Comedian Dough Stanhope once said “Babies are like poems – they’re beautiful… to their creators.” I’m not sure whether the ‘Monkey Poet’ [Matt Panesh] would call what he does on stage ‘beautiful’ – after all, it’s noisy, angry, challenging and unconventional. In all fairness, I think he’d be the first to admit that it’s positively ugly at times. But that’s life – and life is what Monkey Poet’s act is about.

His début album ‘Welcome to the UK’ stands somewhere between poetry, comedy and ‘The Archers’. Made up of a combination of studio recordings, live recordings and a kitchen-sink radio-style drama written by Panesh himself, it’s a rather unique record. The characters and the story don’t really develop as much as they could in a straight drama, but there are still some genuinely touching moments set amongst the same northern dysfunction as TV’s ‘Shameless’.

‘Welcome to the UK’ is not for everyone. It’s aggressive, and it seems rather disjointed at first. The various threads only tie together at the end, and some of the characters exist solely to give background to the poems – some simply to read them. It’s not quite clear whether the ‘Monkey Poet’ is the inner voice of the lead character in the radio-play, or just a detached, yet related commentary. However, the more one listens, the more it becomes clear that all of the seemingly random story, the radio news and the ‘adverts’ are all very carefully thought out, and that they all tie together to give emotional context to the disparate topics dealt with in the witty poems.

As with anything comedic, or dramatic, I feel its appeal may eventually wane – perhaps the stronger tracks are those backed by major contributor Biff Roxby’s supporting compositions. Having said that, though, ‘Welcome to the UK’ is certainly something to listen to again and again. Monkey Poet has the same appeal that makes me love the aforementioned Doug Stanhope: not only is he more informed than I am – and not only does he express opinions (that we share) in a much more succinct way than I ever could – he also manages to make it funny.

‘Welcome to the UK’ has a lot to say about a lot of things; it’s political, it’s social, it’s dramatic and it’s very likeable. Above all it’s got a fresh, genuine message. Really, it’s something of an enigma. I hope that Monkey Poet can find as much to say over the next few years as he has managed to say in his début. In the meantime, I’ll be playing ‘Welcome to the UK’ to anyone who needs their blinkers removing.

Monkey Poet’s ‘Welcome to the UK’ is available through Debt Records’ shop from May 6th, although it may be available through other channels – if you know someone who knows someone…

Release Date 23/04/2010 (Debt Records)

Chris Oliver

I've been playing bass guitar and guitar for over half my life. I last played bass in in a band called Electromotive and as a singer-songwriter I have written songs about cheese and vajazzles (separate songs!). I started out listening to 60s, 70s and 80s rock as a kid and I was in to grunge and U.S. punk and ska in the 90s. Since then, I've broadened my tastes and I like the best of all styles of music, even country. I've been writing for Silent Radio since it started.