Yow! It’s been so looooong since I bought my first Bill Pritchard album [30 years, easily] that I’d completely forgotten how I came to do it! After doing some research on “Three Months, Three Weeks, And Two Days,” I think that it was down to a video for “Tommy + Co” that Pritchard’s Discogs.com profile claims was aired on MTV’s 120 Minutes at that time. I remember coming across the “Invisible State/Kenneth Baker” US CD EP on I.R.S.. and loving it. The album followed soon afterward; probably purchased at Murmur Records when the sun still shone on Central Florida. <fast forward 30 years> Ladies and gentlemen; I now own the follow up album to “Three Months, Three Weeks, And Two Days,” and it only took this long to see another Bill Pritchard disc in the bins!
#21 • Bill Pritchard: Jolie BEN CD 
- Number Five
- Pretty Emily
- I’m In Love Forever
- In The Summer
- Gustave Cafe
- Tears Of Maxine
- Violet Lee
- Souvenir Of Summer
- The Lie That Tells The Truth
The reason why I immediately loved Bill Pritchard’s music was that betcha by golly, wow, he really sounds like Stephen Duffy. His fey voice sounded like Duffy’s. His phrasing was not unlike Duffy on the Lilac Time records. His lyrics were just as poignant and incisive as Duffy’s. Plus – he was a Francophile at exactly the same time as that held a lot of currency for me. All of these things made Pritchard very big in my world, but while Duffy at least has a cult built up around him, Pritchard actually connected in Benelux countries with the mainstream and managed to get some commercial traction there. So much so that he moved there. Wouldn’t you?
The winsome, ringing pop of “Number Five” got the album off to a peppy start. The Pritchard M.O. was apparent and unchanged from the previous album, ringing, undistorted guitar lines against bass and drums with an application of airy synths to grout the cracks with the lightest of touches. The song was a wry celebration about what I would assume to be his fifth lover in is 26 years. One who has a trail of men in her wake. Perhaps the Jolie of the album’s title?
“Pretty Emily” was the only song here with any lyrics in French; a marked difference from the previous album. Yet the titular Emily was said here to have “walked all over those men, and with a wave of your hand, you showed them all that you can do it again.” Sounds like a problem for Mr. Pritchard. The single “I’m In Love Forever” was sung as a duet with Beverly Jo Scott; an American who was making a name for herself in the French/Benelux music scene. A beautiful song made moreso by Ms. Scott’s singing.
“Anglesey” had a clarinet solo in the middle eight to die for. These songs were as great as anything The Lilac Time were doing concurrently. The single “In The Summer,” was one of a pair of songs here produced by Ian Broudie, and one can almost taste the reverb on Pritchard’s vocals. But the song was an introverted breakup song, with an evasive, haunting melody and I’ll forgive Broudie for the vocal production gaffe. The piano solo here was beyond gorgeous as the melancholy carved out a berth for your heart.
It’s hard to imagine the slice-of-life “Gustave Cafe” being anything but a great Lilac Time B-side, but the lyrics paint just that sort of incisive detail about a time and place common to the pen of Mr. Duffy.
“The corduroy sweethearts
Who suffer in silence
Resigned and embittered
By sexual problems
At the table the calmness
Is just years of repression
Back to routine
After one year’s obsession” – “Gustave Cafe”
These songs cut right to the heart of the matter and delivered their wisdom and compassion with economy and dignity. “Tears Of Maxine” was a piano ballad that began somewhat downbeat note but eventually filled up with a jazzy insouciance to take things to another level by song’s end. Pritchard was a songsmith to deliver the sort of goods that I respond to in a singer. These are the type of songs that I simply can’t imagine not being championed by lovers of literate pop music. As for Pritchard, look at the guy; he’s pictured at the beach on the cover dressed head-to-toe in black! I just have to love such conceits as he’s a man after my own heart.
CONCLUSION: enjoy…and get some more Pritchard in less than 30 years