About The Full English


Since he co-founded the influential band, Van der Graaf Generator in 1967 with Peter Hammill, Judge Smith has been involved in many different music projects, either as composer, librettist or performer, but he has released only a small number of albums, culminating in the massive, double-CD, narrative work 'Curly's Airships' of 2000.

His first album since the release of this epic 'songstory', Judge's new CD is a return to a more traditional format. 'The Full English' is an album of songs accompanied by a small group, mainly of acoustic instruments. Accordion, guitar, piano, organ, bass and drums, in various combinations, give the album an 'unplugged' feel, and showcase a collection of Judge's songs that are as original, unusual, and downright quirky, as one would expect from this unconventional and surprising artist.

Judge's songs often tell stories, with lyrics that are sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and often manage to be both at the same time. Musically, he has cast a wide net for this CD. Eastern European Gypsy-flavoured numbers, songs in the retro-rock tradition, narrative chansons, full-on café Tango, Reggae, and even Hip-Hop beats put in an appearance; but whatever stylistic nods he makes, he fills the CD with instantly memorable tunes that stick in the mind in a most persistent way.

Despite Judge's eclectic approach to songwriting, 'The Full English' sounds surprisingly coherent and consistent, due mainly to his choice of musicians. The guitar and bass of John Ellis (of the Vibrators, Peter Gabriel Band, Peter Hammill's K Group, and the Stranglers), Michael Ward-Bergeman's work on accordion, piano and organ, and the contributions of percussionist René van Commenée, create a distinctive and congenial sound-world, with Michael's remarkable accordion skills being a particular feature.

Recorded in England and Holland by musicians from England, the USA and the Netherlands, and mixed in Italy by an Italian producer, Marco Olivotto, 'The Full English', despite its title, has an international feel. Perhaps his most immediately accessible album to date, those who already know Judge's work will certainly not be disappointed by this CD; while those who have not yet heard his music will find 'The Full English' an excellent introduction to this refreshingly unconventional, and very 'English', talent.