Marvin Berry: An Appreciation

“Chuck! Chuck! It’s Marvin…your cousin, MARVIN BERRY! You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well listen to THIS!”

Life has losers and life has winners.

Sometimes the good guys lose and sometimes the bad guys win. It’s not fair but it’s just the way it is.

So they say, anyway.

It pains me, though, when a good guy doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. I’m hurt when a solid citizen does a huge favour for an ingrate – a life-changing favour, no less – and ends up forgotten, a footnote to be pondered briefly or ignored. The film Back To The Future presents us with this scenario and it ENRAGES me. We see quite possibly one of the greatest personal and professional sacrifices EVER and it’s treated as a joke: a good guy loses, and a really bad, bad, BAD guy wins, making rock ‘n’ roll history off of the back of it, and we’re just supposed to laugh it off.

Well not me. I’m here to give the good guy his moment, and to explain why the bad guy truly is a Grade A rotter.

Here’s what I’m talkin bout, Willis:

Marvin Berry: musician, crooner, “reefer addict”…what would 20th century popular music have been like without you? Without your urgent phone call to your beloved cousin Chuck, who knows? You must have loved your cousin greatly, Marvin, to give him this new sound, eh? To hand it over to him without a thought for yourself…you must have loved him very much indeed.

How much? Let’s look at the scenario and evidence:

Marty McFly stands in for the injured Marvin Berry to play guitar during the Enchantment Under The Sea dance. This occurs on November 12th 1955 after band-leader Marvin slices open his hand jemmying Marty out of the trunk of the band’s motor. Marty plays well enough during the song Earth Angel for the band to encourage him to play another with them – something that really “cooks”. Marty suggests “an oldie where he comes from” which turns out to be Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. Marvin is so impressed with this song that he calls his cousin, Chuck Berry, to let him hear it, since Chuck has been looking for a “new sound”.

Observe just how keen good-guy Marvin was for his cousin Chuck to succeed:

Exhibit A:
Speed of call.

In the clip above, Marty starts the song at 0:21. The band are clearly impressed and Marvin is still on stage at 0:55, when the first verse is coming to a close. The camera cuts away but it does look like Marvin is turning to leave the stage. Even if he stays on stage for a few more seconds, he is definitely off-stage by 1:15, as the first chorus is ending. Give me the benefit of the doubt and say Marvin left the stage at exactly 0:55, he’s decided after 34 seconds of the song that he’s going to call someone about it, and that someone is his musically frustrated cousin Chuck. In addition, he has finished dialing Chuck at 1:29. Given that the telephone has a dial rather than buttons, and assuming that Chuck’s phone number has 6 digits, this dialing process would take perhaps 15 seconds. The maximum time that Marvin has had to decide to call Chuck, leave the stage, find the phone and then make the call is also 34 seconds. In total, therefore, from first note of the song to the last digit dialed, the time covered by Marvin to get in touch with Chuck is 1 minute and 8 seconds. That’s some fast thinking and dialing, and with an injured hand to boot.

And while stoned, for that matter.

Exhibit B:
Out of everyone he could call, he calls his cousin Chuck.

Imagine you had 1 minute and 8 seconds to hear some music and then call someone about it. Who would you call? Bear in mind that this is 1955, so you have no speed-dial: it’ll take at least 15 of those 68 seconds to actually make the call. So we’re down to 53 seconds. And as shown above, you actually need to hear the song to decide you like it, which took Marvin Berry 34 seconds. So you’ve got 19 seconds to decide who to call. And to find a phone.

Who would you call?

You’d call someone who you know very well and whose phone number you know off by heart.

Marvin could have called his mother, his father, a brother, a sister, a friend, a neighbour, any of his other relatives, but no…Marvin chose to call his cousin Chuck. Chuck, his cousin whose phone number he knows off by heart. In the days before mobile phones I didn’t know my cousins’ phone numbers off by heart and I only have two, so Marvin and Chuck must have been pretty close. Having said that, Marvin and Chuck were in the same business, and Chuck had had a million selling single in Maybellene for Chess Records two months before the dance, so Marvin was maybe just keeping in with the famous one in the family. In fact, as it turns out, ON THAT VERY DAY, 12 November 1955, Chuck was described by Billboard as the “most promising R&B artist of the year” (http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/november12th.html)

Regardless, Marvin still wanted Chuck to have more success. That kind of selfless altruism is the mark of a truly good, good guy.

Exhibit C:
Professional and, therefore, personal sacrifice.

