I THE TENNENTS LiVEl promotion scheme slips into high gearthis month, with musicians playing underthe banner ranging irom The Critter Hill Varmints to Bryan Ferry, whose prestigious show at the SECC on Saturday 10 ls something oi a coup ior Tennents, being his only British appearance. The iirst iund-ralsing venture oi the scheme is at the Magnum Centre in Irvine, on Thursday 15, where Run Rig hope to raise £3500 tor the Music In Scotland Trust, a subsidiary oi The Prince’s Trust which aims to provide linancial support and prolessional advice to emerging Scottish rock musicians. Considering that more than 500 have already applied tor help underthe scheme, a rate oi one beneilt per week might be called lor. I A MESSAGE FROM Keith Armstrong, head oi Kitchenware Records, says to ignore any rumours that Martin Stephenson and The Daintees are to play Edinburgh’s Music Box on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18. The Daintees, he says, don’t want to disappoint theirians, but neitherthey nor their agent were aware oi any gigs until alterthey had been publicised. I GOODBYE MR MACKENZIE impressed not only the punters in the august surroundings oi Glasgow’s Pavilion, the other week, but also Peter Grant, once manager oi Led Zeppelin, now in semi-retirement alter making his name as the most teared man in the music business. Apparently, the Mackenzies, now with their eyes on the States, tired oil a tape oi their LP to Grant, with little hope oi a reply, and were stunned when he called back immediately to tell them he loved it. And then, the story goes, phoned again later in the day to tell them he was still besotted. No one’s committing themselves yet, but a lot oi talking took place alterthe show. I RUMOURS FROM a hitherto reliable source about the iinal and irrevocable split oi The Shamen have proved to be unlounded in a ilurry oi activity irom their groovy psychotronic lair. Remaining Shamen Willie and Colin have teamed up with Chicago house producer Bam Bam (‘a big lunky dude with a Cameo haircut’) tor the single ‘Transcendental’, out on Chris Parry’s Desire label. A new rock/dance LP, ‘the best thing we’ve ever done by a long chalk’, on Demon in January is to be lollowed by a lull UK tour.
I Nanci Grlilith: One Fair Summer Evening (MCA). Recorded at the Anderson Fair in Texas, where Grlltith spent many hours absorbing her intiuences, ‘One Fair Summer Evening’ conjures up the atmosphere oi a relaxed, intimate performance so well that you wish you’d been there to be a
40'I‘he List 9— 22 December 1988
part oi It. A low-key country-lolk singer, with a gentle, even voice, Grlllith is said to treat her art like a storyteller,
. and in the enraptured hush
acknowledging her reminiscences you could almost hear a pin drop. A polite bunch, they save the whoopin’ and hollerln’ ior when the song’s ilnished. An exceptional live recording. (Mah)
s. I I Ellis, Beggs and Howard: Homelands (RCA). The signs were awiul at iirst: three photogenic young men eager to sell themselves to the universal pop machine. The reality is, however, a lot more palatable than it sounds. ‘Homelands’ opens with the six-minute ‘Where Did Tomorrow Go?’, which immediately shows signs oi Simple Minds-style grandiosity, but Austin Howard’s voice - a silky instrument that still sounds like it’s been around - is more than equal to the task. impressive stult, but it’s lollowed by some rousing rock/R88 stompers that almost equal the sum at their parts but not quite. ‘Hungry Man’ gets closer, the liberally-spattered lead guitar parts bringing it to a surprisingly etiective climax. The ‘Message in a Bottle’ rewrite with the Prince title, ‘l Would Die lor You’, suggests that EB&H’s well is not as deep as they would have us believe, but there’s more than enough inspiration on this record to make it ieel worthwhile. Nick Beggs is hencelorth absolved oi all blame ior Kaiagoogoo. (Mab)
I The Alarm: Electric Folklore Live (iRS). ii The Alarm hadn’t already shown themselves to be incapable oi embarassment, the speech to the Boston audience during ‘Rescue Me’ would haunt them to their graves. it’s excruciating. it’s interminable. It’s like Bono on acid. And when the singer gets to the bit where he says, ‘You know, it reminds me ot something Woody Guthrie once said in 1945’, in that trendy Bono-esque voice, I’m convinced I’ve died and gone to rock’n'roil hell. i’m llogging this. it’s Christmas. I need the money. (Mah)
I Human League: ‘Greatest Hits‘ (Virgin). A look at the recent music press reviews oi Bananarama’s Greatest Hits shows the very obvious danger at over valuing an act on the strength ol a compilation whereby all the iailings can be brushed away under the counter. Unlike Bananarama, The Human League are not a proliiic act,
and the lact that most oi this Greatest Hits is culled irom three albums- Dare, Hysteria and Crash - speaks tor itseli.
