Skip to main content

Paul Vickers and The Leg – The Greengrocer (Pumpkintone/Alter Ego)

Four stars

Don't be fooled by the troubadourish mediaevalisms of the jaunty guitar flourish that opens the third and much belated opus by the wildest junkyard auteurs to ever embark on a galloping collision course of surrealist lyrical fantasms and stumblebum musical fury. There may be church bells and rivers flowing inbetween the ten manic vignettes contained therein, but it's open all hours in this food-stuff-based quasi concept album co-released through King Creosote's new micro-label, and which can't help but inspire words like 'opus' and 'therein' as they tap into Vickers' wilfully archaic fairytale-kingdom sooth-saying.

Within seconds, Vickers is phlegmatically regaling us with the poignant tale of 'My Trifle' with the guttural urgency of Kevin Coyne accompanied by the three-pronged assault of The Leg's Dan Mutch on guitar, Pete Harvey on cello and Alun Thomas on drums. Nothing more is to be taken as lightly, from the deranged East European gallop of 'Tulips of Delft' to the Jungle Book show-tune march of 'Bendy Bridge (Look Out Wendy)' and beyond.

Despite all this, the musical palette is more nuanced than on 'The Greengrocer's predecessors, 2008's 'Tropical Favourites' and 'Itchy Grumble' from 2010. Like them, this new epic is a sonic map of Vickers and co's collective psyche in all its warped glory, albeit with more tunefully produced levity. If 'Bound to the Sour' is a ripped and stripped B-movie western theme, the fiddle-led stomp of 'Horns and Anvils' threatens to break out into a full-on punk-folk hoe-down complete with keening chorus. The early hookline of 'Chaos Magic', meanwhile, oddly recalls Duran Duran's 'Planet Earth' before erupting with urgent abandon.

The title song's opening piano and cello refrain conjuring up eerie reminders to softcore Hammer horror reveries before launching into an off-kilter supper-time romp complete with clarinets, jungle pounding and the odd Roger Whittaker style whistle. There are hints of a Latin shuffle hidden in the thick of '7 Floors of Pleasure', while the extended spoken-word narrative of 'Polynesian Snuff' is a menacing ghost story avalanche designed to scare small boys and girls after dark.

The finale comes in the shape of the spoon-rattling re-appropriation of the Benny Hill theme that is 'Straggler on the Run'. After such a shelf-flying storm, everything is locked up for the night and the green-grocer whistles his way home, knowing only too well what happens when curious urchins shop local for the crunchiest and most intoxicating of ingredients in town.
 
The List, March 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …