I Frank Iovcy And The Pym: The leerty Tree (Mute) For me. Frank Tovey (or Fad Gadget. as us New Romantics used to call him) can do no wrong. ‘The Liberty Tree‘ finds him extending his late-80s ‘Tyranny' interest in all things Pogueish and folky. here with more ofa rock-orientated backbone. The banjos are plucked and the melody twists. and the voice is sardonic as ever. Not the one to unlock the chart-door. but marvellous all the same. (PWH)
I Cactus Rain: Each Day (Ten) The main force behind Cactus Rain is Annie Hogan. whom I remember best for the tortured vocal performances her piano wrung out ofMarc Almond in the Marc And The Mambas days. As ifto prove that you can‘t live with that kind ofintensity forever. Cactus Rain is a much mellower proposition. and ‘Each Day‘ (with pedal steel by B.J. Cole and strings by Bobby Valentino) is perfectly nice. soothing and only slightly dull. (AM)
IThe Real MllliVanilli: Too Late (True Love) (Chrysalis) So. The real Milli Vanilli. Is the selling point ofthis single that the geeks in the short pants won‘t show up to plugit’.’ Or is it that stylistically it bears no relation at all to ‘Girl I‘m Gonna Miss You"? Both! Unashamed studio singers ﬂaunt their dodgy moustaches on the sleeve and release a snappy little number quite unlike a Milli Vanilli single. How can you hate something like that“? (AM)
I Electronic: GatTha Massage (Factory) A great idea re-run a second. killingtime. First time round. the total and utter and blatant sugar twee pop of Electronic was nice enough to convince. And now. even sans the monotone monster Neil Tennant. that other fabulously expressive singer Bernard Sumner wigs out over a chorus that‘s almost too modest to admit to its own contagion. Delightfully tropical strums from Mr Marr. and a luxurious. spacy 12in mix complete the picture. Great fun. and — hey! - it keeps those pop stars in jobs. (CMcL)
30 The List 19 April - 2 May 1991
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Kenny Mathieson reflects on the career of a man who dares to stand up for English musrc.
Danny Thompson‘s musical odyssey began in the skiffle boom of the late 50s. and has taken him on a diverse journey through British jazz. folk and rock. In that time. Thompson has played on countless stage and studio sessions for just about everybody from Ronnie Scott to Kate Bush. and much ofthat wide-ranging and seemingly insatiable musical curiosity is reflected in his own current outfit. Whatever.
He acquired his first bass for the then tricky sum of£5 from an old man in London. an instrument which is now valued at somewhere in excess of£25.()()(). and moved into the jazz scene. playing with the likes of Tubby Hayes. Pete King and Stan Tracey in the early 605. before replacing Jack Bruce in Alexis Korner‘s Blues Incorporated in 1964. A chance meeting with guitarist John Renbourn led to the formation of Pentangle in 1967. one ofthe most popular ofall British folk-rock bands. Later still. he
formed a much-admired partnership
with guitarist and singer John Martyn.
Despite a formidable track record. .
Danny Thompson‘s Whatever is the first group he has led under his own name since a mid-60s jazz outfit. which also included Whatever‘s Northurnbrian pipes player Tony Roberts and guitarist John McLaughlin. The band‘s debut album Whatever(Hannibal. 1987) featured Danny. Roberts and guitarist Bernie Holland. but they became a quartet for Whatever Next (Antilles. 1989) when saxophonist Paul Dunmall was added.
‘Whatever is a group.‘ Thompson insists. ‘and I am against the whole “who did what" idea. Everybody contributes. and everybody should get both credit and a share ofthe cash. What I have discovered. though. is that the group needs a leader. or it doesn‘t work. and that person is me. I love playing all kinds of music. which has left me a bit ofa heretic with the “jazz brigade“. but I‘m against all that too.
‘Categories have never washed with me. People accuse me ofdoing things for money. but I just accuse them of doing things not for money. I reached the stage where I wanted to have my own band. and basically it had to do with wanting to play English music. having worked over the years with so many Celts who kept telling me how wonderful their music is.’
The line-up was expanded by
copious guests on the latest Whatever recording Elemental (Antilles. 1990). an ambitious project featuring large-scale orchestration and choral sections on several songs. Their current Scottish Jazz Network tour. though. will feature the quartet. One of the most noticeable aspects of the group is that they work without the anchored beat ofa drummer.
‘The fact is that I think the audience can play the part of a drummer. Drummers can be a pain unless you get the right one. a sympathetic. listening drummer. but I don‘t really feel the need. I can play the fills myself. There is so much space without drums. and the time is implied in a way that I like. It leaves the harmonic side very exposed. though. If I cock up my part. its wide open for everybody to hear— I can‘t hide in the bass drum. I love it. though — it keeps me right up there.‘
While Whatever champion the Englishness of English music. it comes mixed in with equally direct and important influences from jazz and ethnic sources. Thompson was a
member of the Songhai trio with kora master Toumani Diabate. but remains suspicious of the current vogue for world music.
‘Yeah. I find that a very dodgy area. to be honest. It’s a great exercise to work with an African musician. but it has nothing to do with African music as far as I am concerned. it‘s just Danny Thompson playing with a kora player who happens to be a great geezer.
‘The media talk about a mix of cultures and so on. but it's hardly that. It's me having a blow with some other musicians. For me to presume to be doing anything resembling playing African music is a nonsense. I understand the melodic and the
rhythmic content. but I can‘t hope to I pick up on the spiritual thing beyond
that. because it‘s too far away from my own culture. Playing music from other places is a musical exercise for me. not a cultural one. and I enjoy it. but when I play with Toumani. I'm not playing African — it‘s Toumani and Danny playing music.
‘On the other hand. I do think