1) In April 1994, an album called pub was released in the USA on Giant Records (WEA) by a then little known UK band called denzil. The album went on to widespread critical acclaim, with major press such as the LA Village Voice, Rolling Stone, the NME and Interview Magazine giving the album hysterical reviews.
By the end of 1994 pub had been nominated for two Grammy Awards, picked up significant radio and the band had supported the release with three exhaustive, nation-wide US tours, playing to thousands of people in 30 US markets. Then it appeared that they disappeared……
denzil were formed in Bournemouth, England during 1990 by singer/songwriter Denzil Thomas. Thomas had been playing folk clubs for about a year when he met producer/bassist Steve Ennever in a Bournemouth studio. The product of this meeting was the release of a local cassette called “A Tape Called Denzil”. Ecstatic local press reviews saw thousands of tapes being sold in a matter of months. By the time the band proper hit a stage in September 1990 they were already the most popular draw in town.
Over the next year or so denzil played far and wide in the UK, first picking up alternating drummers Andy Place and Jeremy Stacey (now Sheryl Crow’s sticksman) and later finding an extraordinary guitarist called Craig Boyd in nearby Portsmouth. In 1992 the band attracted the attention of former William Morris Agency and Famous Music A&R Michael LeShay when a friend from the UK came to stay at his Los Angeles home.
On the strength of denzil’s demos, LeShay was able to convince major label Giant Records to imprint his “Play” Records and fund the release and marketing of a denzil album in the USA. So it was that the band entered the studio in the early summer of 1993 armed with a sheaf of the ever more prolific Thomas’s songs to begin recording pub.
Thomas’s ability to turn a tune and evoke a story was perfectly matched with Ennever’s inspired simplistic arrangement and production during the making of the album. Denzil gradually selected songs that worked together as a concept and that concept was genuinely that the stories mainly came from his local pub, the title was set. The resulting album, with it’s “back to basics” feel and gritty soap-box narrative was breathtaking. Even before it was completed (which took over six months) the buzz at Giant had started in earnest.
On February 17th an acoustic Thomas and Boyd played the pub at the St.Francis Hotel in San Francisco as part of the 1994 Gavin convention. This, their first show on US soil, launched over 80 dates in 1994 across nearly every state in the Union, ending at Maxwell’s in Hoboken on December 9th 1994.
Released on 12th April 1994, pub – and the single “Useless” - was picked up by over 300 Radio stations in the USA. The album received over 250 press pieces in 1994 and to this day pub has never received a bad review. An overwhelming critical success, the Grammy nominations came towards the end of that year.
However, despite these successes, pub never sold in great numbers. It was immediately clear that there were serious frictions between LeShay and Giant that had little to do with the music and stood in the way of the kind of continued label support an album like pub demanded. By October 1994, in an effort to get Giant behind the record, Play Records financier Fay Greene and the band fired de facto manager and label boss LeShay. Unfortunately this move came too late and Giant’s confidence in denzil was shaken enough for them to pass on second option in 1995, despite a raft of even stronger new demos and a plan to re-locate Thomas to the east coast of the USA.
These frictions were also having an affect on the band. Two days after returning from the US, Thomas asked Ennever to leave the touring band, Ennever decided to part company with denzil entirely.
Ennever was quickly replaced live with Bournemouth stalwart bass player Martin “Budgie” Burden. In mid January 1995 Thomas, Burden, Boyd and Stacey began an 11 date tour of the UK to support the release of pub in the UK on BMG records under license from Giant. denzil entered the studio immediately afterwards with Stacey as producer to create a series of demos for the next album. The band also filmed a special for VH-1 at this time, being interviewed by Robert Sandall.
Sandall introduced denzil to Billy Bragg’s manager Peter Jenner who started looking after the band from early 1995. In May 1995 BMG declined an offer to sign denzil direct to the UK which effectively left them without a deal. The band was offered a series of small record deals in 1995 and 1996 which were not taken up. By 1997 Thomas was working full time in the music industry and effectively the band disbanded.
