Quite why I keep thinking of Oliver Postgate is anyone’s guess.
The Vermin Poets is a record with Billy Childish on. That much is clear. To quote the record label; “The Vermin Poets are Neil Palmer on Guitar/Lyre/vox Billy Childish on Bass/Backing Vox, JuJu Claudius on drums/Backing Vox and Wolf Howard on Drums but don’t think this is just another Billy Childish band ‘cos it’s not.”
It shouldn’t be classed as a Childish record per se, and to be honest it lacks the rough edges or psychotic feel that any Medways or Headcoats records possess. No, this is actually softer, gentler; (despite the racket the Poets kick up). It’s actually quite dreamy, even on a track such as Like Poets Often Do there’s a winsome side, and the inherent playfulness shines through with tracks like Grandfathery. I suppose tracks like these (the title track is another example) can conjour up images of the poet lying on his or her bed, waiting for inspiration, or falling into a reverie. Quite why I keep thinking of Oliver Postgate is anyone’s guess.
There are moments when things get turgid, and no amount of irony or reverie can save it; Baby Booming Bastards could have been so much better, instead it doesn’t half plod along. Musical Pamphlet is another outsider lament that somehow doesn’t really go anywhere, despite having one or two nice ideas. Sometimes though the band get it absolutely on the nail; She’s Got Ears allows the inherent introspection and navel gazing a perfect subject (snotty girl, spurned bloke), and Poets of England is a marvellous boozing song somehow invoking the spirit of Syd’s Vegetable Man.
A mixed bag, but enjoyable nonetheless.