Where would Madonna be without Deborah Harry, the prototype white, blonde and self-possessed disco-rock star? Although Madonna may cite Monroe as her crucial inspiration. Harry opened the gates for her and dozens of others.
Her virtual disappearance in the 1980s, and the mediocre solo albums K00 K00 and Rockbird. coincided with a period of serious illness for her lover Chris Stein and then the end of the couple‘s 15~year relationship - while all the time she was trying to come to terms with being a solo artist. The single ‘French Kissing in the USA‘ was a lonely high point.
In 1989. with 45 years and record sales of 25 million behind her. she returned to live work and brought out an album. Def Dumb and Blonde: the first to suggest that she hadn‘t lost her knack for thrilling music. It was produced by Mike Chapman. who was responsible not only for most of the Blondie records but also the hits of Suzi Quatro and The Sweet. His undeniable ear for great pop was the spark which brought Harry‘s work back up to scratch.
Still, when she played in Scotland last year, there was a noticeably heavy reliance on Blondie songs.
Whether she lacked confidence in her solo material. or whether she was easing her new audience in gently is debatable, but who could complain about hearing those songs again'.’ The talent that brought us the early classics is still in evidence. and if her new material seems less essential than before. perhaps we should blame ourselves for changing. rather than her. (Alastair Mabbott) Deborah Harry plays the Barrow/and, Glasgow on Thurs .il .
ROCK 49 JAZZ 54 CLASSICAL 57
Calling the tune
It you’ve ever wondered what it must be like to periorm tor royalty, then one at Glasgow 1990‘s most innovative and unusual projects proves that you don't have to be Kiri te Kanawa to sing for Charles and Di. Dr tor the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or, indeed, to be one of the Iirst on the plattorm ot the new Glasgow International Concert Hall opening this autumn. And you don't even have to be able to read music. All you need do is join Call That Singing!, a project which brings together people at all ages trom the Strathclyde area, many at whom have never sung before in public. ‘Its aim’, says Project Manager, Sue Hillman, ‘is to give ordinary Strathclyde people the chance oI participating in this special year.’ Originated by its Musical Director, Joe McGinley, Call That Singing! now involves hundreds ot singers in all sorts of events throughout 1990, ranging (mm the George Square Hogmanay party to serenading the
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Queen and Duke at Edinburgh as they arrived at Central Station tor the Year oi Culture‘s oiiiclal opening. Hillman explains, ‘We’ve now hundreds oi people who are totally committed - and they are all deiinltely stars!’ A great advantage is the project's flexibility, allowing people to come along when they can. ‘We have well over 1000 people on our books,‘ says Hillman, ‘and something like 600 who rehearse on a regular basis. It's growing all the time and we’re always looking for more people.’ The repertoire is mainly popular and next on the cards is Singalong a Telethon on Friday 18 May at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, a tundraising concert for Scottish Television, which they will record tor screening over the Telethon weekend on 27/28 May. Interested? Call Sue Rillman on 041227 5558. (Carol Main) Call That Singing! on Friday 18 at 7.30pm In the Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvingrove.
beginning of the last decade, it has seemed that the creative peak iorthe Iormer lead singer Richard Jobson is joining the panel on ‘Style TriaI’. Not so tor guitarist Stuart Adamson. Having perlected his bagpipe-guitar sound he went on to form Big Country, exploring the Celtic romanticism oI working class
roots and patriotism; all rousing choruses and grandiose imagery. Now, at the beginning of the 90s, the band release ‘Through a Big Country' — a travelogue oi greatest hits, taking In everything from ‘Fields at Fire' and ‘Wonderland’ to the new single, ‘Save Me'.
Last year’s “Peace in DurTime' tour, however, was not quite as successlul as had been hoped. Dates were cancelled repeatedly as Adamson suffered a recurring throat intection and the shebang culminated in the loss oi longtime drummer Mark Brzezicki. Rumours of a split were rite, but they’ve now recruited a replacement tor Brzezicki in the shape at Pat Ahern and are about to embark on their iirst tour oithe 90s. (James Haliburton) Big Country play the Barrowland, Glasgow on Sun 20.
I Bob: Stride Up (House oi Teeth) One track into this quartet and Bob‘sdrawled vocals and straight-asst rock augurs little but doom. But with the chirping of birds and remote vocals transmitting over the mumbled beat. this EP takes off and slips into an enticing groove. Four glimpses ofwholesome pleasure. ((‘McL)
I The Tremens: Feral Children (Rumpus) Could perhaps have been called ‘Delirium‘. which would hint at the kind ofbastard folk and savage wit that The Tremens unleash at every opportunity. ‘Sawney Bean‘ and ‘Westenders‘ are already aproaching legendary status. and this 7in holds four additional songs. including a tribute to Auchcnshugglc. Mad, bad and very probably dangerous to know. (AM)
I Mark Stewart: Hysteria (Mute) The unmistakeable Tackhead back Mr Stewart with a groove that sounds like it was concocted as the boys jammed on a piss-taking HM riff. For all that. and Stewart‘s occasionally decipherable rant, it works. Not the best record the participants have been involved with. but it will nag away for weeks. (AM) I Shop Assistants: Big E Power (Avalanche) The 'E‘ in question is the chord. they insist. and after a few run-throughs on my ageing lbar'iez. l have to concur. After a fairly crappy comeback single. they've hit their stride with this. and are so pleased that they‘ve included a live version. which even on CD is of flexidisc quality. To push the joke to its limits. the live version is in E-ﬂat. (AM) I The Phantom Chords: Johnny Remember Me (Polydor) Dave Vanian and Roman Jug try to make sense of life after The Damned (they have split up again. haven't they?) and come up with a Morricone-tingcd cover of the old John Leyton song. There‘s plenty of Link Wray-stylcd playing in here. but it would be interesting to hear Vanian go full-tilt ghoulabilly. maybe standing for Parliament in a few years. (AM)
42 The List 18— 31 May 1990