Fiona Shepherd on the oblique strategies of Daisy Chainsaw.
Roll up. stroll up. cab it up . . . the circus is coming to town. A musical (Arjchaos is due to land in your backyard shortly. a menagerie featuringjust one continuous act calling itselfsomething like DaisyChainsawSheepOnDrugs- ElephantWitch. Separate the components and you get: one set of surprising chart debutantes. ‘one of those kind oftechno-y bands' (Daisy Chainsaw bassist. Richard's illuminating description ofSheep On Drugs). and a ‘theatrical’ performance art troupe‘ — the latter providing the in-between bits ofthe evening‘s entertainment. the parts that would normally be filled by playing the latest Nirvana/Clapton . Sultans Of Ping FC‘ waxing through . ropey loudspeakers. The whole shebangfitstogetherratherlikean ' outsize club sandwich. and is bound to be a wizard wheeze.
However. we‘re concerning ourselves with the perpetrators of this logistical lunacy. the aforementioned ‘surprising chart debutantes‘ Daisy Chainsaw. that riot in a paint factory responsible for splattering the irresistible ‘Love Your Money' all over a radioTV/ magazine near you not so long ago.
It‘s fair to say that people love the idea of Daisy Chainsaw perhaps more than their musical reality. Their sound — a Molotov cocktail of fuzzy buzzy guitars. disjointed rhythms and a voice that re-introduces the gasp as an integral vocal tool — is as varied as their manifesto — a disruptive mesh of desperation. disgust and auto- destruction — as their appearance — a vaudeville collective of
cross-dressing toerags. People are now as familiar with singer Katie‘s filthy limbs and shredded nightie as they are with the sub-Transvision Vampisms of the ‘laaahhve your moneeee'refrain.
‘I thought this morning I’m going to get asked that question “Why do you make yourselfall dirty?” and I thought I'll be really coy and say “Oh. I‘m a chimney sweep" because I tell you I really don't know why. All I know is that everything I own is broken and worthless. All my best things are bits ofjunk but I love them dearly. There‘s something always wrong with them . . . and I think I'll leave it there.‘ .
Being English-speaking and literate. you will probably make neither head nor tail of this response. In fact. Katie's not-really-much-of- an-answer rationale says more about the band than the words she chooses to utter. For a group whose music is relatively straightforward. heard-it- before. incisive ranting. their spoken philosophy is surprisingly nebulous and contradictory. See them live and you get strong. direct. in-your-face visuals: guitarist (‘rispin‘s gaudy feather boa. drummer Vince's camp demeanour. and Katie. fuelled by the belief that all life will terminate before the end ofthe millenium. rampaging like a harpy. flashing her
knickers and spewing vitriol. But ask her to pontificate on
performance . . .
‘I think there‘s two ways of looking at it. [don‘t feel exposed on stage. I feel more real and closer to myself than I ever feel when I'm onstage. Well. actually. in one sense it could i be exposure because I‘m stripping back all the social pretensions and things like that that are inevitably indoctrinated into you just from being alive at this time on the planet. and I‘m being denuded. but I‘m not exposing myselfbecause that‘s what I‘m truly feeling then.‘
And so on. and so forth. This may sound pretentious but. perversely. Katie‘s screwball logic cuts through because it's stimulating. And if you do find her and her belligerent brigade too much to stomach. that's fine with her too.
‘I feel we‘ve been subject to sensationalism. but I knew before I embarked on this idea that once you put yourselfon stage. you're there to be criticised. and ifl didn‘t want to be misinterpreted then I should certainly have not got up on stage.‘
‘I couldn‘t associate contrivance with myself . but ifpeople judge it contrived then it is. I think everyone‘s opinion is utterly correct.‘
Daisy Chainsaw, Sheep ()n Dru gs and Elephant Witch play (.‘alron Studios, Edinburgh on Thurs l9, and the Mayfair. Glasgow on Fri 20.
‘She walked where few women dared to tread,’ said Don Was, producer of Rickie Lee Jones’s last album, adding, ‘you expect her to have leather eyelashes.’
Now she's assured, resigned to her place in the scheme of things; but her fearlessness buckled In the lace of potential pop stardom. When the slurred, sleepy ‘Chuck E's In Love' became one of1979’s most welcome hits, she had played in public only about five times and was unprepared for the attention that it brought her. What she really wanted was the kind of cult status enjoyed by her one-time partner in romance Tom Waits. She junked her beatnik hipster image when , she realised it could be exploited as a I
marketing tool and set about challenging her public with each
subsequent release, including a 10in mini-LP oijazz standards, ‘Girl At Her Volcano'. She also hit the bottle. Finally, afterthe commercially disastrous ‘The Magazine’, she dropped out of music, to be coaxed back in afteriour years by her new husband, Pascal Rabat-Meyer.
After dipping hertoes in the water with ‘Flying Cowboys’, her 1989 comeback album, Jones returned to the !
territory of ‘Girl At Her Volcano’ with the Chet Baker-influenced ‘Pop Pop’, actually an acoustic jazz album, but featuring songs outwith the standard . jazz repertoire, including tracks written ‘ by Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin. “Pop Pop' polarised the critics so much that the ‘Los Angeles Times' printed a supportive review alongside veteran jan critic Leonard Feather’s curt dismissal.
Most likely, he protested too much. Rickie Lee Jones is a pop vocalist who lets no one but herself set the boundaries for her music. If there’s any justice, her Glasgow show will be packed with people wanting to hear that laid-back but captivating delivery. There's always a place for It. (Alastair Mabbott)
Rickie Lee Jones plays Glasgow on Sun 22. Since shows at the Pavilion have had to be rescheduled, her gig looks almost certain to be going ahead at the Theatre Royal instead. Phone for confirmation.
l v LISTEN!
j I The Apollo in Glasgow
: moves into a new phase on
Wed 25 with its first ‘DemoGong Show‘. In
the style of the classic TV
y series. a panel of pop stars and pundits (identities still to be revealed) will listen
to demo tapes of varied
stylesand quality and bang the gong when they just can't take any more. (For decency's sake. every artist is entitled to have a
minimum of of) seconds of their tape heard
uninterrupted beforethe panellists can do their] Arthur Rank
impressions.) It all sounds
‘ verycruel.doesn'tit.but Apollo staff feel that it will actually ‘give us more ofa chance to extend our gig
vetting policy': ie. ifthe panel gives the thumbs-up to a tape the Apollo haven't liked. they might
reconsider and give them
a gig after all. Plus. the panellists will be given no clue who they're listening to. so their judgements will be as prejudice-free as possible. However. there'salways the chance that they might be tricked by a ropey early demo by a now-established band. The gong show is coupled with a disco of the world‘s worst records. possibly even dredged from the combined collections of Apollonauts Tannock and Williamson (we can only hope). so an evening of unbridled fun is in store.
3 I The best piece of
we‘ve read in the last
fortnight was uncovered
in Melody Maker‘s free i and knee-tremblineg
? reverentialPrimalScream I booklet. Aside from omitting to mention the godlike Bobby (iillespic‘s tenure in dodgy Factory types The Wake. the author. Steve Sutherland. presents readers with this delicious typo: ‘The press
duly noted Bob's affection for The Byrds. Sky. Saxon and Scott Walker. then concentrated on his fringefTake out the comma between ‘Sky' and ‘Saxon' to see what Mr Sutherland actually intended to say. but who's to say the printed version isn't closer to the truth'.’ i
m List 13.— 2(» March we: 27