Album Review: Greek Street Friday


Peter Jones, September 2023

Now in his sixties, Ian Shaw has enjoyed an extraordinary career: a witty and charismatic singer, he long ago took up residence at the heart of the British jazz establishment.

This is his 18th album, and although it features fellow veterans like saxophonist Iain Ballamy and drummer Ian Thomas, as well as young musicians such as his co-writer, the keys player Jamie Safir, it isn't a jazz album as such. Shaw has often adopted the confessional singer-songwriter style, at one time featuring Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again Naturally in his live set. And with Greek Street Friday he again switches the curtain to reveal the sensitive little boy behind the raucous, confident exterior.

The musical influences are from the 1970s – Billy Joel (Falling Uphill), Elton John (Say A Prayer For Baby Blue) and Donald Fagen (People Who Go Ta-dah! – great title). There's a fair bit of gospel too – on Years and Jackie's Blues, the latter featuring guest singer Polly Gibbons. Another motif is Alex Haines' weepy slide guitar, somewhat in the vein of Skunk Baxter's work with early Steely Dan. Shaw has met everybody and lived through fascinating times, as the lyrics make abundantly clear. A volume of a memoirs can't be far away.