Sign o’ the Chimes
The Chimes‘s version of U2‘s hit ‘I Still Haven‘t Found What I‘m Looking For' ,as previewed on Halfway to Paradise. is out at last; slinky, brilliant and doing every bit as well as predicted, making its chart debut at Number 16. The Chimes‘ previous two singles, ‘1-2-3‘ and ‘Heaven’, both topped the American dance charts without crossing over to the pop charts, but this single looks like it will be the one to break them in the States as well. The Chimes are sitting on top of a monster, but, as Mike Peden explains, the track‘s origins were quite spontaneous, even accidental.
‘When we first started recording the album, I was mucking around on an acoustic guitar and I don‘t really play guitar, and Pauline for some bizarre reason must have thought I was playing the U2 track and started belting out the song. That was eight months before we did the TV show. We didn‘t actually put much thought into it, we just put the track together in an afternoon and left it at that.’
No doubt seeing dollar signs and heavy radio saturation when they heard it, CBS Records persuaded The Chimes to record it properly. Peden claims that these considerations don‘t influence the group much at all, but it’s hard to imagine they’re pure enough, or naive enough, not to appreciate the hit-making potential ofthe track. Nevertheless, releasing a cover version at.such an early stage in a hands career can often backfire, and Peden‘s positive outlook on their
future is easier to understand. ‘Risky? I think it would be ifyou were a one-hit wonder band, but we’re quite confident that we‘ve got three or four hit singles in our current bunch ofsongs.‘ (Alastair Mabbott) The Chimes play The Big Day in Glasgow on 3 June.
A powerful catalyst in modern Irish music, founder of Planxty, and now living in Patrick Street, Andy Irvine is the archetypal rambling Irishman. His youthful hero Woody Guthrie was the model for rucsac and mandolin trips over new musical horizons, and indeed Andy was spending time learning horos in the Balkans way back in the 60s before Roots or World Music was a gleam in a marketing man’s eye.
Planxty’s international success encouraged young enthusiasts in many countries to revive their own dormant musical traditions. On all of the group’s albums, you’ll find an example of Andy’s magpie collection of exotic or unusual melodies.
And it continues. On the first track of the just-released third Patrick Street album, ‘lrish Times’, the band make a lovely job of the quirky but hypnotic ‘Music for a Found Harmonium', culled from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.
Andy has just been in a Dublin studio recording an album with uillean piper Davy Spillane. To be released around Christmas, the music is completely Eastern European.
As well as the Spillane rock/jazz band there are guest appearances from among others, Hungary's Marta Sebestyen, Andy’s old friend and collaborater in European folk fusion group Mosaic.
Ten years ago Andy released a partnership album with Paul Brady that
remains one of the best recordings from the whole period of the lrish folk revival; and still at the core of Andy Irvine's work is his love of Irish traditional song, of an essentially romantic character, counterpointed by the quicksilver runs and rich harmony of his string playing. (Norman Chalmers)
Andy Irvine plays Edinburgh Folk Club on Wed 30 and the Star Folk Club, Glasgow on Thurs 31.
Martyrdom of St Magnus
Neatly timed to counteract the lull after the storm of Mayfest, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Music Theatre Wales are at the Tramway from 31 May until 2 June to collaborate on what, from the evidence of its first showing at the South Bank last month, is an immensely successful production of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' chamber opera The Martyrdom of St Magnus. Taking his inspiration from Orkney writer George Mackay Brown - as he has so many times before and afterthis work, a 1976 BBC commission for the Silver Jubilee of the Oueen - Sir Peter's opera traces Mackay Brown’s story of the conflict of rule in 12th-century Orkney between the pacifist Magnus Erlendson and his cousin Hakon Paulson, whose ideas are quite the opposite and who
see war as the way to rule. A truce
ensues, but liakon manages to have Magnus consigned to death. The islanders, however, view Magnus— who to this day is one of the patron saints of Orkney- as a saint and his death as martyrdom. In both book and opera, Magnus is presented as a fable with relevance to today. The Tramway pelormances are the first on the Scottish mainland, the 1977 premiere marking the opening of the first St Magnus Festival in Orkney with Neil Mackie in the title role and Sir Peter’s own Fires of London as instrumentalists and the composer himself as conductor. This time, Music Theatre Wales’ Musical and Artistic Directors, Michaels Rafferty and McCarthy, are in charge, with the cast
of five including Christopher Gillett as Magnus and Kelvin Thomas as llakon. Since the company’s formation in 1988, they have presented two major productions, of which Martyrdom was the first to be staged, and laterthls year will be thelrfirst recording, a Unicorn-Kanchana release in association with the SCO. The opera, is in nine scenes, the first, The Battle of Menai Strait, ironically enough being a battle between the Vikings and, would you believe it, the Welsh. Just as well it was all a long time ago. (Carol Main) Martyrdom of St Magnus -Tramway Theatre, Albert Drive, Glasgow. Thursday 31 May— Sat 2 June. See Classical listings.
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I Steve Phillips: Steel Train Blues (Unamerican Activities) Pre-War acoustic blues isn't exactly the hottest genre around at the moment. but Phillips‘ album is worth a listen, ifonly for educational purposes. Blues need not be the exclusive property of sweaty pub bands from south-east Essex. Some of the tracks on this release are understated enough to make the Cowboy Junkies sound like the Rezillos. and the few up-tempo songs, and the title track. expose Phillips‘ South Yorkshire-tries-to-be- Mississippi voice. Despite these reservations. the guitar-playing throughout is exemplary. tasteful without being bland. and complex without being ﬂashy. Definitely one for post-midnight. (Steven Crawford)
I Various: Xpressway Pile=Up (Avalanche) The Mecca for fans ofblissful. but idiosyncratic. guitar-based pop in the 80s was New Zealand. the Flying Nun label turning out more gems than half the small record companies in the northern hemisphere combined. When Flying Nun clambcred up to the big leagues. Xpressway took its place and started collecting similarly varied and innovative groups to release. Xpressway records are now being
: released in Britain by
Edinburgh‘s Avalanche Records, and this sampler
Better-known names like Snapper and The Doublchappys lurk among the obscuritics— which include the rarest-ever Flying Nun release — and the CD runs to 17 tracks. Satisfaction almost guaranteed. (AM)
I Marianne Faithfull: Blazing Away (island CD) A musical autobiography. after a fashion. performed in St Anne‘s Cathedral in Brooklyn, with a band that includes Garth Hudson, Marc Ribot and Mac Rebennack. Mature. deeply-felt. with excellent versions of ‘Why'd Ya Do MT”. ‘The Ballad ofLucy Jordan'. ‘Sister Morphine‘ and more.
I Thee Amazing Colossal Men: Totale (Siren) Debut from new three-piece rock band from Dublin. Not the most original release ofthe year, but far from offensive or cynical.
44 The List 18— 31 May 1990