Paul Vickers & The Leg release their new album ‘Jump’ on 6 December, the album will coincide with the release of their very own Christmas single, ‘X-Mas In The Jungle’ also on 6 December.
At the core of The Leg’s musical boot-room are the long-term trio of mercurial vocalist and driving force Dan Mutch; cellist, producer and one-man scratch orchestra Pete Harvey; and percussive polymath Alun Scurlock (formerly Alun Thomas). The three have played together for the best part of twenty years, recently augmenting with guitarist and pedal doctor James Metcalfe and returning compadre John Mackie on bass, the swelling ranks making for a sound more fulsome and addictive than ever before.
Somewhere along the way Mutch and co collided with Paul Vickers (former frontman of Dawn of the Replicants), a one-man Brothers Grimm for the austerity age, whose skewed yarns created a demented kind of magic across five Replicants albums, and whose muse was now flying solo.
With eight Peel Sessions under their combined belts, a star-crossed alliance was born. Over the last decade, and in parallel to their own catalogue of releases (most recently on Edinburgh’s highly regarded but currently mothballed Song, by Toad Records), The Leg have provided muscle, heft and salty shout-alongs to Vickers’ post-punk Pied Piper over three LPs. And given Harvey and Scurlock’s moonlighting with the likes of pop radio favourites Withered Hand, Modern Studies and King Creosote, Paul Vickers and The Leg are now firmly rooted in Edinburgh’s fertile if often unheralded underground micro music scene.
Where Tropical Favourites, Itchy Grumble and The Greengrocer conjured up distant islands of pastoral gothic mayhem, with Jump, Paul Vickers and The Leg somewhat appropriately take a leap down a rabbit hole of spit-and-sawdust surrealist show-tunes, arm in arm in arm with new label Tenement Records.
A decade spent cultivating his alt-comedy alter ego of Fringe favourite Mr Twonkey has clearly held Vickers in good stead, firing him into a Hieronymus Bosch-like fantasia of little creatures fizzing and popping into view en route.
The lighters-in-the-air anthem of Sherbet and Chilli sounds as much a kindergarten classic in waiting as the school assembly sing-a-long of Little Turtle Wars, if such august institutions were run on gunpowder, anarchy and food fights, with the latter featuring a chorus that could have been dreamt up by Kevin Ayers.
Bolstered by The Leg’s five-headed hydra, Vickers becomes a pop-eyed Victorian explorer dragged through a punky music hall hedge and let loose in an imaginary menagerie of his own design.
Help This Animal is a white reggae rumble in the jungle, where our four-legged friends break free from the ark of Vickers’ hyperactive imagination, as he casts himself as Dr Doolittle in ringmaster’s garb.
Chieftain of Paradise is a rinky-dink pump-house perambulation into a world of curiosity shops and Elvis’ shoes, before Xmas in the Jungle rings in the season in furious fashion.
Finally, The Blackburn Giant is a genuine epic, a folk-tale carved into immortality as a northern English grimoire riven with the pathos and tragic grotesquery of a Scott Walker dirge transplanted to a fairy-tale kingdom where being different isn’t an option.
This is the sound of worlds turned upside down.
The shop-soiled product of a self-sufficient cottage industry going squarely against the grain, The Leg’s own new album Chromatic Perversion will be released in the first quarter 2020, also on Tenement Records.
Check out the video for ‘X-Mas In The Jungle’ – BELOW: