I The Shamen: Pro-Gen
(T anzklang) The Shamen’s live shows are now structured to flow seamlessly with the night‘s DJ-ing, so that you would hardly notice they had come on stage. The Shamen have roped in Mr C from the New Generation for rapping purposes on this one, and don’t even remotely resemble the band they were three years ago, but they‘re still trying too hard to be right on the pulsebeat. And it shows. (AM)
I Jamie J. Morgan: Walk On The Wild Side (Tabu) Oh screw being critical. this is just plain fun. Yes Virginia, it‘s a cover. Lou Reed, doncha know? Presumptuous opening patter by two New Yawk fly-girls, a blast of‘Funky Drummcr’, and Jamie J‘s laid-back, Brit-boy rap. soundinga mite bit white next to all those ‘doo doo doos’, but pretty durn funky none the less. A song that never dates. (T?)
I Michelle Shocked: (Don’t You Mess Around With) My Little Sister (Cooking Vinyl) Shee-it, Michelle, ah shore as hell ain’t gonna mess with any 0‘ yore siblin‘s. This is dangerous. mental boogie-woogic , with a rootsy stomp so deep down it’s got me quaking in my boots. ‘My Little Sister' is rude and raw, with more balls than Dave Lee Roth. (CMcL)
I River City People: Walking on Ice (EMI) This I like a lot. which might have something to do with it building up steam like The Police would do before Sting lost his grip. But no, it swerves and belts into The Great Lost American Soft Rock Classic. Who knows. or cares. if they copped the chord changes. and indeed the whole sound, offthc US Top 40? Not l. (AM) I The Cowboy Junkies: Sun Comes Up. It’s Tuesday Morning (RCA) The Cowboy Junkies are being given the benefit ofthe doubt; the doubt being a loss of faith in all music not based around tried-and-true acoustic folk roots, preferably with gentle touches of reassuring pedal steel. And there you have. in a nutshell, the new Cowboy Junkies single. Apologists will point to the record‘s wistful country delicacy.
ROCK 31 JAZZ 35 FOLK 37 CLASSICAL 39
Among the guitar funk, house and hip-hop currently coming out oi Manchester, Yargo seem to have been overlooked. This hasn’t been a deliberate ploy by the band to distance themselves from the hype; they simply didn‘t have any records out when It mattered. Yargo are unique, but suffer for their excellence. How do you categorise a contemporary blues band drawing inspiration from jazz, soul and funk?
Their independently released 1987 single, ‘Help’, and the subsequent album, ‘Bodyheat’, had critics foaming at the mouth, and brought them to the attention ol London Records — a frustrating relationship, as it turned out, as the label didn't have a clue what to do with them, and held back Irom releasing their second album, untll long alter Yargo had recorded the theme music to Granada TV’s ‘The Other Side of Midnight’.
x : ‘ ‘ . The perfect modern jazz/funk crossover, it spurred London to spend £20,000 on House remixes of it. Some worked , most didn’t, and in the end the original version was released, by which time London had lost most of their interest In the song in the first place.
The ‘Communlcate' LP will be London’s last involvement with Yargo, as the band have decided to reactivate their own Bodybeat label. Their current tour will show the band in their element. The physical presence oi singer Basil Clarke brings an extra dimension to his tormented walls and pleas. Funky bassman Paddy Steer leads the rest of the band, plucking out intense rhythms giving Yargo a hard dance edge that‘s missing on record. (Colin Steven)
Yargo play at the Venue, Edinburgh on
Fri 23 and King Tut’s Wah Wah llut, Glasgow on Sat 24.
Ravi Shankar aside, Indian classical music remains a closed book to many, but the name of tabla maestro Zakir Hussain may be more lamiliarthan most. Zakir’s collaborations with iazzmen like John McLaughlin and Jan Garbarek have established his reputation in that field, but his Edinburgh appearance with Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Sultan Khan will find him back in the South Indian (or Carnatic) classical tradition.
‘South Indian music is closerto Western classical music,’ Zakir explains, ‘although North Indian is quite far away, I must say. Our music is based on raga and tale, which means scale and rhythm. Raga is a scale which could be compared very loosely to a basic chord; you tell the musicians that this is the scale you are going to be working with, and you work around it.
‘Once we have established the raga and thala, we decide which compositions to play in that raga, and what rhythm they will be in. The melody player will improvise on the notes, then throw it to me, and I will embellish that improvisation and pass it back, gradually building to the climax. But even though we improvise, there is always a system, and all our patterns must work within the pattern for the particular rhythm.’
The music uses not only the twelve notes common to the Western scale, but also 22 microtones, known as sruti,
“34$ --~ .. 1'3, “X
which are essential in determining the precise pitch at which specific notes will he played. While defending his tradition, Zakir has little time for those * who argue that he should not sully its purity by playing other kinds of music. ‘lt’s not necessary for me to show that I know the disciplines by playing only Indian music. As far as I am concerned, there should be an element of surprise in music, oi spontaneity, and I see the same problem in both Western and Indian classical music. They are so deeply entrenched that anyone involved in it finds it very difficult to loosen up and be hold, to play his heart rather than make his heart do what he thinks Chopin may have wanted. That is the hurdle we must overcome.’ (Kenny Mathieson) lndian Classical Music, George Square Theatre, Edinburgh, 31 Mar, 7.30pm.
Did you ring up the David Bowie hotline and request ‘The Laughing Gnome’ - or is side two of Low more your scene? Alastair Mabbott has been spending time with the Thin White Duke’s back catalogue.
He will play ‘The Laughing Gnome’, of course. Any man who gave Hitler’s bunker a one-armed salute and announced ‘I think Britain could benefit from a fascist leader‘ needs to prove, somewhere along the line, he has a sense of humour.
Setting up phone lines so that the audiences of each country into which his Greatest Hits wagon rolls can decide his set-list for him is a facet of the relaxed Bowie we‘ve had to get to grips with over the last decade, a world removed from the paranoid coke-snorting wraith that haunted Berlin coffee-houses in the Seventies.
Let’s Dance and the Serious Moonlight tour were such decisive and cataclysmic events in Bowie’s career—The Man Who Fell to Earth reborn as cleaned-up, wholesome entertainer, his artiness reassurineg harnessed in the service of that old chestnut, clever Showmanship — that it’s an education to listen through the old favourites on the new ChangesBowie compilation, and rediscover what they were made of.
The omissions are maddening, as you would expect them to be — no ‘Queen Bitch, ‘Station to Station', ‘Sweet Thing‘ or ‘Wild is the Wind‘ - but the first three sides (barring the ugly and soon-to-be-dated 1990 remix of ‘Fame‘, which sounds like it was recorded from a faulty CD and will be severely regretted by the compilers within a year) are bliss. Admittedly, the most recent track included, ‘Blue Jean’. is unworthy even of derision, but what shouldn‘t have surprised me as much as it actually did is how inconsequential the Let’s Dance singles sound in such august company. Sassy pop though it is, it compares poorly with the unlikely-sounding hits that earned him his most devoted followers in the first place. And when we look at that, what do we find? Cod science fiction, cock-rock of a decidedly ambiguous slant, art-metal guitar squalls and a truckload of cocaine-fuelled pretension.
That identity was mutable, and
that one’s incompatibility with
26 The List 23 March — 5 April 1990