Farmer’s Boys

  • Farmer's Boys
  • Get Out and Walk (UK EMI) 1983 
  • With These Hands (UK EMI) 1985 

If you’d heard their early singles without paying much attention, you might have thought this Norwich quartet to be just another Anglo-dance-rock group: the usual rhythms (drum machine), the usual keyboards, the usual sort of a vocalist. One of the 45s (quite good, actually) even sounds like a cross between ABC and Dexys. But what’s different? There’s no overwrought melodrama, that’s what — no posing. Stylistically, the sound just provides a jumping-off point for catchy, distinctive songs; cleverly arranged, succinctly produced. They don’t overdo a thing, so you can really relate to the tales of botched romance, self-doubt, even drinking too much after a long day’s work. The Farmer’s Boys get the points across engagingly, without taking themselves too seriously.

With These Hands is more stylistically diverse than the first — leading off with a Shadows (!) tune about going out in the countryside (!!), done up in a marginally retooled version of ’60s pop-rock somewhere between Spanky and Our Gang, the Turtles and the Grass Roots! (That track is one of four produced by Bruce Woolley; horns grace several others.)

The Farmer’s Boys are a gas: four normal-looking guys making consistently good, durable music. No brilliance here — they haven’t got the killer instinct — but these two albums provide solace for sore (or cynical but openminded) ears with cut after cut of enjoyable tunes. Suggestion for trendies and art-lovers: get out and walk.

Two former Farmers later surfaced in a band called the Avons.

[Jim Green]