Friday, 12 February 2010
He's a One Man Band...
"I got this act called Petit Vodo - you're going to love him!" Tell me more, I instructed. "Well, he's a French one-man band... but he's a lot better than I can make that sound. I'll send you a copy of the album." He wasn't wrong. Despite a description that held less promise than an old pair of damp socks, that album, Monom, rocked like a bastard.
Imagine the refuelled delta blues of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, without any of the ego or knowing irony, and steep it with an innocent gallic charm, some dynamite slide guitar and all kinds of bonkers-in-the-nut samples and you're part way there. "He's playing down Dingwalls with Gallon Drunk in a couple of weeks," explained my Vodo go between, "do you want to see him?" Heck yeah, I replied - if only to see if he could actually play any of this stuff live. Surely he had a band, or merely relied on overdubs and recording trickery on the album.
It would seem that he didn't.
Up in Camden, right by the canal, a tiny, unassuming man in spectacles and a flying helmet toddled speculatively onto the stage. With a massive guitar over his shoulder and a harmonica perched around his neck, he settled in behind the drumkit and started to play - everything. Strumming the open chords with his right hand and hammering the snare with his left, while hooting out all kinds of strangled vocalisms through his harmonica - and at the same time triggering scatter-shot sampled with his elbows. Once in a while he'd even take the stick and slide it up the fret like a bottleneck, while he still pounded out a beefy rhythm on the drums with his feet. The sounds he was making were glorious, unique and quite quite beautiful.
The next album I got my hands on, Sixty-Nine Stereovox, held more of the same delights, and rarely left my stereo for a number years. Then for a while I kind of lost track of his exploits, until a recent websearch told me that he was still thriving, and still making his delectable swampy racket. Lately he's been accompanied by the glamorous Miss Caroline on drums, but it doesn't appear to have made him any less interesting or unhinged.
And you'll be pleased to hear that the good fellow is playing a few dates in the UK in March. So hunt him down like a dog and bathe in his magnificent otherness. You'll be pleased you did.
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