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band.’ McMurdo explained. ‘and we use a constantly changing pool of players in different places. although the central core of the band is reasonably settled. Our agents felt it was easier to sell me than it was to sell a jump-jive band. It‘s not an egotistical thing. as people keep assuming. it is a marketing decision cum reasonable compromise.’
That Swing Thang have built steadily to their present popularity. mainly through a series of Fringe successes in Edinburgh. beginning with McMurdo's group The Gooseberries (‘there was a good reason for such a stupid name at the time. but we can‘t remember what it was anymore') in the mid-1980s. and continuing through a shifting array of personnel and different guises.
The musical basis of the group has remained in Swing and the Louis Jordan-Louis Prima inspired jump-jive style showcased on their eponymous debut album release. out now on Teka Disques. a label the group have been involved in creating. and one they hope will be able to provide recording opportunities to other hard-working Scottish groups as yet passed over by the majors.
Shorn of the cabaret element which has assumed an increasineg prominent role in the stage show. and which McMurdo considers to be equally important a part oftheir performance. the music stands up very well indeed. Bright. melodic. and highly danceable. the mostly original tunes add contemporary themes (‘Riding on the T.G.V‘. ‘Couch Potato Jive‘) to the eternal verities of the jump-jive style to great effect-At the same time. though. they seem determined to distance themselves commercially from the jazz label which has traditionally been affixed to their undeniably. well.jazzy music. ‘Well. it's not quite as money grabbing as it might seem. It‘s partly because ofthe number of times people have said to me ‘I hate jazz. but I like you!‘ Jazz can mean so many things to different people. and it creates expectations which aren't always met. I think there is a lot more in the music anyway. and we appeal to a broad range. from teeny-boppers to grannies. People like Michelle Shocked and Fairground Attraction are doing well with swing-oriented music. and I feel ifwe continue to call ourselves a jazz
band, we might be cutting off that audience to some extent.’
The band return with a new Fringe Show at the Fringe Club, which will feature material from the new record. and even newer songs which they are preparing at the moment. Craig‘s suit-makers in Ayr are coming up with some spectacular designs for the whole band this year.
‘What we try to do in the show at the Fringe is to have everything in there — comedy, cabaret, and visual excitement. as well as the music. I first got involved in this kind of act through hearing people like the Bouncing Czechs and Harvey and the Wallbangers, which wasn’t just music, but had a whole entertainment dimension to it. I always loved things like the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope films, and Hollywood musicals, where the music and the sets and the costumes and everything were all brilliant, and that is what I liked — the whole set-up. rather than just one aspect of tt.‘
The band will include most ofthe people who play on the new album. although guitarist Raymond Gillespie. who wrote many of the songs, is unavailable. The core players— J. Simon van Der Welt on trumpet. Sandy Allen on saxophone. Roy Freeman on trombone, Nico Bruce (nephew ofJack) on bass, and Taylor Phillips on drums - will be augmented by a London-based guitarist and possibly a pianist, if he can find one who ‘can handle that jump-jive style. Brian Kellock would be my number one choice. but he is going to be too busy. so I may try to track down a young guy in London who played with us down there.‘
Last year‘s Fringe show was a near total sell-out (and this will be no different). but it was a memorable occasion for another reason as well. McMurdo put together a huge seventy-piece big band for Fringe Sunday (‘the bass player got lost in the park and never turned up‘), and featured a slimmed down 18-piece version in the Night For Nicaragua benefit at The Playhouse (‘I don‘t know if anybody has ever done ‘Ain‘t Nobody Here But Us Chickens’ with a big band before....‘). A favour returned. led to a second big band appearance. this time at the Albert Hall in London in March.
‘It was fabulous— I remember walking into the Albert Hall and not being able to breathe. I was so nervous, but standing there in front of this huge big band singing things like ‘You Make Me Feel So Young‘ and pretending to be Frank Sinatra was just fabulous. The good thing is that we have already had other enquiries about the big band from people who heard us at the Albert Hall. which is great. because it is so expensive to get together. For a singer. though. there is nothing quite like it.‘
Craig McMurdo in That Swing Thang ( Teka [)quues) is out now on record and cassette. The band play at the Bear Fair in Peebles on 29 July, and at the Fringe Club in Edinburgh from 10 A rig—1 Sept.
ROCK 31 JAZZ 34 FOLK 38 CLASSICAL 39
I Liaisons Dangenuses: La: Nina: Del Parque (Mute) Complete with its dull Renegade Soundwave mix. this single seems an unnecessary re-release. Vaguer Euro-Beat. it makes all the right musical moves but ultimately ends up an uninspiring slab of keyboard mucking about. Lazy and completely worthless. (JH)
I Fortran 5: Crazy Earth (Mute) The day-glo cover gives the whole thing away. The three tracks on this EP (‘L‘Esscnce De Syd'. ‘Acid Rain' and ‘Global Warming') are summery instrumentals for last year's rave. Pleasant. inoffensive but hardly ground breaking stuff. (JII) .
I Fields oi the Nephilirn: For Her Light (Beggars Banquet) The most impressive thing about this record is the Joy Division type sleeve. The least impressive thing is the song. It starts off comfortably enough in the usual blustery Goth fashion but. like all Neph records. never bothers to shift a gear. Bad early Sisters Of Mercy with what sounds curiously like The Pub Singer on vocals. (PH)
I Lindy Layton: Silly Games (Arista) Lindy Layton's voice can sound as clear as a bell.sweet. sure. appealing. That she should therefore choose to showcase her obvious vocal talents on yet another cover version seems profligate at best. Twittering ovcr Uncle Norman‘s gutlcss dance backing. she delivers a paper-thin version of Janet Kaye‘s 70s standard. with the presence ofthe obligatory exhaustive remixes only serving to hammer the humiliation home. (FS)
I The Associates: Fire to Ice (Circa) Another mcllifluous voice in search ofa song to do it justice. Backing singers coo ineffectually over ﬂoaty strings and ten-a-penny rhythms while Billy McKenzie eroons his way through the usual l94ils film soundtrack territory. Much more rewarding is the version of the Lemon Pipers' trippy ditty ‘(ireen Tambourine‘ on the ﬂipside. all cheesy. organ-grinder keyboards and reverlwrating vocals.
The List 37 July -~ ‘) August l‘Nll 29