This isssue Ian McCulloch sheds a light on his new career (below) while overleaf Kenny Mathieson surveys the rise of The Four Brothers, plus 10,000 Maniacs and record reviews.
llSTINGS:ROcK 55JAZZ 38FOLK39 CLASSICAL 40
Alastair Mabbott finds Big Mac looking chipper.
Echo and The Bunnymen. who started off the decade with the conviction that they were going to be the band of the 80s. are no more. but singer Ian McCulloch hasn‘t lost any confidence in his abilities. Nor have the legions who snapped up their copies ofhis first solo LP. ('(mdleluml. in the first week of its release. It would be easy to see McCulloch as an island ofconsistency in the turbulent ocean of pop. as he plugs songs that could be nobody‘s but his in the trademark black overcoat and the startled coiffure that has held its shape for longer than Vince Clarke has held down his career. A consistency bordering on conservatism was one ofthe strengths that held the Bunnymen up through some oftheir weaker patches.
‘Well. I‘m not a chameleon. you know. I like the way I look. and the only alternative is to grow a ponytail. which I‘m not really into. There‘s too many ponytails in the world.‘ he says archly. suggesting that he‘s modified his suspicion of ‘people with ﬂowers in their hair‘ to move with the times. And then he‘s off. on his typically immodest Mac-like way. ‘Yeah. I think it was the best look of the 80s and it can be for the 90s.‘
He feels much the same way about his new band. The Prodigal Sons. but his hunger is. he feels. a little different from before.
‘We were never ambitious to go mega — that‘s probably why we never did — but ambitious in the
respect that I want to prove I can write great songs still. and go out and tour them and play great live. That‘s as far as ambition need go. I
While he bemoans the lack ofa decent club to
i provide a springboard to new Liverpool bands
the way Eric’s did for so many. McCulloch has neither the time nor the money to undertake the venture ofsetting one up. That his immediate concerns are his responsibilities as a family man is glimpsed in Candleland. which has been taken as marking a new maturity for the singer.
Its release has shown him in an unusually candid mood. but perhaps that window is closing fast — he‘s always been careful to keep his mystique intact. His father died before the album was made; Echo and The Bunnymen‘s beloved drummer Peter de Freitas lost his life in a motorbike accident while it was at the mixing stage; and close friend Chris McCaffrey (once of the Pale Fountains) died after it was finished. ‘80 . . . that was it. really.’ he concludes with an abruptness that surfaces only that once.
‘What I wanted to do was to set down in my head what was happening at that particular time. It wasn‘t meant to indicate any long-term direction because it was more reflective than forward-looking. The next stuff. I think. will be a lot harder, lyrically tougher and not so personal. It’ll be my thoughts on various topics. more like the way I wrote Crocodiles. A bit more insolent. I think. and poking fingers a lot more.‘
He‘s still Mac the Mouth once he gets going. but he does need the right prompting first. and today his mind is on getting back to rehearsal and priming the Prodigal Sons to peak ‘best rock band in the world‘ condition. His garrulous eruption once it‘s clear that the interview bit is over is like a malingering patient leaping from his bed after the visitors have gone so he can pour vodka slammers for everyone else in the ward.
‘Is that it? Great! That was fine! Great! Deffo! Come and say hello. a'right‘.’ Great!‘
Ian McCulloch plays at Barrow/and. Glasgow on Wed 1 Nov.
There are also tentative plans to bring another Very Big Starto Network in its lirstweek. The acts appearing will all be carefully selected, we're told. with a marked absence oi HM/hard rock- a market which is being widely catered for elsewhere. We will be able to reveal more
I WE LOOK FORWARD to supporting Edinburgh's new venue. Network. which is being opened by Regular Music on 20 November. and will hopefully last longer than the Caley Palais orthe last venture. the excellent Empire. both closed by noise complaints. The opening night features the
first gig in their hometown next issue.
for some time by Goodbye I A NEW iNITlATlVE to get Mr Mackenzie, and is 1 Scottish bands noticed was followed up the next night launched on 18 October
by Michelle Shocked who 9 with the first night olthe will be raising money for Blue Cactus Club at
the anti-poll tax campaign.
Edinburgh's Calton Studios.
But don't checkthe Club listings for it—this was an invites-only affair for record companies and the media. many of whom were happy to take a trip up to catch live young Scottish hopefuls in the same venue. The organisers. which include Nardline Productions. The Noise Production Company and the fledgling Scottish Bands Agency. boasted an attendance by representatives of 21 record companies, making it, they claimed, the biggest concentration since the last BPlAwards- unless, of course. you know differently. (Bands wanting inclusion in the next Blue Cactus Club should submit tapes to Big Noise
Production Co. 144a Pitt Street, Edinburgh ENG ADD or Carol-Ann Chapman. Top Flat Night. 155 Lothian Road. Edinburgh.)
l WE DON'T OFTEN plug books in this column. but rock historian and trivia expert Pete Frame (he olthe eye-straining Rock Family Trees) is close to our hearts. and his ‘iiarp Beat Rock Gazetteer of Great Britain' (Banyan £7.95) has been keeping us amused on buses this last week. Taking it county by county. Frame hauls out birthplaces, notable events and useless trivia he has amassed over the years. It you thought thatAC/OC’s Malcolm and Angus Young were born in the wilds of Australia rather
than Glasgow. were unaware of the connection between that selfsame city . and seminal bands Marmalade and Middle of the Road, or have held a long-buming desire to know the first public appearance of Bay City Boiler Les McKeown (with the long-forgotten Threshold at Oalmellington Town Hall). this book could provide hours of mindless tun. Incidentally. how many people out there knew that Silver Beatle Stu Sutcliffe was born in Edinburgh
(June 1940) and that his buddy John Lennon
required 17 stitches attera car crash near Golspie (July 1969)? Bore your friends rigid today.
Early Beatle Stu Sutclitte: the Scottish connection.
The List 27 October — 9 November 1989 29