What a warm and wonderful release! Older Londoners will be especially chuffed at the release of this nostalgic album, which celebrates The Green Line of buses that connected London to its neighbors for half a century, ending in 1986. As much a part of London as the trolley is to San Francisco, the familiar “livery green” buses were once the ticket to family, to lovers, to the sea.
Gilroy Mere (Oliver Cherer, also known as Dollboy) has created a loving tribute whose retro sounds sing of the caramelized past. Throughout the album are heard the recordings of birds and buses and stops along the way. One can imagine a cheery driver singing the names of each station in succession. These areas still exist, of course, although the public transit has changed. A collection of junkyard and thrift shop instruments adds to the homespun allure. Even the honks at the end of “RLH48” seem as cheery as those of a cartoon character ~ a flexible green bus, smiling magnanimously as it allows another to cross its path. To sweeten the deal, Clay Pipe Music has pressed the record to green vinyl and included a cardboard cutout that can be folded into a bus: touches even those born after 1986 will find charming.
The album shares the folk vibe of its label mates, with bells, flute, strings and acoustic guitar joining the light electronics for a frolic around the outskirts of The Big Smoke. There’s even a theremin, or a perfect imitation. One can imagine the picnic basket ~ not a backpack, but an old-fashioned wooden-handled box with red and white checkered sheet. A day in the country, a day at the sea ~ the music vibrates with the certainty of good company and good cheer. Once in a while, a wordless choir (as at the end of “The Ditchling Beacon”) sings like mice waiting for cheese or white-gloved ladies waving to the bus and serenading their friends as they embark or disembark. Was a ride on the green line ever anything less than wonderful? If so, after hearing this album, we no longer recall such a time.
Looking back with fondness, Cherer has created an album that celebrates the fact that often the journey is the destination ~ especially if the journey is on a double-decker, green-on-green bus. To listen is to want to ride, even if the bus is no longer going anywhere, a pleasure still afforded the workers of the London Bus Museum while preserved in the hearts of Londoners. (Richard Allen)