homesick because I‘d lived over in Dublin for two-and-a-half years.‘ she says of her period hanging out in Ireland. hanging out in a little mews ﬂat in the centre of town, purchased with royalties from her I990 Number One power ballad plodder ‘Show Me Heaven‘.
She knows she’s done It, made an album fit to burst with soul and blues, country and rock, panache and pzazz.
Her extended holiday seems to have purged McKee of some musical dead weight. You Gotta Sin . . . is loose, a million riffs from the uptight, ballad- heavy repose that bogged down her ﬁrst solo outing in 1989. Back in LA. her roots give her rootsiness. She had to loose herself to ﬁnd herself, go away to know she was coming back.
‘l‘d run away from all that because the experience with Lone Justice was such a dire one. I just had to leave my whole history behind, go somewhere totally different and get a new
perspective. The coming back was like closing a circle.‘
The sense of completeness is reinforced by the reappearance of McKee‘s former Lone Justice members Marvin Brody and Bruce Etzioni. Combine their intuitive understanding of their singer‘s methods and muse (‘they‘d be the ﬁrst to tell me “this is a little bit bullshit!") and the input of producer George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes, The Jayhawks), and the resulting record is one that draws on the spirited country-rock that coloured the best of Lone Justice’s early efforts while branching out on stinging country-r‘n‘b tangents. Here be solidness and adventurousness and the sound of one almighty party going on the studio.
‘1 think I needed to make a record like that because the last album I made was quite angst-ridden really. I love that record and I will probably make another record like that, but I think I needed to experience that celebration again that was very much a part of Lone Justice - a love of the music and the friendship.
‘The last record was just a little bit too elegant, musically. I think what works best against my voice is the
juxtaposition of the rawer edge of the “boys‘ band”.‘
Instrumental in this rebirth of McKee‘s cool, this rediscovery of the sounds that inspired the teenage Lone Justice in the early 80s, was the input of Drakoulias, producer and A&R man at Rick Rubin’s Def American label — where he chanced upon and helped along both The Black Crowes and The Jayhawks.
‘He was the one who got me back on track.‘ admits McKee. ‘ l was saying “I wanna try this, I wanna try that". He said, “Why don‘t you just go back to what you do best?“ So we started listening to old country records and old soul records . . . ‘ She ascribes to Drakoulias a feel for ‘streetwise. streetsmart‘ production — a sound where technical excellence is always subservient to emotional effect. She also says he possesses what sounds like a ‘gutsy, harmonal’ sound, but she actually says, with greater pertinence, ‘hormonal '.
’Hormonal! lcan't explain it . . . There‘s a lot of sexual tension in his rhythm section work — the kick drum and his whole sorta instincts as a producer are at a real gut level.‘
It’s not just what you know, it‘s what you feel too, and McKee and Drakoulias have pursued a jagged path, wandering over r‘n’b belters ringing with the imagined clatter of beer bottles and soiled dreams (‘Why Wasn’t I More Grateful‘. ‘l‘m Gonna Soothe You‘), luminous country tear-drops (‘Precious Time‘, ‘Only Once‘) and spiritualised soulful passion (everything).
‘People say this record is really diverse, but to me it‘s all the same music, the music I grew up with and absorbed as a youngster. it’s just in my blood and it comes out at various intervals. It all, for me. just gels. And people say. “What about the Van Morrison stuff“ . . .?‘
As McKee sees it, any raised eyebrows greeting the inclusion of two early Van songs in the set (the Them track ‘My Lonely Sad Eyes' and Astral Weeks' ‘The Way Young Lovers Do‘) aren‘t worth a second glance. They‘re out of sync with the album‘s scuffed. scuzzy country sprawl? They‘re way too legendary to be attempted by this brassnecked young Californian? Tush and twice tush . . .
‘People say to me, how could you do that, how could you cover “The Way Young Lovers Do“. who d’you think you are?! Well fuck you! We love that song and we love Van, and it wasn’t like, “Let‘s show Van!“ it was more like “yeah, let‘s try it. let‘s see what we can do." We didn‘t even know the chords! And we went in and did it and none of us knew what we were doing and it was just crazy. It just sounded so wild that we just had to keep it on there . . .‘
And with ﬁnal raucous carousing and noisy studio clatter You Gotta Sin To Get Saved winds down and fades away with the gloriously hymnal title track. McKee gives a ﬁnal, satisﬁed ‘yeah!’ She knows she’s done it, made an album ﬁt to burst with soul and blues, country and rock, panache and pzazz. ‘l was just taking the piss!‘ she laughs. Maria McKee plays Edinburgh Queen ‘s Hall on Fri 4. ‘You Gotta Sin To Get Saved’ (Geffen) is out now.
’Doh rock me
Fittingly. their name sounds like a mumbled sneeze. Their world is a mazey sprawl of lo-ﬁ home recordings and swapped cassettes, a samizdat record of alternative. underground American rock. Their songs are either ‘completely haywire, others are really really quiet‘. Sebadoh are an enigma and a cult, a half-assed-but-full-tilt rock band. spinning round three axes: Jason Loewentstein. Eric Gaffney and nominal frontman Lou Barlow.
‘I feel like a frontman but I don‘t really . . .‘ ponders laconic Lou down the line from his Boston home. ‘I don’t know, it‘s funny . . . [just know that everything I do totally depends on what Eric and Jason are doing . . .‘ His experience as a member of Dinosaur Jr obviously informed his actions now — he knows what it’s like to be in the shade, feel your creativity stultiﬁed. get chucked out. ‘At least I‘m trying something . . . l wouldjust assume if the people in the band felt that everybody can write and everyone appreciates what the other people did, then that’s a pretty good start anyway.‘
The three Sebadohians all write and all sing, all contributing to the veering progress of Bubble And Scrape, the band‘s ﬁrst full-length. halfway- decently-recorded album to be released in the UK. I think. Bubble And Scrape is routed by Pavement-style crazy paving and gr***e-style slack-rock, punctuated by moments of poetic pathos. So it’s mad, loud and quiet, basically.
“It goes from quiet acoustic to loud electric,’ reckons Lou. ‘That‘s pretty much our range. but it’s a pretty good range. We‘ve been getting better and better at just doing it really quickly and playing one song after another and we‘ve been starting to get really good at that lately. It’s pretty cool but in a way it’s kinda scary because that means it‘s becoming sorta like a habit for us, which is really strange. Whenever I think of music and habit I just think of something . . . I don’t want to think about.’
Wise words, mate. Catch Sebadoh before they get bored with greatness. (Craig McLean)
Sebadoh play Edinburgh Venue on Thurs 3 and Glasgow King Tut's Wah Walt Hut on Fri 4.
The List 4—17 June 1993 31