MUSIB RECORD Reviews
At a time when the opera content ofthe Edinburgh Festival seems less than ever. mainly on the grounds that it's simply too expensive. Scottish Opera shows that it doesn‘t always have to be big and costly with a new production from their small-scale touring company. Scottish ()pera Go Round. of Mozart’s Seraglio. With an enviable record under its belt for taking opera down to the bare minimum while still retaining its dramatic and musical integrity. the company has played in village, town and city venues up and down the country. bringing live opera to places once considered inaccessible for opera performances.
Opening in rather an untypical venue — Glasgow‘s Tron Theatre - Seraglio then moves to Edinburgh for a Fringe performance at Portobello Town Hall. then travels over 5000 miles. which includes visits to Northern Ireland and Wales. with its fully staged and uncut production. over the course of three months. Set in Turkey. the opera‘s full title. 'l'hexlhdm‘fimt From The Swag/to. gives a hint of what it's all about. (.‘onstanza and her maid Blonde are captured by the powerful Pasha Selirn and held at his harem. Belmonte. Constanza's lover. sets out to help them escape. lie fails. but the Pasha lets them all off anyway and they are allowed to go free. Sung in English. the musical direction and piano accompaniment is in the hands of Nicholas Bosworth.
It's a lively and humorous piece and with the strong production team of Nick Broadhurst. Simon lliglett and Vince Herbert. highly acclaimed for their recent production of Rossini's Cinderella. as well as a young. but strong. international cast. Seraglio promises to be another big success for this minimalist offshoot of the main Scottish Opera company. (Carol Main) Seraglio is at the 'l'ron Theatre. Glasgow on Tue 25 and Thurs 27am! at Portobello Town Hall. Edinburgh on 311129.
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[- THE BELLTOWER
Having seen The Belltower ‘live’ on
numerous occasions, though not of my
own volition, I can, with some
confidence, proclaim them to be a
, pretty stultifying affair. Jody Porter
; intones Iistlessly or Britta Phillips tweets prettily over the leaden germs of
l a few decent ideas, but it always seems
; indicative of wasted potential. Could it
be that the group are channelling their
considerable talents and energies
; exclusively into the production of
: inspirational vinyl such as this? Three impressive singles down the line (all blood relations, but still their own
j entities entirely) and now this enormously confident, accomplished
debut LP - it’s ever more apparent that
Hey Babe (Mammoth) ‘Juliana Hatfield is a member of The Blake Babies,’ the cover sticker reminds us — as it should, lorthat is recommendation indeed. The Massachusetts trio that the big time forgot delivered an excess of riches on theirtwo Mammoth albums, and her first solo album has been long-awaited, though its reception has ' perhaps been dented by the arrival of a belter by Throwing Muses. There are no synthesisers here, just yer basic no-frills rock band — reminiscent on the opening track ‘Everybody Loves Me But You’ of The Replacements—trying to avoid flash without falling into anonymity (not '. always succeeding) and to provide a sympathetic backings to her songs
1 without getting too sentimental (coping
most of the time). Hatfield’s voice is the best
; instrument they’ve got, a clear, ringing 2 sound that delicately harmonises with i itself away up in the stratosphere before pulling us right back to earth. Hatfield seems to know whenever she’s about to start navel-gazing and nips it in the bud. 0n ‘Ugly’, she sings, picks and strums unaccompanied, the effect verging on the hypnotic, and despite the self-conscious angst of the lyric, it’s not at all embarrassing. (Alastair Mabbott)
the live/studio dichotomy is reaching I cavernous proportions. i ‘Popdropper’ achieves that rare feat
of dipping deftly into a cornucopia of styles while still emerging with a cohesive identity. ‘One Dimensional’ evokes All About Eve-modelled pastoralism, ‘Too Late’ veers close to 70s power rock territory and returns to tell the tale, ‘Outshine The Sun' is sun-soaked pop, ‘Flight’ weaves psychedelic riffs around a more conventional garage melody, and ‘Grounded’ is a thrilling, strung-out guitar epic. Top of this already sky-scraping pile is ‘Slipstream’, a virtual re-write of Swervedriver’s ‘Son Of Mustang Ford’ and like the Swervies’ stunning debut last year, this is a bolt from the blue that previous singles could only hint at. (Fiona
Delaware (Hut) The front of Drop Nineteens’ first long player displays a pistol-packing pubescent in a floral skirt in Main Street, Anytown, USA—and there’s another one on the back. So they’ve got the visual side of things sorted out all right, now what about the music? Well, they’re the first band from across the Atlantic to betray a strong influence by British indie guitar music of the last couple of years, which has its good and not-so-good points. Naturally, Drop Nineteens have put their own spin on what they’ve been listening to, resulting in an album that has far greater variety to it than, say,
debuts by Chapterhouse, Lush and the like. However, they’re frequently caught peeking out from behind a very My Bloody Valentine curtain of guitar and bass with little idea what to do with it. That Drop Nineteens are from the very cool locale of Boston doesn’t erase memories of hearing these routines dozens of times.
The best moments is ‘Kick The Tragedy’, a two-chord trance-rocker with a little story from vocalist Paula Kelley, which foils and intrigues. Then there’s their re-reading of Madonna’s ‘Angel’, which is pretty good if you can forget about Ciccone Youth. But the angry squalls of noise that make up ‘Heberrymemberer’ and ‘(Plus Fish Dream)’ are as unfocused as the titles. Not bad. But the unrestrained praise is a little premature. (Alastair Mabbott)