The Angry Corrie 64: March-May 2005


Mountaineering Melodies 25: Tom Weir

image from The Angry Corrie

Tom Weir, Tom Weir
Plus-fours and a wee woolly hat.
Three cheers for Tom Weir
Tom Weir, king of the anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks.

Tom Weir, balladeer, musketeer, always up for the crack.
Three cheers, Tom Weir
Tom Weir, king of the anoraks...

His trousers indicated
he was sadly dislocated
from the future.
Discussing history
with a Weegie
or a Fifer or a Teuchter.

Free beer for Tom Weir
Tom Weir and his wee canvas sack.
Three cheers, Tom Weir
Tom Weir king of the anoraks...

His red nose manifested
many years had been invested
in the bevvy (hic).
From Eigg to Rum and Coll
with double single malt and a wee heavy.

Free gear for Tom Weir
Tom Weir and his wee woolly hat.
Three cheers, Tom Weir
Tom Weir, king of the anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks
The anoraks the anoraks the anoraks.

'Tom Weir', Aberfeldy, 2005. Rough Trade RTRADSCD218

See http://www.aberfeldys.com/

THERE HAVE BEEN plenty of pop songs about public figures, from Monroe to Mandela to Hamish McAlpine, so a tune about the talisman of Scottish hillgoers was badly overdue. But it's been worth the wait, and if ever a CD cried out to be glued to the cover of TAC as a freebie, this is it.

The five-piece 'Feldys are hard to categorise, but a good starting point is that they're nothing at all like the über-ubiquitous Franz Ferdinand (it's high time for a second decent single, lads). Instead, imagine a complex interbreeding of the Rezillos, Belle and Sebastian, Helen Love and Half Man Half Biscuit. They're Edinburgh-based (hence that line about Weegies - Glaswegians don't call themselves that), but the people at their record label, the doughty Rough Trade, evidently need a lesson in Scottish geography. Along with mentioning "boy-girl harmonies" and "choral pop music" (fair enough), http://www.roughtraderecords.com/aberfeldy.html suggests the band is "named after a small Scottish coastal holiday town", and adds "forget West Coast California. East Coast Perthshire is where it's at." Hmm...

That's the only bum note, though. Gangly lead singer Riley Briggs is a sweeter-sounding, non-speccy version of Jarvis Cocker, and backing singers Ruth Barrie and Sarah McFadyen double as glockenspielists. Tom Weir's nifty one minute 55 seconds even includes a middle-eight-ish glockenspiel sample of Charlie Is My Darling. The whole thing is absurdly catchy and jaunty and jangly, and rattles along like a good pop song should.

It's impossible to guess what the eponymous ailing giant of the Scottish hill scene - now in his 90th year - will make of this, but with luck he'll recognise it as affectionate homage rather than taking umbrage at implications that he's over-fond of the booze. (And what if he is? He's a hero.) Presumably songwriter Alexander Wright - who clearly stays up late studying the boxed set of Weir's Way on DVD - is au fait with the story that Weir and John Hunt fell out over a bottle of malt in Greenland in the 1950s. The suggestion that Weir is a "balladeer" is the only curious angle - has anyone ever heard him sing? Perhaps there's some weird hybridisation with Jimmy MacGregor going on.

Tom Weir is unlikely to hit heavy rotation on the MTV playlist due to the philistine masses in the southern flatlands, and at present it's just an add-on track accompanying the CD single Love Is An Arrow (it isn't on the seven-inch vinyl single). But it ought to be an A-side, and it ought to be a hit. And the album Young Forever - which pre-dates Tom Weir but features equally catchy stuff such as A Friend Like You and Heliopolis By Night - is great, too.

It's not often that TAC makes a clear and unequivocal recommendation that all its readers, every last one of them, should go out and buy something, but that's the conclusion here. You - and you - and you should spend your £1.99 and get a copy of Tom Weir. It'll cheer you up.

In fact, it's so good, so much in step with the spirit of TAC (whatever that is - it likely goes with a double single malt), that Aberfeldy and Sandy Wright become the first-ever recipients of The Angry Corrie Fellow Travellers Award. We'll work out what to actually give them in due course. It won't be the only prize they'll ever win.


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