If you were a journeyman band-leader and you heard the most phenomenal music EVER, wouldn’t you be tempted to learn more about it, develop your style towards it and become a respected, influential musician off the back of it? Probably earning a fortune in the process? You’d give it a second thought, wouldn’t you?

Not our Marvin. His FIRST action, before the end of the first chorus of Johnny B. Goode, is to be on the phone to his already rich and famous cousin Chuck to give him MORE of the good living he’s already making for himself:

“Our Chuck has made a FORTUNE from Maybellene, and his face is everywhere. He’s got it made! But I want him to have more. Where’s that telephone?”

It is clear that at NO point did Marvin think “I could have some of what Chuck’s got.” At no point did he think that the fame, fortune and respect could be his. For Marvin, it was all about Chuck.

What.

A.

Guy.

Exhibit D:

Marvin is injured.

As you can see in the clip, Marvin is sporting an injured left hand, which is thanks to jemmying Marty out of the car trunk while zonked out of his wee nut on blaw. Best case scenario, this is Marvin’s strumming hand; worse case scenario, it’s his fretting hand. I’m inclined to say that Marvin is right-handed (since his guitar is strung correctly for right-handed Marty and he lifts the telephone receiver with his right hand and dials with his left, as I – a right hander – used to do in the olden days) meaning that he’s injured his fretting hand. Now, if I played guitar professionally and had injured my fretting hand, I’d be SERIOUSLY worried: would I still be able to make those stretches across the fretboard after the wound has healed? And how long would it take to heal? There’s a lot of blood on that thick bandage. And remember: there was no NHS in the USA in 1955 (or now, for that matter) so Marvin has a medical bill on its way if that hand needs patched up. What if it gets infected? How much will that cost? And all while he can’t work as a guitarist. Will he have to pay a stand-in while his hand gets better? Where’s all this money coming from?

Marvin is nonplussed. His imminent fallow work period and expensive medical bills are far from his mind.

All he wants to do is call his cousin and good buddy Chuck Berry.

As you can see from Exhibits A to D, Marvin is possibly one of the GREATEST good guys this planet has ever known.

Now: let’s examine why Chuck Berry is an utter bastard*.

Exhibit E:
He claims not to know who Marvin is.

How many people do you know called Marvin? How many people do you know called Marvin who know your phone number? How many people do you know called Marvin who know your phone number who are likely to call you late on a Saturday night? Aye…exactly. And yet Marvin has to explain to Chuck that the Marvin who’s on the blower to him at that very moment is his cousin. Oh aye…THAT Marvin. My COUSIN Marvin. As opposed to all those other Marvins I know.

What makes this worse is that poor Marvin obviously thinks that he and Chuck have a good relationship together. Chuck DID, after all, confide with Marvin that he was looking for a new sound, so they must have met – or at least spoke together – recently (despite Chuck’s success with Maybellene and new wealth). Also, despite all the fame and the announcement THAT DAY by Billboard that Chuck was a promising R&B act, Chuck is sitting at home on a Saturday night and answers the phone after, at most, two rings.

So Chuck is sitting in his house on a Saturday night and the phone rings. He answers immediately. A voice says it’s Marvin. How many Marvins do you know, Chuck? Regardless, you ask who it is. It’s your cousin, Marvin Berry. Same surname, so obviously your fathers were brothers. Did they get on? Marvin’s dad obviously thought so, since he’s encouraged his son to form a good relationship with his brother’s son. Your dad, Chuck, however…maybe he thought less of his brother. Maybe your dad made too much of himself and looked down on Marvin’s father. Maybe your middle class upbringing wasn’t what the other Berry brothers provided for their families and your dad, Chuck, thought his brothers were mugs and their offspring were wasters. Some of this must have rubbed off on you, Chuck, as you treat Marvin Berry, one of life’s good guys, like dog muck.

Marvin who? That’s just cheek from you, Chuck Berry.

Exhibit F:
What did Chuck actually hear?

If you return to the clip, you’ll notice that Marvin points the phone at the stage at 01:42. From this point on Marty basically shreds while the band continue to play an R&B rhythm behind it. Frankly, it sounds bloody awful. If Chuck took anything from this his next single would have sounded like a cross between Buddy Holly and Yngwie Malmsteen. In other words: shite.

