Twonkey Transcendent!

Twonkey’s Private Restaurant (*****) is now halfway through its run at the Edinburgh Fringe. And we’ve caught it on both weekends so far coz we are the Twonkey Army.

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We gave it five stars back in May on its Brighton debut and nothing was going to stop Mr. Twonkey from still delivering the goods, and not just coz he’s dressed as a Postman.

There have only been a few minor tweaks since then. His stuffed cat (see photo above) has been scalped of most of his hair, which can now be found down the knickers of the ‘attractive lady’ puppet. Honestly, this kind of behaviour wouldn’t even go on in the Vatican! And a hilarious parody of Hands Off Mussolini has also been cut.

Signature song Pissed As A Postman was unexpectedly dropped from the Aug 10th gig. He may simply have left his costume at home, but that doesn’t make for good copy here at Playboys With Hunchbacks, oh no. So let us report that the night before, a local Postie threatened to punch Mr. Twonkey – right in his ‘potato face’ – if he sung that song just once more.

The bizarre ‘face of a potato’ description actually comes from a mostly great Time Out review:

http://www.timeout.com/london/comedy/twonkeys-private-restaurant-review

As you can see, five stars! And four of ’em in red! For a grand total of nine! We do disagree, however, with the notion that these are ‘daft’ comedy songs and not ‘anthemic’. The Vickers songbook can take the Pepsi challenge against absolutely anyone this decade. He’s as anthemic as Coldplay, and a whole lot more. We hope the reviewer has a chance to listen to the albums. His opinion would surely change.

The Scotsman run a different star system, where they give up to five white stars, but any additional stars (the equivalent of moving up a ‘dan’ in Karate if you’re already a black belt) are overlayed in patriotic Scottish blue. See below:

 http://www.wow247.co.uk/blog/2014/08/08/twonkeys-private-restaurant-free

Another all-colour nine star review for our man! Some say the blue stars count double, and that makes it… 13 stars! Woohoo! We do the sums for you at Hunchbacks HQ.

Will Twonkey garner another award nomination this year? He certainly deserves to, but you can’t second guess that lot.

At HHQ, we’ve pretty much given up on comparing the Twonkey shows and albums against each other – they’re all amazing. Having said that, the general consensus within Team Playboys is that this is his best show and best bunch of songs yet. So there you go. We do miss Stan Laurel though. So much so that we got an alternative Stan fix at this year’s festival, catching the ‘And this is my friend Mr Laurel‘ show at The Pleasance. It’s exquisitely conceived and performed (by Hi-Di-Hi’s Jeffrey Holland), a great retrospective of Stan’s life and career. Even if it failed to mention his participation in the Annual Ulverston Pensioner’s Fun Run.

Twonkey’s tuck shop now boasts of six masterworks for your purchasing pleasure. The accompanying CDs for the four previous Twonkey shows (2010 – 2013), a USB stick for the current album (Giddy World, 2014), and the book Itchy Grumble. All on sale for £5. As a body of work for the decade so far, it’s an unrivalled jaw-dropping achievement.

Itchy Grumble is onto its second printing (at least), although the copyright page doesn’t mention it. The cover is centred slightly differently now, it’s minutely less green and the book now sports a barcode on the back cover. Unlike the postman story above, on this more trivial issue you can take our comments as the word of God.

It’s the show of the year, folks. Get yourselves along whilst you still can.

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One week till Twonkey 2014 !!

Just one week, folks, until Twonkey’s Private Restaurant is unleashed at the Edinburgh Fringe. 8.45pm at Espionage. It plays from July 31st to August 24th, with just one night off (the 12th). That’s 24 performances y’all.

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And if that aint enough Vickers for ya, Steven Vickers aka Victor Pope plays at The Phoenix Pub in Broughton Street @ 8.45pm every night. Annoyingly, this is the exact same time as the Twonkey shows up the road, which means we’ll have to sacrifice a Paul gig to see Steve. We’ll do it just this once.

