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Cecil Peppers Only Umpires Band

Cecil Pepper's Only Umpires Band

Forty three years ago, rogue rockers the Bowling Stones unsettled the umpiring establishment by releasing Cecil Peppers Only Umpires Band. Tame by today's standards, the record is best remembered for representing the first artistic stone thrown in the direction of the cosseted world of cricket umpires.

Far from being a celebration of the spirited all-rounder and County Cricket umpire Cecil Pepper, Cecil Peppers Only Umpires Band is a thinly connected concept album that ridicules the umpiring profession and some of its most famous sons - Pepper himself was for the most part spared.

Many countries banned the single "Lovely Pair of X-Ray Specs" - a song about an umpire who wears a pair of x-ray spectacles whilst collecting an OBE from the Queen.

Rumours persist to this day that Pepper contributed vocals on a number of songs, including the wildly psychedelic Meet me in the Bar with Almonds: "picture yourself with Jim Foat and Phil Silvers ... "

This of course is mere folklore. Pepper may have been one of crickets' most colourful characters but he had no involvement in the album's creation. As usual, the job of singing fell to Bowling Stones front-man Barry Presley, who is in character throughout as a series of unidentified umpires.

Musical historians have spent a great deal of time attempting to decipher the subliminal meaning of Cecil Peppers Only Umpires Band - something the band inadvertently encouraged by refusing to talk about it until now.

According to Barry Presley they needn't have bothered. The normally reclusive composer is unusually accessible and intent on destroying the records mystique:

"We hated umpires back then because they could count better than us," remembers Presley. "Some poisonous songs were written which shouldn't have been written; partly because they lacked thought and substance; mostly because they undermined the primacy of the umpire.

"I knew we had gone too far when I was accosted by a man in a pub in who complained that all the umpires in his local league had been replaced with hippies. But the record was already in the charts by then so it seemed that the best thing to do was to stay quiet and hope it would soon disappear from peoples memories.

"It is long overdue but I would like to apologise for encouraging umpire suicides, lampooning their lack of sexual experience, trivialising umpire obesity, and claiming that umpire bigotry was rampant in Hastings."

Cecil Peppers Only Umpires Band - original 1967 track list

Side One

  1. Cecil Peppers Only Umpires Band
  2. A Little Rope and a Chair
  3. Meet me in the Bar with Almonds
  4. Getting Fatter
  5. Hastings a Hole
  6. She's Stealing Loam
  7. Being for the Benefit of Fading Light!

Side Two

  1. Within Nigel Plews
  2. When it's Four Hundred and Forty Four for Four
  3. Lovely Pair of X-Ray Specs
  4. Good Whoring, Good Whoring
  5. Cecil Peppers Only Umpires Band (Reprise)
  6. A Day Without my Penknife