wo-and-a-half years ago. four Aberdeen-based psychedelia merchants. The Shamen to you and me. quit their native city for London. partly for practicality. but also to investigate the city's developing acid house scene. Convinced that hip-
hop was the most exciting music around. the group had tentatively started to
move in a more rhythmic and technological direction themselves. The keyboard player. Pete Stevenson. had equipped himself with a sampler and drummer Keith McKenzie was incorporating electronic percussion into his set-up. [Even this was too much for founder member Derek McKenzie. who did the decent thing and departed. Once in the metropolis. bespectacled singer and guitarist Colin Angus and tall. dreadlocked bassist Will Sinnot embraced the club scene with a passion that suggested it was what they’d been looking for all their lives. Previously considering discos and clubs to be the last places on earth to take mind-altering substances (coming from Aberdeen they had good reason). they raved till dawn. This. they decided. was the way The Shamen would go.
The other two weren‘t quite so sure. Will and Colin approached a (‘hicago house producer called Bam Bam to collaborate on ‘Transcendental‘. a dance track they had written. and set about planning tracks for their second Ll) In Gorbachev We Trust. When the dust settled after their flitting. The Shamen were a duo. and Colin Angus was all that remained of the group‘s early incarnation as Alone Again 01‘. a psychedelic pop group he had formed in Aberdeen with the McKenzie brothers. Ironically. when they regrouped as The Shamen in 1985. it had been an attempt to get away from hi-tech.
Nevertheless. the conversion to dance gave Colin and Will a new lease of life. and if ‘Transcendental‘ didn‘t quite live up to its title. then 'Omega Amigo‘. 'Pro-(ien‘ and the most recent single. ‘Make it Mine‘. have been quite exemplary rock/dance fusions; and the band have the satisfaction of knowing that they were heading that way long before the new dinosaurs. the indie kids. were forced to adapt.
But for all their desire ‘to do shows that were more like clubs than rock gigs‘. The Shamen haven‘t been able to jettison the idea of performance. just blurred it around the edges with their Synergy nights.
Basically. Synergy is a touring club starring The Shamen. They play sets as a group. as soloists. trying out rough tracks that may or may not turn into fully-fledged Shamen songs. and have various guests doing live spots. The aim is to make it all flow. so that the dancing isn‘t replaced by gawping when the main attraction comes on. Synergy ran every Sunday for two months at the Town and Country II in London. and it‘s unlikely that The Shamen will be seen outside of that format for quite a while. (A Day for Scotland was aone-off appearance.)
Many will agree that it's about time that The Shamen were remembered for things other than tabloid controversy. as far more people know them as a result of the headlines they generated in 1988 than have ever heard them play. Their initial infamy seemed less of a scam than a case ofsitting back and letting the marketing department of Scottish & Newcastle smear their own faces with
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