This issue Michelle Shocked returns to the Scottish stage (below), Andy Sheppard’s new band makes its first appearance (overleaf), plus Mary Margaret O’Hara, James, and record reviews.
LISTINGS: ROCK 34 JAZZ 36 FOLK 38 CLASSICAL 39
Alastair Mabbott finds Michelle Shocked in full swing.
When Michelle Shocked grows up. she wants to find herselfon a sailboat. travelling around the coasts of the world with her guitar. her fiddle. her mandolin and her father. Already. her adult life has been a story ofceaseless drifting; from her Mormon mother and stepfather's authoritarian regime to the bohemian Haight area ofSan Francisco. squats in Amsterdam. New York. and then a houseboat moored on the Thames — which. for a time. served as a surrogate for the boat on which she plans one day to sail around the world. Now. she‘s left even that behind. settling in Los Angelcs— going over there a few months ago to record her third LP. Captain Swing. Convinced that she should stay by her feeling that she was being ‘a bit hypocritical when l was standing so far from the source of my contempt'. she nevertheless managed to keep her vow that she would never go back there so long as Reagan was
There is as much restlessness apparent in her music as in her itinerant lifestyle. The unaccompanied country-blues songs captured on The Texas Campfire Tapes grew lusher on her first LP proper. Short Sharp Shocked. Dwight Yoakam producer Pete Anderson calling in a full band for her to work with. Now. on Captain Swing. she's grown more ambitious still. filling the frame with horns and jumping from style to style like one of the crickets hopping around that
Michelle herselfisn't quite certain that this hasn't led to an unfocused album. and has decided to let others judge that for her.
‘l'm kinda waiting to hear the feedback. ‘(Tause the ambition was to present a lot ofstyles but to have captured a unity with the feeling. and to what degree l‘ve succeeded. I kinda have to wait until I get impressions back. I have my own ideas.
but that's the ambition.‘
While other singers restrict their political involvement to sniping from afar in their songs. Michelle. whose brutal arrest at a demonstration
j natural father. a product of the liberer 608. who
made the San Francisco Examiner in 1984 and the sleeve ofShort Sharp Shocked four years later. has hung on to the political awareness she picked up from activist friends in her squatting days. As usual. her indignation finds a voice in new songs like ‘God is a Real Estate Developer‘ and ‘()n the Greener Side‘.
‘Here‘s a one-liner you can quote.‘ she says. ‘They tell you when you're demanding the impossible that the grass is always greener on the other side, but I'm here to remind folks that the grass is greener on the greener side.‘
The way Michelle tells it. the song came about in the boho way you thought only happened in the movies.
‘In December. my fatherand I went hitchhiking around Arkansas. and we actually managed to get ourselves a ride on a tug from Memphis to Baton Rouge. We went from there to New Orleans and were introduced to mambo rhythms. l was shown this little lick on the guitar and it inspired the song.‘
Stories like that make the beatnik lifestyle sound as idyllic as Michelle found it gruelling when she went on the road after leaving behind both her Mormon home and. later. that of her
introduced her to his beloved folk and blues.
‘You just have to know my dad. He's been a real inspiration to me. and a lot of my goals. aside from introducing me to music. he was the one that put me on to the dream I still have ofsailing around the world. So sitting on the banks of the Mississippi river with my dad . . . that was something.‘
Catch her while you can - or be prepared to go a long way to see her in future. Michelle Shocked leaves the grand opening of the new Network venue in Edinburgh to (ioodhye Mr Mackenzie. but turns up there the fol/o rr'ing night, Tue2l. be ore shooting offto the Barron-land. Glasgow on Wed 22.
I THEY SAID it couldn't happen here- butyes. David Byme will be treading the boards at the city of his birth. Glasgow. on 17 and 18 December. Notwith Talking Heads. who last played in Scotland ten years ago. but with the ‘Hei Momo' band. which is recreating his Brazilian-style new LP live in the States at the moment, to rave receptions. The venue is the Darrowland.
and tickets are already on sale.
I THE DHGANISEHS ol ‘the event at the 903' are adamant that it will go ahead; that is. Britain's biggestcharity concert. which will take place next yearand call onthe services at Phil Collins.
Paul McCartney. Pink Floyd, Status Duo and Tears For Fears, to name only those already continued. The Silver Clet charity have
also approached superstars like Bowie. The Who, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and more. Coach travel is being arranged by The Concert Travel Company. and there will be Scottish coaches laid on, so keep watching torlurther announcements.
I COMPOSER STEVE MAHTLAHD, who milled a tewleathers by working with Sarah Jane Morris and Test Department on his distinctly anti-Thatcherite BBC presentation ‘Albion', and whose tine LP ‘266' was among the lirst batch of Factory Records classical releases. has had to postpone the show that was
due to take place althe Third Eye Centre this lortnight. The show is being rescheduled, and may go ahead in January. with a viewing of ‘Albion’ taking up some at the set.
I JIMMY (NEEJIMI) SDMEHVILLE seems to have given The Communards the
I unreleased recordings by the above, plus Ut, Head of David and various other wild Statside types. 80 what. you might ask. Well, we here at Listen! have one copy and one only ota groovy.highly-collectible boxed set at 7in singles. which includes every track
elbow with his new LP ‘Head My Lips‘. Attertaklng the ten-piece band through every country in Europe. he announced. ‘I personally think two to three years is enough tora band.l couldn't imagine working with Richard or anyone else torlive. six, seven years—
that's trightening.’ on the album plus seven Short-lived collaborations more. We're going to give are now to be the name at our copy at ‘The Devils
the game. Jukebox' to the readerwho
can best completethis sentence in around a dozen words: ‘I would likea romantic candlelitdinner with Steve Albini
because. . .' Repliesto Listen! atThe List.14 High Street. Edinburgh EH1 1TE.
I BLAST FIRST-the label that gave Britain its lirst taste at Sonic Youth, Big Black. Butthole Surfers and DinosaurJr has a new compilation out entitled ‘Hothing Short at Total War' teaturing obscure and
The List 10— 23 November 1989 29