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Captain Wilberforce Captain Wilberforce
Album: Black Sky Thinking
Label: KoolKat
Tracks: 12

To paraphrase the cliché, if Jeff Lynne didn't exist you'd have to invent him. In which case, you may very well come up with Leeds-based Simon Bristoll who, in an alternative reality, would be the one with million-selling albums to his name. Operating under this one since 2004, he's released three albums, this being the fourth, to critical but unfortunately limited commercial acclaim. This is the first time he's recorded with a proper full time band (Carl Banks on drums, Rob Simpson on guitar and bassist Massimiliano Borghesi) and, in a just world, it would be his best shot at becoming far wider known.

By comparing him to Lynn of course, The Beatles also come as default, and the delightfully named 'The Johnny Depp Memorial Café', previously featured on a 2014 EP, would have been a highlight in that same alternative reality's version of 'Sgt Pepper'. As the opening track, it's a hard act to follow, but the 11 subsequent numbers are more than up to the job. Beginning with the majestic musical box 'Good Times You Said' that soars to a swelling climax, it continues through the 'Fool On The Hill'-ish 'Someone To Love', the equally McCartney-like 'King of Decision', big building keyboards-ballad 'Couples', a strummed 'You Can't Have Me,' the moodily soulful 'Lazarus' and the dreamy closing title track. And then there's the playful psychedelic pop of 'Stickleback Toffee' a track tat could easily have come from albums by The Dukes of Stratsophear, Jellyfish or Klaatu.

It's sadly indicative of his relatively low profile at home that CDs are only available on import, though you can, obviously download from the usual suspects. Leave this world behind for a while and visit that alternative Captain Wilberforce reality, you may well find yourself wanting to stay.

Mike Davies