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Colin Irwin of fRoots

reviews The Food of Love by Belshazzar's Feast

First, four words about the packaging; lavish, complex and clever. Much like the two CDs it homes. One is a live recording, which dazzlingly captures their humour virtuosity and versatility, while the studio CD demonstrates,.. well, their humour, virtuosity and versatility.

From a strong grounding in classical music, Paul Sartin has already made inestimable contributions to Bellowhead and Faustus and must already be approaching godlike status. The legend grows here as he plays oboe, whistle and violin (and it definitely is a violin, not a fiddle) on a probing, surreal and disarmingly unconventional exploration of everything from classical and early music to Remember: You’re A Womble with accordionist Paul Hutchinson (the hairy bearded one).

It may be an acquired taste, but Sartin’s morbid voice - so effective on the last Faustus album - takes you by surprise every time. There you are, lost in the complex musical cross-breeding anal audio jokes (there’s a particularly fine blending of Music For A Found Harmonium with Rock Around The Clock) when that voice suddenly makes its entrance to deliver The Begging Song or Twenty Eighteen with a stirring gravitas rarely heard in this or any other neck of the woods. This even applies to the drinking song Dol Thy Ale, which suddenly splurges into a Romanian dance tune collected by Bartok; while we also get Mozart taken to the Appalachians and a solemn treatment of Mark Knopfler’s movie theme Cal (complete with sleeve joke “We really wanted to swell Mark’s coffers since we have been told he’s in dire straits.”)

Song, dance, top tunes and corny gags... this is indeed a feast fit for kings and peasants alike.