u‘. «E: w reminisces about the good old bad old days in Bridgeton in the 505 when he’d sung skiffle on Gorbals street corners at the dawn of rock and roll.
‘You know, washboard, tea-chest bass, the real thing. I was seven, the rest of the guys were about thirteen. I used to sing Little Richard numbers. Then someone gave me a guitar and one day I found I could play it.”
The rest is history, some of it remembered. Rock-ages later, he‘s playing Glasgow again as part of a rapidly expanding Scottish tour. Usual line-up: former Thin Lizzy/Motorhead guitarist Brian Robertson, Chris Stewart on bass, and the legendary Simon Kirke (from Free and Bad Company) on drums. All good rockin’ blues, according to Frankie, with a certain Dougie MacLean number figuring somewhere in the set, enough old favourites to keep the fans stomping and a fair amount of new material.
‘I’m quite proliﬁc,‘ expounds Frankie. ‘I write every day. Well, every night, ’cause I don’t get up in the mornings. I’ve got a wee demo
l l l
just dream away. Something usually
studio at home (West London). I‘ll pick up the guitar. go into a title and
comes out, then the hard work begins. I’ve written 30 new songs and I’ve got to pick ten for the new album (to be recorded in Edinburgh after the tour).‘ All the new songs he
describes are about girls. “‘Blackmail", that‘s about a girl.‘ He begins the lyric and sure enough, it is. ‘Then there‘s “Amsterdam Girl",’ he giggles. ‘That‘s about girls in Amsterdam.’ The conversation degenerates pleasantly and Miller starts to try to interview me instead. We touch briefly on a forthcoming collaboration with Middlesex Man Rod Stewart, but he can‘t tell me much because they haven’t done it yet. Didn’t they work together before, though? Frankie pauses to think. ‘Yes.‘ Oh, no! A one-word answer. Well, I’d been warned.
Frankie Miller plays Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow on Thurs 21; The Fleadh, Glasgow on Sun 24; Queen '3 Hall, Edinburgh on Wed 27, and Greenock i Arts Guild Theatre on Fri 29.
After endless record company knockbacks in 1989, demoralised Shut Up And Dance members PJ and Smiley decided to form their own eponymously titled label. Three years on, and despite what they term as a conspiracy against their label for being ‘strong and black’, SUAD Records stand at the forefront of dance. Now, with the release of ‘Baving l’m Baving’, a wonderful pastiche of Marc Cohn‘s ‘Walking In Memphis’, the Shut Up And Dance act themselves are on the verge oi certain Top Five success. Hold on, did I say Marc Cohn's ‘Walking In Memphis"? I thought SUAD were a rap act . . .
‘Well, rap needs originality,’ says Smiley, ‘not the same old BBB/soul samples. I‘ve personally been a big fan of Marc Cohn's for some years now. I listened and listened to the track, and thought I could do something with it.‘
if the single goes Top Five, it won't be before time; SUAD paved the way for acts like SL2 and Prodigy, now it’s only right that the charts beckon forthem too.
‘lt's not a matter of commercial success, it's a matter of deserved success — it’s a matter of people ripping off our style left, right and centre. SL2 and Prodigy are lust doing what we did in 1989, and now they’re getting chart success. As a businessman talking, that‘s not tucking right.‘
The single previews the much awaited second album ‘Death Is Not The End’, released on 1 June. A superbly original double album, it has, as the cliche goes, something for everyone: spice, rap, acoustic guitar numbers, house, humour, funk-and social consciousness. SUAD seem to be one of the few acts delivering a truthful vision of British society.
‘For me the hardest thing about rap is finding what to rap about. It’s not a case of having to rap about it, it’s more a case of just us being us. The drugs and gun thing is something around me; it's what I know and what I see.‘ (Philip Dgilvie)
Shut Up And Dance are scheduled to play Glasgow on Fri 15, provisionally at Heaven.
Balm to the shriven
Not wanting to enter into dubious territory about the (supposed and sudden) profusion of female singer-songwriters, I ask Glaswegian songstress Jerry Burns whether the
i record companies’ straitened
5 economics has led to greater
j investment in the low financial liability § option that is The Solo Artist. Her
5 answer gives my lofty thesis short shrill
and offers considerable pointers as to ‘where she’s coming trom'. ‘I think it’s also maybe because record companies have left songs behind for a while . . .' she says.
Earlier on, words like ‘ambient’ and ‘delicate’ and ‘fragile’ and ‘natural‘
had been bandied about. The picture is complete, the resume is thus: Jerry Burns is an artist for whom the structure and the perfection of the song. is all; forwhom pleasing moods more than popist machinations are the order of the day; for whom subtlety will always take precedence over upfront balls. Somebody else, she admits, described her music as ‘balm to the shriven’. Bight.
‘There’s a fairly, what’s the word, controlled approach to the music,’ she considers, and as much can be surmised from her ubiquitously played and plugged debut single ‘Pale Red’. This is the sound of disciplined gentillty, produced and mixed with exquisite perfection by Stephen Hague and Bob Clearmounfaln; heavyweight studio kings both, but in this instance buffing a minimalist sheen onto the songs of Burns and partner Bobby Henry. Under their experienced tutelage, the debut album glides with a look-mum-no-hands ease. At times, it’s too willowy, unfocused. At times, it’s not, like when the lurking acidity of “Casually Unkind’ breaks through the sweet veneer. ‘I only love you on certain nights. . .’ she sings then.
‘I don’tthink the music is particularly : female or particularly feminine,’ Jerry Burns says now. ‘lt's just, kind of, hopefully. . . good !‘ (Craig McLean) Jerry Burns debut album is released this month by Columbia.
Theii'stutitil— May 1662-37