‘Here I stand. ponytail and flares. awaiting your command . . .‘ With a wry grimace. the opening line of their soon-to-come third A& M single. ’Here I Stand‘. tells us exactly where the Milltown Brothers aren't coming from. Despite their geographical origins— the mill town (geddit‘?) ofColne in Lancashire — and the lack of miles separating their hometown from the Musical Mecca. da brudders‘ dancing shoes are assiduously gathering dust next to the remixer‘s phone number.
‘We‘d been together for three weeks.‘ says singer/songwriter Matt Nelson of the band‘s genesis. ‘and we got a good review in .N'ME. Loads of people became interested in us. but we decided to set up our own label with a Manchester studio.‘ The first fruits of this linkage was the Coming From TheMi111989 EP. A publishing deal with EMI followed. as did another two indie singles. and finally the deal with A&M last summer.
‘We were signed ‘cos ofour material. not ‘cos we‘re a M‘nch‘st'r band.‘ emphasises Matt. An all-too-familiar avowal. but heck. I believe him. After all. this is a band with all those classic R.E.M. and Byrdsian qualities. the kind oftwangy tang that makes ‘Losing My Religion‘ such a blast of refreshment in chartdom. Almost the same goes for their just-released debut album. Slinky (named after those infamous spring coils that could supposedly descend stairs all by themselves. but really were as ultimately successful as Laura Ashley at performing said deed).
The songs of the Milltown are rich and panoramic. looking across the pond for much of their source
material. This is not some anaemic. peely-wally shufflebeat. ‘Yeah. we like a lot of American bands.‘ agrees Matt. ‘but we‘re something a bit more colourful. It‘s almost like guitar bands writing songs are becoming fashionable again. It‘s gonna be exciting. . .‘ (Craig McLean)
The M i/Itu wn Brothers support the
on Tue I2 and the Netii'urk. Edinburgh on Wed [3.
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‘l’ve been told i play the melodeon like a Fender Strat,’ grins Keith Hancock. ‘I think they mean I smash it up, abuse
So why did Keith, who writes in an
obviously pop/rock style, albeit with gritty Northern humour amid the angry 2 lyrics, choose to play such a symbol at
lolksiness as the primitive push/pull accordion? ‘Pass,’ he laughs, beiore trying a
straightanswer. ‘Honestly, though, it
just evolved out at my time in dance
bands, Morris groups and such. I write songs and work out chord patterns, sort
at like a guitarist. I know by deiinition
? the instrument is limited, but I want to
LMUSIW LISTINGS: ROCK & BLUES34 LIGHT 36 JAZZ 37 FOLK & WORLD 38 CLASSICAL 39
push the limits, and so l've ended up using a different system than anyone else. I play a two-row in C and F and a three-row in A, O and G. But I'm not out there as a melodeon player, I’m a songwriter who just happens to play the box.‘
Hancock is just back home after an
; eventiul tour with his band, which
included a certain Mr Swarbrick on liddle and a Mr Carthy on guitar.
‘I met Dave Swarbrick lirst in Hong Kong, and we've become good mates. Martin I’ve known over the years, and he suggested we go on the road together. It's great playing the bigger venues, but I also really enjoy playing solo. This will be the third time l’ve
been up your way, and it'll be be relaxing away lrom the band. An amazing amount at things happened to us on that tour.
‘A bus hit the crew car at 60mph on the A1, totalled it. One oi the other guys had his car broken into and everything stolen. I had a crash. I lost my voice and we had to cancel the last gig, the London one. We were so looking forward to that. Then I dropped Swarbrick oil at the end at the tour and my windscreen smashed in! I’m coming up to Scotland tor a quiet Iile.‘ (Norman Chalmers)
Keith Hancock plays the Cale Royal, Edinburgh on Wed 13 and the Riverside, Glasgow on Tue 19.
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' A quick look at the new Glasgow Royal
Concert Hall’s diary this month shows just how versatile it is and how much it has been needed, catering tor evenings as diverse as The Supremes and the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. Somewhere in between lies the City oi Glasgow Philharmonic, who are already packing the place out. in the lew months the hall has been open, their concerts have played to 93 per cent houses, making the orchestra top
. oi the league ior audience iigures.
2500 seats are a lot to till, so how do
f they do it? ‘We present concerts under
the generic title Pops at the Philharmonic', says conductor and co-lounder lain Sutherland, ‘so the public immediately knows that this will be a concept concert and the kind at thing they are either going to like or dislike.’ This tortnight, they repeat their popular Classical Sensations programme on Sunday 10, while A Little Bit oi Heaven, a special St Patrick’s Night celebration can be heard on Sunday 17. Classical Sensations means works like the 1812 Overture, Ravel‘s Bolero, the overture to William Tell, and lavourite operatic
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, ~ 3-? arias by Puccini sung by soprano Nan Christie. The St Patrick’s programme is, says Sutherland, ‘blatantly Irish. There’s a huge indigenous and second and third generation lrish population in Glasgow, so why not?’ Soloist is the Irish tenor Louis Browne, making his Scottish debut. ‘He's very much in the John McCormack tradition’, says Sutherland, ‘and although not known here, has his own TV and radio series in Ireland, has sung at Glyndebourne and broadcasts with the BBC. There are beautiiul Irish songs lrom opera, as well as lolk songs and ballads made lamous by McCormack, and the orchestra will be playing arrangements at Irish traditional music. Our audience,’ he says, ‘knows thatthe music we play is immediately accessible, we're not going to be playing rubbish, it's a very, very line orchestra and this is orchestral music as an extension at entertainment, not an intellectual exercise.’ (Carol Main) Pops at the Philharmonic, Sun 10 and Sun 17 March at 7.30pm, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. See Classical Listings.
BAOKTO ; use
Tommy Smith Tommy Smith has been back in his favourite Rainbow Studio in Oslo recently. laying down another set ofhis compositions for his third album on the Blue Note International label. which will be released later this year. Tommy‘s band included pianist Nils Lan Docky. an old Berklee friend. bassman Mick Hutton. and the enigmatic Jeremy Stacey on drums.
Hutton and Stacey will both be present when the saxophonist takes the stage at the Queen‘s Hall in Edinburgh. but as part ofa rather different and— these days at least — rather unusual project for the young saxophonist. The band will be completed by the veteran Edinburgh-based pianist Alex Shaw. and they will serve up a set ofjazz standards.
‘I‘m a bit fed up playing my own tunes.‘ Tommy told me recently. ‘and I really want to play some of the great standards. in fact, I would like to have done an album of standards. but the record company insisted we record my own music again. The standard tunes are so rich in both melody and harmony that you can never really exhaust the possibilities.‘
After several years of struggling to have his own music accepted. this is something of a reversion to origins for the saxophonist. and, given that his recent work includes pop sessions with Hue and Cry and a classical Concerto for the Scottish Ensemble. maybe even a case of going back to the basics of his art.
He could hardly have selected a better partner for the occasion. Alex Shaw has a compendious knowledge of the standard repertoire. painstakingly assembled over many years. and there will be no shortage of choice when they hit the bandstand. (Kenny Mathieson)
Tommy Smith plays the Queen‘s Hall. Edinburgh on Friday 15.
32 The List s Iii—KARE] 991