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Vinny Peculiar - While You Still Can

  by John Clarkson

published: 27 / 11 / 2019



Vinny Peculiar - While You Still Can
Label: Shadrack and Duxbury
Format: CD

intro

Irreverent and frequently hilarious but also thought-provoking new album from singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar about the current political landscape


I am not afraid of ‘Top of the Pops’/I am not afraid of you/I am just a man, a man out of time/And that time is 1972,” sings Vinny Peculiar’ on ‘Man Out of Time’, the penultimate track on his latest album, ‘While You Still Can’. Peculiar has set a precedent with his recent albums of combining concept themes with versatile instrumentation. 2016’s ‘Silver Meadows’, influenced by Peculiar’s own experience of working as a mental health nurse, told of the lives of a disparate group of staff and patients in an imaginary mental institution. Last year’s ‘Return of the Native’ was inspired by his return to living in Worcestershire where he spent his childhood and teenage years, after many years based in Manchester. ‘While You Still Can’ builds further on this pattern and framework, finding Peculiar taking a typically refreshingly offbeat and quirky look at the current political crisis. ‘While You Still Can’ is irreverent and often very funny, but is under-layered with a furious anger at the injustices of society and the cynical self-first opportunism of so many of our politicians. Peculiar leaves us in no doubt that he finds many of them to be deluded Instagram and Twitter self-obsessives at best or much worse and more worryingly still rampantly out-of-control sociopaths. The opening track ‘Vote for Me’, set against a backdrop of Rob Steadman’s eerily gorgeous keyboards, nails with black humour the made-to-be-broken promises and trash-the-other-party policies of so many of our political leaders and MPs, especially at election time (“If you vote for me I will give you my word/I will do my uttermost to change the world/But if you vote for him he will let you down/He won’t do a thing/He won’t stick around”). ‘Pop Music for Ugly People’ in contrast is a gloriously spiky rocker, all wailing guitars and snappy chords, but is even blacker still, depicting convincingly a rising far right politician with a terrifying but unfortunately all-too-real manifesto of blaming the poor for the country's ills (“He blames the scroungers and the née do wells/Playing out of time and a dream that didn’t sell/The wretched blame game and the art of spin/One hundred thousand signatures won’t stop him”). ‘Diane Abbott Takes a Selfie’ is jangling and jazz-tinged, reflecting on the increasing narcissism often at the expense of real politics of a lot of politicians. It role calls not only the current Shadow Home Secretary, but also David Cameron, William Hague, Ed Balls and Ann Widdecombe (“Ann Widdecombe posts a selfie/And Twitter holds its breath/People retweet in their droves/And Ann feels happy to connect/The faded reality TV star and the virginal MP/Is looking for another challenge/To suit her personality"). Chiming indie pop number 'Question Time' once again has a bittersweet punch. Its soaring tune, lifted by Leah Walch's powerhouse backing vocals and Che Beresford's strong drum work, is on the surface upbeat and breezy, but its lyrics are much more sinister. It is about an up-and-coming young politician ("Appearing on Question Time/She did OK/Lots of new followers/And plenty to say"), who, after falling foul of the press having being spotted drunk at a festival, suddenly vanishes. Whether she has chosen to disappear, worn out already by the viciousness of politics, or something nastier still has happened to her remains ambivalent throughout, but a mentally ill man is brought in for questioning. Even he though, symbolising the confusion and chaos of the current times, can't remember if he was anywhere near her on the night of her disappearance. 'Man Out of Time' initially seems something of an oddity. A stomping cod glam rocker, it is the one song not directly about politics. About instead Peculiar's halcyon days as a teenager between 1972 and 1976, it name checks cultural icons of the time such as Lynsey de Paul, Donny and Marie Osmond, Richard Stilgoe and 'The Likely Lads'. Ending on a bleak note with a bunch of punks receiving a kick in for laughs by a group of older teds, it, however, starts to make sense why it is there. Peculiar's sense of innocence has been permanently lost. He is a man out of time, especially in the treacherous current political landscape. 'While You Still Can' ends with 'Let Them All Drugs', an ethereal number reminiscent of Pink Floyd with its floating guitars and keyboards. It reflects on a government think tank's proposed policy of encouraging people to develop drug habits as they were less likely to politically make a nuisance of themselves. When one thinks of Pink Floyd' s original frontman Syd Barrett, whose life and mental health was damaged permanently by his drug addiction, it becomes especially poignant. "Wasted people carry no threat" is the damning chorus line. 'While You Still Can' is another fine album from Vinny Peculiar, who, as musically diverse as ever, also remains one of our most unique and individual songwriters.



Track Listing:-
1 Vote for Me
2 Pop Music for Ugly People
3 Diane Abott Takes a Selfie
4 Culture Vulture
5 Ministry of Fate
6 Art & Poverty
7 Question Time
8 Scarecrows
9 Man Out of Time
10 Let Them Take Drugs


Band Links:-
http://vinnypeculiar.com
https://www.facebook.com/vinnypeculiarmusic
https://twitter.com/vinnypeculiar
https://soundcloud.com/vinnypeculiar
https://www.youtube.com/user/arthurcrabtree



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interviews


Interview (2020)
Vinny Peculiar - Interview
Cult singer-songwriter Vinny Peculiar talks to John Clarkson about his latest solo album 'While You Still Can' and his forthcoming next projects.
Interview (2019)
Interview (2016)
Interview (2015)
Interview (2014)
Interview (2007)

features


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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