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What do you do when an ex-Commotion phones you out of the blue. expressing an inclination to work with you‘.’ You buy a hefty stock of postage stamps and start a musical correspondence course. That was Chris Thomson's response anyway. Mainstay behind The Bathers and one—time Friend Again. he found himselfexchanging musical ideas through the post with London-based Neil Clark and Stephen Irvine. late of Lloyd Cole‘s posse. in early 198‘). Eighteen months later. Bloomsday have an album to show for it.
Chris explains his willingness to embark on a long-distance relationship. ‘The timing. as far as l was concerned. was really good. because 1 was at a point where I felt like writing anyway. I'd already started working on the second Bathers album. but I relished another challenge.‘
Composing by post isn‘t as impersonal as it sounds. either. The advantages of collaborating became immediately apparent: "There are more people to pool ideas. so it was pretty straightforward for me. When ideas are ﬂowing. it‘s no big problem: you can come up with things you couldn‘t do on your own.‘
However. the advent of Bloomsday (their name comes from James Joyce‘s Ulysses) doesn‘t mean the death of The Bathers. "There are areas I‘d like to go into that perhaps Neil and Stephen wouldn‘t want to. so The Bathers is there for me to do thatf
How does it feel being in a band again after what was essentially a solo project? ‘The moral support aspect is really good. For somebody who is working on a solo project there‘s a lot more pressure as far as promoting stuff is concerned. It feels as ifyou're carrying all the burden.‘
But pressure is something Chris has always thrived on anyway. ‘I think it makes for more interesting music at the end of the day if you come up against things all the time and you have to conjure up something out ofdifficult situations. It's not been a smooth ride but it‘s been an interesting one.‘ (Fiona Shepherd)
Bloomsday play Strath (‘lyd e University Union. Glasgow on Sat 29.
ROCK 42 JAZZ 45 FOLK 48 CLASSICAL 49
What ho, critters, don your dancing clogs, strap on those utilitarian braces, and prepare for a night of manic irugging at the feet oi those renowned folk punks and English Pogues, The Men They Couldn't Hang — songs about the Napoleonic Wars and fascist
bully-boys and naval press gangs—
‘Yeah, my writing has changed I suppose,’ decides that softly spoken lad Paul Simmonds, the Men’s main songwriter and chief decrier oi those
I lazy lolk/Pogue references. ‘I made the
decision to stop writing historical epics for ‘The Domino Club’. Itried to make the writing on a smaller scale, miniatures instead of huge canvases. Quite deliberate.’
Thus, tales of itinerant job-seekers, stretches in the clink, and nights on the razzle at said Club, the teenage haunt of several ofthe band. ‘We’d go there when we were seventeen to look at girls and listen to the Clash. It’s not so much a case of halcyon days —the song itself is quite satirical, taking the mickey out those who constantly reminisce about the past.’
Not that you’ll lind much evidence of
such ruminating in the Men’s camp. Record company hassles are firmly behind them, they're iirmly ensconced on Andrew Lauder’s triumphant Silvertone label, and ‘The Domino Club’, their fifth album, shows that they're striding away from that albatross-like folk tag. Wonder Stuff maestro Pat Collier is credited as producer, adding some grebo grit to that trademark Men sound.
‘There‘s obviously folk reierences,’ admits Simmonds, ‘but we’re unashamedly a rock band. i have no sympathy for the currrent folk scene whatsoever.’ (Craig McLean)
The Men They ( 'ouldn '1 Hang play .S‘trathelyde University. Glasgow on Wed 3 and ('alton Studios. Edinburgh on Thurs 4.
That Jane’s Addiction are one oi the most exciting of the current crop of American rock bands is beyond doubt. They cite as influences The Cure, Pixies, Patti Smith, Throwing Muses and Iggy Pop ratherthan Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, and bound through a song, unfettered by genre constrictions, and what is commonly accepted as good taste. On their WEA debut, ‘Nothing’s Shocking’, they hopped across hard rock’s normal boundaries with every song, sounding like ten different groups, but lent consistency by by Perry Farrell‘s androgynous yelp and the Jane’s Addiction aesthetic.
Their new album, ‘Ritual de to
g l l
Habitual’, has a more sombre mood, and on it they dabble in eight and ten-minute epics. The sleeve notes, by Farrell, are ominous, squeezing drops of dread irom a counter-cultural sponge that we’d thought wrung dry when the MC5’s manager, John Sinclair, was banged up in jail and Malcolm McLaren’s scheme to give The New York Dolls a pro-Communist image iell on stony ground. Addressed to ‘The Mosquitos‘, it begins, ‘We have more influence overyour children than you do, but we love your children.’ And on this vein it continues, exalting black people, women and nature and railing against authority and oppression. As commendable as it is muddled and familiar rhetoric, Farrell's manifesto loses its hippy charm when he uses the example of the ‘Ritual’ sleeve artwork to show that Jane’s Addiction feel oppression too. The original artwork for the sleeve, although used in this country, was not considered suitable for American chainstore consumption. It featured sculpted figures oi a naked man and two naked women embracing, surrounded by important objects to the Santaria religion, with which Farrell is associated. Asked to redesign, the band eloquently substituted the words of the First Amendment. The counter-culture has always had worthy intentions and a neat way with gestures, but Farrell’s address echoes all too clearly John Lennon’s protest against‘ “Cold Turkey” slipping down the charts’ when he returned his M85- 3 ilippancy he later deeply regretted. (Alastair Mabbott) Jane’s Addiction play the Network, Edinburgh on Mon 1.
V CLASSICAL TEN PIANOS
Question ~ how many people does it take toget ten grand pianos up 42 stairs'.’ Answer — an average of less than one per piano. But the eight men who are faced with this daunting task will take at least five hours to get the instruments in place. and will no doubt need more than the offer ofa cup of tea when they‘ve done so. The occasion is the first UK concert for ten pianos. being held at Glasgow University's beautiful Bute Hall on Thursday 4 ()ctober. The pianos. two concert grands and eight boudoir (not much smaller) grands. each weighing half a tonne. are being brought up from London in a specially converted pantechnicon. The pianists are an international team from the USA. Australia. Sweden. Belgium and the UK. which is putting up Yonty Solomon and Martin Hughes. There are fourteen works on the published programme -- and surely they'll have a few encores up their twenty sleeves — in various combinations of players and pianos. litilisingall ten will be Wagner‘s Ride ofthe Valkyrie and Str'auss's Thunder and Lightning Polka while at the other end ofthe scale. four players sit down at only one piano for (‘haminade's The Silver ll’edding. (iivin g a bit more space on what w ill need to be a very long piano stool. Schubert‘s Rondo in I) major is for four hands and l‘alla‘s Ritual l-ire Dance doubles these forces in its arrangement for eight hands at two pianos. as does Smetana's Rondofnr Youth. ()ther well-known works include (iershwin's An .-imeriean in Paris (two pianos) and Sousa‘s Stars and Stripes I’orever. which gives a spectacular ten-piano close to the first half. Next question- who's going to take them all away again'.’ ((‘arol Main)
The List ZS September
ll ()c‘tober‘ 199039