So, the only thing that makes sense is that Marvin returned to the phone (he’s back on stage at 02:03, so he must have left the receiver on a table for Chuck to listen) after the song was over to apologise to Chuck for wasting his time and then subsequently WENT TO CHUCK’S HOUSE WITH THE REST OF THE BAND TO PLAY THE SONG FROM SCRATCH.

Just how much does Marvin love this guy that, despite his potentially career-ending injury and impending financial hardship, and the fact that Chuck mugged him off on the phone, he’s decided to go round to Chuck’s house with the Starlighters to make sure that his cousin hears, note for note, exactly what “cooked” at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance in Hill Valley? Such selflessness is awe-inspiring.

Exhibit G:
Chuck stole someone else’s song (and may be a murderer*)

I’m no expert in copyright law, but surely hearing someone else’s song and presenting it as your own is a little bit dodgy? I’m sure Marvin and the Starlighters played Chuck the tune in good faith. Here’s the gist of it, Chuck. It was called Johnny Be Good or something but that’s not important. Got it? Right we’re off to take Marvin to the doctor. All the best.

And Chuck, instead of absorbing the feel of the tune and developing it into his own sound, decides for himself that this song is his for the taking. What could be simpler? The perfect crime. How does Chuck ensure that no-one can grass him up though? How do you think? Who’s heard of Marvin Berry and the Starlighters these days? Exactly. CHUCK BERRY HAD THEM BUMPED OFF! It must have taken Chuck a wee while to get the dirty deed done, because he never released his own version of Johnny B. Goode until 1958 (and Marvin probably never told him about the crazy white kid who popped up from nowhere to bestow the music upon them, so Chuck wouldn’t have known that the secret would eventually come out in a Hollywood feature film 30 years later) but he done it all right. Of that I have NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER*.

Marvin Berry was one of the greatest good guys ever in the history of human beings and Chuck Berry was an absolute rotter. Chuck may have got the fame and fortune but now Marvin, for your lack of selfishness in 1955, I salute you.

And if it wasn’t for Marvin’s quick thinking, The Vinegar Tits would not have been able to write a cheeky wee rock ‘n’ roll song like this:

Big Auld Erse by The Vinegar Tits

Yup, all this was just a big run up to me punting a song I wrote two years ago.

Search Spotify, iTunes and soundcloud for more songs from The Vinegar Tits.

Thanks for reading (and listening).

*Legal Bit:

Chuck Berry is not a bastard, he did not steal Johnny B. Goode from Marty McFly (or anyone else, for that matter) and he most definitely did not murder Marvin Berry and the Starlighters or have them killed by person or persons unknown**.

**Can’t emphasize this one enough: Chuck Berry is not a murderer***

***Tax-dodger, yes; murderer, no.

Scottish Independence Referendum: The Mystery Machine…

I wouldn’t say I was getting obsessed with the Scottish independence referendum but imagine my surprise while watching the Boomerang weans’ telly channel when the following episode of Scooby Doo came on…

(As recorded on my Twitter timeline)


Watched a bit of Scooby Doo there.

Thought it caught the #indyref zeitgeist pretty well.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

There was a bit of ill-feeling in the gang.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Fred drove the Mystery Machine and was in charge of the gang and all that jazz and kept the van at his house and stuff… But!

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

It turns out Velma paid 90% of the petrol costs and paid for servicing and new tyres and stuff.

Felt she should keep the van at her bit.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Plus, Fred made her keep some weapons grade uranium in her back garden for an American mate of his.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

She wanted Fred to keep the uranium in his hut.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

So anyway, the gang had a right old argument about who should keep the van. Eventually they decided to put it to a vote.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

(You can see where this is going)

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Everyone who rode in the van got a vote. Daphne was in favour of Fred keeping it cos he was dippin her. Scoob & Shag were undecided.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Fred told Scoob and Shag that if Velma had the van then petrol costs and road tax would SKYROCKET

(although he never quite said why)

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Velma pointed out that there’s no such thing as road tax…vehicle excise duty…yadda yadda yadda

Wind yer necks in.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Old Man Withers intervened to warn Scoob & Shag that the amusement arcade’s head office would move further down the road if Velma won.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Despite all Fred’s scaremongering it looked like Scoob and Shag were going to vote for Velma.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

In a panic measure, Fred asked Scrappy Doo to intervene.

No one took him seriously any more but Fred thought he may influence his uncle.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Fred told Scoob and Shag that Scrappy gave the speech of a lifetime at an event for invited guests only.

