the 1995 Bath Literary Festival.

'Only reveals its treasures on repeated listening; Jenkins has a finely judged sense of form, so when he twists country and radio swing the results are morbidly fascinating.' Ben Watson / Hi-Fi News

'Some inspired alto saxophone work by Martin Speake (fortunately Bill Clinton wasn't available). Essential listening at the White House.' John Lewis / Time Out

‘Subtle, scurrilous and enjoyable’ Austria Radio, ORF

‘This most multi-faceted of musicians, ‘Entertainment USA’ is the most accessible and sane, despite the craziness of its subject matter. For the newcomer, it is a great introduction to his music.’ Kenny Mathieson / The List


released May 6, 2022


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Billy Jenkins London, UK

As a teenager BJ recorded for legendary Clive Davis with artrock band Burlesque (72-77); with 'alternative musical comedy' duo Trimmer & Jenkins (79-82) before founding (81) the Voice of God Collective. He has recorded 40+ albums incl Motorway At Night, Entertainment USA and recordings about SE London Sounds Like Bromley, Greenwich, Still Sounds Like Bromley and Suburbia. ... more

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