Proudfoot are essentially a vehicle for the songs of Michael Proudfoot, a man who has had one foot in the musical world since his student days singing in bars in Nottingham. These days he runs a film production company. Overall, Flower Of London is an album that manages to engage the listener despite Proudfoot’s limitations as a singer and the occasional dip in his song writing. This is largely due to the very talented Duncan Kerr, Proudfoot’s sidekick guitarist and a man he first met back in those Nottingham days. A veteran who started off in Plummet Airlines, a 70’s pub rock band recording for Stiff Records Kerr currently plays with Darts and The Brainiac 5. Playing 6 and 12 string electric and acoustic guitars here he can transform a song into a pastoral reverie, on a few occasions sounding positively Byrdslike, elsewhere he throws in vibrant lead and slide guitar.
Despite Kerr’s best efforts some of the album fails to catch fire. The title song reminds me of the type of song Matt Berry sings in the musical interlude on Toast Of London. “Come On Come On” tackles New Wave with a Farfisa organ in the mix but it’s somewhat listless, “Vivienne” and “Lorraine”, portraits of two very different women are let down by the writing which is kitchen sink like, the latter despite a promising Stax like introduction. Things look up with the opening “Pathfinders”, a song inspired by Proudfoot’s mother’s memories of her war time beau, killed in action over the Channel, with its driving beat and churning guitar. “Seven Ages”, with Kerr laying down some keen slide guitar, recalls latter day Nick Lowe and “Queen Of Bohemia” is a definite winner. Here a light reggae melody with some fine drumming from Joe Malone allows Proudfoot to sound more comfortable, Beth Frost’s harmonies blending well with his voice. As the song progresses organ fills and saxophone join in while Kerr again offers some very sweet guitar. Best of all is the Lee Hazelwood informed “Down The Line” with Proudfoot’s voice a shade deeper as Kerr sparkles on his acoustic guitars.