The Jazz Band in Gas Masks by Oliver Cobbin

The gas masked, taxman, jazz-band are; abstract, gift-wrapped, maniacs,
In second-hand cracked anoraks, with an attitude to match
And their shoes are purposely untied; their minds are all electrified
Wearisome and bleary eyed, are their audience at dusk

Victor clicks his fingers twice, the band scurry on like timid mice
He never heeds their good advice; his ego outweighs theres
Wisdom ricochets around, the absurd claims to fame of those
That wish to see ‘the greatest shows’, donned in their gas masks

And ‘The Sentimental Mentalists’, are weird experimentalists
‘Moon Gel Melt’ and ‘Gypsy’s Kiss’, all await their turn
They’re out of tune and out of time, half of the words don’t even rhyme
One of them actually ate a lime, for their final song

‘Arabian Oryx’ are the band to see, the gas masks are their arch enemies
Victor tuts, struts bitterly, to welcome on the band
The singers trade malicious looks, “you can’t learn jazz from reading books
And that song ‘Fizzy Pop’ really sucks” Victor he proclaims

“Get on that stage before I kick, your band out, you make me sick
I hate anyone with hair that slick and the drummer’s curls are naff”
But there isn’t time for squabbling, the audience is wobbling
“It’s pronounced as Oliver Cobbin” the singer he corrects

Joining them is guitarist Pat, piano parts by one Kenneth Jacques
The shows they play aren’t always packed, an underrated gem
‘Caught in the Edge’ is quite long and Kenneth’s parts are sometimes wrong
It matters not though, it’s a popular song and the audience do cheer

But Victor plans a cunning plot, during the ‘Arabian Oryx’ slot
A sabotage mid-Fizzy Pop, a backstage cackle is heard
As the song reaches its final verse, Victor plans to do his worst
Cobbin, Pat, Thraves and Kenneth are cursed, no encore for them

As ‘The Whippersnappers’ crack the whip and crease the page on parlour tricks
The trail of crumbs and used tooth-picks, has them scratching all their heads
But it’s almost time for the main act, shoes untied, gas masks intact
The pre-show warmup is in fact, a ritualistic task
Victor proceeds to stumble on, ad-libs the lines to the opening song
He’s out of tune but ‘it’s the key that’s wrong’ is his excuse of the day
They barely ever make it through, one whole song, let alone two
Without an audible sigh or boo, fight or broken string

Victor clicks his fingers ‘stop’, then lingers on like a ticking clock
The cynical and critical, roll their eyes in disbelief
His rants and raves prolong the shows, to the point where no one knows
What he’ll say next, so no one goes, the audience has shrunk

The crowd tonight begins to boo, got the “difficult-second album blues”
They twiddle their thumbs, untie their shoes but the silence still remains
The crowd become so very bored, they boo and hiss like the house of lords
At a lengthy jam of two minor chords, self-indulgence on display

He gestures towards the crowd to call, his name out loud as he stands tall
His narcissistic, egotistical ways, annoy them all
Spoken word interims, silence descends. the lights are dimmed
A startling joke, a closing hymn, the band grind their teeth

Bottled spit soon appears upon, the stage they played but they’ve all gone
“We cannot play another song; a refund is probably best”
“Who needs fans when you’re as great as me?” Victor asks so arrogantly
“Will we ever make it to album 3?” the band begin to muse

Victor receives a prestigious award; he may be thrilled but the band are bored
“I think it’s time we pulled the cord”, a member thinks out loud
“Oh God, there’s so many people for me to thank; my manager, um God, the bank”
Well that speech was really ‘wank’, I hear an onlooker say

“He’s always thought he’s better than, the archetypal, insightful, righteous man
Spiteful moon boots, muddled tan, mirrors on every wall”
The band themselves begin to tire, of his ways, they would conspire
But know all too well they would be fired, penniless and bored

Those who remain will rack their brains, to make sense of the snowy stains
Upon the shirt of he who is named, Victor Angeles
And the fanatical delusionists, are the ones who will always insist
That they receive a mortal kiss, from Angeles esquire
A troubling thought soon appears, its long been the band’s biggest fear
That they’ll be replaced and disappear, into obscurity
Surely not, he must understand, that they were once ‘the greatest band’
In fact, it almost seems too well planned, contrived to say the least

Rumors start to spread around, the pestering press, the dwindling crowd
“Have the gas masks bowed their final bow?” a shocking tale ensues
But is it a bunch of vicious lies, so Victor can sever all of his ties
No heartfelt note, no last goodbyes, the band are soon to learn

“He played us all like marionettes, a string of lies with more to come
His sycophantic, rock star antics paralysed the numb
How dare he ruin our biggest dream, with his cunning plots and evil schemes
And I’ve always hated his lyrical themes, pretentiousness galore”

Victor brings forth his latest creeps, upon the stage amid the sound of weeps
From their dearest fans who’ll never sleep, knowing what he’s done
Rumors start to spread around, “He must have his head stuck in the clouds”
But would anyone dare say this out loud, the whispers circulate

“The last I heard, he’d lost his mind and sailed it down the river of tears”
They play in space, where no one hears, so no one ever claps
They’re out of time and out of key, all of their songs are in ‘Drop C’
But no one else will ever see, the jazz band in gas masks

From helter-skelters in the sky, to fallout shelters, they would try
To play each and every town and place, in this universe
No matter how damp or bleak, they used to come here every week
And if it’s mediocre jazz you seek, you need look no more

So, I’m rating them 4 out of 10, generous but then again
I’m envious that they can spend, their lives playing ‘that’
Now jealousy may spring to mind, but look further and you will find
That I once-upon a time declined, an offer that they made

Because fame is fickle and the gas masks jazz, isn’t really all that jazz
It’s caveman-esque, bland, razzmatazz, and the audience are plain
Now I’m not one to just complain, I haven’t been declared mundane
The band themselves are all to blame, their curtain call is nigh
And it may look to the untrained eye, that I’m jealousy cleverly disguised
But a pocketful of dreams must die, no sacrifice too small
Victor and his men are cursed; 14 times I have rehearsed
This in my head until it bursts, into a ball of flames

It may look to the untrained eye, I’m devilish, equally as sly
The crowd will mourn and they will cry, the vigils are prepared
Victor and his men are cursed; 15 times I have rehearsed
This in my head until it bursts, the gas masks cease to be

A tale that lives on through the ages, told in print on history pages
Meanwhile inside my hate it rages, bubbling to explode
These padded walls can’t hold me in, my conscience fails, the room does spin
But I’ve had the last laugh, I always win, the gas masks cease to be

And once they’re gone, they’ll be replaced, similar sound, familiar face
There’s no accounting for a lack of taste, but that is just the game
Insipid lyrics, cleverly masked, in a music style of the past
But it’ll soon be gone, it’ll never last, at least this writer hopes

But now they’re gone, they’re idolised and their successors are slowly on the rise
Tepid music cleverly disguised, by jazzy interludes
But now they’re gone, they’re idolised and the history books still print the lies
Another band I will despise; this game goes on and on

Bio: I’m a 21 year old, who currently works as a critic at a record label in Nottingham. I write reviews of bands and other music malarkey. I’m a keen musician but also dabble in literary exercises. I’m a fan of Bob Dylan, John Cooper Clarke, Alex Turner and Nick Cave – to name but a few.
I realise this poem is mega long but I think it’s part of the charm. If you’d like me to cut it down please ask as I’d like to retain the key points in the general narrative.


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