Paul Vickers on CD: an introduction

I probably wont get a chance to review Paul Vickers’ entire CD output in the immediate future, so for now you’ll have to settle for a brief introduction to what is currently available on CD. His work, at this point, neatly divides into two sections.

Vickers began his musical career with the band Dawn of the Replicants who remained active from around 1996 – 2006, producing five studio albums. Adding to that, there is also a side project (Pluto Monkey), an extended EP (Bun Magic) and a Best Of (Bust The Trunk, mainly of interest for the DVD that comes with some copies). In addition to those 8 discs, there are numerous other singles, and radio sessions available, only some of which I’ve acquired at this point. The band, as every biography points out, were a favourite of the late John Peel. To the best of my knowledge Dawn of the Replicants are not actually defunct, just on a break. Same as Abba. They have a Wikipedia entry here, which also will direct you to their homepage:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Of_The_Replicants

Since The Replicants went on hiatus, Vickers has been responsible for a further 5 CDs, produced at roughly one a year. You won’t hear a word said against The Replicants here, but his releases since have been incredible stuff. All of ‘em. Two outstanding collaborations with The Leg, two comedy recordings with different degrees of musical backing, and the latest, Oom-pah!, which seems to be an amalgamation of everything that’s come before it. Listening to his work chronologically, I almost get the feeling that all roads were leading to Oom-Pah! (even if a bit of research indicates that some of the tracks were compiled for earlier projects). His voice sounds both like it did in The Replicants days and as it did with The Leg, in its new Tom Waits-esque incarnation. When Waits’ voice changed circa swordfishtrombones, I don’t think it was an artistic decision – that’s what Waits sounds like now, even if he’s just out buying a pint of milk. Thankfully Vickers still has quite a few voices to choose from. Even on some Replicants albums, I’m never entirely sure if it’s all from the same vocalist.

Sadly Vickers work isn’t the easiest to get hold of. Using the UK’s most comprehensive online source (in my opinion, I’m not on the payroll), Amazon.co.uk, you will find availability for just one post-Replicants disc, Itchy Grumble. And for Dawn of the Replicants themselves, you will find just 3 CDs available. Not 3 different albums, 3 actual discs – that’s all they have! And it’ll cost you a very un-2011 £17+ to purchase one of them. Amazon Marketplace is a different story, with most discs (save the most recent two) easily available and, in many cases, brand new and sealed. Of course, whether any proceeds of these sales would reach the artist in any form can’t be known, although it may have done already as many Marketplace sellers are professional outfits. In a few weeks I’m going to have a good gander in a few Glasgow and Edinburgh record stores to see how they fare for Vickers product and report back.

The latest Vickers releases – Fucking Storys* and Oom-Pah!* – are almost impossible to find in physical form right now, although they were sold in cardboard slips with artwork at the Twonkey’s Castle gigs. I hate downloading music myself, as I like the physical object too much. In fact, if I can find these in the shops in full jewel-case form, I’m going to buy them again. But if it’s download or sod all, then that’s the way to go. Both of these albums are available for a very reasonable £5 download fee at SL Records. The website indicates you can purchase Fucking Storys as a physical album, but not Oom-Pah! at the present time.

http://slrecords.net/paulvickers/

*Both of Vickers’ latest discs suffer online from the fact that no one, not even the record company, especially not the record company, seem to know the exact titles of these two albums! Crazy but true. ‘Fucking Storys’ is titled as both ‘Fucking…’ and ‘Fuckin…’, appended with either ‘Storys’ or ‘Stories’. The SL Records website variously spells the follow up as ‘Oom pah!’, ‘Oom-pah!’, ‘Omm Pah’ and ‘Oom-pah’. You might have to look closely at those, but that’s four different spellings folks (ignoring whether it should be a capital ‘P’), just from the official webpage!

Vickers can title these whatever he likes, of course, and I’m giving the final word to the album covers. And so… we have Fucking Storys and Oom-Pah!. Glad that’s sorted.

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