Wire have always been shrouded in mystery. Never direct and never mainstream, the band announced their arrival with ‘I-Z-X-U‘ on the punk compilation Live at the Roxy, and since then have followed a trajectory from minimalist and edgy guitar-based communiques to the more keyboard-dominated, but still enigmatic and experimental, pop of 1989’s It 's Beginning to and Back Again.
With the distinguished quartet of Pink Flag. Chairs Missing, 154 and Document and Eyewitness behind them. Colin Newman. Bruce Gilbert, Graham Lewis and Robert Gotobed parted company in 1981 to pursue solo projects. It was another six years before the appearance of their comeback album The Ideal Copy. and a string ofgigs at which they refused to play any of their old songs — they left that to their support group. a keen lot who knew Wire‘s back catalogue note for note.
Since 1987. Wire have released the classic A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck in 1988 and last year‘s It's Beginning to. . ., which yielded the minor hit ‘Eardrum Buzz‘. Hailed as a sort of thinking man‘s indie pop band, they are more known for the quality and originality of their music than any stage identity or image. The words cultish. intellectual and eclectic may suffice. Indeed, one may look on Cleveland, Ohio’s, avant-garage band Pere Ubu as a contemporary. or possibly even The Residents.
Wire‘s latest album. Manscape, produced by David Allen. former Gang of Four (and currently King Swamp) bassist. promises to further their belief that challenging music and commercial potential need not be mutually exclusive. As if to prove it. they will support Erasure in the USA in June. (Tracy Pepper)
Wire play the Queen '5 Hall. ; Edinburgh on Thurs l 7.
ROCK 55 JAZZ 59 FOLK 61 CLASSICAL 63
With one single and album behind them, The Family Cat are being named in the same breath as Lush, The Telescopes and Ride as one of the most excltlngoi the current crop of indie guitar bands. The shouting started as soon as the debut, ‘Tom Verlaine’
(their tribute to the ex-Televislon string-stroker), hit the racks, and lntensliied with ‘Tell ’Em We’re Suriing’ — not a periect album, but containing great moments none the less. The new single, “Remember What it is That You Love’, is one oi the best slices oi nagging buzzsaw pop this year.
“Yeah, we’re pleased with it,’ exclaims singer and guitarist Fred. ‘It's the first time we've been able to record on good stuff, and we put a lot at thought and eiiort into it. It sounds more like us live than the LP does. We have a three-guitar line-up, which I think we’ve managed to harness a lot more this time.’
The members oi the band, hailing
irom Cornwall and the West Country, came together in London two years ago. ‘It’s nice not to have a local identity, but London has its advantages. We’ve been there ior quite a long time and we’ve made a lot oi iriends, so when we played in London we always had quite a large crowd, even when no one had ever heard at us.’
Now, more than just a tow have heard at The Family Cat, and the immediate luture is looking rosy. How is the band enjoying the dizzying rush oi press attention and sell-out gigs?
‘Ha ha ha! We haven’t had that many sell-out gigs, though we do go down quite well in London and Manchester. When we’ve played Manchester we've been mistaken a couple oi times ior a Manchester band.’
As promising a sign as any these days. (Alastair Mabbott)
The Family Cat play the Venue, Edinburgh on Thurs 10 and Glasgow College on Sat 12.
In the pipeline
A "iv(io.i:' ‘lndiana Drones’ is a track irom Davy Splllane’s new album ‘Shadow Hunter’. The record company, Cooking Vinyl, released a shortened version as a single, but, as Davy says, ‘It won’t be in the shops. It’s been mixed down ior radio DJs, so we can get airplay on ordinary rock programmes.’
Since the success oi Moving Hearts, a rock band fronted by ulllean pipes is no longer so much oi a novelty, and Davy’s band has built up a sizeable iollowing in Scotland overthe past iew years.
‘Dn this visit,’ he says, ‘we’ll be playing some oi the sets irom the new
record, some irom the “Atlantic Bridge” album, some of course mm “The Storm”, which we're always asked to play, and some at the big tracks from an album I'm working on at the moment with Andy Irvine.’
Davy admits to being thrilled with the recordings he's making at the moment, which should surface around Christmas. ‘The music is all irom Eastern Europe, Bulgaria and Romania. Ho Irish. We’ve got the band on as well, and other musicians — Marta Sebestyen and some oi the Bulgarian singers.‘
A trained pipe-maker, Davy has a iull engineering workshop. In partnership with his lather, he produces pipes which range from the simple bag, bellows and chanter practice set to the lull concert set with added drones and separate keyed drones or regulators. He is proud oi the last that the silver mounted set he made and generally plays was the only musical instrument to receive the special millenium hallmark by the Dublin Castle assay oiiice.
‘I’m making instruments. I play traditional music with my iriends all year round, and I can go out on the road with the electric band. It’s 1990 and I can have a Iiie as a iull-time piper. It’s great.’ (Norman Chalmers)
The Davy Spillane Band play the City Hall on Tues 8.
l v SINGLES
I Soul II Soul: A Dream’sA Dream (10) Once again. Soul ll Soul prove themselves to be innovators. This points the way for dance music towards slower more relaxed grooves and away from cold up-tcmpo house beats. A warm. languid conga groove fuelled by a pulsing bass and Victoria Wilson-James' smooth. soulful vocal is marred only by Jazzie B's usual overblown babbling. Should go down a storm in the clubs. (TP)
I Beats lntemalional: Won'tTaIkAbout it(Go Beat) Much better than their Number One cover of ‘Dub Be Good to Me. Harder. funkier. and groovier: the 12in is laced with piano. pounding hip-hop beats (including a cleverly disguised variation on ‘Funky Drummer'). a squalling guitar solo and superb familiar samples. the kind you can‘t quite place. Only a complete clod couldn’t dance to this.
I The Trash Can Sinatras: Dnly Tongue Can Tell (GolDiscs) This. the Sinatras second single. has ‘Smiths' writ large all over it. but has the faint whiff ofa hit about it. (‘an [say the boys done good‘.’l can‘t'.’ ()h. (AM)
I Gwen Perry: More (Outsider) You know disco can‘t be dead so long as there's wonderfully unselfconscious camp (is that a contradiction?) like this around. ‘More‘ would make a convert of Ian bleedin' Astbury. So there. (AM)
I Thee Hypnotics: Hall Man Hali Boy (Situation Two) This packs a lot ofpower. But it's also retro. and Iggy and Lou did this sort ofthing in the late bllsa helluva lot better. ()h thee of few chords. learn to play. Just proves that you really don't have to know anything about your instrument to get a record deal. (TP)
I Power oiDreams: 100 Ways to Kill a Love (Polydor) A pubescent Dublin band with the
l louse ()f Love's echocy gloom and the Bunnymen‘s jagged edge. The word on the groupvinc is that this lot will reach a not inconsiderable stature — and as a major label debut slice ofbrutality. the platitudesare clearly deserved. The future's so exciting I gotta wear rubber trousers. (CMcL)
52The List 4— 17 May 1990