The Jazz Butcher
The Jazz Butcher Press SPILL ALBUM REVIEW - February 10, 2022
Published: Spill Magazine February 10, 2022 Credit: ;; Source:
Album Review: Highest in the Land Item added: 2023-09-12

The Jazz Butcher
The Highest In The Land

The Highest In The Land is a difficult album to review. Pat Fish, who started the band and was in essence, The Jazz Butcher, passed away, quite suddenly on October 5, 2021. When an album is released following such a death, it is difficult to listen and assess the album without the shadow of the artist’s passing hanging over the album.

Fish had been working on this album over the past couple of years, and it was his first studio album since 2013’s Last of The Gentleman Adventurers. It is classic Jazz Butcher. Fish always had a way of turning a phrase and writing remarkably melodic and joyful music. Sometimes the lyrics don’t match the ‘up’ feeling of the music but Fish had the knack for matching poignant lyrics with pop/bouncing music.

Lyrically, this is Fish at his best. HeFish could always write lines that bring a smile and are a bit painful at the same time, such as in “Running On Fumes” . “When I said we could be ghosts/I didn’t mean for you to disappear on me.” Only Fish could come up with that sentiment.

As good as the lyrics are on the album, the one instrumental is quite impressive as well. “Amalfi Coast, May 1963” tugs at your heartstrings with its utter beauty. It is emotionally expressive without one word being uttered. It also highlights his instrumentation and skill on the guitar and his ability to arrange music. It is easy to overlook Fish’s musical abilities, which is sad because his musicianship is quite distinct and unique. And although it is a short, it packs a power punch.

The Highest In The Land ends with the stunning “Goodnight Sweetheart”, a phenomenal song and a moving track. He jams so much into the lyrics that it reads as a standalone poem. Along with “Never Give Up”, it is one of the best songs Fish ever produced.

Reviewing new music by an artist who has passed away is difficult. Pretending that this is not his final statement to the world helps to listen it a little more objectively. Having said that, it isn’t a stretch to say that The Highest in The Land stands as one of the best Jazz Butcher albums. It is a shame that there is an almost 10-year gap between this and the last one, as I would have loved to have more music from Pat Fish and company, but this is what we have and it is wonderful to have it.


The Highest in the Land
It's not often that an artist gets to do a Bowie by consciously carving their personal epitaph into the grooves of their final LP. The Highest in the Land is that rarity of an album, and it could not have been made by a more brilliantly poetic and fearlessly sarcastic writer than Pat Fish, also known as The Jazz Butcher.
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Tapete Records CD/LP/digital