Merrym’n – ‘Black Over Bill’s Mother’s’ Album Review

I was first introduced to Merrym’n’s musical wonder back in January of this year, when local newspaper The Sentinel published an article about an English teacher who’d written a song titled ‘I Was Born in Stoke-on-Trent’. Bob Moston, who’s guise is Merrym’n, illustriously proclaimed that he was proud of his hometown and, admittedly, I thought he was absolutely crazy.

Until that is, I was sat on the Virgin Pendolino train to Glasgow Central, with his album in hand.

The album itself is a culmination of 9 short stories and 1 slightly bizarre introduction.

There aren’t many albums that begin with an introduction, a theme song if you will, but this is how ‘Black Over Bill’s Mother’s’ begins. Maybe this is Moston’s way of throwing us off the general scent of the album, because what graced my ears on that October morning was not at all what I expected nor was it a reflection of the album. Still though, ‘Roy’s Theme’ is 16 seconds of pleasant randomness.

Kick starting the album is ‘Cow Tipping’, a highly catchy, folky number about a local man and his past. Already it’s obvious that Bob Moston is a detailed lyricist, as ‘Satellite Manager’ and ‘Fat Knacker’ both prove perfectly. Maybe it’s the skilled use of the harmonica in his music, or possibly the general acoustic-folkiness of his sound, but many of Moston’s tracks are easily comparable to some of Bob Dylan’s early work.

The song that caused the biggest wave, however, is the ear worm that is ‘I was Born In Stoke-on-Trent’, a song filled with stories and tales taken from the glorious town of, you guessed it, Stoke-on-Trent. You can say what you like about the people of Stoke, but Merrym’n’s enthusiasm and pride for his beloved hometown is clearly shared by many, and as it currently stands, Moston’s homemade video has received a massive 8,857 views. Pretty impressive considering the amount of negativity that surrounds the town.

Moston’s album continues with the feather light ‘Inflatable Man’, that will have you feeling as though you’re floating about 10 feet off the ground (pardon the pun), followed by ‘Ten-A-Penny’ that brings you back down to earth with the return of the harmonica that really defines Merrym’n’s sound so wonderfully. A personal favourite from ‘Black Over Bill’s Mother’s’ is the short and sweet ‘Blue Rinse Brigade’. Bob Moston’s vocals seem to be at their rawest in this song, and it’s that that makes it one of the strongest of the lot.

Rounding off the ten track album is ‘Stanley’ another story about a character that you can’t help but feel sorry for, and ‘Make Believein’ a song that Merrym’n himself says is “about riding your bike across Biddulph Moor, about adventuring like Gordie, Teddy, Chris and Vern in Stand By Me, about flying across the moon like E.T. and Elliott”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

‘Black Over Bill’s Mother’s’ is knee deep in local pride. Whether or not Merrym’n intended to, he’s created an album that single-handedly attempts to put Stoke back in people’s good books. I doubt that it’s achievable, but in the meantime, Bob Moston should be extremely proud of his musical offering.


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