The clashing schedule of their shows is such a bizarre co-incidence that it’s surely a time for some completely unfounded rumours. And if we don’t start ’em, who will? Exactly. So we reckon the feuding Vickers Bros make the Gallaghers look as tight as Jedward. Their shows have been deliberately clashed to avoid the ‘Get off!’ and ‘You’re Shit!’ sibling heckling that, frankly, has brought comedy and song into disrepute. It all goes back to a stolen Tunnocks Teacake 34 years ago apparently.

Our advice is, at the end of a Vickers gig this August, buy a CD from the Vicker concerned and say ‘I saw your brother last night and he rewrote the book on ‘How to be Fuckin’ Ace!’ You know, just to wind that particular Vicker up.

Twonkey’s Private Restaurant has already been previewed in Brighton, reviewed here, and is another classic show. Do not miss it! And, if you have another free night, we recommend the Victor Pope show. His albums are terrific and he impressed Team: Playboys the one and only time we caught his act before, way back in 2011.

We’ll be checking out both shows on opening weekend.

And a review of the new Paul Vickers album, Giddy World, on sale at this year’s Fringe, will appear before the Festival kicks off.

Twonkey’s Private Restaurant *****

3rd May 2014, Temple Bar, Brighton

the aeronaut

‘A chariot made from garlic bread, will disappoint in years ahead’

He’s done it again folks. Paul’s latest show, Twonkey’s Private Restaurant, is another home run. You might think we would say that, but it’s just plum true. Nor did it come as a major surprise. Parts of the show have been previewed at one-off gigs, on youtube or Soundcloud, and the Paul & Pierre album. If a skit had been road-tested, we’d have seen it. We’re here, we’re there, we’re everyfuckingwhere, we’re Team: Playboys With Hunchbacks!

And full marks to Brighton for providing this classic cabaret with a Full House on opening night! If you’ve seen Twonkey before, you’ll know what to expect. If you loved it then, you’ll love it now. If you weren’t sure then, you’re just a show or two away from what is known to Fringe hipsters as a ‘Twonkey Epiphany’. Expect a busload of good reviews come August, although Three Weeks probably still won’t get it. ‘Three Weeks’, incidentally, is a reference to the length of the Fringe Festival, which is always closer to four weeks, and shows what clueless arseholes they actually are.

Every year Paul (& Friends!) somehow manages to come up with another bunch of great new tunes. The previously previewed Pissed As A Postman and Mother Shipton are both showstoppers. And they’re joined by a couple of new ballads and a few more Paul & Pierre tracks, all of his usual high quality. The ships wheel is back, with a whole new set of sexual predictions, just as funny as previous years (even if nothing can top the snail in Great Yarmouth). Other great additions are a (fictional) account of a youtube parody of a new track, and a song which is given a huge build up only to consist of just two barely-sung sentences. And it all ends with a new version of 2011’s Hot Beryl! We even learn of a Hawaiian Beryl: half beer, half gin with a pineapple chucked in.

There’s also evidence that as Paul approached part #5 in his Twonkey Pentalogy, he had a look at other #5s just to see if/where they went wrong. He may have watched Prometheus (Alien #5) and its DVD extras. How so? Well the film revisits props from the original Alien known as ‘Space Jockeys’. Mr. Twonkey has used that description literally as the origin story for puppet Chris Hutchinson. Prometheus (so bad it was almost good) was also the first sci-fi from Ridley Scott since Blade Runner, the film which gave Paul’s band Dawn of the Replicants their name.

Twonkey herself gets no mention in the show whatsoever now. Having said that, Private Restaurant is probably more consistent to its own theme than Twonkey’s ever been before. Food and hunger are never far from a sketch or a song. Mother Shipton, a real life fortune teller, got no introduction before she was discussed. Maybe Brighton are a more knowledgable audience and would have known all about her. The show lasted a mammoth 55 minutes, so is likely to see a few snips before the Edinburgh Festival. We’re glad it’s not up to us what bits to drop as there were no saggy sequences whatsoever.

We hope Paul has enjoyed his Brighton Fringe Private Restaurant debut. He has delivered another classic hour of cabaret and you should be counting the days till it’s next performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. We are! The new songs are wonderful, most of it is funny, and much of it is priceless.

