V SINGLES l
I Excellent Rain: Fistful of Air (Jargon cassette single) Pleasant, but slight. debut from Edinburgh. An improvement on their earlier guise of Swing Shift. but the ghost ofThe Edge surfaces again on ’Alba‘, a song from those days which should really be chucked out without further delay. (AM)
I Galaxie 500: Fourth of July(Rough Trade) i couldn‘t tell you ifthey wear lumbcrjack shirts. but Galaxie 500‘s tastes can be gauged from their cover versions— Joy Division on their last single. The Velvet Underground on this. They have their own definite style. though; an amalgam ofthese and other demi-gods. spun together with the kind of ethereal web that inevitably leads one to suppose that its creators are the kind of people who know just why they dig Warhol and Rauschenberg, but would 1 rather have a game of 3 softball than get all tongue-tied trying to explain it. (AM)
I The Prayers: Fingerdips (£99) So far ignored— unbelievably - by nearly everyone.The Prayers are l the brightest hopes on the commendably tasteful Egg label. and deserve to do things with this single. which comes two years after their excellent debut. They won‘t have to ‘ move far before they‘re challenging Teenage Fan Club for the title of Glasgow's top guitar
I The La's: Timeless Melody (Goloiscs) Not quite. but the Mersey four-piece’s stringent quality control has at least left them with a single they can be fairly chuffed with. Less overtly Merseybeat than in the past. and tinged with the scent of patchouli. Welcome to the 1990s. lads. (AM)
I Cath Carroll: The Beast EP (Factory) The former Miaow vocalist returns after years in the wilderness with a 3-track EP that revels in itsown bossa nova confusion. Maraccas shake, brass blares. those rasping i things rasp. and (‘arroll‘s lofty. voluminous vocals dither hither and thither. Short on snappy hooks but ' bigon diversity and
renegade spikes. Kids will buy this and lapse into
amm- Softly softly
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‘i a t!!-
change of attitude and line-up, a Railway Children track begging to be used as a collective name for eight northern ‘Scallies’ — all it took for lnverness feedback merchants The Boyfriends to transmute into the all-singing, all-dancing, all-grooving psychedelic bop boys A Gentle Sound who now energise many a Highland fling. Doesn’t that description sound a tad familiar?
Singer Mark Falconer is counsellor the defence. ‘I don’t think we’re exactly like every other band knocking about. With so many instruments we don’t have that nice clean dance sound of, say, The Farm. We’re dancey but I think we’re still essentially a rock band.’
But before you cynics reach for the vitriol, look at the facts. This band are big, big, big in lnverness. So big that their first batch of T-shirts — that essential additive for any sell-respecting crossover band - have
l A trip to see The Farm, a subsequent
sold out completely. ‘lt’s nice for people up here to have something like that they can identify with,’ remarks Falconer. ‘lnverness is so isolated, and has such a desire to be accepted by the rest of the country as being a centre, that the people there will go all out to find new music, new clothes, etc. The likes of Husker Du were huge up here when nobody down south bothered. We still are behind the times, obviously,
.but I don’t think it's anywhere near as
bad as people make out.
If anything it’s that direct, no-illusions-entertained attitude that's going to place A Gentle Sound more centrally on Britain’s musical map. ‘lt’s just a case of working to get people to actually look at us. We’ll work out some way of doing it— we always do. We want to make it, basically.’ (Fiona Shepherd)
A Gentle Sound play King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow on Fri 14.
um;- Life of Slice
No one seems quite certain at the moment whether the correct nomenclature is Nick Robertson, Nick Robertson and Slice or just plain Slice, but there's no mistaking who’s the
| boss. Robertson has spent several years in Edinburgh building up varied experience, and, although he’s no beginner, has come up against ‘hidden pressures' since he signed to Circa Records and began work on his debut album. Nevertheless, despite communication problems at the start, the label have granted him a great deal of control.
0f the much-talked-about sacking of the original members of Slice, he says, ‘It was my decision; it was nothing to do with record companies.’ Acrimony is even more likely to hang in the air then?
‘Well, naturally, there are feelings, but I haven’t really spoken to them. Basically, it would be easierfo shoot them all and serve a life sentence than this. But I think some people feel bad and some are away working. The band I got together was to get a recording contract, so that the band could be financed and make records.’ However, the feeling that the band ‘didn’t have a
z, i ;:-' distinct sound’ and p oduced disappointing demos forthe album, are the reasons he offers for their dismissal.
The LP, which was recorded over three months in Dublin, and is tinged with Morrison-esque soul, has a ‘vibrant, improvised feel’, and much of it was played live in the studio. Robertson was told by representatives of a US Virgin offshoot that “Americans will love it'. ‘lt’s hard to ascertain what the hell Americans will like, ’causel always thought it was heavy metal or AOR soul stuff, and this is nothing like that whatsoever. But I’ll take their free trips across, no problem.‘ (Alastair Mabbott)
Nick Robertson plays The Venue, Edinburgh on Wed 26 and King Tut’s, Glasgow on Sat 29. The single, ‘Show Me a Sign’ is on Circa Records.
Source of the Nile
The Blue Nile have at last started to play live, but chose to do it in America first. Tracey Pepper was in Chicago to see them.
This is a country where Sinead O’Connor records are being banned from the radio because the outspoken singer refused to have the American national anthem played before her concert in New Jersey. This is a country where an unsuspecting record store clerk was arrested for selling a copy of the 2 Live Crew album. This is also a country that sorely needs The Blue Nile.
And we had them. And they had us. Wrapped around their little fingers.
In front of6()() people in Chicago. The Blue Nile proved that they are every bit as compelling and bewitching in a live setting as they are on record. The combination of singer/guitarist Paul Buchanan's
painfully expressive vocals and
self-effacing wit, the skilful playing ofbassist Robert Bell and keyboardist Paul Joseph Moore. and. ofcourse. the beauty and power of the songs (they played everything on both albums). mesmerised the Chicago audience.
‘I think the Americans trust us for being ourselves,‘ Buchanan tells me the following day. ’The tour has been very uplifting. Maybe people are celebrating what we were celebrating on the records; being alive in the face ofsome kind ofloss or aridity. And that it‘s possible to feel good and not be cynical or sceptical. Americans feel that as much as anyone. We came with no expectations and took something of a risk. but the audience came to our rescue. There was a chance we‘d come here and play to two people a night.‘
‘People in America are starving for something other than what‘s being sold to them.‘ adds Moore. ‘1 think they appreciate our defencelessness because we approach things in a low-key way. We’re not having to give them the hard sell or turn the drums or snare up.‘
‘America to us is Marvin Gaye, Talking Heads. Frank Sinatra, Hemingway,’ says Robert Bell. ‘You can choose to focus on that or you can focus on the fact that there's a Burger King on every corner.‘
America served as an aCid test for the band’s current British tour. Why play live now after five years of declining? The band claim that the
sin; List 14-1 Ell—September 1960