Hugs and Kisses #37: Victor Pope


This man moans and wails

Tuesday means another episode of Hugs and Kisses, a weekly column from both “the myth and the legend” best known as Mr. Everett True, publisher of Plan B Magazine, a title dedicated to writing about music (and media) with barely a nod towards demographics. Last week, Mr. True informs you that he knows what Deborah Harry looks like. This week, he tells you about the time he and Daniel Johnston’s brother got egged. — The SOC short-order cook

Hugs and Kisses

The Continued Outbursts of Everett True

THIS WEEK: Victor Pope

For one day only, I’ve decided to become obsessed by Victor Pope.

I know next to nothing about him, except that he taps into the same sort of deadpan (some might say dour) humour that has fuelled other North of England mavericks such as The Fall, MJ Hibbett And The Validators, I Ludicrous…and a host of equally-known names. He has less hits on his MySpace page than me (which is going some), and he likes to drop names like “Daniel Johnston,” “Syd Barrett,” “Television Personalities” and “Billy Bragg” in the vicinity of his quirky, human music, clearly in the hope that the formers’ cult following will transfer itself to his drum-machine-and-melodica sound. It might yet. He has a scratchily pitiful way of drawing, so that his new album cover features a lost soul surrounded by giants’ legs/tree trunks, and his self-portraits look more like Mr Johnston than Mr Johnston does these days, although I can’t deny this is a tautology. (Did I ever mention the time me and DJ’s brother got ‘egged’ from a passing car, standing outside the premiere of The Devil And Daniel Johnston? Remind me some day.)

The great thing about Victor is that he moans and wails — not in the grand tradition of Satan-obsessed blues wailers Robert Johnson and Leadbelly, more like a nasal porno clown being tormented by a crowd of children wearing wasp costumes…or Nikki Sudden, if you must. He delights in non-sequiturs so meaningless that I can’t be bothered to reproduce any here: and probably thinks that the shaking of a Rolf Harris wobble-board constitutes percussion (he’s right). He likes Moldy Peaches a fraction too much (some might argue, upon hearing Adam Green’s latest solo album that even a little is a fraction too much) and — like everyone growing up in England north of Birmingham’s Bull Ring in the Eighties — has the weirdest smattering of ska to rhythms that really don’t merit it.

All of this I surmise from listening to his wonderfully-titled album egotripper (…a retrospective) and dreaming of Fred Neill dreaming of Harry Nilsson, and thinking fondly back to an evening in Brighton a few years back wherein the aforementioned Hibbett sang with considerable trepidation over too-loud (Wedding Present-style) guitars about his blushing confusion upon being caught up in a Pride march, and the uber-twee, ukulele-taunting antifolksters Bobby McGees took great pride in driving Sir Nicholas of Cave from the tiny pub room in a few strokes of a beard…

When I lived in Seattle — briefly, long enough to taunt the locals about their procession of mediocre, sub-Matador ‘grunge’ bands — I spuriously started a campaign for ‘real rock’ (“rock that rocks”). Well wait up, because the Campaign For Real Music starts afresh and it starts right here, with the perennially (and clearly perpetually) underachieving Victor Pope.

I mean…Dan Treacy as a role model?

Hugs And Kisses Top 5

Wheat Everett True has sorted from the chaff

1. Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps, “Bluejean Bop”(from the Poppy Disc/After Hours album Bluejean Bop)
Way before I even liked ‘pop’ music, sweet Gene was my introduction to the ‘real rock’ — the rock that rocks. He still shames 99.9% that followed. Um, not that it’s a competition.

2. Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee — “Sly And The Family Stone” (forthcoming Fortuna Pop! single)
More songs about tube trains, Bethnal Green, sick days, flat lemonade and unmade beds. Features a Wave Picture and an ex-Hefner.

3. The Dirtbombs, “Indivisible” (from the In The Red album We Have You Surrounded)
We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy! (This is an equal to even “I’m Through With White Girls.”)

4. Zombie-Zombie, “Before Night Falls” (from the forthcoming Versatitle album A Land For Renegades)
The percussion dude from Herman Düne sounding totally anti-anti-folk and pro-Neu! and Kraftwerk. With analogue keyboards.

5. Those Dancing Days, “Hitten” (Wichita single)
I’ve just watched the video to this on YouTube five times. Damn, I love this band! Someone, please send me some stuff…