Dream Academy's Gilbert Gabriel and (right) Nick Lalrd-Clowes. Dream Academy‘s profile has been low since 1985‘s ‘Life in a Northern Town‘, but that hasn‘t dented Warner Brothers‘ faith in Nick Laird-Clowes. You would have to have faith in someone before sending him offto help Brian Wilson write songs. These days, Laird-Clowes. modesty permitting, could justifiably claim to be a friend ofthe stars.
Attacked in the mid-80s for showing his hippy roots. he‘s not afraid to let conversation turn towards matters spiritual. The excuse is the new Dream Academy single. a cover ofJohn Lennon‘s ‘Love‘ that combines the ‘Funky Drummer‘ loop with Krishna chants and production that tips the hat to George Martin. It‘s almost too perfect a summation of the current mood (but be warned: the rest of the album sounds absolutely nothing like it). He‘s delighted that the attitudes he‘s held for years are in vogue again. ‘Where is the anti-War movement?‘ he asks, but he‘s optimistic that the prevailing hippy idealism won‘t prove to be just a fad.
‘The 605 was obviously a precursor to the New Age anyway, not to get too cosmic about it, but they were almost going, This is the taste of it, it may not go straight through from here, but . . . and lo and behold, in the 905, there seems to be that kind of vibe. And those idealisms, I think. are fundamental truths about life.‘
Poly Styrene, now known as Maharani. chanted on ‘Love‘. Since Laird-Clowes is reported to share some of her beliefs, could he be tempted to join her in the Hare Krishna temple?
‘No. She‘s taken me to meet some people with a lot ofgood ideas. but there‘s a lot of things I‘m not keen on. I don‘t really like. although it sounds like a cop-out. organised religion. But the whole band are into philosophical texts. What else is one here for except to work out why one‘s here'." (Alastair Mabbott) .
The Dream Academy play K ing Tut's Wah Wah Hut. Glasgow on Thurs 14.
MUSIC PREVIEW NEARLY £200 WORTH or TICKETS ro or WON! srr PAGE 58
Once upon a time in Cutieland, when hardly a minute passed without another member of the BMX Bandits diversifying with alternative ‘projects', Joe McAlinden dreamed up The Groovy Little Numbers, because as he explains, “there's things you express in other bands that you can’t express with them, because it just wouldn’t be the BMX Bandits.’ They released two singles bursting with irrepressible pop energy on Edinburgh’s 53rd G 3rd label, immediately touching a chord with the anorak brigade. Numbering only two members at the time, they were of necessity just a studio concern. The desire to form a ‘proper’ group, able to operate as a live unit, soon took shape and other members were subsequently recruited. The Groovy
The Groovy Little Numbers live
Little Numbers Mark 2 eventually recorded a demo last autumn, using money from a Radio Clyde session. A management deal and record company interest ensued.
The new material shows a marked development in structure and songwriting with a prolific use of brass. Joe prefers to call it ‘a big wash pop type sound' but hesitates when quantifying what precipitated such a change: ‘I think I’m doing more now what I tried to do then. It was all a bit naive at the time. I’ve got a better idea in my head of how we want to sound now, and I find it easier because I've learnt more chords on the guitar, basically.’
Although the latest clutch of songs are more ’together', they fall less snugly into a ready-made market, something which the band were never previously short of under the 0-86 banner. With that particular period of indie history now reviled by groups and press alike (though not by The Groovy Little Numbers) as a pathetic joke turned sour, Joe is only hall-jesting when he claims ‘we’ll need to wait till some kind of bandwagon comes along, then we'll jump on it and see what
happens.’ (Fiona Shepherd) The Groovy Little Numbers play King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on Thurs 21.
James MacMillan James Machllan, the young Ayrshire-born composer and graduate of Edinburgh University is now lirme established as the leading Scottish composer of his generation. His latest commission, ‘Catherine‘s Lullabies’, will be premiered by the John Currie Singers in Glasgow on 10 February. lt celebrates the recent birth of his first child, Catherine, hence the title, but forget about the gently rocking stuff
that traditional lullabies are made of.
Lullabies of liberation
The scoring of this set instantly reveals that it is somewhat different, as not many babies are likely to enter the world of golden slumbers to the sounds of sixteen singers accompanied by three trumpets, three trombones and a battery of percussion. MacMillan agrees that it is an unusual combination and explains that the idea for it mainly came from his music-theatre piece ‘Busqueda'.
‘I liked a lot of the sonorities,‘ he says, ‘and although there’s quite a raucous potential, there are actually a lot oi pastel shades as well.’ He does admit, however, that ‘as a set of lullabies it is not practical, but the point was not to wallow in cosy domesticity but to use the subjective experience of parenthood as a locus for more universal and shared human truths. So it has a strong spiritual dimension and strong political implications and like “Busqueda” is really a piece on liberation theology.’
The texts he has chosen are all sacred ones and draw on the legacy of the Christian and Jewish traditions. Passages from ‘lsaiah’, ‘Ecclesiastes' and the ‘Nlagnillcat’, for instance, are chosen because of the strength of their faith and commitment. ‘lt’s a manifesto ol social liberation, of hope and lreedom’, he says, ‘and these are the finest lullabies we can sing our children.’ (Carol Main)
John Currie Singers, Henry Wood Hall, Sunday 10 February at 1pm. See Classical Listings.
Slowdive. Slowdive are young and pretty. They‘re hip. They must be — they‘ve just signed to (‘reation
following the triumph of
their eponymous debut. They make beautifully textured guitar ambience swathcd in sweetly harmonising vocals. yet crackling with suppressed agression. What was the name of that record label again?
‘Wc don‘t want tobe “just another (‘rcation band“.‘ deadpans vocalist and guitarist Neil llalstead. ‘We‘d like to be an institution.‘ Beyond that. it's anybody's guess. ‘We don‘t have this image that we want to present. We don‘t even have a definite sound that we want people to pick upon. We don‘t have any real aims other than making some sort ofimpact.‘
'I‘oo lethargic to send the tape to other labels. and with ‘pretty minimal' live experience. Slowdive found (‘reation‘s interest a boon. ‘We probably wouldn't have been able to keep the band going for very long ifwe hadn‘t got a record deal. [don‘t know whether our commitment would have stretched that far.‘ .
if their path to notoriety seems sickenineg easy. that‘s because it has been. but Neil springs to hisown defence. ‘l‘d rather do it that way than spend ages developing the sound. because at least we‘re not
stale now. lfyou spend agcs‘ — according to him. that‘s all of two years— ‘before you get a record deal. you‘ve got this sound. and then you put out albums that are all done exactly the same.‘ Slowdive are young and pretty. And Neil knows. if nothing else. that youth is where it‘s at: ‘lt‘s more rock‘n‘roll to be young.‘ (Fiona Shepherd) 510 wdive play The Venue, Edinburgh on Fri I 5 and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow on Sat 16.
34 The List 8 - 21 February 1991