Hell, we even left the show with wood! Which is quite an achievement at our age. This may have something to do with the new Twonkey album ‘Giddy World‘. An album review will be the next bus at this stop. We’ll leave you for now with this teaser pic:

twonkey wood

 

The return of Paul Vickers & The Leg!

They’re back! Paul Vickers and The Leg performed a support set at Edinburgh’s Citrus Club on Friday 25th April. After three years of blogging about Mr Vickers’ adventures, we had yet to see him in the environment which made him famous in the first place, making us a modern day David Attenborough who had never been further than a zoo. But no more! We have finally earned our stripes.

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In a bizarre co-incidence, on our travels to the gig – Essex to London to Edinburgh to Glasgow back to Edinburgh in about four hours – we passed a bar en route to The Citrus Club which was advertising a gig that very night by The Victor Pope Band!!! Sadly we couldn’t be in two places at once, so had to give it a miss. And no sooner were we inside Citrus, than our pint was spilled by the drummer from The Leg. Now, we’re not idiots and know that drummers have been known to balance an inferiority complex with acts of extreme violence. Even without his sticks he looked handy. We apologised for having placed a beverage within his path and he thankfully let it pass.

The gig itself was magnificent. 30 minutes, 8 tracks. Vickers was in fine voice and The Leg are a class outfit. And we got the great news that their third album, The Greengrocer, is currently being pressed. This album was reportedly complete and ready for release two years ago and had dropped off The Leg’s own website so we thought it had perhaps been scrapped. But it’s coming, and better yet, the snippets we got to hear were fabulous. The only downside – for us, as 21st Century pioneers – is that the album is coming out on Vinyl. We are, quite frankly, mystified at the resurgence of such an outdated format, which we hated even when there were no decent alternatives to be had. And coming after we witnessed the introduction of tram lines on the streets of Edinburgh… I mean what the fuck is going on up there?!? Albums coming out only on a pre WWII format, trams being reintroduced like it’s 1873, and an independence vote to take Scotland back to the glory days of 1295! That’s our rant for today. Thank you for listening.

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The setlist (new song titles obviously guesswork)

1. Bridge Song (from The Greengrocer)

2. When The Wand is Wild (from Tropical Favourites)

3. Horns on Anvils (from The Greengrocer)

4. Vinegar Mask (new track, possibly from Twonkey #5?)

5. Wild Geese (from Tropical Favourites)

6. Itchy Grumble (from Itchy Grumble)

7. My Trifle (from The Greengrocer?)

8. Car Horns of Rio (from Tropical Favourites)

The performance’s most amusing moment came in the outro to track 7, as Vickers sang ‘My trifle’ over and over. In between, an on-the-ball audience member shouted out ‘whose trifle?’ and Vickers had to fight the laughter to finish the song.

The following acts were comedian Ted Chippington and 80’s band The Nightingales. Chippington has the rather unfortunate label as the main influence on Stewart Lee. Which means he is to Lee what Richard Wagner is to the Nazis. But sadly Chippington is still alive (and working!) to witness this reputational freefall. Poor fella. I had never heard of The Nightingales but enjoyed their set, played as a continous melody from start to finish.

As the new Vickers / Leg album gears up for release, we will shortly give an overview of Paul Vickers & The Leg so far – which consists of 2 albums, a non-album two track single, and a brief live appearance on DVD.

But for now, the spotlight turns back to Twonkey’s Private Restaurant which makes its Brighton debut in just five days time! Woohoo!

The Gentleman’s Guide to Gasp! (2013) Part 2

Here we are… Part II of the album guide that takes longer to read than the album takes to listen to. But if any album deserves this treatment, it’s surely Gasp!. This covers tracks #9 to #16.

