The 15 Best John Shuttleworth Songs - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The 15 Best John Shuttleworth Songs


John Shuttleworth, versatile singer/organist from Sheffield in South Yorkshire, is a national treasure. He's been entertaining audiences for over 30 years and will be back on the road again next year with a new tour, even visiting some venues in the South! It's a constant source of bewilderment to me why he's never been honoured by the Queen with a Knighthood for services to light entertainment, or at least officially approached to be a community leader. In short, I don't feel John receives the respect he deserves so we here at WarpedFactor would like to show our appreciation with a countdown of our 15 favourite John Shuttleworth recordings.

I know what you're thinking - how could anyone just pick 15? And yes, you're absolutely correct, it was nightmare. Some classics had to be sacrificed. Sadly there's no room for What's A Shuttleworth, Modern Man, Incident On the Snakepass, Three Men In A Van, Disaffected Youth, Mutiny Over The Bounty, You're Like Manchester, Karen's Tangerine, Eggs & Gammon, Catch The Fox* and so many other timeless recordings.

I'm sure we could argue about theses rankings all night but without further ado let's start the countdown.

Editor's note: This list was compiled with Dolby.
Additional editor's note: Although many of these tracks can be found on youTube we've mainly only included clips featured on Ken Worthington's (John's sole agent and TV's Mr Clarinet Man) channel, and we'd highly recommend visiting John's shop and purchasing the originals.
*Final editor's note before we actually began: Reader's will be reassured to know the fox has been apprehended.

15. Save The Whale
Because we should, shouldn't we? You'll find this protest song on The Yamaha Years which, I'm gonna say it, is John's best album. The clip above comes from the BBC children's show Fully Booked (See! Versatility. John truly appeals to all demographics) but the recording in Firs Frozen Foods during the 500 Bus Stops tour of Britain potentially put more pressure on Norway than any animal rights activist or environmentalist has ever achieved.

14. The Toaster Song
Originally appearing in the opening episode of series five of The Shuttleworths and re-recorded for the album The A1111 And Other Ones! This incredibly powerful ballad is a wonderfully emotive track about watching a toaster on eBay and envisioning how wonderful life will be if his wife Mary's bid is accepted.

The Toaster Song perfectly encapsulates everything John Shuttleworth is about. Making everyday life extraordinarily beautiful.

13. My Wife Died In 1970
John's often dealt with the topic of death. Tracks like Mingling With Mourners and She Lives In Hope remind us all of our mortality, but perhaps his most sensitive composition is this beautiful ode to his first wife - whose name we won't mention in case Mary is reading.

My Wife Died In 1970 was my introduction to John Shuttleworth when he performed the track on Saturday Zoo (the clip above) in 1993, although the version recorded for the opening track of The Yamaha Years is my favourite. "Though she's just a distant memory, occasional tears I weep." That line hits me square in the feels every single time.

12. Up And Down Like A Bride's Nightie
A little bit cheeky this one, but also quite ahead of its time. The 1990s, when this song first appeared, were draped in 'lad culture'. It was the 'Loaded' era and a time when male mental health awareness was rarely openly discussed for fear of persecution. Yet here's John, freely admitting that everyday life can get you down and it's OK to talk about it - or perform it to a jaunty tune. 

11. Life Is Like A Salad Bar
Perhaps this profound recording answers the question that has eluded scholars for as long as we, as a species, have existed. For many people, explaining our existence by stating that "life is like a salad bar, you only get one visit" is proof of John's intellect, but when he goes on to ponder his own theses with the addition of "life is like a salad bar.... or is it?" is, simply, genius.

10. One Cup Of Tea Is Never Enough (But 2 Is 1 Too Many)
A commentary on modern day consumerism. How our wants outweigh our needs and how wasteful a society we have become. Of course, it could just be that John needs a bigger mug for his tea, but we prefer the first option.

9. I Can't Go Back To Savoury Now 
The 2007 lead single from The Dolby Decades, recounting a relatable dilemma we've all faced at least once, is a dreamy delight. It's like the Princess Diana version of Candle In The Wind if Princess Diana was a shepherd's pie.

