Blood uncles

Like blood from a recalcitrant stone. pearls of mumbled wisdom drip haltineg from the lips of .lay Farrar. “Ideally . . . we'd like to record. . . two albums a year,’ says Uncle Tupelo's 'frontman' with an enthusiasm bordering on narcolepsy. ‘It makes logistically for. All the more. Complex. Road schedules.’ he says of their signing to Sire after three albums on the US indie Rockville. ‘It seems to work better for us . . . to get into the studio and get out . . .' Pause of mythic proportions. ‘. . . before we have time to mess up what our original intentions were.’ Uncle Tupelo are mordant souls. Where their singer is not one for chit-chat. any chat. and the making of their records speedy, on-the-cusp affairs. their songs speak volumes and linger long. At their most uppity. most notably on 1991’s Still Feel Gone (produced by Paul Q. Kolden'e. recently spotted on Radiohead and Dinosaur Jr album credits). their sad-eyed country downs a few beers in a leaky old bar and gets cranky. Touring as a three-piece earlier this year, their Edinburgh Venue gig was fiery. country and blues and strident harmonies toughing it out. ‘Things tend to get a bit noisier then. just because we have a lot more space. To cover.’ sighs J ay.

But now they are five. and refining their art. The songs on Anodyne are parched and crumbling country laments. held together by spit and a prayer and a lovelom resonance that. parasite- like, gains strength and vigour from the frailties of the listener. And in turn. all are enriched.

And if all that sounds like over-thought musical trainspotting. that’s because it is. Uncle Tupelo inspire rumination and scrutiny. Uncle Tupelo inspire. '. . .' agrees Jay Farrar. (Craig McLean)

Uncle Tupelo play The Venue. Edinburgh. on Sat 30.

Vermont on hearing this revelational

record company relations. contractual ' obligations and downright antipathy.

mm— Mann alive

It’s always darkest before dawn, they say, and for I Aimee Mann things couldn’t get any blacker. Then came her first solo album, and verily Craig McLean has seen the


By a stroke of cosmic congruity a local record shop this very day is flogging cut-price copies of Ti] Tuesday’s third and possibly best album. 1989’s Everything '3 Different Now. ‘Hmmm.‘ thinks the Boston band's erstwhile mainstay as she sits in a hotel room in

news. ‘It was a bit over-produced,‘ she reckons. Too fussy. too cluttered. too many triple-tracked guitars. But it was her best work. Was.

From the black hole of shredded

T Aimee Mann has emerged. tired but . devotional. For nearly four years she

was in suspended animation. unable to release any of her new solo material. unable to give full flight. any flight. to

' a collection of songs that were her heart . given physical form. Says Aimee Mann

of her first solo album Whatever, ‘it was a real labour of love.‘ Hear Whatever and you think. ‘Maybe all artists should be forced to write and record in the most fraught of circumstances, the better to dredge up their true artistic depths.‘ ‘We worked so hard at it.‘ she says. ‘in insane circumstances.‘ You hear Mann wincing at the memory of those circumstances.

‘At one point we were talking to another label and they said they would buy our way out [of TH Tuesday’s

. siege mentality offset by enthusiasm

extant so-called deal with Epic]. So we negotiated an entire new contract. And then that label backed out at the last minute when we‘d spend thousands of dollars on lawyers. Then we were stuck with the payment scheme for Epic that of course we couldn‘t do on our own. without another deal. And we‘d already started recording because the negotiations had taken months . . .' Phew. what a torture. Realising that insanity was a very real prospect. they hunkered down and kept recording. a


for the work in progress. Mann‘s new manager funded the album, a friend practised what she calls ‘guerrilla producing‘ as they grabbed whatever spare time they could in the studio. In the end ‘Whatever’ was recorded in eight different studios over several

months, and finally picked up by Imago. ‘I felt we'd made a pretty good record. and if record companies didn‘t think there was a hit on it, then I certainly wasn‘t going to get any more commercial in this lifetime. So . . . that would just be my tough luck,’ she trails off. almost imperceptibly. perhaps chilled by the thought that Whatever was now or never.

She needn’t have worried. Whatever dishes up acerbic pay-off lines to Mann‘s former beaux (on ‘4th Ofluly‘ she wonders with a biting grace if an ex- will ever regretfully reflect. ‘My God. 1 should have told her what would it take? But now here I am and the world's gotten colder and she‘s got the river down which I sold her‘) and soul-deep, open-heart surgery (‘Mr Harris' is a gentle tale of love for the older man. as in the pensioner). These she weds to straight-ahead mainstream pop; the most obvious touchstone is gulp Fleetwood Mac. These she delivers in a lilting, cut-glass voice. Each feeds the other: the sharpness of the lyrics ameliorates the AOR-ish feel; the smoothness of the voice makes the lyrics all the more enthralling. stops them degenerating into pitiable hand- wringing and carping.

Each feeds the other. each knows its place. nothing is left out. Aimee Mann and Whatever leaving nothing undeclared. ‘That‘s something I realised a long time ago that people didn‘t do because they’re afraid of what people will think of them. or they're afraid of making themselves appear weak. vulnerable. So they avoid honesty. But if you're honest it doesn‘t

make you weak. there isn’t anything to .

be afraid of. The only key to having any sense of control of life is to really

: know what the truth of any situation is.‘

Would-be suitors. has-been suitors. cocked-up record companies —- take

5 note. This lady‘s not for turning.

v, Aimee Mann supports World Party at 5 the Usher Hall. Edinburgh on Mon 25 and the Royal Concert Hall. Glasgow on Tue 26.

Hey! Elastica!

Brash three-minute pop songs don’t

' usually light my candle, but this week

I’ve decided that they rule. Brevity, fizz and pop - they’re the quickest route to thrilled elation. The fact that

'9 Elastica’s single ‘Stutter’ has

singlehandedly produced this shift is totally the point. It’s got sass, attitude, humour, fun. It’s got guitars that fall over each other to pass the finishing post first. It’s got a couple of Debbie lIarry-Iike guttural ‘woah-oh- oh’ interludes. Justine Frischmann sings what every clever girl knows.

3 ‘You’ve had too much wine to stumble

“Most of the time, it lust feels like

up my street,’ she chastises, before coming on the spurned but defiant dominatrix: ‘Is there something you lack/When I’m flat on my back?/ls there something that I can do for you?’ If the rest of their canon is this sparlty, wear goggles when they blitz your locale. ' ‘I’m amazed that being in a band can be so much fun,’ enthuses Justine.

having a brilliant time with my friends.’

Now for the bit that every Elastica article is duty bound to report: Justine I played rhythm guitar in the embryonic ; Suede (their Slog Period). About a year 1 after her departure, she set about forming her own group, recruiting former Suede drummer Justin and finding guitarist Donna and bassist Annie via music press ads.

‘I really missed the gang mentallty,’ she says. ‘There wasn’t an outlet creatively for me in Suede, because the character of the thing was so clearly defined. When I left, I didn’t

l ‘. ., ' ‘7 ' ; A w... . K g .\ ‘0‘ l '. a I ‘L ‘-


stop playing guitar or having ideas musically, and I had a lot of freedom suddenly. It just dawned on me that I really could do exactly what I wanted and I should.’

flow for the other bit I’m duty bound to report: Elastica sound nothing lIke Suede. Their personality is just as vibrant, but their muse is altogether less melodramatic. Where Suede are succoured by pretension, Elastica are doused in the lustre of pure energy. (Fiona Shepherd) Elastlca play The Tunnel, Glasgow on Wed 3.

34 The List 22 October—4 November I993