Tingler

A Rare Tingler (with Steven Vickers)

If we had to describe the Twonkey Tales in a single word, we’d say they were a bloodbath, and then argue that it’s just one word if you don’t use a space in the middle. Honestly, Vickers makes Game of Thrones look like Enid Blyton. King Evelyn, the hero of this tale, has the same fate as most Vickers’ heroes, which is a hideous, barbaric death. It’s vivid and amusing and disturbing as always. Now, we have tried to find out what a ‘tingler’ is with little success. So all we can use is the circumstantial evidence, which would suggest it’s a finger sized device used to scratch your arse with! And if that’s the case, we can only imagine that it’s a ‘tingler’ which adorns the album cover (see detail above). Don’t take that to the bank, though.

Trivia: The sonic background for this has been kicking around for some time. It was originally the backing for a Recording The Impossible era tale about Marlon Brando giving birth to a ‘man baby’ (it didn’t happen!), which was once available on a long since vanished Impossible website. (Thanks to ‘Deepthroat’ for the info).

Kiss The Gargoyle (with Roger Simian)

A short, jaunty number with a kid-friendly melody but some racy lyrics, this became a favourite around Hunchbacks HQ especially with Hunchbacks Junior. But we don’t play it out loud any more. Can’t take the risk. All we need is for little Hunchbacks to turn up at Nursery singing ‘I got a hammer for a prick, I tease the rats with my stick’ and we’ll be in front of a judge quicker than you can say ‘It’s A Knockout’.

Trivia: this is the only ‘song’ performed during a show (Twonkey’s Kingdom) that wasn’t played as an instrumental for Vickers to sing over. Instead it played with the distorted vocals intact and he just mouthed the lyrics when he felt like it. If he felt like it. Our old Primary Three school teacher used to have a word for that kinda behaviour. ‘Lazy!’ she would say to us. ‘You’ll never amount to a single thing!’ History has proved her right.

Playboys With Hunchbacks (with Steven Vickers)

At last, after probably millions of tunes celebrating man’s superstitious mental failings, evolution gets a song in its honour. Richard Dawkins should come on stage for his debates to this tune. Let his detractors come out to Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam and Dickie D is already 1-0 up. A great track which we were thrilled to see on disc. And, if you haven’t already figured it out, we named this here blog in its honour.

Trivia: Playboys With Hunchbacks comes from our first Twonkey experience, Twonkey’s Castle, although was absent from the companion album at the time. The original version had a kinda Egyptian thing going on, although this remix sounds just as good in a different way. This version – to the best of our knowledge – got a single live airing during an encore at the 2012 Brighton Fringe.

The Horror of England

This played at a few Blue Cadabra gigs, but was quickly dropped. Which is a shame as it was something of a classic. And topical as hell. But maybe he thought some Scots might take the whole thing literally. It’s a pisstake of a few Scottish stereotypes, that they are fond of a few drinks and hating the English. But the thing about stereotypes…

Trivia: The goat being milked is called ‘Laddie’, the funniest gag at the expense of the Scots in the whole track. A few little things non-Scots may not understand: ‘sat on’t bucket’ is a reference to popular D.C. Thompson cartoon character Oor Wullie. And the children ‘sat up in bed drinking pints’ is a reference to the tradition of Scottish children at home in bed… drinking pints.

Stan Laurel (with Pierre Chandeze)

We have no idea if other fans or even the creators would agree, but for us this is it – the pinnacle of Paul and Pierre as songwriters and performers, both separately and together. And there’s no way we could do it justice here. Vickers had a short history of dedicating tracks to golden age stars, and maybe this was written to order by Pierre, as opposed to being something Vickers just happened to fashion into a Stan Laurel tribute. I only say this as you can almost hear a funereal re-write of the jaunty Laurel & Hardy theme in those opening nine notes, which under-pin the entire song. And it seems unlikely Pierre is suggesting the subject matter for these tunes (“Dear Paul, here’s my latest tune which needs some words. It’s up to you, but for me the music suggests something about a kitchen appliance that just won’t shut up! Love Pierre”). This would be one of our eight picks on Desert Island Discs, no question. It’s a melancholic masterpiece that honestly would have been the highlight had it appeared on Sgt Pepper. With its mood, and Stan Laurel recently dead and appearing on the cover, it even would have fit right in. It’s probably got the best opening line of anything we can think of, soaring right out of the gate and departing from the main melody before it’s even been established with a stunning vocal. And Pierre does exquisite work on more layers than an Elton John wedding cake. Simply incredible work that should be in every collection. The fellas have made it available for free on Soundcloud and you can listen here. Use decent speakers or headphones though for the full Stan experience.