In the wake of the popularity of a new wave of British artists pub is now increasingly namechecked in the popular music press as “one of the most overlooked albums of the 90s” - a tag it picked up almost immediately at the time. Interest in the album and the band from original and new fans has increased a great deal recently, spurred on by a couple of features in the music press and a lot of action on the internet. A number of newer artists including Grandaddy and The Handsome Family now cite pub as an influence on them.
The original denzil line-up played one unannounced show in 2003. However, it was not until renewed offers to play the USA, Italy, Spain and the UK in 2006 and offers to re-release pub as well as major label interest in new material that the band decided to take things a little further.
denzil are currently looking to play a couple of low key warm up shows in the UK in late 2006 and book a small tour of the US with a particular stop-off at the SXSW festival in March 2007. This activity will pre-empt and showcase the release of new material in 2007.
“PUB is 16 tracks of sharp hooks and subtle harmonies sandwiched somewhere between a frightening Crowded House and a friendly Elvis Costello” 8/10
THE SUNDAY TIMES
“The whole of PUB unfolds with such breathtaking speed that it stands any amount of re-listening”
TIME OUT (San Fransisco)
Thats entertainment? By Tim Goodman
I cant begin to tell you how joyous my life has become since discovering Denzil. Im doing backflips across the apartment. Im telling strangers to set aside some cash for the album.
Denzil is a singer/songwriter guitarist who fronts his own four-piece band. The debut is called Pub on Play Records. Its an absolutely brilliant piece of work. A pop masterpiece. Jangly guitars meet great lyrics wrapped around a tongue that tosses of the sweetest sound. Its my front-runner for album of the year by a huge margin.
I cant get it out of my head. You forget that there are people in the world who still love music so much they shoot it full of genius and love and send it out to the world. Pub is a debut album that packs the kind of wallop reminiscent of first offerings from Elvis Costello, Squeeze, the Smiths and XTC. A flawless 16 songs of wonderful, transcendant pop.
THE BABSON FREE PRESS (BOSTON)
Arts & Entertainment Denzil: Musical Mastery By Jake Szufnarowski (Opinions Editor)
In todays world of overproduced, guitar driven rock, it is quite refreshing to hear an acoustic number. But the acoustic songs seem to lose a feel that has come to characterize todays music. Finally, a man has arrived who is able to capture the spirits of his listeners by offering nothing other than soul felt music and simple production. His name is Denzil.
Coming from the UK, Denzil has began to light up the American music scene with his debut Pub on Play Records by blending the relaxing sounds of James Taylor with the intensity of a fully configured band. Though Denzils music is not jam packed with layers of percussion and effects, he is able to capture the heart and mind of a listener with catchy hooks and insightful lyrics. There is a sincerity in Denzils voice that is lacking in most vocalists today. Denzil should be called the E. F. Huston of 90s music; When Denzil sings, people listen.
Such was the case list month at the Middle East in Cambridge. Denzil made two stops at the Bakery in the Middle East during the east coast leg of his most recent American tour. The Bakery, which offers free music, has become a meeting place for local scene makers and is generally considered a place to hang out and talk while a local band adds a musical backdrop which functions more as a filler of empty air than a source of entertainment. But when Denzil picked up his guitar and started playing, conversation ceased. The full house realized that something special was taking place in from of them, and for close to two hours, the packed Bakery was treated to a magic which can likely be compared to when people say Jimi Hendrix in London pubs for the first time. The excitement at the Middle East was undeniable, and when it was over, there was a feeling of emptiness in the air that will not likely be filled out until Denzil makes another trip to Boston. Until then, Denzils debut, Pub, can be found at your local record store.
