Alive and amin
.z 5. V You‘d have to be a St Kilda residen with a particularly severe bout of agoraphobia to have bypassed Pearl Jam on their current promotional blitz ofthese shores. A trickle of upfront press coverage made much oftheir impeccable pedigree: principal songwriters Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament had vented some puppy aggression in the now-mythologised Green River. the original Seattle grunge hairies who hatched the embryonic Mudhoney. recorded for the fashionable Sub Pop label and inspired the likes of Nirvana. before forming the no-less-respeeted Mother Love Bone and collaborating with sundry Seattle luminaries.
However, the release oftheir chunky debut single ‘Alive‘ has put the lie to their Sub Pop credentials. for the most part eschewing the repetitive, garage punk-laced attack of their peerage in favour of a soaring epic of a track, the sort of radio-friendly geetar homage that wins heavy media rotation. especially in the States. It‘s small wonder that their album Ten (to be released here at the beginning of March) has already shifted serious units (man) over there.
There are some qualifications to be made though - Pearl Jam songs are a considerable cut above the flabby heavy rock norm as well as a mature distance from their friends and neighbours. Singer Eddie Vedder‘s embellishing throaty vibrato is a long way from his contemporaries‘ gravel-sandwich-for-breakfast approach, and his lyrics are rarely a teenage call-to-arms in the richly-ploughed Nirvana vein. Instead he prefers to offer acutely-observed tales of society‘s malcontents, the underdogs crushed by abuse, boredom, despair. like the brilliant, creeping malignancy of ‘Jeremy‘.
So their words aren‘t going to shake the establishment to its foundations, but it’s still rare to encounter a band with such an obvious metal heritage highlighting darker issues with subtlety rather than sensationalism. Pearl Jam. a band with true grit, could be the ones to give mainstream rock a good name. (Fiona Shepherd)
Pearl Jam play The Cathouse, Holly wood Studios, Glasgow on Sunday 23.
‘In the time that we’ve been going, at
one time or another, people have
called us curious, odd, eccentric,
strange - so we thought we may as well
be called what people think at us as.’
, Andy Cox, one third at The Wollgang
i Press, is explaining the rationale
; behind the title at their most recent
i album, ‘Oueer’. The release at their
lirstalbum, ‘The Burden 0t Mules’, in
1983 lirme placed the band in the ‘cult’
: category. Dark and intense, in many
5 ways the band have always seemed out
of sync with musical trends but times
I change and three years ago with the
~ release at the ‘Kansas’ and ‘Baintime’
l singles—all lurching lunk and
; dancebeats— it looked like the possibility at The Wollgang Press
f becoming chart contenders was more
than simply a pipe dream. Things
ances with Wolfgang P
I reached ridiculous extremes last year with the release at ‘Oueer’, and its ; accompanying single: a cover at Randy i Newman's ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come'. ‘Oueer’ was easily the trio’s ; most accessible release to date but still the punters were unmoved. ‘It's not that we’re concerned with . charts,’ Cox states tirmly, ‘just the i record reaching as many people as it possibly can simply because we think 2 it’s good and it more people heard it or i had a chance to hear it they’d like it. , ‘I realise it’s the most accessible 5 record that we’ve made and that no ! longer worries me. I think we used to a have a tear at that sort ol thing.’ (James . Hahbunon) g The Wollgang Press play King Tut’s, Glasgow on Sat 15.
.nuauellli gLend an era
‘ Twenty-live years is but a blink in geological time, but aeons in the lite cycle oi rock bands. One such senior citizen at British popular music is celebrating its Silver Jubilee with a nationwide tour, stopping in Scotland Ior one gig.
Fairport Convention created and delined a style at British, essentially English, talk-rock, and though tew now imitate the Fairport approach, the group has retained a loyal following over quarter at a century at line-up changes and long periods at non-perlorming. The line-up has been fixed now tor seven years, making it the longest-lived version at the band so tar, and as was noticeable on their last packed visit to Edinburgh, a good number at their audience were unborn in 1965.
Bassist Dave Pegg contesses, ‘I missed two years at the beginning. It was the ‘Full House’ album when I joined, and I’m amazed that the band is still here. We’ve changed a lot, we now use more electronics, MIDI and ' sequencing, so we’re not really a talk band, although we still use some traditional material. But it’s obviously Fairport, and I’m proud to have gotten here.’
The cross-membership ol Fairport and Jethro Tull makes tor a complicated lite and rehearsal/touring schedule tor Pegg and multi- instrumentalist Martin Allcock. Back at the end at last year from a world tour,
§ the two are all again with Tull in March, , this time with Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks in the backline.
‘I know that one at the main reasons I iorthe Fairport’s longevity is that we : don’t depend on it lor our livelihood, we all do otherthings, so when we do go out on the road we do it in a large part out at pleasure. We enjoy ourselves. But we’ve always, personally, got something on the go. Dave Mattacks has just played on the whole ol the new XT C album. Martin’s going all with The Mission.
‘You have to see who we’ve got supporting us on the tour. I’ve known Beryl Marriot tor 25 years. She has a ceilidh hand down in the Midlands. Swarbrick used to play guitar lor her. In lact that’s what inspired him to take up the tiddle. What a wonderlul piano player, she plays traditional music like Jerry Lee Lewis plays rock and roll.’ (Norman Chalmers)
Fairport Convention play The Queen’s llall, Edinburgh on Tue 18.
’Cross the tracks
if;(//l “ It might be putting it a tad strongly to say that. generally. the nation hasn‘t been salivating in anticipation of more Diesel Park West. But so much has happened since their emergence in 1989 with the memorable hard-edged chimingof songs like ‘All The Myths On Sunday" and “Like Princes Do‘ that it's taken us all enough effort to keep up with comparatively active bands. The Diesels' John Butler nevertheless reckons it was a good time for them to come on to the
‘Any time‘s a goodtime to emerge if you‘ve got the right thing. I‘ll tell you what did happen. and I don‘t think this is necessarily an exaggeration. I think we had quite a big inﬂuence. because it wasn‘t too long after that that we started to see other bands that I‘m sure took note of us. The whole guitar-based thing— I feel that we inﬂuenced a lot of people in that way. l'm sure bands like Ride were aware of us. Shakespeare. Alabama never became a multi-plutonium record. but it did have an effect.‘
As far as groups like Airhead and Five Thirty are concerned. he may have a point. and although the well-received Shakespeare set didn't break sales records. it's bound to have done plenty of good in paving the way for the band‘s subsequent tours and their new ‘cinematic‘ album. Decency.
‘The fact that we‘ve taken so long between albums perhaps would be a bad thing ifwe were a band that relied extensively on being trendy. but we‘ve never really done that. Our calling card is basically our ability to play.‘ (Alastair Mabbott) Diesel Park Wesrplay King Tut's, Glasgow on Sar22 and The Venue. Edinburgh on Sun 23.
30 The List 14 - 27 February 1992