bunch of baseball-shined. acne-smitten boys called Slik. Since then. he's been in the charts over 35 times in various guises — Rich Kids. Thin Lizzy. Visage. Ultravox. Band Aid. Ure/Karn and. more recently. erm. Midge Ure. This man's appeared on more hit records than Phil Collins. fact-fans. He directs videos and produces other people’s records in his ‘spare time‘.
Though some of his finest moments — the impeccable Rich Kids and some early Ultravox LP tracks — have resulted in periods ofcommercial inertia. Ure's singular vocals. polished guitar-playing and adaptable songwriting style have
guaranteed him. ahem. a permanent :
place in the hearts ofour big pop
nation. Oh. and he was the co-conceiver of Live Aid who wasn’t
Irish and didn‘t nearly get knighted.
; He built a recording studio in
Montserrat two years ago. then
rebuilt it this year after a hurricane
flattened it. He‘s got another one in London though. just in case. And
he‘s married with a baby daughter. : Busy? You betcha.
‘I guess so.‘ he agrees in a chirpy
i Glasgow lilt. ‘I have been fairly
i prolific. But there‘s a lot ofmy old
stuffl cringe at. I think anyone would say that if they were honest
and had been going as long as l have.
It‘s like looking at old photographs. and you think "My God. what was I thinking of?" The lyrics especially — I hear some of those Ultravox things and I wonder “Did I write that!" Some of it‘s so pretentious. so incredibly vague that even I‘ve forgotten what it‘s all about. Oh God. something to be really embarrassed about was that film we appeared in just before Slik split up. It was hideous. You're Never Too Young To Rock. it was called. with Mud and The Glitter Band. And they stuck us in at the last minute to fill up space. I‘ve still got no idea
what that film was meant to be about. [don't think anyone has. . .'
One wonders what. with hindsight. has been the guiding light in such a multi-faceted career. ‘Melons. dear.‘ he seems to be replying. jauntily. as the phone cuts offtwice. and I realise he‘s saying. . . ‘Melody. Isuppose that sounds old fashioned. but that‘s just the kind ofguy I am. I like the simple structure ofthe traditional pop song. and I like hanging simple melodies around that structure. Obviously. things around you — fashion and technology— influence your approach over time. but
hopefully not to the extent that they
completely take over your music. There‘s no house or rap on the new album. for instance. because that just isn‘t me. A piece of music should be like a little diary. basically. You write about you and what you‘ve done and been through. Hello. . . are you still there? You document your changes. Hello. . . And there's lots ofchanges.‘
There are. Pure. an emminently palatable blend ofethnic rhythms and clean-sounding AOR pop. is Midge‘s third solo album. Two years in the making. it is an admirable work. pervaded by catchy hooks and immaculately conceived. You can knock him all you like — the old Elder Statesman of Pop routine — but. like David Bowie and Genesis. years of classy artistry and the ability to change with the times have carved out for Mr Ure a slice ofcultural integrity that many. ifthey were honest. would envy and few could come close to matching. ‘I‘m still here.‘ he crackles poignantly before the phone cuts off for the sixteenth time. A charming and affable man. Midge keeps himself busy in fine style.
Pure is available on A risia Records. Midge Ure plays the Playhouse, Edinburgh on 13 Nov.
- an under-achieving indie-pop group to
v JAZZ .
Marcus Roberts emerged to general notice playing piano with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, which makes him an unsurprising choice on a bill which also includes the Branford Marsalis Trio. The saxophonist played at the Glasgow Jazz Festival in 1990, but this will be Roberts’s first Scottish appearance.
The solo piano set he will play will be based around the music he chose for . his ‘Alone With Three Giants' album on BMG Novus, his third lorthe label. His earlier sets, ‘The Truth Is Spoken Here’ and ‘Deep In the Shed’, had already featured a sprinkling of the music of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, and the ‘Three Glants’ collection added : Jelly Roll Morton to that roster.
Roberts, who has been blind from birth, comes out of the same New Orleans musical matrix as the Marsalis clan, and shares their passion lorthe jazz tradition. The tunes he played on the album —three by Morton, six each by Duke and Monk— emphasised the way in which the music of each of these great composers grew out of and subsequently built upon the example of their predecessor. Morton laid down the ground rules, Roberts's interpretations suggest, on which Duke and Monk builttheirtowering, highly personal edifices.
There is anotherthread running through his work, however, and that is
his recurring fascination with the blues, notably on the ‘Deep In the Shed’ album. He has a delicacy of touch (which occasionally underplays the passion inherent in the music) allied with a remarkable technical virtuosity, and is able to interpret these classics without resorting to slavish imitation. (Kenny Mathieson)
Marcus Roberts and the Branlord Marsalis Trio play at The Pavilion in Glasgow on Friday 6.
RPLAying to win
From being a Morrissey-in-waifing in
knocking out a Little Angels audience as a top-priority EMI rock act is a big step. James Maker, former lrontman of Raymonde, has allowed his true sell to emerge, and the sturdy single ‘City Of Angels’ is shocking evidence of his rebirth.
Alter Raymonde ground to a halt in ’87, Makerwent to Spain, ‘wrote some really bad prose' and returned to assemble RPLA through friends and recommendations.
‘l‘ve always been a closet rocker,’ Maker explains, adding hastily, ‘musically, you understand, not in my mentallty.’
This is rather a sharp change in
direction, however, and one that might not have stood the same chance of success a few years ago (witness Del Amitri’s similarabout-turn). It could be read as being a tad opportunistic.
‘Well, rock is pretty timeless,’ says
drummer Simon Hoare, springing to Maker’s defence. ‘Ten to fifteen years ago, all bands were rock bands, and you either had good songs or you didn‘t. We've got the songs, butthe guitars are turned up quite loud, that's all.’
Both bemoan the ‘tight-trouser
ghetto' into which rock has walled itself. ‘lt’s sad,‘ sighs Maker. ‘Rock is j definitely more establishment than it was then, and more careerist.’
In any case, won’t Maker‘s musical
history make RPLA a little hard to
i marketto the HM hordes? Maker, who confides that he doesn't really enjoy being in the entertainment industry,
doesn’t see it as his problem.
‘We’re the raw material, it’s for
L someone else to market us. We wouldn‘t patronise people by thinking they want the lowest common denominator all the time. It’s probably easier to market Whitesnake than us,‘ he concludes, ‘just as it's easier to sell The Sun than other papers.‘ (Alastair Mabbott)
RPLA play The Venue. Edinburgh on Wed 11 and The Cathouse, Glasgow on i Thurs 12.
The List 30 August — 12 September 199135