 

Trivia: The websites that sell Gasp! as a download erroneously credit this track to Paul & Steven Vickers. The song is also available on Paul & Pierre album Eggs Benedict With Mr Wu on the Seahorse Monorail. This release is technically a compilation, although as the tracks all date from 2011-13, it has a gestation period no longer than 90% of original albums these days, so you can treat it either way. We love everything Paul Vickers does and that’s why we’re here. But we’ve got to say there’s something just utterly magical about Paul & Pierre.

http://paulandpierre.bandcamp.com/album/eggs-benedict-with-mr-wu-on-the-seahorse-monorail

The Sound of the Holy Grail (with Andy Currie and Thomas Traux)

‘What does the Holy Grail sound like?’ asks Vickers at the beginning of this track. I did some digging and can you believe no one has thought to ask this question before? Is it any wonder the grail’s still missing if we can’t even ask the fundamental questions? With Vickers, archaeology’s loss has been music and comedy’s gain and the track is a classic. It’s a Vickers and Andy Currie collaboration with (I’m assuming) a musical backing track by Thomas Traux, and an outtake from Vickers and Currie’s priceless 2008 album Recording The Impossible. Currie also wheels out his first rate Harrison Ford impersonation. Great stuff. But the truth is the Holy Grail sounds exactly like the track that had just preceded this one!

Trivia: The Harrison Ford quotes are all from the first three Star Wars films. Not the so-called ‘Original Trilogy’, but the first three films. But those are the same, I hear you say. ‘Fraid not. George Lucas has written the first Star Wars sequel out of history in a way that would have made Joseph Goebells proud. The first three Star Wars films are actually thus: 1. Star Wars 2. The Star Wars Holiday Special  3.The Empire Strikes Back. The Holiday Special was a full length Star Wars film shown on TV in 1978. It featured the full cast, even including the debut of fan-favourite Boba Fett, with Han Solo and Chewbacca going back to the Wookie home world to celebrate Life Day (‘Happy Life Day’) with Chewie’s family. And Chewie’s father’s name? Wait for it….. drum roll….. Itchy!

Nose Umbrella

This short more-or-less instrumental track was used as backing music for a Twonkey magic trick during Blue Cadabra. The opening notes always make us think of the Bond theme. Hard to hear now without being transported back to the show and hearing Vickers tell his onstage assistant ‘Please pour in the hat full of heroin’ as it was playing. You had to be there.

Trivia: This tune also has its genesis back in the Recording The Impossible days, where it was introduced as ‘Socks by Honking Snout’. The current version isn’t the same and has been slowed right down.

Charabang (with Pierre Chandeze)

The second of two songs with Pierre on this album. A great little catchy number which kept its place in every single Blue Cadabra show we attended (which included the first, the last and a good few in between). As with most Pierre numbers, the production is extraordinary with all kinds of unusual sounds working beautifully in tandem all at once. And Vickers tops it all off perfectly, singing with such conviction that I assumed it was a true story. Just like The Talking Oven.

Trivia: A charabang, or charabanc to give it its most common spelling, was a proto-type turn-of-the-century open-topped bus. And when they had accidents there seemed to be an unfortunately high incidence of the death of everyone on board. Some digging to find a possible event being sung about lead nowhere. A few charabanc disasters on Moors, but none sounding remotely like ‘Oakley Moor’ which I think is what he sings. Also, I’m no social historian, but the idea of anyone in England circa 1900 going by the name of Hillary Wu seems unlikely. Weirder still though, is that I did come across a charabanc victim with the name of Sarah Ann Dunn, the name of a character in Oom-pah!