Honest. He did.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Oddly, the BBC gave Scrappy’s speech wall-to-wall coverage, despite everyone remembering that he was a bit of a wee fanny.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

In his speech Scrappy promised Scoob and Shag all the Scooby snacks they could eat AND free entry to the amusement arcade.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Even though it wasn’t his amusement arcade.

And he didn’t know where to get scooby snacks.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

The Daily Record had a front page promise about the scooby snacks, printed on some clipart parchment with Scrappy’s pawprint on it.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Velma ran an excellent campaign on twitter but Shaggy can’t afford an Internet connection and Scooby’s a dug, so it passed them by.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Anyway…on the day of the vote everyone made their way to Fred’s hoose. Fred’s maw was going to count the votes.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

So all fair and above board.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Anyway, Velma looked everyone square in the eye and told them that the van’s only in such good nick because of her. She should keep it.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Fred showed Scooby, Shaggy and Daphne photoshopped images of them with their heads cut off.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Scooby remained undecided. Shaggy veered towards Velma.

Daphne was Fred’s poodle, so no surprises who she was plumping for.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Anyway…time to vote.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Velma stood before the gang. “Who thinks I should keep the Mystery Machine?”

Velma raised her hand.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

No one else did.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

“Who thinks I should keep it?” said Fred.

3 hands and a paw were raised.

When Shaggy lowered his arm he realised he’d shat himself.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

“So,” said Fred to his maw, “Who won mom?”

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Fred’s maw checked the tally marks on her bit of paper.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

“Velma…1 vote.

Fred…2,001,926 votes.

I declare that Fred keeps the Mystery Machine and Velma keeps the uranium in her garden.”

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Poor Velma was crestfallen.

Everyone on twitter said she was great. How could she lose?

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Fred celebrated victory by smashing up the van and kicking Velma’s heid in.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Velma didn’t take defeat lying down. If she could convince Scoob and Shag at some distant point in the future then the van would be hers!

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

What would she call her campaign though? She thought about “One” first, because there was one of her, but she felt that wasn’t inclusive.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Then she considered “One Plus”, but that made her sound like a wedding invite for your weird cousin who you don’t really want to invite.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

While Fred should have been laughing at Velma, Scoob and Shag were chinning him for scooby snacks and amusement arcade tickets.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Shaggy told Velma a couple of days later that he wished he’d voted for her.

Velma told Shaggy that that was just fucking super.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

So what did it all achieve?

They’re all still stuck together in the van but everyone thinks Fred’s a fanny and Velma’s deluded.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

And NOBODY gives a flying titty about Scrappy chuffing Brown.

I mean Scrappy Doo.

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

FIN

— ★ The Vinegar Tits ★ (@Vinegar_Tweets) September 22, 2014

Nippy Front Cover

Nippy by The Vinegar Tits – Liner Notes

Nippy by The Vinegar Tits: http://thevinegartits.wordpress.com/releases/

“Music from the fat sweaty underbelly of masculinity”

Nippy is an album that has taken me two years to put together. Back in summer 2012 I’d never written a song properly from start to finish, never mind record and release anything (myself, I mean: I’ve been recorded in a band before but all I did was show up and play), which hopefully explains why it’s taken me so long. Throw into the mix two small children and a day-job and I hope you get the picture: spare time…what’s that? :-)

I’ve had to learn as I go. Now I know, for example, that the playback meter going into the red isn’t necessarily a good thing, and much of my recording and mixing attempts are a result of trial and error, so what you’re getting with Nippy is the best that a bloke can do sitting in the hoose with nothing but a MicroBR, Audacity and cack-handed enthusiasm for company.

But enough of the excuses!

The 10 songs that comprise Nippy have been great fun to write and record. They are by turns (attempts to be) humorous, political, creepy, honest, cheeky and downright bizarre. I enjoy messing with genres and love the idea that you don’t know what you’re going to get with each track, so no two songs are alike: I give you rock n roll, RAWK, electronic and just plain pop music, plus a little bit of “what in the nameachrist is that” (I’m looking at you Ye’ve Either Got It Or Ye Huvnae).

The first time I described my songs, way back on soundcloud in 2012, I said it was “music from the fat, sweaty underbelly of masculinity”, and I stick by those words. Men can be odd, ridiculous, sinister beasts and each song in this collection has its roots in my original description. Whether it’s an individual male as an odd, green-eyed stalker or men together as a sinister social or political collective, the songs here hold a mirror up to the attitudes and social habits of men and ask you to have a good look…nice, isn’t it? Suckle on my teat and get a mouthful of acid! :-)

The one exception, instrumental track Mistah Kurtz He Dead, is there to offer some respite from your wallow in the muck, but its title is a reminder of the sickness that dwells somewhere in all of us.

