2008 – Toxic Pete, Independent Reviewer, listened to the Album ‘Everybody Pays Cash’

“Rhythm Thieves are the genuine article [and] prove that you can still create meaningful music and have loads of fun doing it… Everybody Pays Cash by The Rhythm Thieves is a great little album firmly in the folk/rock stylee; there’s some excellent songs and they’re performed extremely well… It’s bright, entertaining and a very pleasant change from the more usual kinda stuff I tend to hear.

‘Woven Wheat Whispers’ Online Folk Community obviously liked it too…

“lively folk-rock with touches of 1970s funk soul, progressive rock, great songs and a sense of fun…a highly entertaining album with a varied sound and some interesting styles…definitely well worth your time”

June 2005 – Preview in ‘Wheaton Aston Festival’ magazine

Just look what those nice people at the Wheaton Aston Folk Festival said about us…

“Barmy Thieves are wicked fun with a belting bit of folk-rock. Fine music, a large dose of eccentricity, silly hats and lots of fun are the vital ingredients of a Rhythm Thieves gig. So if they don’t make you smile, you’re probably dead.

Folk-rock under-pins the music but they cheerfully nick from other genres to curry their own happy-go-lucky flavours. They are their own composers, wrapping their music around tongue-in-cheek or wickedly cutting lyrics, yet they don’t take anything too seriously.

Imaginative bass and percussion drive the music forward with lively exchanges between lead instruments, particularly flute and guitar (nice bit of wah-wah!).

Irresistible rhythms. A lovely, upbeat sound.

LINE-UP: Rob ‘Metronome’ Froome (drums, congas), John ‘Nice-Arse’ Winder (guitar, vocals, mandolin, banjo), Mark ‘Personality Hair-Do’ Richards (guitar, mouth organ, vocals), Jill ‘Little Fella on Flute’ Ireland (flute, vocals, keyboards), Phil ‘The Gob’ Fermor (bass, vocals).”

First printed in Wheaton Aston Folk Festival‘ magazine May 2005

November 2004 – Live @ Robin R&B Club – Review in ‘Ryan’s Gig Guide’

Tiger, live music reviewer with local music mag Ryan’s Gig Guide, was present at the Rhythm Thieves’ October 3rd gig at the Robin R&B Club in Bilston. Despite initial reservations about the folk-rock genre in general, she enjoyed the “foot-tapping, hip-swinging rhythms” and summarised that our “sense of humour and obvious enjoyment… made it an entertaining live set”.

For the review see below:

“I did it… I finally freed up an evening in my busy schedule (you know… washing my hair, TV commercials to catch up on e.t.c) to get down to a Rhythm Thieves gig. Well, actually, that’s not true. I genuinely have always been tied up (oooer missus) when previously invited but, I do have to admit, the temptation of folk-rock isn’t top of my must-do list.

Actually, as apparent from all their correspondence, the ‘Thieves seem to be a pretty sound bunch who don’t take themselves too seriously and like having a bit of a giggle and that attitude definitely came across in their live performance. Band members are Rob Froome on drums, Jill Ireland on flute, Mark Richards on guitar, Phil Fermor on bass and John Winder on various stringed instruments.

They launched their set with ‘Hoodoo Voodoo Real Bad Hairday’, the opening bars of which saw Rob playing percussion on John’s banjo, whilst Mark took on vocal duties. This and a couple of other numbers vaguely reminded me of ‘Cat’s In The Cradle’ or ‘Mocking Bird’, but more due to the lyrical than the musical composition. For track two, ‘Neon Parade’, John swapped to guitar and lead vocals, whilst Mark hit the wah-wah pedal for a more rocky vibe, although this was always tempered by Jill’s fluted harmonies.

Their playful, mischievous nature was certainly apparent by third number, ‘2002’, with a plethora of silly hats being passed from head to head, mid-song, whilst the mood infused into the music too, with a touch of humour and an engaging rhythm, giving a kind of ‘Time Warp’ flavour to the track.
Phil and John were confused about their next, ‘Spencer Bailey’, Phil claiming it was “a song written yesterday”.

“You say that about all our songs”, replied John.

Phil continued his introduction, “ …a song about Spencer Bailey and what a bad person he is.”

“No it’s not!” corrected John.

Thankfully they were in marginally more agreement for the actual performance, with the use of scales giving it a comical air of menace, with shades of ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ about it.

Jill took over the soft and lilting vocals on ‘You Will Be Mine’, a light and airy tale which, according to John, “re-establishes our credentials as a folk-rock band – one you’d be proud to introduce to your parents”.

Some foot-tapping, hip-swinging rhythms on ‘Shave A Priest’ followed, with John watching the duelling between Jill’s flute and Mark’s guitar as if centrally seated on Centre Court.

“Would you like something funky?” they asked, introducing ‘Hole’, but it never really ventured too far away from the format established so far, as could also be said of follower ‘Freeway Blues’ which showed… err, unsurprisingly… blues influences and also allowed a brief solo showcase for all players except bassist, Phil.

He did, however, get his turn in the spotlight as he sang the next number (passing the bass to Mark), ‘Is This So?’, a song about religious intolerance which was delivered in the style of a ‘repent all ye sinners’ God-bothering zealot.

So then, as the name Rhythm Thieves might imply, they have borrowed from various genres but the resulting blend is still basically just good-natured folk-rock. The gig was, however, far more palatable than I had feared, even the flute being far less domineering to their sound than one might expect and their sense of humour and obvious enjoyment having made it an entertaining live set which transcended the recorded medium’s tendency to sound a little flat.

October 2004 – ‘Hicseus Doxus’ Review in ‘Ryan’s Gig Guide’

“Better at modesty than self-promotion, the folk musicians of the Midlands seem intent on convincing the un-initiated that the movement died out somewhere in the early 1970s. Far from it; in fact the area has a thriving folk scene in dozens of little clubs in pubs all over the place.

Rhythm Thieves seem to be stalwarts on the circuit, although I must confess that I’ve managed to miss them just about everywhere. But now I have a CD. And a very good CD it is too, diverse in styles and subject matter (witness ‘Hoodoo Voodoo’, which reminds me a bit of ‘Hats off to Harper’ and ‘Gallows Pole’, or the slip jig ‘Bury the Head’).

Good banjo playing, guitar and flute (including the cheeky ‘Take Five’ reference) are found throughout the album, interspersed with nice bass lines and even a bit of good funky wah-wah for good measure; and not a “Nyaaargh” to be heard.

Only problem with the CD is that, for the un-initiated, I think the recorded medium lacks the warmth and humour of live folk, which are such a central part of the experience that it will, I fear, leave many listeners untouched. Go along, see Rhythm Thieves in their natural habitat, then buy the album. It will all mean so much more.”