8. Have You Seen My Wife?
Another jaunty number and earning it's place on this countdown thanks in no small part to the linguistic mastery of rhyming "vacuum cleaner" and "something obscener".

7. Two Margarines
It's a modern problem bought on by the advent of two for one promotions and, no joke of a lie, one which I myself was frequently frustrated by. My wife would always open a new tub before the old was finished, often they would both be largely full. It wound me up far more than it really probably should. But after John put this issue to song and I played it to her it never happened again.

Thank you John. Thank you.

6. 500 Bus Stops
The theme tune for the TV show of the same name documenting John's tour of Britain to announce his status as 'Chartbound' - which surely has to be the title for a future greatest hits album, no?

5. Y Reg
Released as a single in 1996, John's ode to his beloved car includes a moment of alliteration mastery (Y Reg, Why Reg?), and contains the classic line "A Skoda? Give over!". It's also one of the very best songs John's recorded about being behind the wheel. Not the best though...

4. Blatherwycke
Y Reg, Three Men In A Van, Incident On the Snakepass, The A1111, all great driving songs but none of them top this beautiful tune. Blatherwycke recounts the time John noticed a road sign for the Northamtonshire village, and his lamenting of not taking the turning to visit. Although this appears on The Dolby Decades album, the version recorded for Radio Shuttleworth featuring Patrick Moore on xylophone is, in my humble opinion, superior.

3. Romeo O.A.P.
The final track from the album Seven Songs By Sunset (which you can actually download for free from John's official website, and please do because it is brilliant) has always been a favourite of mine. Romeo O.A.P. is like a sung episode of The Cook Report, an exposé of the late night habits of John's next door neighbour and sole agent, TV's Mr Clarinet Man, Ken Worthington. Since his wife Rhiannon left him, Ken's resorted to phoning women up for dates on numbers that begin 0898. Shocking!

2. (Who Will Buy My) Cabin Bed? 
Without a doubt the most emotional classified ad ever put to song. This duet performed with Barbara Dickson is one of the standout moments of season two of Radio Shuttleworth, which in itself is an incredibly strong series.

Just about every line of this song is sublime, as John explains how his son Darren has outgrown his bed and the bottom rung is chafing his ankles. Cabin Bed includes some of John's finest lyrics, the wonderful rhyming of "quick perusal" and "first refusal", and a bridge which is, arguably, one of the most rousing to ever have been recorded in the history of music.

My personal favourite moments are the lines stating that the Ninja Turtle stickers are included in the price (dear), which is only beaten by Barbara contemplating her purchase by asking "I'll sleep on it if I may?", with John replying "Oof! You're too big, it's for a kid, oh what a thing to say".

I'm quite certain the only reason this track had never been released as a single is because John would no doubt be inundated with calls to purchase the bed, and, sadly, it's been removed from sale as he's lengthened it to fit an adult male.

1. Pigeons In Flight
I'm sure that John may feel this particular pigeon has become more of an albatross, and many will say that it's predictable to place this in pole position, but there's a reason why Pigeons In Flight tops our list of John's best songs - it's just that (pardon my language) damn good. Especially the version which closes The Yamaha Years which includes John inviting the listeners to partake in a sing along ("Ladies, sing it to your husbands. Sing it to the bar staff.").

John, of course, hoped to enter Pigeons In Flight in the Eurovision Song Contest. Alas it wasn't to be. But he tried, oh did he try. His quest was documented on radio in 1994 and then again in the 1998 BBC Two special Europigeon, which included a rendition of the song by a multitude of Eurovision artists...

Eurovision law forbids a previously released song to be entered into the contest, otherwise we'd try to get #EuroPigeon2020 trending, but after Great Britain's terrible performance over the last two decades, and the European ill will caused by Brexit and the current politically climate, surely the organisers of A Song For Europe could do a lot worse than reaching out to John for him to pen a brand new classic for our 2020 entry? One which could see us winning the contest and help to boost the relationship with our continental friends. If anyone can do it, John can.

John Shuttleworth, versatile singer/organist, we thank you for the music.

What's your favourite John Shuttleworth song?

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