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It‘s been a long haul for them, but The Cateran are starting to get the attention they‘ve worked for over the last three years, and as many albums. Playing around 70 gigs in the past year, mainly in France. Holland and England (at one stage they were playing London every fortnight, a notoriously hard trick to pull off), the Edinburgh-based Highlanders start off 1990 with a new EP ’Die Tomorrow‘, including one track recorded with The Proclaimers‘ former pedal steel player Stuart Nisbet, which came about when the two bands found themselves using the same practice room.
‘We just saw the pedal steel in the room and thought it would be nice to do something with it,‘ explains singer and guitarist Cameron Fraser. The result is somewhere between country and hardcore, and works well enough once the initial novelty has abated. Nisbet hasn‘t heard the finished track yet as he played along with a sparse skeleton of it. Cameron reckons he‘ll probably hate it.
Still, they‘ve had other fish to fry lately, namely the job ofbacking Husker Du‘s old drummer and singer Grant Hart in London, a gig they got through a mutual connection in the States. It seemed at first that they were playing into the hands of the numerous digs they‘ve had that they sound like Husker Du, but ironically, no reviews of the night they played with Hart pointed out any resemblance at all. As it happened, they‘d lost the tape they were supposed to be learning his songs from, did most of their work at the soundcheck and improvised the rest ofthe way. ‘In the end, we were The Cateran for the night,’ says Cameron, grinning, but he doesn‘t hold any particular hope that Hart will ask to play with them again.
‘Grant found us quite difficult. Actually, it was when we were learning Husker stuff to play with Grant that we realised those comparisons were shit. The way they wrote songs was totally different from us. In fact, if there was to be any influence at all it would be on the next tour, the next album, because now we‘ve had to learn how to play their songs. Beware, world, it starts here!‘ (Alastair Mabbott)
The Cateran play The Venue, Edinburgh on Sat 14.
ROCK 45 JAZZ 41 FOLK 42 CLASSICAL 43
Regular Music’s series of gigs at the new Network (nee Coasters) venue continues with a welcome return for Tackhead (the name basically means dance freak), who go on to play Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow, two days later.
When last the band played here, in April 1988, they showed themselves to
be one of the best and heaviest dance ensembles around. For confirmation of their talents, check out their most recent LP, ‘Friendly as a Hand Grenade’, on World Records, an album of eclectic funk and rock (and skai), leavened by Adrian Sherwood’s masterful dub techniques. To a great extent, the highly individual Tackhead sound can be put down to the collision of a superb New York studio band with solid funk grounding (Tackhead were the band heard on Sugarhill recordings like ‘The Message’) against a British producer infatuated with dance music and reggae. The spacey textures that the band often slip info are pinned down at every corner by the virtuoso rhythm section of drummer Keith LeBlanc and bassist Doug Wimbish, who come into their own on some unstoppable grooves, garnished by the searing lead guitar of Skip MacDonald and samples ranging from ‘Full Metal Jacket‘ to Little Richard to Margaret Thatcher.
The addition this time around is the vocal prowess of Bernard Fowler, who joins the Tackhead crew after touring the States with the Rolling Stones. A new LP on SBK Records is planned for release in the spring.
Tackhead play The Network, Edinburgh on Wed 24 and Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow on Fri 26. (AM)
V FOLK “‘m. " i3 3l- “3,1,
‘ln too many cases, concerts of folk music are over-represented by male singers. We want to give women a platform. And although we have strong ideas and opinions, we’re not bra-burning feminists. We are simply women who love life — and women who love men as well! — but we want to be judged as performers.’
Singer and songwriter Nancy Nicolson, is talking aboutthe ideas behind the show A Celebration of Women, in which she will appear. Concerning the potential audience, she points out that ‘it’s a problem, a danger and a challenge, getting the message across that it’s for both sexes, and all ages.‘ And she laughingly points out that ‘John Weatherby is setting up and mixing the sound system, so it‘s not a 100 percent women‘s do.‘
The performers‘ smaller concert at
last year's Folk Festival was very successful, and certainly this line-up of three vocal/instrumental groups and six individual singers is one of the strongest convocations of traditional musical talent to perform in Edinburgh fora considerable time.
‘People shouldn’t be surprised at that. After all, the women ofthis country have been greatly responsible for carrying on and handing down the traditional forms. Jeannie Robertson, The Stewarts of Blair, and so on. Mainly in song, I know, but do we learn to sing because we can‘t play an instrument with our arms full 0' bairns? That ties the brain and body up forten years. And then, although it’s more scary to make a fool of yourself at 30 than 17, that‘s when a lot of women get back into performing.‘
‘For years,’ she continues, ‘a concert with all male performers would have raised no comment. Well, we‘d like to get to that state, but from the other side. Then no one will remark on an all-female event. These concerts are a way of getting there. It may seem like a pantomime, but I prefer the idea of positive discrimination.‘
I’m sure Saint Cecilia would approve. (Norman Chalmers).
A Celebration Of Women: Sileas, Stravaig, Jo Miller and Friends, Blo-Na-Gael, Gordeanna McCullough, Maureen Jelks, Aileen Carr, Sheena Wellington, Chris Miles and Nancy Nicolson. Oueens Hall, Edinburgh on Fri 19.
V CLASSICAL MAX’S MAGIC SQUARE
It is fitting that among the Scottish Chamber Orchestra‘s first contributions to Glasgow 1990 should be the world premiere ofthe third of Peter Maxwell Davies‘ ‘Strathclyde Concertos‘, undoubtedly the most exciting series of commissions undertaken by any composer since Haydn at Esterhazy. After the first two, written for the orchestra‘s principal cellist and oboist, Maxwell Davies has turned this time to the two leading brass players, Peter Franks, trumpet and Robert Cook, horn. Both are of the same opinion that it‘s difficult. ‘Bloody hard,‘ says Cook, ‘the hardest thing I‘ve ever played by a long, long way and virtually breaking new ground for brass writing, but worth it at the end ofthe day. I think it will probably go down well with audiences.‘ Franks agrees, saying, ‘Yes, technically it is hard - as is all Max‘s stuff. But I take the view that ifwe don‘t play it, someone else will.‘
Both players also concur that ‘Strathclyde Concerto No 3‘ is really quite different from the first two, by Max‘s own admission. ‘He‘s told us he‘s actually put the whole magic square - that‘sthe way he composcs- in the introduction,‘ explains Franks, ‘this being the first time he‘s exposed it at the very outset.‘The project will encompass ten new concertos in all, and the orchestra, Franks jokes, are ‘all dreading who‘s next‘. As far as performing this concerto is concerned, Cook sums it up by saying, ‘Well, you incline your knees, wear brown underpants and pray.‘ (Carol Main)
SCO, Friday 19, City Hall, Glasgow and Saturday 20. Queen ‘3 Hall, Edinburgh — Strathclyde Concerto No 3 for Horn, Trumpet and Orchestra conducted by the composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
The List 12 — 25 January 1990 33