As British as bangers and mash, Denzil has already earned ecstatic notices and a firm following stateside. The quartet, led by singer/songwriter Denzil, comes from Bournemouth, on Englands south coast. Denzil sound a bit like Squeeze, and their debut album, Pub, is crammed with references to English culture from the pint glass of lager pictured on the cover to songs about winning the pools. Funny thing is, no one over here has heard of them. All the same, the band is packing its bags for yet another tour of the States a six-week swing starting Oct 1.
L A VILLAGE VIEW
The Live Wire. Mark Weingarten
Ask someone who Denzil is and theyll probably tell you he played Malcolm X in that Spike Lee movie. Denzil is, in fact, a British singer/songwriter whose debut release Pub was perhaps the years best record that nobody heard. An amazing, affectionate, and occasionally moving examination of British working-class mores, Pub compares favourably to the best of Ray Davies and Elvis Costello, yet it continues to fill up cut-out bins. Thankfully, Denzils label hasnt pulled the plug on his tour yet, which was good news for the faithful few who witnessed his Troubadour performance.
Although Denzils distinctly British sensibility is his strongest asset as a songwriter, its probably the one thing (besides his name, of course) that has prevented him from making a big impression Stateside. Its not hard to see why American listeners havent embraced songs like If Only Alan Won the Pools and Sunday Service Hengistbury Head. Like the work of other too-clever-by-half English artists, Denzils material is often inscrutable and arch. By the same token, however, this artist can pack more witticisms into a single song than a roomful of Weilands, and Denzils chiming, Beatisque melodies can make you forgive and forget his few lyrical excesses.
Eschewing Pubs veddy British, rather mannered vocals for a more emotionally direct, uninflected style (he sounds like a young Andy Partridge), Denzil delivered an exuberant set that featured just about everything from his debut album. Sticking closely to Pubs bare-bones arrangements, he utilized the same trio of musicians that accompanied him on the record. Guitarist Craid Boyd and bassist Steve Ennever were sturdy and reliable but drummer Jeremy Stacey was a real standout. Whether rounding out songs like Too Scared to Be True with loping, off-balance fills or attacking his rudimentary set (just a snare, floor tom, and bass drum) with Keith Moon-like aplomb. Place used his frenetic playing to keep the other band members on their toes. Although Denzils acoustic guitar was frequently drowned out by Place and Company, his slashing style was quite effective on quieter numbers such as Running the Family and Rake Around the Grave. So there you have it yet another talented artist bypassed by the mainstream in favor of sophomoric amateurs whose mumblings are mistaken for profundity. Alas, rock and roll is sometimes a bit like life; there’s simply no justice.
Michael Azerrad . Pop music with a head
Pub (Giant), the debut album from Bournemouth, Englands Denzil, is a winsome meditation on the human comedy. In their folk-fueled pop songs, the band call to mind sharp-eyed hit-makers like Elvis Costello and Crowded House with lyrics that boast a gritty realism. My way of showing what’s going on is through people, says singer Denzil Thomas, who has populated his songs with tales of shotgun weddings, May-December romances, ugly sisters all culled from conversations at his local pub, the Richmond Arms. In tribute to the source of his best material, the album cover features two brimming pints on the front and two empties on the back.
CMJ NEW MUSIC REPORT
Pub is exactly what a good debut album should sound like: These 16 songs are fast, fresh and literate, driven by Denzils sturdily strummed acoustic guitar and his determination to keep the songs far away from preciousness. The fact that Denzil is a top notch phrase turner and that his songs have a sharp ironic flair will earn him an Elvis Costello comparison or two, but overall, Pub has less to do with Elvis and more to do with the fact that the Brits have just owned the language longer and know how to twist it better than your average Yank. Its very easy to weigh down a record with too many bent verses (one line goes shes fat, loose and fancies me), but the stead rock attitude keeps the songs on track, striking the listener first as sharp, folk-pop sing-a-longs. In particular, the lead single Uselss is a gem of a tune, hummable enough to make even Marshall Crenshaw envious. Bravo, mate: Autistic, Shame, Seven Years in These Boots, Running the Family and Bastard Song Of Elvis.
