53rd & 3rd (below), Joe Ely, Danish Radio Big Band, composer James Dillon and the new additions to the Battlefield Band.
LISTINGS: ROCK & BLUES 36 JAZZ 38 FOLK & WORLD 40 CLASSICAL 42
Like a virgin?
Alastair Mabbott remembers the
glory days of 53rd & 3rd Records with the aid of two new releases.
Although memories of53rd & 3rd Records are still fresh, Fun While it Lasred, a newly-released
retrospective on Avalanche (the label that seems I
to have picked up their gauntlet along with a couple of their old bands), will give one of the few Scottish indies of any importance during the 80s a deserved reappraisal.
Started by Fast Forward‘s Sandy McLean in 1987, 53rd & 3rd announced its arrival with ‘Safety Net‘ by the then unspeakably cool Shop Assistants. But it was a strange kind ofcool the label exuded, and one that was perhaps only meaningful during a brief burst ofactivity in the
decline of a once-healthy independent network —
post-Mary Chain, pre-Madchester. Trailing round venues in the mid-80$. one could easily assume that the only scene of any note was the ‘anorak‘ phenomenon.
But there was more to 53rd & 3rd than a chaste, dreamy indie kid with a guitar in one hand and a scuffed satchel in the other. There was the Ramones obsession for a start. A barely recognisable picture ofJoey Ramone served as a logo. the singles‘ code numbers all began with the prefix A.G.A.R.R. . an indication that they were
Early 53rd a 3rd: Duglas looms large
As Good As Ramones Records (or later on, As Good As A Fuck) and most ofthe roster could shift from a jangle to a buzz at the kick of a
53rd & 3rd bands tended to have a decadence underscoring the naivete and childlike awkwardness of their songs. When Simon Reynolds wrote ‘An idea of innocence pervades and possesses the scene‘, he reckoned without The Vaselines‘ ‘Rory Rides Me Raw‘.
The label‘s taste was more catholic than some of their rivals. But although the surf-pop of Glasgow‘s Beat Poets can be found on Fun While it Lasred, the same can‘t be said of the American contributions; neither bar-band supremo Bcn Vaughn nor the distinctly odd combo Beat Happening make it. Instead. the bands who are privileged enough to get two tracks apiece are the
pair who stretched ‘cutie‘ feyness to its most extreme: Tallulah Gosh and The BMX Bandits. The former would doubtless be offended by the suggestion that their real romance was with self-parody, but self-parody was and is The BMX Bandits‘ raison d’etre.
As if further proofwere needed, along comes Avalanche‘s other new release, Totally Groovy Live Experience. Just who in the world could want an album ofThe BMX Bandits caught live at a Bellshill hotel? More people than you might
i expect actually, especially since the success of
The Soup Dragons and Teenage Fan Club has cast a little halo of reflected glory on their old
3 chum Duglas. So we‘re talking crossover here. if g a crossover between Play School and Spinal Tap
can be easily achieved, or even imagined. lfyou‘ve ever caught yourself thinking that. given the choice, kids would actually prefer playing with Meccano and reading week-by-week encyclopaedias to fooling around with Turtles, you might look on Duglas‘s songs as the kind of ditties that pre-teens would get offon. But they stay confined to dives where sophisticated indie
i fans drink pints, smoke fags and stay up late to , laugh at his send-ups of a scene that has, by and
large, upped sticks and moved out of the back
bedroom to the danceﬂoor.
But Duglas can still amuse. After a succession
ofsweet little songs, and an encore ofThe Dead I’ Kennedys‘ ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off‘ (augmented
i with a chorus of ‘I Should Be 80 Lucky‘), the
guitarist hits the opening riff of ‘Pretty Vacant’.
‘Oooh,’ comes a miffed taunt from the vocalist‘s
I direction. ‘Now you‘re just being silly.‘
And then a hand closes around the shoulder and a booming voice is heard. Time for bed,
everyone. j Fun While it Lasted and Totally Groovy Live . Experience are on A valanche Records.
I WE PROMISEO gruesome this lovely plc oi London pictures horn the tiles. and band The Marloneites on since we didn't receive any you - principally tor the local photos oi a high unique way Mr second- enough standard over ? from-right has overcome
Christmas. we're springing l the problem oi combining
long hair, mohawk and domed iorehead into one grotesque package. Be warned — we’re on the lookout tor real corkers. Entries to Listen! atthe usual address. and remember. . . it can be In confidence.
I WE'VE BEEN MARKED tor death by Polydor marketing man Oave Otty, who couldn’t understand why he was suddenly receiving bagiuls oi demo tapes every week. The explanation was iound in our ‘itock Report’ which erroneoust listed him as working tor Polydor’s All! Department. Demos should actually go to Simon Harris. so amend your ‘ilock Report's accordingly.
I COMPETITION TIME! We
have two pairs oi tickets tor Falrport Convention's only Scottish date. at the Queen's llall. Edinburgh on Thursday 31. Just send the answer on a postcard. preterably one thatthe Music Ed will find pleasing enough to Blu-Tak up nextto his desk. with your name,
I tie will be at the Virgin .
long) which promises
Megastore on Princes i national Pit ior local talent. ; Street. Edinburgh at 1pm on i ‘a chance to make records 1 Wed 18 to play live and sign ; at no cost to themselves'
: copiesoithelastestCorrles j
address. daytime telephone ,
number and all that sensible klnd oi stuii to Listenl at the usual
is: What is the name oiihe site at which Falrport Convention hold their massively popular annual get-togethers?
I THE NATION WEPT a collective tear at the passing oi Corrie Boy Williamson, but his partner Ronnie Brown is still active.
(that's the bands, notthe company). democracy tor all, the release oiall political prisoners, tree Milky Bars tor etemlty. etc. Clearly their press release was written through
album. ‘Flower oi . Scotland', and video. 'Flower oi Scotland - a Vision oi the Corries’. Apart
from the title track. the album comprises all-new !
recordings oi Curries distinctly rose-tinted specs originals and traditional with an over-liberal
songs. At Iiew Year, BBC , sprinkling oi Idealism. Scotland broadcast a tribute superlatives and
to Williamson and exclamatory punctuation, throughout January they but hearts are probably in will be showing repeats oi the right place. so anyone the Corries series. interested in ilndlng out
I DOING IT FOR THE KIDS more should write to
in Central Scotland atthe Lendaneer Music Company, moment is a new 27 Mlddleileld iload. independent label bythe Falklrk. Stirlingshire. FK2 name oi Lendaneer (think 9"? or contact Thomas on about it, but not iortoo 0324 32027.
The List 11— 24January l99l 33