Bill Bailey, The Many Moods of Bill Bailey: Songs 1995-2005 (Edinburgh: BBm Ltd., 2007), first edition, 62pp
The songs which Bill Bailey composes and performs for his stand-up comedy shows are not only immensely funny but also insanely catchy and occasionally anthemic, and they are done justice in this modest book. I should point out that I had the songs playing on YouTube as I read it, which no doubt informs my review. The Many Moods is a collection of sheet music (which I cannot read) and lyrics (which I can) with some comments from Bill on their genesis and a few anecdotes (John Entwistle from The Who liked 'Insect Nation', don't you know). The songs themselves are all gems, from the early prog-rock pastiche 'Leg of Time' with its Cockney middle-eight right through to the 'Death Metal Lullaby (Nemesis of the Vole)', a hard-rocking song about an owl. 'Insect Nation' is undoubtedly the best, with its epic 'ah-ahh-ah-a-ahh' hook (though the version performed in Cosmic Jam is longer than the book version, with an extra verse). 'Hats Off to the Zebras' is my personal favourite, and 'Midnight in Parliament Square' is a endearingly silly audience-participation song. 'Unisex Chip Shop' has a funny little ending, and 'Beautiful Ladies' has that hilarious 'kill the trolls' bit. 'Redneck Redemption' (better known as 'I Will Not Look at Titties for a Year') is an amusing country-and-western song, whilst 'Love Song' stands alongside 'Insect Nation' as the finest testament to Bill's musical complexity and lyrical imagination. Overall, a short, sweet read that provided me with an always-welcome excuse to revisit and laugh along with some of Bill's fine songs.