The Greengrocer: Paul Vickers & The Leg

THE GREENGROCER

notthisbloody time

Paul Vickers first released an album with Edinburgh band The Leg in 2008, two years after his last album with Dawn of the Replicants. A second followed in 2010, then, in early 2012, third collaboration The Greengrocer was announced. A pre-launch gig took place way back that February, but the album soon disappeared from The Leg’s official website. We suspected the supergroup had gone their separate ways, which would have been a shame. But then a few shows took place in April 2014, with the news that the album was being manufactured for a release this year. It’s Vickers’ 2nd album in six months, The Leg’s second in a year, and it’s a beauty. We can’t complain.

vickersleg3

The first instance we can find of this LP being offered for sale was at a gig several weeks ago, giving a release date:  20th September 2014. A whopping 30 months after the first launch gig. Now, we’re not ones to start conspiracy theories, but here are the facts:

  • negotiations to hold a Scottish Referendum began just three weeks before the initial Greengrocer launch gig in Feb 2012
  • as negotiations gathered pace, The Greengrocer vanished from all release schedules
  • the album is a collaboration between English and Scottish artists
  • it’s utterly marvellous, proof positive that the Union works bloody wonders
  • it was finally pressed and ready for release by the summer of 2014
  • but stayed hidden, unheard and unavailable until…
  • …one single day after the Referendum result was announced.

One frickin day! The Daily Mail will back us up on the details. That’s the last time we’ll mention it. Honest.

And anyway, we are happy to say that not only has the material not dated in that time, it is quite possibly the most current album ever released! Just listen to track #3, which begins  ‘Watch out Wendy, they build them so bendy.’ This album came out 24 hours after the release of the new iPhone 6+ which, it turns out, bends like a motherfucker. Right there on the ‘bridge’ between the processor and the flash memory apparently. Later line ‘the devil runs the show‘ seems to be a reference to Mephistoles himself, Bono from U2, who shat his crappy new album onto the whole world’s iDevices to celebrate the release of said bendy phone. What makes this piece of super-quick social commentary so mind-boggling is the fact that they’d also played it live 6 months earlier! Vickers is the new Mother Shipton.

The album is a sonic revelation. The Leg are tight! And that’s not just the xenophobia talking. We mean musically here! But they aren’t afraid to chuck in some cheesy backing vocals when the tune requires it.

Vickers, as a lyricist, is a different beast on a record like this than he is with DotR or his Twonkey albums. The words are as dense and hardcore as the music they accompany. We’d have loved to see some printed lyrics, coz the truth is we don’t know what the hell he’s singing about the half the time. ‘You’re the window, I’m the plant,’ he sings on the opener. Can’t imagine Rod Stewart belting that out somehow, and it’s the most traditional lyric on the album.

The vocals are as strong as ever, although vary wildly depending on the song. Listen to that first track My Trifle telling yourself Vickers laid down his vocal in the middle of an anal probe. Honestly, you’ll believe it to be true. It’s a peculiar choice of opener, to be honest, given the tempo and the fragile vocals. Most records like to either come blasting out of the gate, or stripped right down, but this is neither. A great track all the same. Next, The Tulips of Delft, is nowhere near as cute as the title suggests. Pitchforks, knives, mutilations, plenty of real menace. Followed by the aforementioned Ode to them Bendy New iPhones, before Bound To The Sour & Horns And Anvils, the softest folk sounds on the album.

Then we’re at the midpoint and the beautiful pairing (if you’re not listening on vinyl and having to take an annoying time-out to climb over a hooker & change the fucking side) of Chaos Magic and title track The Greengrocer. These are, for us, the album highlights. Both, perhaps not coincidentally, are also the tracks that highlight the band’s sound when they take it down a notch. The Leg can rock the frickin’ house like nobody’s business, but sound beyond scarily good when they slow it down. The title track even injects some loud distortion between one of the rock-to-quiet transitions, just to accentuate the point.

‘Chaos Magic’ is actually practised by some folk with a straight face. Scottish comic book scribe Grant Morrison claims he used it to pull his wife. The fact that he’s rich, handsome, charismatic and that she left her council squat to live in his castle all apparently had nothing to do with it. Anyway, quite what’s being said about it in this song is unclear. It begins with some haunting background vocals asking for ‘Mercy’, but on the shouty chorus intro, Vickers seems to scream ‘Dumbledore, give me more!’

Seven Floors of Pleasure had previously been released as a single between albums. The version here sounds like a complete re-recording which we prefer to the original. Polynesian Snuff, a Twonkey Tale spoken to a beautiful backing, had also appeared earlier, in print, as part of the Collected Minatures in Itchy Grumble. And finishing the album is another track with a previous appearance, Straggler On The Run, familiar to anyone who caught Twonkey’s Blue Cadabra. We have to admit that our ears failed us on this show favourite, and we didn’t know it was a Leg collaboration until we got the record. Shameful.

Fortunately for all you (and us) who don’t own a record player, the LP comes with a download code. First time we’d used one, but they work just fine. 37 seconds to download the whole thing. So far, it’s only sold at gigs, but hopefully some kind of release schedule or mass availability will be announced soon. This record deserves to be heard!

We wish the album huge success, but maybe not so much that it reaches the ears of Islamic State and they get ideas from the line ‘a bomb in an aubergine.’ There’s even a picture of how to set the device up on the back cover! A bit irresponsible, that. Imagine having to call 999 and say ‘My fruit and veg’s gone off. No, not turned brown. Gone off! The in-laws have been blown to bits all over the kitchen. The dishwasher looks as good as knackered.’

We wouldn’t like to pick a favourite between these three Vickers / Leg albums so far. But if pushed, fuck it, we’d go for this one. It’s a grower. Probably the best album sonically of Vickers’ career to date. These guys sound so good they could dress haggis up as lamb. And with at least one new song performed recently that isn’t on this album (Vinegar Mask), here’s hoping there’ll be a fourth in the not too distant future.

Paul Vickers.

The Leg.

Better Together.

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