Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 – The Difficult Number 2: Album Review

Bright and happy; Joyful and surreal – Glasgow dance ensemble, Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5, herald the coming of summer.

Release Date:  30th April 2021

Label: Button Up Records

Formats: CD / Vinyl / Streaming

Summer is coming – it’s official.  And to celebrate that momentous event, Glasgow dance ensemble Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5 have released their excellent new album – a multi-genre feast of sunshine, joy, silliness, psychedelic surrealism and solid dance rhythms.  If you haven’t come across this outfit before, they’re an 11-piece ensemble led by Colonel John Thomas McMustard and David John Blair and the band’s motto is “Expect the Unexpected.”  The band are pioneers of The Yellow Movement, an initiative to affect positive change and spread happiness and joy, whilst wearing yellow – the colour of sunshine. The Difficult Number 2 is, as its name suggests, the band’s second album (their first being 2014’s wonderfully named Party To Make Music To Party To Make Music To Party To 1.)

Produced by Paul Gallagher – front of house engineer for synth-pop pioneers CHVRCHES – The Difficult Number 2 features an eclectic range of guests, including Larry Love (Alabama 3), Gavin Mitchell (better known as Boaby the Boatman from the Scottish sitcom Still Game), Glasgow-based rappers Ant Thomaz and David Kayce One and dance singer Mary Kiani.  Avid radio listeners will have already tuned into the lead singles GT and Ted Danson, both of which received substantial airplay and will, no doubt, have made shapes to the latest single release, This is Your House.  The band is justly proud of this new collection. John  McMustard, aka The Colonel, has said:  “There’s no filler.  Every song works well individually, but as a whole, the album takes you on a musical journey into the different genres we love.  What’s remained is the spirit of unity and community that lies at the heart of all the music we make.”  And I think that summary captures the essence of this album pretty well.

There’s no simple way to describe the music of Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5.  As John McM says, it’s their mission to take a journey through the genres that they love, and that journey encompasses funk, disco, reggae, house, psychedelia and even soul-tinged country. Each song is topped off with inspired, often hilarious, lyrics, and joy and happiness spread to every corner of every song.  The overall effect is a combination of the solid funk of The Blockheads, tinged with Nile Rogers, The Beatles and Happy Mondays, all laced with the silliness of The Bonzos, Half Man Half Biscuit and Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias.  It’s wonderful!

The album gets underway with the lead single, the delicious, spacy, GT Part One, before a Bo Diddley rhythm ushers in Peace And Love And Mustard.  The band is joined by the Castlemilk Youth Choir for the road safety anthem, Cross The Road.  To a solid reggae beat, we are given instructions on how to use a pelican crossing, whilst being warned that “We’re not the Tufty Club or the Green Cross Code…” and being advised: “Don’t dilly-dally, or you’ll send me doolally – let the lollipop people be your pally-wally.”  I love it!

Steampunk exponent Professor Elemental introduces the self-explanatory There’s Nothing Funkier Than Funk before things head in a completely new direction on Country As Muck – a slice of country-flavoured soul with some brilliant pedal steel touches from local friend Jon MacKenzie.  The album’s second single Ted Danson is billed as a “Public Health Warning From Gavin Mitchell.”  A chunk of eighties dance music, it’s already given this a new album a substantial boost by its chart performance – it reached number 7 in the Scottish Charts.  And the lyrics are just wonderful!  “Dancin’ in the kitchen with the pots and pans and spoons, dancin’ in the forest with some magic mushrooms, dancin’ in the car park, settin’ off the car alarms, dancin’ with a leprechaun and all his lucky charms” is a typical extract.

Gonna Be Myself Cos That’s Who I Am is another piece of funk, whilst D.I.S.C.O. C.O.L.I.N. sings the praises of Disco – the genre that refused to die.  Again, the lyrics are fantastic as they declare that “’Disco Sucks’ was a web of lies and hidden agendas…” and “Kool and the Gang stuck it to The Man,” all to a backing of tinkly synths and Nile Rogers-like Telecaster tickling. 

The band are joined by Ant Thomaz and David Kayce One for These Are Not The Drugs You Are Looking For, an interesting silly/serious number with a Happy Mondays taste, then Gavin Mitchell returns to give the verbal intro to We Are the Dinosaurs (And We Are The Meteor.)  Perhaps the most surreal song on the album, it features an argument between dinosaurs – telling each other to “Shut your gob” and “Shut your pie-hole” to a bossa-nova backing, before reaching the marvelous pay-off line, in which the demise of the human race and the rise of the “first in the dictionary” aardvark is foretold.

The current single This is Your House is inspired by nights spent in Glasgow’s legendary club, The Arches, and features Mary Kiani, along with a return of Ant Thomaz, before GT Part 2 takes us back to the start to close out this exhilarating album.

Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 will be launching The Difficult Number 2 at a special appearance at Glasgow’s famed Barrowlands Ballroom on Saturday 1 May.  Part of the event will be recorded in the iconic (and adjacent) Barras Market as part of the market’s centenary celebrations.  The show will be ticketed and streamed live, with £1 from every ticket sold going to the Trees for Life Charity.  To book your place, you can click here.

Watch the Official video for Cross The Road – a track from the album – here:

Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5 online: Website/ Facebook /Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

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