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Vinny Peculiar - Down the Bright Stream

  by John Clarkson

published: 19 / 6 / 2015

Vinny Peculiar - Down the Bright Stream
Label: Shadrack and Duxbury
Format: CD


Fantastic latest solo album from under-rated Manchester-based singer-songwriter, Vinny Peculiar

Manchester-based singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar has become renowned in cult circles for his lyrical ability. His songs are often narrative in tone, and combine both poignancy and surreal humour. On the semi-confessional ‘English Village’, the opening track on ‘Down the Bright Stream’, Peculiar’s latest solo album, he looks tenderly back on his idyllic early 70’s childhood in a Midlands village in which an older girl at school causes minor scandal by appearing in ‘Mayfair’ and his grandmother and his grandfather bicker over some of the more outlandish acts on ‘Top of the Pops’ (“When my granddad says, ‘What’s the matter with him? Is it a girl or is it a gay?’/And Grandma says, ‘Oh shut up, Ken, if you’ve got nothing better to say’”). Yet, for all its rosiness, in what is a regular theme with Peculiar, there is a feeling of something having been irretrievably lost on ‘English Village’, and it concludes symbolically with his brother’s tragic, early death and his decision to move away from the village into the harsher world of adulthood. ‘The King of Pop’ and ‘The Saddest Summer of Samuel S’ are even bleaker still. The former pays angry tribute to the late Michael Jackson, acknowledging his destruction by the tabloid media (“We killed him/We killed him dead”). The heartbreaking ‘The Saddest Summer of Samuel S’ meanwhile reflects on lost opportunities, telling of two former teenage lovers, both now unhappily married, who years later meet up again and have a one night stand (“We said goodbye in the morning/I’ve not seen her since then/I returned to the marriage, the kids, the friends/Made some excuses and nothing was said”. ) But there are some laugh-out-loud moments too. ‘Egocentric Man’ pokes fun at the self-worship and narcissism of so much of the 21st century generation (“And I’m only interested in one thing/And that’s me/That’s me/That’s me”), while ‘Antony Gormley’ ridicules the acclaimed sculptor who placed dozens of cast iron nude sculptures of himself on the North West beach of Crosby (“Ooh wee, that’s the most incredible penis we ever did see”). Inevitably, as Peculiar is such a first-rate storyteller and wordsmith, his lyrics are initially the dominant factor on ‘Down the Bright Stream’. Gradually, however, with repeated listening, its music, deliberately understated, takes on an increasing force and becomes steadily more haunting. ‘English Village’ is a winding, melodic folk pop number enhanced by strikes of chiming guitar and piano. ‘The King of Pop’ is funereal and autumnal and ‘The Saddest Summer of Samuel S’ a slow, tingling dirge with guitars that barely rise above a whisper, while ‘Egocentric Man’ and ‘Antony Gormley’ in contrast are both vaudeville numbers. For the final track ‘The Doo Kum Inn’ Peculiar returns to his childhood village. It tells in a spoken word narrative from Peculiar of the rise and sharp fall of a short-lived fashion shop there (“Then someone got banned for stealing from the shop and soon the Doo Kum Inn became a laughing stock/It only lasted a matter of months and then it was gone forever/The shop was demolished/New houses put up“), and, featuring a guest appearance from Jah Wobble on bass, it concludes the album in a gorgeous and hazy series of soft psychedelic washes. ‘Down the Bright Stream’ is an inventive and creative album of deep depths from a much under-rated singer-songwriter and performer.

Track Listing:-
1 English Village
2 Catalogue Trousers
3 I Only Stole What I Needed
4 Egocentric Man
5 Girl At The Bar
6 Big Pigeon
7 Antony Gormley
8 The King of Pop
9 Floating Away
10 The Saddest Summer of Samuel S
11 The DooKumInn

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Vinny Peculiar - Interview
Singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar talks to John Clarkson about his 'three quarters' modern art-themed latest album, 'Artists Only'.
Interview (2020)
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The Image That Made Me Weep (2020)
Vinny Peculiar - The Image That Made Me Weep
In our new series 'The Image That Made Me Weep', we are inviting a different guest with each edition to write of a music image that has had an impact on them. Singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar writes about a photograph of his uncle Jim Wilkes, who was a trad jazz musician.
Broadcast, Glasgow, 22/9/2016 and Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 23/9/2016 (2016)

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