Killing Joke, Chick Lyall. Scottish Opera‘s Fidelio, Fairport Convention and Savourna Stevenson.
LISTINGS: ROCK & BLUES 34 LIGHT 37 JAZZ 37 FOLK & WORLD 38 CLASSICAL 39
Norman Chalmers talks to Dave Mattacks, one of the busiest drummers in Britain and mainstay of Fairport Convention.
They‘ve been around a long time, like the brush with replacement handles and heads. The band‘s convoluted family tree was once. a decade ago. featured as a graphic on one of their album covers, a royal bloodline extending out through all the t0p bands of the 70s folk/rock fusion boom
The first Fairport Convention. born in late 60$ bed-sit North London. took as its role model West Coast acid-rock bands, but gave expression to a peculiarly British sensibility. Their sound, eventually defined by the unmistakable guitar tone of Richard Thompson and the captivating voice of Sandy Denny, was a welcome antidote to the suffocating American domination of the contemporary folk/rock movement. Then. the growing awareness of an extant. if declining, English traditional music, both in songs and instrumental dance tunes, brought new members and changes of direction for the band. Fiddler Dave Swarbrick first led Fairport down the road to electric jigs and reels, and that style has remained the band‘s ever since, symbolised on their latest album cover, where the instruments
themselves pose without players— the electric guitar. bass and drums behind the fiddle and
Apart from singer/guitarist Simon Nicol, drummer Dave Mattacks has been longest with the band, and his drum technique. heavy and at the back of the beat, is a unique style. imitated now by many, and irritating to not a few. We talked on the eve of the band‘s British tour. launching their new Five Seasons album.
‘In 1970, I would say. a slightly more bombastic way of playing the drums was current. I was trying to suit the song, and not play too much. I think there are lots ofgood players now who‘ve woken up to simplicity, and don‘t necessarily need to impress everyone. like young players. You know the sort ofthing, not just on drums, on any instrument, the youngsters like — need — to play the fastest, the loudest.‘
Back home, Dave plays a regular gig for his own enjoyment in a local be-bop group. With
some other big names, he recorded a video on jazz drum styles and techniques for a Swiss TV station a few years ago, and smiles at the ‘I didn‘t know you could play like that‘ reaction he gets from people who’ve seen it.
‘On the tour, which is 33 dates in 35 days, full lighting rig and PA, crew bus, the works, I‘m playing an all-acoustic kit. No samples or drum machines, we‘re playing nearly everything in real time. There is some orchestral sequenced stuff in Archie Fisher’s song, The Wounded Whale, but that‘s all.‘
The last full-time Fairport line-up was in 1979, but within a few years the band had started their annual reunions at Cropredy in Oxfordshire. Cropredy Festival — ‘We‘ve dropped the Fairport Reunion bit now.‘ says Mattacks — is now bigger than the Cambridge Folk Festival.
‘It‘s better in some ways because of the calibre of the guests and because it‘s run by musicians for musicians. It got up to about 18,000 people one year and we’ve had to call a halt, pull the advertising, and it‘s fine now, scaled down.
‘We never think about how long the band will last. We hoped it would work out, and this bunch — Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Martin Allcock, Ric Sanders and myself— has stayed together much longer than any other in Fairport’s history. But popular music is ageist, although I can’t see why, if you don‘t release a duff album or play a duff concert, age should matter. I’m a musician and I like to play. lfthe material holds up, and the audiences are there, great. Nobody bothers about somebody’s age in traditional music or
jazz. Look at Art Blakey, he was-70-something. That‘s how I would like it. He was playing great till he dropped.‘
Fairport Convention play the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Thursday 31.
I COINCIDING WITH THEIR appearance on ‘Snub’ comes the news of a split within Spires X's ranks. A colossal rift (apparently sparked off by head Spirea Jim Beattie sacking manager Andrew McDiarmld against the other members’ wishes) resulted in two of the band, Robert and Tony. going their own way. Jim and Judith are still playing together, but since we've heard thatthey aren’t speaking to each other at
the moment either, things look less than rosy. Whatever happens, it's thought to be unlikely that Spirea X will be playing live again for the rest oiihe year. The developments are bad news to manager McDiarmid, who is now seriously out of pocket after paying for the ‘Snub' crew to come up and tape the group when the show went over-budget.
I CONFUSION BEIGIIS over the announcement that My
, Bloody Valentine were to
play a concert in aid oi _ Amnesty lntemational in CumbemauId-which was. in any case, cancelled, but now appears to have been revived again. Despite being listed in this magazine, My Bloody Valentine never agreed to play the gig. They were, in fact, busy with recording commitments at the time and claim theytold the organisers as much. A Glasgow date is being planned for later in the year to coincide with the release of their LP. Alter last year's knee-trembling ‘Glider' EP, it promises to be a corker.
I SPEAKING 0F Avalanche’s 53rd 8. 3rd retrospective and live BMX Bandits album, which we were last issue, we've since
discovered that none of the artists involved knew about the releases in advance. The Bandits only found out about the album when a friend heard the two-year-old recording playing in Avalanche's shop. ‘ln some ways. we've no obiections,‘ says lead Bandit Duglas, ‘butwe would have preferred to have been asked. We've no argumentwith Avalanche. Kevin (Buckle, of Avalanche) thought (53rd & 3rd's) Sandy had cleared it with the artists. We didn't like the idea of itbeing thought of as the official follow-up to our lasialbum, "0-86". We probably could have taken action. but the record was already at the pressing stage, and it would havelooked like we were
develop careers in the industry, as well as
ashamed of our past, which isn't the case.’ On the
compilation: ‘We’re targeting new areas within probably a lot less angry the industry which can than some of the other benefit from free
bands. i would quibble with information services,
the choice of tracks. lthlnk advice and investment.’ that, ratherthan picking the (Mel Mel Over here!)
best, they lust went with Perhaps you feel that your what tracks were available view should be sought on to them.’ questions such as ‘Do you I REGULAR READERS (and feel being based In
others besides) will know of the Music in Scotland Trust, the charity which provides assistance to music business hopefuls in Scotland. Their latest step is to undertake a survey of said Scottish music scene, with the intention of using the results to pinpoint ‘new ways to develop youth enterprise within the Scottish music industry and to help young people to
Scotland is an advantage, a disadvantage or irrelevant, or, alternatively, lust want to brag about having a turnover of £1 million per year. State your case fora questionnaire with an SAE to Music Survey. MIST, PO Box 183. Glasgow 63 806.
The List 2Q Janan— 2 Egbmary 199] 29