Also unlike Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits (the other big Christmas compilations) the Human League are, and always have been a great singles band. From Being Boiled which sounds like it was recorded on a budget oi 10p to the multimillion, Jam/Lewis productions ol Human and Love is All That Matters, the compilation proves that the Human League have managed the transition irom the bottom oi Division Two to the top oi the Premier League with the ability to write a great pop song intact- regardless oi the personnel turnover involved.
Personal lavourites are the ballads Louise and Human along with Don’t You Want Me —the last great number one — all oi seven years ago. Buy the album and choose your own. (JW)
I Fleetwood Mac: ‘Greatest Hits‘ (Warner Brothers): Listening to Fleetwood Mac has always been a slightly unrewarding experience. Sure, the vocal harmonies and the melodies are excellent and some ol the songs included are insidious and memorable, notably Don’t Stop and the more recent hit, Little Lies.
All culled irom the post 1971 period, cynics may point to the heavy contributions lrom Rumours and Tango in The Night as evidence oi the band's lack ol ability when it comes to producing consistently high quality albums. The title track at Tusk shows them at their most adventurous, and irankly, that is still pretty conservative.
But, ultimately their conservatism. and undoubted quality, is what Fleetwood Mac are all about and why they have been so popular ior so long. Nice music ior nice people to listen to in nice ilats, and totally lacking in anything that you would kill lor. (JW) I Alexander O’Neal: All Mixed Up (Tabu); Cherrelle: Aliair (Tabu); PIA: When The Lights Go Out (Epic). The three latest products at the Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis production line, and a thoroughly mixed bag. The Alexander O’Neai album is a rip-oii—tedious remixes oi tracks irom the more than bearable Hearsay album. However, the I Dead Can Dance: The Serpent’s Egg (4AD). Dead Can Dance’s range has narrowed since their last album, ‘Within the Realm at a Dying Sun’, as their muse seems to have settled in Eastern Europe, they to iollow it like dedicated ethnomusicologists. Trance-inducing chants over leaden percussion are the preferred means ol communication this time around, more so than the last LP, and the variation in light shade is less interesting than what they achieved back then. Dead Can Dance, it would appear, would most like to have the vocal dexterity oi a Bulgarian choir and the rhythm oi some undiscovered Airican tribe. Tellingly, at one point, a segment ot music recalls Philip Glass’s score ior ’Koyaanisqatsi’. How long belore they disappear up their own behinds? (Mab)
I Pussy Galore: Sugarshit Sharp (Product lnc). Having worked through
the Rolling Stones‘ ‘Exlie on Main Street’ double album in 20 minutesgthie darlings oi the New York underground tilt in the other hail oi the equation by covering Einsturzende Neubaten’s ‘Yu Gung’, which, although I haven’t heard the original, is done with an unexpected precision and authority. It doesn’t really prepare the way tor the live tracks on the other side. There are louder and much taster bands than Pussy Galore, but lew are more casual in the way they lnilict their brand oi rock primitivism. The iniluence oi the Stones at their most insouciant is overwhelmingly present, and one leels that the smacked-out Keith Richards that somehow steered the Stones through ‘Exile’ would have approved. (Mab)
I Neneh Cherry: Buitalo Stance (Circa). Wicked groove oi the week, without a contest. Produced and mixed by Bomb The Bass’s Tim Simenon, it’s nevertheless Neneh’s pure attitude that pulls it to the top oi the heap. A combination oi street smarts, daring and a voice that would send Prince’s temale toil Cat oli with her tail between her legs, taking oil bath London and New York in the blink oi an eye and dropping in a lew stolen snatches ol Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Buttalo Gals’ to remind us it’s all a bit oitun. As it we’d torget tor a moment. As it Don Cherry‘s stepdaughter, a lormer member oi Rip, Rig and Panic and Float Up CP could make a record that wasn’t a bona iide rhythmic wonder. (Mab)
I The Stretch Heads: Bros Are Pish EP (Moksha). A long time ago one oi these groups who name themselves after American states (I lie, it was Styx, actually) released a groovy platter with a design laser-etched on to the surlace. it didn’t last, probably because at the resemblance to an unsightly, ii ornate, beer stain. The Stretch Heads are made oi sterner stuit, and the design viciously scratched on to one side ol ‘Bros Are Pish’ shows Styx up tor the iairies they must have been. On no account attempt to play that side. The music on the other side is not beautitul, but iar be it irom me to call it ‘unlistenabie crap’. Having seen them live, i can report that it’s surprising how quickly one gets drawn into the Stretch Heads’ trightening world. And where else, otherthan on Dame Edna’s Party Album, are you going to hear ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ disembowelled with such lerocity? (Mab)
I Boss Beat: Let There Be Drums (Siren). Apparently the work ol Glasgow session drummer Geoit Dugmore, and, phew, the drums on this brash glam version at Sandy Nelson’s 1961 instrumental hit come on like the Four Horsemen oi The Apocalypse on some very potent drugs. Or is it some very handy samples? (Mah)