OIL THE MUSIC MAGAZINE
Pub Crawling. Brad Harvey. ***** (High Grade)
Kinder than Costello but more brutal than Crowded House comes Denzil, a singer/songwriter from England whose debut American release scores an immediate critical first hit.
Denzil specializes in writing three-minute pop songs about what he refers to as English drinking culture. Whether writing about the older man younger woman relationship in Fat Loose Fancies Me (In six weeks time she says Naturally, youre not the man you used to be./And he says Darling, how could I be? When you were born I was twenty-three.) or about life with a bitch of a woman in Too Scared To Be True (I devil-worshipped you, you cow). Denzils songs translate quite nicely into a couple caught up in a shotgun marriage and drug down into numbing struggle of loveless married life with a child: The miracle of life, what have we done?/We made a baby from a bottle of rum/Doctor waved her at me, sayin This childs drunk!/She fell asleep in hospital, woke up in the slum and Im sad/When this beautiful girl calls me dad/And shes always too good to be bad/But I have to get drunk to be glad/That Im running this family.
Even if Running This Family was the only good cut on this release (and its not), that one song itself could carry the rest of the album. I could rave on and on about the merits of this talented new songwriter but youll be able to buy his CD on April 12th when it gets shipped to record stores. See if Im not right about this guy.
Denzils got himself a sure-fire hit song called Useless. Its the latest in a long string of self-deprecating singles, but its fun, catchy sing that could make the guy a star. The remainder of Pub is pleasantly eclectic, with plenty of great pop songs, angst-ridden ballads and cute filler goofs to go around. Theres enough crowd-pleasing bouncy material to make it a worthwhile debut.
THE HARD REPORT
Denzil, Useless, Play/Giant Even though the song title bears no reference to a certain new alternative chart, we still love it. With songs rooted in the acoustic with delicious melody lines, these British lads evoke bright, knowing images full of warmth and compassion. Their performance at the Pub in the St. Francis at Gavin turned industry folk onto their material, which combines witty lyrics with an accessible acoustic guitar backbone. The first track sounds even more inviting as the weather warms up, proving to be the perfect mood record as the winter leaves us. Denzils vocals are smooth and gripping, while the instrumentation is fully radiant, and not overdone in the slightest.
On The Town Same de Soleil; Denzils Debut. Geoffrey Himes
The British singer-songwriter Denzil Thomas has infectious hooks and smart lyrics to spare on his debut album, Pub. Performing under the single name of Denzil and backed by a folk-rock trio, Thomas strums an acoustic guitar and sings in a vibrant voice like a cross between Roddy Frame and Billy Bragg, Every one of the 16 songs on Pub boasts an ear-catching melody driven by an energetic, economical rhythm section.
Countering this sweet tunefulness are bleak protraits of working-class desperation. Some songs are nothing but clever wordplay, but the best songs are like miniature Ken Loach movies. Running This Family and Funnymoon describe the bleak aftermath of making a baby from a bottle or rum. Best of all is Fat Loose Fancies Me, the story of a doomed affair between a 20-year old woman and a 43-year old man, told first from her side and then from his.
Denzil This UK crew hails from Bournemouth on the southern coast of England, and their acoustic guitar-laced pop style recalls the work of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, XTC, and Crowded House, among others. The singer-songwriter for whom the group is names spins sad and knowing tales of unplanned families, fucked-up love, drinking to excess, and winning the lottery turning phrases on a dime all the way through. And Pub (Giant) is one of the years most unjustly overlooked records; its compelling songs were reportedly drawn from conversations overheard (or participated in) by the bands namesake at his neighborhood drinking establishment. Well it sounds like an interesting place
2) Denzil is also the name of a producer and DJ, who releases mixtapes. He is rather active with the b00mb0x.org forum of mixtapes.
Edited by kirloo on 29 Apr 2008, 08:50
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