24 February 2018

Reupload - Austin Van Driver and the Morrismen - Salt & Vinegar

Chirpy 70s cockney punk-pop about everyone's favourite chippy condiments. 

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1979

It's a work-in-progress bedroom demo for Blur's "Parklife"!  It's Mike Skinner of The Streets with a Casiotone demo of his missing chippy "dinnertime" track from "A Grand Don't Come For Free"!  It's Eddie Argos out of Art Brut doing an ironic advert for the British Potato Council!  It's Chas and Dave getting unusually belligerent and demanding in a Leytonstone Fish and Chip shop!  It's... well, it's all of these things, but it's actually none of these things as well.  Sorry.

However, we can definitely classify this as a curio from the arse-end of the life of Pye Records which was clearly meant to be a summer novelty pop smash.  Had a particularly influential daytime Radio One DJ taken a shine to this it probably would have been a hit, but we can only assume that they failed to see the potential - or rather, that Pye at this stage in their corporate lives were utterly incapable of getting anyone's attention at the Beeb.

There's something very cheesy and cheap about the record, and it's received thorough drubbings elsewhere on the Interweb, but I genuinely like it - it's unpretentious, snappy and decidedly silly, siphoning off the credible influences of Madness and Ian Dury and squeezing them into a novelty blender.  The lyrics focussed entirely upon the act of putting salt and vinegar on chips are utterly facile and ridiculous, but sometimes pop music needs such idiocy.  Had it been even a minor hit, there's a strong probability it would have become awfully irritating very quickly, but as a flop it's harmless, cheerful and sprightly.

It's not clear who Austin Van Driver and the Morrismen were, but certainly the involvement of Phil Hampson on the songwriting credit is something of a giveaway to the fact that they were a one-off project.  Hampson has produced numerous pieces of soundtrack work and one-off novelty singles over the years, including "The Sparrow" by The Ramblers,  "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" by Brian and Michael, and (perhaps more credibly) the "Spiral Scratch" EP for The Buzzcocks, as well as work for Slaughter and the Dogs and The Fall.  This particular single is probably stylistically halfway between Brian & Michael and The Buzzcocks, and as bizarre as you'd expect given that.


Webbie - FootieAndMusic said...

Don't tell anybody but I quite like this one.
I looked up Phil Hampson's entry on Discogs and discovered that he also produced another record you now have to find:

23 Daves said...

So do I, actually. It's surprisingly addictive.

As for that Prince The Wonder Dog record, I'm well aware of it and I keep meaning to buy a copy. The World's Worst Records blog covered it a number of years ago, so there's not much new I can say about it here - but enough time has passed that maybe I could give it a shot. I'm known to wander around the house whistling "Sausages" to myself (much to my wife's annoyance). It should have been MASSIVE.

Arthur Nibble said...

The vocals are too dull and one-dimensional, and the track cries out for a bit of Farfisa organ and choppy Chris Foreman guitar to flesh it out. Otherwise, I could see this being a minor hit, and I can clearly imagine Suggs giving this a good seeing to.