Coming soon… Part III of the album guide they tried to ban! But at the risk of curbing your enthusiasm, everyone knew we were always going to shoot our chucklemuck in Part 2.

Twonkey releases Blue Cadabra – the FULL VIDEO!

Wow! Paul has just dropped a FULL SHOW of Twonkeys Blue Cadabra onto youtube. I guess that’s final confirmation that this show is behind him and it’s full steam ahead for Twonkey’s Private Restaurant. We’ve seen filming at a few shows and always hoped they’d sometime see the light of day, maybe even as DVDs. The Itchy Grumble book launch, more or less Blue Cadabra’s debut, was also filmed and was a corker. Not to mention the first three Twonkey shows which we have to assume were shot in full as highlight reels are available. Let’s hope they may slip out one of these evenings, especially as we saw Twonkey’s Castle just the once and Twonkey’s Cottage not at all. You know how that makes us feel?

 

 

NOTE: Blue Cadabra opened to a backing track of Gooseberry Tree, followed by a cover of George Harrison’s Shanghai Surprise. For obvious reasons, the video begins after the Harrison song.

It’s a great show, but pay particular notice to the debut of Pissed As A Postman. It gets a unique ending, not present in the recorded version, with Paul coming in a little early on ‘How it goes down’, then pausing to finish at the right spot. It’s bloody fantastic. In London, he gave this song a third different ending. Not that we’re geeks, or paying mega attention or anything. Not us. No. Not havin’ that.

Thanks Paul!

‘Sometimes the hand goes missing in the glove’*

*…only to be found down Macauley Culkin’s trousers

*…only to be found down Macauley Culkin’s trousers

Our week started well enough at Twonkeys in London but ended in abject poverty.

MONDAY: Twonkey took Soho by storm, including a brand new song. And Mother Shipton is another Vickers classic that we hope will also make its debut on disc this summer. The song ends enigmatically with Twonkey’s latest piece of philosophy just hanging in the London air… ‘sometimes the hand goes missing in the glove’. Wow. What did it mean? It sounded both deep and mysterious and we knew we could use it to look smarter than we are. All week.

TUESDAY: Team Playboys find ourselves down the pub where everyone is spouting the latest theories on still-missing Malaysian Flight MH370. We’re finally asked if we can contribute our likely explanation. ‘Well’, we say, ‘sometimes the hand just goes missing in the glove.’ If the atmosphere could talk, it would have screamed ‘Fuck!‘ All our mates look at each other as if to say ‘Someone must share this theory with the Malaysian government. And quickly!’

WEDNESDAY: The Budget. George Osbourne’s Big Day. Team Playboys find ourselves shmoozing in a pub down Fleet Street with a bunch of pricks who all earn £80,000+ a year, but pretend they’re ‘street’ coz they support Crystal Palace and refuse to pay any child maintenance. ‘So’, one of them goes, ‘doesn’t cutting the tax on beer and bingo show true colours, vis-à-vis the  Tory condescension of the working classes?’ ‘Well’, we said, ‘We think that sometimes the hand goes missing in the glove’. Stunned silence. We think they’re still mulling it over.

THURSDAY: Down some ‘muso’ boozer for a CD release party for some talentless fucks. We get talking to some NME dickhead. He asks if Damon Albarn can pull off his solo record after ’25 years hiding behind a gang mentality?’ ‘Hmmm,’ we said. ‘It’s definitely a factor that, you know, sometimes the hand can go missing in the glove.’ The fucker looked at us like he’d never review another CD in his miserable life.

FRIDAY: We had to skip an hour’s drinking time to go down the DHSS office to sign on. We knew we had done bugger all to look for a job. And so did they. ‘So, Mr Hunchbacks, you haven’t applied for any jobs or done fuck all in the last month. How do you expect to finally find work, hmmm?’ ‘Well,’ we said, ‘Sometimes the hand…’ We stopped ourselves just in time and racked our brains through the Twonkey songbook for a better response. Ah! ‘I don’t like cakes. But I know someone that bakes. And maybe this baker boy could, um,… bake me a new job?’

The bitch stopped our money.

We went back down the pub.