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Vinny Peculiar - Return of the Native

  by John Clarkson

published: 29 / 6 / 2018

Vinny Peculiar - Return of the Native
Label: Shadrack and Duxbury
Format: CD


Evocative fourteenth solo album from English cult singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar which was inspired by him returning to live in his childhood home of Worcestershire

English cult singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar’s fourteenth solo album ‘Return of the Native’, like its equally literate 2016 predecessor ‘Silver Meadows’, is a concept album of sorts. It was inspired by Peculiar’s move back to his childhood home of Worcestershire after twenty-three years based in Manchester and the break-up of a long-term relationship. Peculiar’s youth and adolescence has always had a huge bearing on his work, and the evocative opening track ‘The Grove and The Ditch’, which is backed by a stomping glam guitar riff, winds back the years to 1974. It captures some of the joys and horror of his teenage years (“Life’s a gas/No, life’s a bitch”), telling of going to see T. Rex at the town hall and walking miles home afterwards, Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn’s infamous on-air meltdown after breaking up with his first wife Tessa Wyatt, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, and falling foul of a rival gang who chased Peculiar and his mates after a Cricket Club disco. Rippling country ballad ‘A Girl from Bromsgrove Town’ finds Peculiar in equally reflective mood, as he passes by the house of an old flame for the first time in many years. This sparks off memories of how their romance, carried on from school into college, came to an awkward end after he found her kissing the girl in the next door hall-of-residence room to her. The soft psychedelic haze of ‘The Singing Schoolteacher’ recollects Peculiar’s English teacher of a year, Clifford T. Ward, who went on to have a briefly successful career as a 70’s pop star (“When he appeared on ‘Top of the Pops’ it was like all our dreams had come true”). There are two wonderful moments of fantasy too. The unfortunate narrator on the deceptively breezy pop anthem ‘Blackpole’ is accidentally killed while taking part in the re-enactment of an English Civil War battle. After his death he continues as a ghost to watch over his girlfriend, who stays on in their house in the Worcester village of Blackpole and promptly finds a new love in the local undertaker. The hilarious ‘Detroitwich’, which has a striking, shimmering guitar line reminiscent of Blondie’s on ‘Rapture’, meanwhile imagines Eminem, disorientated from touring, having got off the train at the wrong stop in “the deepest, darkest heart of rural Worcestershire,” and finding himself instantly out of his depth when he is handcuffed and kidnapped by a gang there. Stark acoustic ballad ‘On Rainbow Hill’, which comes towards the end of ‘Return of the Native’ finds Peculiar ruminating on his new life of solitude in Worcestershire, and his ex-partner, who he still thinks of affectionately and keeps a picture of on his wall (“I finished with me when I finished with you”). The final track ‘Game Over’, which reflects on the same theme, is even stronger still. Beginning with the sound of a ticking clock, it embraces together Peculiar’s regular bandmate Rob Steadman’s rolling chimes of keyboard with his own slowly gusting, this time electric guitar. “I’m the broken man/I broke up with you/Took everything we had/Broke it two,” he admits. Nakedly honest and self-damning himself for his need to be alone, he tells his ex in the final, closing lines, “It takes you by surprise/You never see it coming/There are tears in your eyes/They’re all for nothing.” Barely three minutes in length and achingly simple, it is Peculiar’s most poignant, powerfully moving moment on record since ‘And Soon the Darkness’, the in contrast anthemic final track of his short-lived band Parlour Flames’ 2013 only self-titled album. Musically and lyrically diverse, ‘Return of the Native’ finds Vinny Peculiar moving on again after ‘Silver Meadows’, which told of the lives and loves of the patients and staff in a mental hospital. One of our finest singer-songwriters, he takes the often ordinary and makes it extraordinary.

Track Listing:-
1 The Grove & the Ditch
2 Malvern Winter Gardener
3 Blackpole
4 Golden City
5 Return of the Native
6 A Girl from Bromsgrove Town
7 The Singing Schoolteacher
8 Detroitwich
9 On Rainbow Hill
10 David Swan Riverman
11 Game Over

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Interview (2022)
Vinny Peculiar - Interview
Singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar talks to John Clarkson about his 'three quarters' modern art-themed latest album, 'Artists Only'.
Interview (2020)
Interview (2019)
Interview (2016)
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Interview (2014)
Interview (2007)


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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