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.

Spotify and iTunes

I can’t help but think that The Vinegar Tits have attained a level of respectability by getting on the auld Spotify and iTunes. It’s easily arranged, don’t get me wrong – I used RouteNote – but still…this is where NORMAL people listen to and buy music!

If yer intae it, here are the links to The Tits on:

Spotify:

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/turnin-on-the-charm-single/id834530641

If yer streaming it on Spotify, apparently it sounds better if you play it on Repeat for 48 hours. Try it. It’s true :-)

Yes, Please & Thank You, or, Why I’m Voting Yes

The Scottish independence referendum on the 18th of September is an era-defining moment for all people who live in Scotland. I have been dissatisfied with the undemocratic Westminster legislature for years – populated as it is with elitist, self-serving, avaricious, corrupt, aloof, callous, craven, bloodthirsty, deceitful buffoons – and voters in Scotland have this rare, precious opportunity to be done with it once and for all.

I’ve written two songs that express my distaste at having to live under the influence of this monstrous institution, both of which go some way to explaining why I’ll be voting Yes this autumn. They are very different beasts indeed:

Yes, Please & Thank You is about the greed and hypocrisy of the Westmonster politician:

Our money is spent on weapons made by their friends’ companies to fight wars for the benefit of some other chums’ investments; our children’s futures are sold off to protect bankers’ bonuses; the benefits recipient is to be despised unless they receive an MP’s salary.

It’s not, however, just the benefits claimant that MPs despise; they hate all of us. We are an inconvenient nasal boil that they have to lance every 5 years or so to make sure that their snouts are healthy enough to stay in the trough (unless they sit in the Lords – then they don’t need to consider us at all). And because we chose them they think they have a mandate to do as they please. And we should be grateful for everything that they do “for us”.

Swine.

Everyone’s Happy was written about 4 years ago after David Cameron started gobbing on about some happiness index garbage. I imagined someone working hard but losing their job and subsequently alienating their support network as they are cast adrift by the callous Big Society that Dave was creating. Imagine that poor bugger listening to Bullingdon Boy telling him to volunteer? See that job you used to do? Do it again for nothing.

The man is out of touch and forever will be. As are his cronies of all stripes in the Palace of Westminster.

What people in England hopefully understand is that this is not about you. It’s not about leaving you because, as dishonest newspapers may mislead you, we don’t like you. It’s about taking advantage of a unique chance to live in a society where people are more important than profit. If we vote Yes and you fancy joining us then come on up and contribute. You’ll be made very, very welcome.

And if it’s a No then come buy us a drink. We’ll fucking well need it.