I Baby's Got a Gun: Up (No Mercy) Edinburgh‘s most industrious rockers finally rise to the occasion after seemingly endless years of mounting potential. Gig after gig has seen Babys recast themselves as ballsy. sneering toughies. following an evolutionary path similar to that ofSir William Idol - from punk and peroxide to metal and peroxide.
Up has all the trappings of confidence. Inside the lush sleeve — from which ‘Gaza‘ (as in Strip). ‘The Alien‘ et 01 gaze cockily— the rock is mean. The Alien - Richie to his fellow Earthlings — is a riffmeister of krazy proportions (he sez. adopting Kerrangspeak); add this to vocals that are the product ofthe ritualistic gargling of gravel ‘n‘ bourbon. and Up has the kind ofstraight down the line. no messing appeal indicative ofthe New Wave ofBritish Heavy Metal ofthe early 80s.
Not that Baby's are dated retrogressives. Rock ofthis ilk boasts enough timeless cliches— desert highways. back in 1968. leather breeks. massed chant choruses— to make it ultra- dependable. You know what you’re gonna get. yet Baby‘s Got a Gun inject enough zestful. uncomplicated licks to the bloated. stale. stadium-size tendencies of the genre to make Up a leather thrill ofthe sweatiest kind. (Craig McLean)
I Savourna Stevenson: Tweed Journey (Eclectic
CD/cassette) Originally commissioned by. and performed during. the annual Borders Festival. Tweedlourney is an eight-part suite for small harp in a contemporary jazz-rock setting. composed and superny performed by Savourna Stevenson. accompanied by six of the most accomplished musicians in Scotland.
The original performance was staged in venues along the river. from its source to the sea. each night a different venue. and a musician added. This beautiful recording keeps the form. opening with a trickling harmonic-ﬁlled passage that shows offthe potential of Savourna‘s harp. which sports a new evolution in chromatic levers. These push the traditional instrument's capabilities to a new level. fully explored in the subsequent dialogue with Niel Hay‘s fretless bass. and dense writing for Foss Paterson‘s keyboards. Dick Lee‘s reeds. Graham Muir‘s guitar and the drums and percussion of Mike Travis and Jim Sutherland. The musical stream has many captivating moods. but like the lovely river. is deepest when moving slowly. (Norman Chalmers)
Deal Heights: Set Me Free ; (Re-Dem Records) Flip the cassette over to choose
whether to flop out and listen. or git up and boogie. Scotland‘s famous demon cajun rockers have written all the material. and put the more
danceable numbers on one side ofthis. the second recording on their own label.
Years before it was fashionable. accordionist Kim Tebble and the boys were squeezing and sawing away in country halls and urban dives. anticipating the rise of Flaco Jiminez‘ Tex-Mex. rockabilly and the roots rock vogue. Fiddle. accordion and the veste frottoir (washboard percussion. worn on the body) are the typical Louisiana French traditional instruments heard prominently on tracks like ‘Freedom Call‘. and Deaflleights add meat and muscle to the dance-oriented numbers like ‘Je Suis Retourne‘ with electric guitar. bass and drums.
An album full ofgood songs. well played and interesting arrangements. and always the lleights‘ incessant rhythmic energy and joi de vivre. (Norman Chalmers)
I Jimmy Somerville: The Singles Collection 1984-1990 (London) A splendid party record. without a doubt. The openers on each side. Bronski Beat‘s ‘Why‘ and ‘Smalltown Boy‘ still shine today. and who can deny the rush ofa good (‘ommunards single? Not I. but when was the last time the first six years ofa prominent singer‘s career was so reliant on cover versions? This shouldn‘t be a problem — industry and public only latched on to the idea ofthe self-contained songwriting group with The Beatles — but the bulk
of The Singles Collection. the backbone of Somerville‘s career. is the celebration ofa very precise moment ofpop history. one that had passed long before he first saw the inside ofa recording studio. ‘Jimmy Some rville sings Twenty Golden Disco Greats‘ might be a fine concept album. but after the dizzying (there‘s no denying that) Catherine Wheels of‘Don‘t Leave Me This Way‘. ‘Never Can Say Goodbye‘. ‘1 Feel Love‘ and ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)‘. you might start to wonder just whose greatest hits you‘re listening to. (Alastair Mabbott)
I The Darkside: All That Noise (Situation Two) The Darkside are like a more eclectically-minded Spacemen 3 (in fact. they feature ex-members Pete Bassman and Stewart Rosswell) — capable of moments of inspired intricacy. but just as liable to tail offinto over-indulgent. directionless jamming. To carry the paradigm further. what work best on All That Noise are the numbers with the 60s pop melodies and ethereally jangling guitars. and. over the whole album. the greatest plus is the way The Darkside constantly subvert the expectations they build up. Thus. you‘ll be enjoying some lazy guitar strumming and subtle Doors-like organ (‘Love in a Burning Universe‘). only to be rudely awakened to some mid-70$ progressive riffing (‘Don‘t Stop the Rain‘- a ‘Don‘t Fearthe Reaper‘ rc-write ifeverl heard one! ). or the blues~driven garage epic of ‘Soul Decp'. llowevcr. The Darkside have more ideas than they can realistically handle in the space ofone LP. so when it comes to the final overview. you find that their songs have drifted past inoffensively. leaving orin a vaguely lnspiral aftertaste. (Fiona Shepherd)
I The Durutti Column: Obey the Time (Factory) (ilossily
packaged and sparse on sleevenotes. true to Factory form — it takesa microscope to decipher which side comes first. Detective work over. it transpires it was all a
waste of time anyway. The
enigmatic Mr Reilly just locks into an ambient groove and repeats it ad nauseum. Twangy Robert Fripp guitar. occasional clectro-beat. a couple of
seconds of silence every so
often to break the tedium — sorry. to delineate the tracks. But ofcourse you‘ll know all this if you‘ve ever bought a Durutti Column record before. and if you haven‘t. you don‘t want to know. Jefferson Airplane encapsulated perfectly (and bearably) in one track — ‘Embryonic Journey‘ — what Durutti (‘olumn have based an entire career on. It‘s enough to give ‘craft‘ a bad name. Get a life Vinni. even Tony Wilson doesn‘t dig you. (Fiona Shepherd)
I The Grateful Dead: Without a Net (Arista) Glug! After trawling through this triple-album doorstep. you can be left wondering how — unless Without a Net marks a
severe dip in quality - the Dead can have built up such a fanatically dedicated audience. and harbouring a suspicion that the band‘s reputation as improvisational geniuses may have been largely hyped by the faithful. They can and do play well together. of course — even if at the worst of times this is mainly evident in their ability to stay out ofeach other‘s way — but they don‘t like to jolt the listener around a lotzand since the main value ofthe songs themselves is as jumping-off points for solos. their forgettable verses seem like interruptions in a six-side-long jam. The occasional presence of Branford Marsalis is sometimes the only indication of which side we are on. and for all the praise heaped upon Jerry Garcia‘s guitar playing. a
five-minute maximum on 5 each solo would do the
whole band good. I’m sure it wasn‘t always like this. but before I buy up any old Dead records to make
3 sure. my sole Little Feat - album is coming outof
rnothballs for some real . inspiration. (Alastair
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