Linn Records classical launch (below), Zulu Syndicate, Scottish Early Music Consort, Ocean Colour Scene, Ian Ballamy, Chris Isaak, John Wesley Harding and B. Boat.
LISTINGS: ROCK & BLUES 32 LIGHT 35 JAZZ 35 FOLK & WORLD 37 CLASSICAL 38
Linn Products are dedicated to the art of bringing real Hi-Fi sound into your living-room, and are expanding into the record business for good measure. Joe Alexander takes some sound advice.
The small Scottish audio engineering company Linn Products are well known as market leaders at the high-specification. high-price end ofthe audio market, notably with their phenomenal LP 12 turntable, but also with a steadily expanding range of quality decks, amplifiers and speakers. The operation is run from their futuristic, Richard Rodgers-designed factory, incongrously planted in open farmland near the Renfrewshire village of Eaglesham. The factory, with its robot trucks. automated stock room, and high-tech assembly machinery is a far cry from the Castlemilk industrial estate where they started
Ivor Tiefenbrun began the company in 1973 as a ' direct consequence of his own personal obsession with hi-fi sound, and they have built their reputation on precision engineering and a manic pursuit of sound perfection. The firm now employ around 160 people in the factory, where production-line is a bad word - each assembler builds and finishes a complete piece of equipment - and everybody is expected to be engaged in permanent quality control.
The company’s move into the record business is
iii-tech home tor hi-li: Linn's Eaglesham headquarte ‘-
Iess well known. and occurred almost by accident. In their usual pursuit of impeccable sound, Linn decided to experiment with some record cutting equipment of their own, in association with the equally dedicated Castlesound Studios in Edinburgh.
A demo tape from the studio included a track by a new group. Philip Hobbs, who is responsible for the recording side of the business, and his colleagues liked what they heard. and decided to record the unsigned band themselves. The result was Blue Nile‘s acclaimed debut album, A Walk Across The Rooftops, subsequently followed — eventually— by the even more successful Hats.
The label’s acquisition of Carol Kidd was somewhat similar. and arose when Castlesound submitted Carol’s self-financed master-tape for cutting. The label took on that first album, and have issued three further Kidd releases, all big-sellers in jazz terms, including last year’s much-praised The Night We Called ltA Day.
Encouraged by those successes. Linn Records have decided to expand their activities beyond the occasional isolated release, and the provision offacilities to other record labels. On the jazz
side, they have just released excellent new records by guitarist Martin Taylor (Don 't Fret) and pianist David Newton (Victim Of Circumstance), both of which have already been featured in these pages. The major new development this month, however, is the launch of a new classical music strand to their activities (their single previous release, a choral record by Cappella Nova, is currently out of print).
‘We felt we could see areas where the recording of classical music could be improved,’ Philip Hobbs tells me. ‘Most classical recordings are made up on the editing suite these days, and while they put together a technically correct version, I personally feel that they lack any real sense of performance. We have been anxious to produce records which have that feel, even if means the odd ﬂuff or bum note creeps in.‘
The opening batch, due for release at the beginning of March, is suitably varied. The English Classical Players, a group which Hobbs helped to set up, and who play modern instruments, but in early music configuration, perform Mozart’s Symphony No 40 and the Schubert Symphony N05.
The Polish Chamber Orchestra are featured in
: a more diverse, less familiar programme ‘ recorded at the City Halls in Glasgow, with works
by Mozart. Vivaldi, Bach, Bartok, and what Philip describes as a ‘very un-English’ interpretation of Elgar’s sprightly Introduction
The third release moves closer to home, and features the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s principal cellist William Conway with his regular duo partner, pianist Peter Evans, in an imaginative pairing of French Sonatas by Debussy and Poulenc with the Swiss composer
Frank Martin’s Ballade.
While the company remain resolute defenders of the superiority of the record deck to the compact disc player, however, they have bowed to the demands of commercial wisdom and made their own recordings available on all three
I WHEN PICKING a name tor your band. you have to take into account that someone else may have had the same idea, because, even it your namesake: haven't registered their moniker. the punters are bound to get contused. Perhaps that's one reason lorthe abundance of outlandish names-alter all. who else is going to call themselves Said Florence.
say? Glasgow’s Said Florence (or saldllorence. as they seem to be calling themselves now. In an attempt to distance themselves iurthertrom the competition) couldn't believe it when a band from Wales emerged called Goodnight Sald Florence- and not only that, but Dillerent Class. the record label oi the West Lothlan College Music Management
Course. had signed them up i tor a single. No doubt their Welsh counterparts were equally stunned, and have
agreed that the Glaswegians had a prior claim on the name. We now hear that Goodnight Said
Goodnight Said Florence.
Florence are changing their name to GSF - a poor compromise it ever we've heard one. and one they will surely regret. Worse still, the hippest duties on our block are telling usthat ‘Magic Roundabout’ chic is on the way out. Surely not? flow much disappointment can we be expected to take? I JUST WHAT WE didn't ask tor: the reformation of Yes. who announced their superstar line-up last week. The team includes two guitarists. two drummers and two keyboard players- and still no songs. Fortunately. it's just a
one-oil and coming nowhere near Scotland.
I WONDER BOYS THE FARM are girdlng their loins tor a signing session at liMV. Argyle Street. Glasgow on Monday 25 at 2pm. Due to circumstances .. . etc. . .they’ve called all an Edinburgh HMV appearance the following day. Perhaps they’re oil on a literacy course thatday alter violent disagreement between the sleeve artwork lortheir album ‘Spartacus’ (or is it ‘Spartlcus'?) and
the equally lavish lull-page ads over how the damn word
is actually spelt.
The List 22 February - 7 March 199127