Heid: The T. F. Arnott Story

Here’s an oddity, the description alone commands attention and demands a listen.

“….. fragments of a long lost more extensive piece of work by a radio documentarian about a delta blues guy called T. F. Arnott. It tells the story of his strange and deeply twisted career and how it spanned throughout the better part of the 20th century. First spotted as a talent scout in Hollywood in the mid thirties he appears throughout the ages, meeting folk like Elvis, Richard Feynman, and even Bill Clinton along the way. “

The album is the demented brainchild of T. F. Arnott (described as a “Blues Player, Poet, Theoretical Physicist, Hollywood Mogul, Alligator Hunter and also Glaswegian”) who recalled his younger days when he and his chums would record improvised radio comedy programmes on his mum’s tape player. Now grown up (allegedly) he’s spun this fantasy (with the assistance of Kerr McClure, Isaac Wilcox, Marcus Montgomery Roche and Peter Arnott) and unleashed it on an unsuspecting world.

It’s great fun. The album consists of acoustic blues songs for the post part interspersed with snippets of documentary commentary from various characters recalling the career of T. F. Arnott. These range from Shaky Mo (a doppelganger for Camberwell carrot Danny from Withnail & I) describing Arnott’s 1967 spell in London where he recorded “Twelve songs about Sausages” (” great title, crap record”), to the owner of Florida’s Crocodile Club who went hunting in the Everglades with Arnott, killed a manatee and tried to make a guitar case out of its skin. Failing to do so they eventually fashioned a hat instead. There’s episodes involving The Manhattan Project, Jean Paul Sartre’s sex club and Arnott’s in setting up Sun Records which he originally called Bum Records. Sure, it’s juvenile at times but there’s many chuckles contained herein, a bit like listening to Cheech and Chong recording Blind Melon Chitlin Lemon while watching Spinal Tap.

As for the music, some of it is excellent. There’s a fine Glaswegian take on How Come My Dog Don’t Bark (recorded by Dr. John among others) retitled How Come My Dog Dinnie Bark. Cry recalls the works of Hamish Imlach with wonderful woozy Glaswegian backing vocals, Don’t Ya Call Me sounds like an angry west of Scotland John Lee Hooker while there’s a lighter take on the blues with the toe tapping and memorable Magic Band. Overall it’s great fun, not to be taken too seriously (the legend himself confided to Blabber’n’Smoke “it’s just a wee DIY type affair”) but for the grand price of £2 you can download it and judge for yourself.

Buy it here

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