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John Wetton & Richard Palmer James: Jack-Knife/Monkey Business

The duo’s odds ‘n’ sods selection and covers album – together at last.

When Wetton joined King Crimson, his old schoolmate and musical collaborator Palmer-James chipped in with lyrics.

A ‘scrapbook’ of 24 demos, unreleased recordings and alternative versions, Monkey Business charts their exploits, and though it’s niche stuff there are some curate’s eggs in the clutch. Larks’ Tongues…’ tunes Easy Money and Book Of Saturday are here in embryonic, pre-lyric form with Wetton on piano. The former has Bill Bruford on drums and there’s a live version of the latter from ’94 with It Bites’ John Beck and Bob Dalton. Demos Starless 1 and 2, are of slight interest, as is Magazines (destined for Wetton’s own Arkangel). Palmer-James’s own wordy Cologne 1977 is a challenge, but Confessions is a great new wave/power pop tune. This crops up again on the duo’s ’79 nine-track covers album Jack-Knife, along with a funky read of Billy Boy Arnold’s Wish You Would, a breathless rattle through Chuck Berry’s Monkey Business and other songs the two would play in school together. Palmer-James’s Mustang Momma and slinky Adoration stand up well, but again, while it’s the more listenable disc of the two, this really is for Wetton completists only.

Grant Moon is the News Editor for Prog and has been a contributor to the magazine since its launch in 2009. A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.