Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #41 - The Vermin Poets, "The Vermin Poets"

Last Saturday, on my way to a fun weekend in Sheffield with Lw and Slinky Jones, I finally made it into Piccadilly Records for to buy some 50% Off Sale Price vinyl. This resulted in me eventually taking home this little blighter, "The Vermin Poets" - another installment in the enormous career of Kentish punk troubadour-ish Wild Billy Chyldish.

Enormous bushy Elgar moustache, Rupert the Bear trousers and artisan neckerchief, this man makes no secret of his identification with another age; an age before the Great War but with a glint of future punk in its eye. It doesn't hinder the image much that one of his friends could slip into the Winter Palace amongst the Romanovs unnoticed. And the theme for this mighty man? Poetry - and its unwelcome interest in the truth.

The sleeve is lovely - the group peering out as though from within an Edwardian tableau trapped in the mid-Sixties. There is also a "chapbook" of lyrics inside the sleeve and the cover is littered with words. I especially like: "Each song we make, we bend, break and crack or blemish it, so that the Gods can see we understand Man's striving is an insult in the face of universal perfection." I like that lively, woodcut philosophy. Nice contrast with Lana del Ray and her glacial sheen.

Plenty of reference to Keats, Shelley and Milton, even some Rimbaud, plotted against the trajectory of grandfathers and colours nailed to masts and encouragement for self-development. "Baby Booming Bastards" gets stuck into Richard Branson and "those gleaming art school dunces". "Grandfathery" is a tune about "being invisible", which may be a tribute to generations of Chyldish folk lost to society or something a little more sinister. "She's Got Ears" is more garage rock.

The general tone lyrically is of an obscure polemic, poetic pamphlets passed on by word of hand. The music is unkempt, punky and with a strong southern English flavour. Like The Television Personalities or Syd Barrett but without the pharmaceutical overtones. This is the sound of "what sticks to the soles of both your shoes" (as per the title track) and likeable in a careworn, thorny way.

Rating: Auto-Didact out of Hedgerows

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