Oh aye, and The Vinegar Tits Save The World! is just a bit of silly nonsense to round it all up.

So give it a whirl! What’s the worst that could happen? I’ve got the next album planned out in my head so, believe it or not, there is more where this came from; and only death or a spirit-crushing tsunami of relentless criticism of Nippy will stop me getting more Tits tunes out there!

YAAAAAAS!

Nippy Back Cover

Aaaaaanyway, here’s a sentence or two about each song, like I’m Bob Dylan or summink:

Everyone’s Happy

This is a jaunty wee pop tune about alienating your support network – your family and friends – after losing your job. I wrote some of the words after David Cameron suggested a ‘Happiness Index’ way back in November 2010, and I finished it off in the autumn of 2012. Events have shown that he leads a callous party that lusts after a callous society. The key to this is destroying the social bonds between individuals. No matter what Cameron and his cronies throw at us, we should treasure these relationships.

The lyrics are callous and unsentimental. Attitudes are sanded down to the bare wood.

Turnin On The Charm

This heavy guitar-led song is about a guy who has a veneer of respectability but leers after women in bars and stalks them for days afterwards. He can turn the charm on and off like a tap. He takes surreptitious photos. He keeps illicitly-obtained locks of hair.

It’s about every bloke you’ve ever met :-)

Love Is Sair

ROCK!

A song in which the painful side of love is compared with an ingrowing hair, falling off a chair, standing in the sun’s full glare when you’ve got red hair, and being eaten by a bear. The starting point lyrics-wise was “Love Hurts”, made famous by Nazareth, and then I flipped it on its nut.

There’s a cheeky wee N.I.B./Cliff Burton homage in the first 20 seconds an all.

Big Auld Erse

If you eat too much of the wrong kind of food, you get a large bottom. This rock ‘n’ roll number is as sophisticated as that. If you want to tart it up, it’s all about Scotland’s obesity problem.

Plea By A Lover To His Sweetheart

This is a song about unrequited love. It’s not yer usual “love song” characters though. The narrator is a lascivious smear of a man and the object of his affection is a woman forced into prostitution by her boyfriend. Contemptible men fall in love too, and this is what it looks like.

I started off with the idea that it would be a kind of maudlin music-hall number and then let things run from there.

Yer Maw

Another pop/indie kind of tune, this time about those women that we all love: our mothers! It doesn’t matter how feckless, thoughtless or downright evil ye are, yer maw still loves ye. Right? Aye right! YER MAW!

Yes Please & Thank You

Here’s my big contribution to the Scottish independence referendum debate. It is a song about political hypocrisy at Westminster and politicians’ contempt for the electorate. Sure, all politicians are venal swine but the Westmonster mob are a particularly vile bunch, only interested in making money for themselves and their friends and fuck you, the mugs who vote for them.

It was written before I was aware of the decades-long cover up of a Westminster paedophile ring. Maybe just as well: the  song would have been twenty minutes long had I known.

Vote Yes.

Mistah Kurtz He Dead

I break things up a little with an acoustic instrumental tune that I came up with after looking for something in the same mood as the music in The Needle And The Damage Done by Neil Young. One to listen to with your eyes shut.

Ye’ve Either Got It Or Ye Huvnae

This is one for all the ladies in the house! Or perhaps one special lady waiting back at lothario’s mummy’s house in Ardrossan? I called it Oedipal doowop when I was categorising it on soundcloud and I struggle to call it anything else.

I see this as a companion piece to Turnin On The Charm: weird inadequate men being inadequate and weird.

Is this music? Discuss.

The Vinegar Tits Save The World!

This electronic tune is all about how aliens take over the world, and the world is subsequently saved by an army of robots chanting V-I-N-E-G-A-R T-I-T-S. It’s an instrumental, so you have to imagine the story yourself.

If you can picture Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds in under 4 minutes then you’re half way there.

There you have it. Nippy by The Vinegar Tits: OOT!

Enjoy.

DIT #13: Goin Home – Dinosaur Jr

I remember a conversation I had with a mate of mine back in 1993:

“How can anyone,” was the gist, “NOT like Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr?”

