Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat.

Last updated
Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat.
Tim Key With a String Quartet On a Boat.jpg
Studio album by
Released8 November 2010 [1]
Genre Comedy/Poetry
Language English
Label Angular Recording Corporation/The Invisible Dot

Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat. is a comedic poetry album written by and starring Tim Key and co-starring Tom Basden. The album is intended to be Key reading out his poems with the accompaniment of a string quartet, but actually it primarily features Key and Basden, who is nicknamed "Lord", constantly arguing with each other. [2] [3]

Comedy Genre of dramatic works intended to be humorous

In a modern sense, comedy is a genre of fiction that refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film, stand-up comedy, or any other medium of entertainment. The origins of the term are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters. The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance which pits two groups or societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old." A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse in ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.

Poetry Form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Album collection of recorded music, words, sounds

An album is a collection of audio recordings issued as a collection on compact disc (CD), vinyl, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century as individual 78-rpm records collected in a bound book resembling a photograph album; this format evolved after 1948 into single vinyl LP records played at ​33 13 rpm. Vinyl LPs are still issued, though album sales in the 21st-century have mostly focused on CD and MP3 formats. The audio cassette was a format widely used alongside vinyl from the 1970s into the first decade of the 2000s.



As the title of the album suggests, Key is on a recording studio based on a boat in the East End of London. [4] He is reading out his comic poems to music provided by a string quartet. Later during the recording Basden appears, unaware that Key had booked a string quartet and under the belief that he was to provide the music for the album with his guitar. [2]

Boat vessel for transport by water

A boat is a watercraft of a large range of type and size. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on their larger size, shape, and cargo or passenger capacity, and their ability to carry boats.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Guitar Fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

Each track in the album consists of one poem read by Key, except for the track "Lord's Moment" which consists of Basden playing a song on his guitar. Many of the poems are very short, consisting of just four words and some tracks lasting less than a quarter of a minute. [2] [3] However, most of the album consists of Key and Basden arguing. For example, Key tells him he cannot have a coke if he is playing the harmonica. At the end of "Jet Walsh", Key puts Basden's guitar case between Basden and the women in the quartet for fear Basden is getting too close to them. The reference [2] incorrectly states that it is a viola case that is used as the barrier.

Coca-Cola Carbonated soft drink

Coca-Cola, or Coke, is a carbonated soft drink manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. Originally intended as a patent medicine, it was invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton and was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coca-Cola to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. The drink's name refers to two of its original ingredients: coca leaves, and kola nuts. The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, although a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.

Harmonica free reed wind instrument

The harmonica, also known as a French harp or mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used worldwide in many musical genres, notably in blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, rock. There are many types of harmonica, including diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and bass versions. A harmonica is played by using the mouth to direct air into or out of one or more holes along a mouthpiece. Behind each hole is a chamber containing at least one reed. A harmonica reed is a flat elongated spring typically made of brass, stainless steel, or bronze, which is secured at one end over a slot that serves as an airway. When the free end is made to vibrate by the player's air, it alternately blocks and unblocks the airway to produce sound.


The album was created the year following Key's victory at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2009 where he won the main prize for his show The Slutcracker. In 2010, Key decided he was not going to do a new show so this left him a gap in which he could do new work. His management, The Invisible Dot, suggested creating an album. Key said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph : "It was the first thing I've done where I have had no idea whether it is viable or not. There was an awkward clash of styles, between a string quartet that are used to doing concerts, working with professionals and me just sitting there with scraps of paper, just saying: 'OK, can you do a bit more of your classical music, and I'll do my poems.' It is a very peculiar sell I think." [4] Key told the BBC that he had never performed with a string quartet before the making of the album. [5]

Edinburgh Comedy Awards theatre award

The Edinburgh Comedy Awards or Eddies are presented to the comedy shows deemed to have been the best at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. Established in 1981, they are the most prestigious comedy prize in the United Kingdom. The awards have been directed and produced by Nica Burns since 1984.

