Outside Leg

It’s taken me 2 years to realise that hitherto unpronounceable Meursault are not named after Neil Pennycook’s favourite sleepy French  town. Is he a fan of their famous white burgundies? I had thought he was.

Meursault is the bloody main character in Albert Camus’ novel, L’Etranger, the title probably best translated as The Outsider.

I read that book when I was at University. The main character, Meursault (mer-so) is the original emo. Like The Cure, he kills an Arab and is pretty ‘meh?’ about it. He’s pretty indifferent to everything actually, including his love life, the killing, the trial and life in general. These days he’d be diagnosed with an existential Asperger’s spectrum thing and have been given extra time in his exams before settling into a job in IT.

If you’re like me and try to read some classic books from time to time, please be aware that when someone asks you if you’re reading anything just now, that Albert Camus was a French Algerian and his name is therefore pronounced Albear Camoo, not Albert Camuss like he was good old Bert from Leith. Be careful too before admitting reading Descartes and Goethe you smarty-pants.

They probably have the same problem in France. ‘Eh? avez vous read le nouvoux Eeon Ronkeen livre?’ ‘Groan, eez appellaiz eez pronouncezd Iaan Rankeen vous eembeecile.’

There is a point to this.

I went to see The Leg at Henry’s Cellar bar earlier this year.

The Leg

Something that night gave the place the aura of an Amsterdam basement.* A place Jacques Brel would seek out. It had an odd otherworldly feel. The orangey lights and earlier bands had set an abrasiveness that was hard to shake and although 2 pints into the show it felt like a psychedelic coin on its edge. There was even a scuffed and battered piano that couldn’t possibly be in tune on the left of the stage. A good trip or horrorshow ahead??

What’s it to be then, eh?

They’re an odd bunch, The Leg. They’re a total mystery to me too. I never ask about who The Leg are or what else they do suffice to say I’m aware that the 3 individuals sometimes contribute to other bands’ records.


Look like they have been on shore for only a few hours. When resting, they appear intense. lick lipping, lean and meat starved hungry.

The album, An Eagle To Saturn came out a wee while ago. We have it. Yes they came onshore dressed as colourful pandas.

Back in Henry’s, their drummer had shaved his beard off since I last saw the band. The beard had been a statement beard. A long braided Jesus of a beard crucified on Dali’s moustache. A beard so distracting that………..      Anyway, I’d seen someone at the bar and thought who is this guy? For I’d never seen the beardless man’s face before.

Yet, I’d seen him before, hmm I though, then I was distracted a bit more.  He disappeared and then on seeing him again, this time him on stage, the centime dropped and I realised that this man is Meursault from the Camoo book; at least how I pictured Meursault in the Camoo book in my impressionable heid all those years ago. All gallic gesture, mood and bones. And he’s drumming in The Leg! Neil from Meursault the band walks by. What the hell is going on here?

There’s a cello and a bearded cellist who doubles as the band pianist. A man with so much talent, that the only way he can play honestly is to add in bum notes to make a tune sound more interesting. He’d make Strauss waltz with a limp.

Then there’s the third man of The Leg. Woolen hat. Angry, shouty, spitty, vicious. Singing songs for the dwarves that never made the big time.

What are the songs actually about? Sea monsters obviously. Great big squid, scurvy, rum, splinters and rowing blisters. Hooks and anchors. Knots for fastening stuff. Knotted and tattooed rope for heave-ho arms. Far off lands, exotic maidens and painful exotic diseases. Missing fingers and teeth and scars from errant squid. Other small bite marks that don’t really heal. Revenge on mutinous crew. Scrimshawed orca teeth. Pirate light-saber fights. Skeletons and skulls with crossed bones. Thousand yard stares, crows nests and eyes squinting into a low sun horizon. Cartoon fish net run-ins with nuclear submarines. Drowning comrades and oil spills. Drowning Kamikaze pilots who missed the boat. Sowesters and sideways rain, 30 metre swells. Fore and aft and a’ that. Pickled food and gangways. Gifts from far off tsars, night guidance by the stars. Eaten sailors, tiger sharks. Cargo of rotting pineapple and ballast and stowaway tarantulas. Poisonous giant centipedes ate the ship’s rats. Ship’s surgeon with a bloody apron that can stand up on its own, stiffened by dead and dried blood from the work. The crew’s excrement and dead comrades thrown overboard, sown in canvas.

Okay, so I really have no idea, the songs are genuinely not of this world.

Shore time. 2 days. Don’t stray far. See if you can find some more crew to replace the stiffs and a few barrels of something that at least smells like limes. So they tidy themselves up a bit. And somehow end up in Henry’s playing this odd music.

A porthole looking into something outside that you are unsure if you even want to see. Frightened, you open your ears and take a peek.

Have a peek at this:

Whatever Happened To The Shrunken Tina Turner

That’s an older album. Track 10 is gloriously rough and a bit sweary, be warned.

A new album is nearing release on the back of this weird single, Chicken Slippers.

The band play at The Pleasance on Saturday night (Meursault on the bill too). There must be an otherworldly ship in Leith docks just now. It’ll be a few months until it comes in again. I’m looking forward to seeing this, I’ll be hiding near the front, sowester at the ready.

* Not a vinyl basement with fetish gear and that kind of stuff, nor a nice vinyl basement full of records and that. There is a true story involving this mix up but you can make one up for yourself.  Just wander your character and friends into the red light district and have him say “we’re looking for vinyl”.

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