Where You Been is one of my top albums of the 90s. From the opening rock-out riff of Out There, through the playfully chugged notes of Start Choppin and “ear-bleeding Country” sound of Get Me, to the final soaring fade-out of I Ain’t Sayin, it’s as close to a perfect collection of songs as I can imagine. J Mascis’s guitar playing is other-wordly, his voice world-weary and the support from Mike Johnson on bass and Murph on drums is both solid and inventive – tune into the bass line at the start of Start Choppin to see what I mean.

My favourite song on the album is Goin Home. It is a subtle, sensitive number which sees Mascis’s acoustic playing at its most intricate and his cheese-grater vocal style softened to a vulnerable near-whisper. The cathartic release of the bold strums that lead into the chorus always gives me goosebumps and the keyboard chords that punctuate the end of the chorus lines always make me smile. It stands out from the rest of the tracks on Where You Been because it gives a little respite from the preceding bombast and lulls you into a warm blanket of security before the ear-busting wail of the first few bars of I Ain’t Sayin. It’s a song that begs to be heard at the end of a long journey. You’ll be glad that you travelled just so that you can pop on Goin Home five minutes before you get to your front door.

If you haven’t heard this song or this album, well…Where You Been?

Sorry. That was unnecessary :-)

Line wot I wish I wrut: Those keyboard chords in the chorus.

Song Sketches

I’ve uploaded a couple of rough sketches of songs to soundcloud and I hope to work on proper versions after I’ve sorted out the final song for the Nippy album.

The first sketch is called Will Ye Love Me?

It’s about being in love when you’re really old. Paul McCartney got the idea for When I’m 64 from this (honest!). I tinkered with the idea of calling it When I’m 54 as a nod to both the Beatles standard and Scotland’s low life expectancy, but I didnae bother since some of the lines in the song only really make sense if the protagonists are over 75.

It’s a bit bawdy, as ye’d expect fae The Tits, but its heart is in the right place.

The second sketch is a The Vinegar Tits treatment of the traditional Scottish folk song Bonnie Wee Jeannie McColl:

The angle here is that the “best man” of the song is actually a right horror and he ruins the “belle of the ball”. I got the idea from the first few minutes of Peter Mullan’s film The Magdalen Sisters, where a young guy forces himself on a lassie at a do in a community hall and the girl gets shipped off to a Magdalen laundry as punishment for being a harlot. It’s a jolly wee tune so I like the incongruous fit with the shabby handling of the woman’s situation.

As with many of my songs, the injured innocent doesn’t have a voice. It’s the Nabokovian streak in me (oooh, hark at him!).

Both versions are really rough at the moment (who said “How can you tell the difference from your usual guff?) but I’ll polish them up as time passes.

Adventures In Vinyl #4

I’ve not had much of a chance to get out and about to sniff out cheeky wee vinyl bargains this weather. I was on a wee break wi the family on Record Store Day so didn’t get the chance to stand in a queue outside a record shop at 6 in the morning – WORSE LUCK!

(A wee tip of the hat to Sue Townsend there…RIP)

On Saturday, however, I snatched half an hour to rake through the racks in some local charity shops and found The Big Yin in amongst the Peter Skellern and Mel Tormé discs:

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Solo Concert by Billy Connolly (1974)

For any Scot who’s intae their comedy this recording – over 2 nights in the Tudor Hotel, Airdrie – has iconic status. The early Connolly classics are all there: for example, Nine-and-a-half Guitars, The Jobbie Wheecha and, of course, The Crucifixion.
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All records are time capsules but given Billy Connolly’s ubiquity in Scottish culture over the last 40 years, Solo Concert is particularly notable because it’s the breakthrough: it’s where the Connolly that we know now really began (on record, at least), and given what he’s achieved and how he’s changed since the 1970s it genuinely feels like an artefact from not just another time but another dimension.

I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THAT OUTFIT ON THE FRONT COVER!

And at 2 quid for a double album, who could argue?
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(Incidentally, I don’t know why but charity shop workers seem to think you’re buying frisbees when ye get vinyl aff them – CAREFUL!!!!!!!)

:-)

The Wire(less)

I got final word today that I’ll be on the wireless tomorrow talking to Martin and John at Pulse 98.4FM Community Radio about the fine music of The Vinegar Tits. Or, as it’s going out 10-12 on a Saturday morning, the fine music of The VTs.

It’s been a bit of a challenge identifying tunes that are acceptable for a family audience, so fingers crossed the chaps have found something suitable :-)

Here’s hoping it all goes well. I’ll report back about how it went later in the week.