<i>The Daily Telegraph</i> British daily broadsheet newspaper

The Daily Telegraph, known online as The Telegraph, is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was founded by Arthur B. Sleigh in 1855 as Daily Telegraph & Courier.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

Joe Daniel, the co-founder of the Angular Recording Corporation which made the album said that: "It isn't a 'live' album of a stand-up [show]. The material was put together specifically for the record, and in that respect it is like that quaintly English format, the radio play." [4]

Angular Recording Corporation was an independent record label founded in New Cross, South East London. It was established in June 2003 by two ex-Goldsmiths College students, Joe Daniel and Joe Margetts, who reclaimed a local Ordnance Survey Triangulation Station and made it their first artefact: ARC 001.

The album was released only as a digital download and as 1,000 limited edition vinyl records. [2] [4]

Music download digital transfer of music from an Internet-facing computer or website to a users local desktop computer

A music download is the digital transfer of music via the Internet into a device capable of decoding and playing it, such as a home computer, MP3 player or smartphone. This term encompasses both legal downloads and downloads of copyrighted material without permission or legal payment. According to a Nielsen report, downloadable music accounted for 55.9% of all music sales in the US in 2012. By the beginning of 2011, Apple's iTunes Store alone made US$1.1 billion of revenue in the first quarter of its fiscal year.


Professional ratings
Review scores
British Comedy Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [2]
Drowned in Sound Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [6]
NME Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [7]

Reviews of the album have been mainly positive. Steve Bennett of Chortle said, "his unique persona is warmly compelling, and his imaginative word-pictures are ideally suited to an audio release. In the end, the gently brittle journey Key takes you on is as modestly beautiful as it is charmingly disconcerting." [3]

Tim Burrows of The Daily Telegraph said that the album, "is closest in spirit to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's brilliantly foulmouthed project, Derek and Clive, which first saw the light of day in 1976." [4] However, Ian Wolf of the British Comedy Guide disagreed saying: "I think that is taking it a bit too far. For starters it is not nearly as rude (although 'Chess' does feature the c-word) and Key's album is not as laugh-out-loud funny as the genius of Pete and Dud." [2]

Wolf, however, also said, "the poems are funny no matter what the length" and that, "There are many moments of mirth and it is a worthwhile listen." [2]

Sam Walby of Drowned in Sound did have criticisms saying, "that Key is sometimes too deadpan for his own good, making his one-line pieces a little stilted. A case in point is the three poems about Bob ('Bob And The Pipe', 'Bob And The Octopus' and 'The Tragedy of Bob'), which might work on stage but do not transfer as well onto tape." However, he did say: "At points it drags, but Tim Key. With A String Quartet. On A Boat. is as good an introduction as any to Key's off-kilter insanity and love of everyday nonsense." [6]

Track listing

1."Dead Claire"2:08
2."1000 Dogs"2:23
3."Bob And The Pipe"1:38
4."Bending Over"1:40
5."The Good Driver"3:14
6."Bob And The Octopus"1:10
8."The Trouble With War"2:13
9."The Doctor's Cabinets"1:25
13."The Goat"1:53
14."Plastic Surgery"0.43
15."The Fiver"2:19
16."How To Behave If You're Trapped On An Island With A Giant"2:28
21."Jet Walsh"1:28
22."The Bribe"0:32
24."The Tragedy of Bob"1:41
26."The Date"1:16
28."Chris Jumped Out Of A Plane"1:42
29."Lord's Moment"5:18
31."Siberian Waitress (Bonus Track)"5:11
Total length:59.10

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  1. "ARC077: Tim Key - Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat". Angular Recording Corporation. Archived from the original on 13 November 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Wolf, Ian. "Album Review: Tim Key. With a String Quartet. On a Boat". British Comedy Guide . Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 Bennett, Steve (9 November 2010). "Tim Key: With A String Quartet. On A Boat". Chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Burrows, Tim (15 November 2010). "Tim Key: the spirit of 'Derek and Clive'". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  5. "Tim Key: Poetry, a string quartet and a boat". BBC. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  6. 1 2 Walby, Sam (9 November 2010). "Tim Key - With A String Quartet. On A Boat". Drowned in Sound . Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  7. Haynes, Gavin (5 November 2010). "Album Review: Tim Key - Tim Key, With A String Quartet. On A Boat. (Angular)". NME . Retrieved 21 November 2010.Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)