Making Music Happen
The Auteurs have inherited the unfortunate mantle of the misunderstood musicians who lace their scorn with an ample helping of obtuse humour and are labelled ‘depressing' for their troubles. it happened to The Smiths despite their ridiculous propensity for brandishing shrubbery aloft at every available opportunity. It happened to PJ Harvey despite Rob‘s pseudo-comic falsetto and Polly's impish relationship with the camera.
Now The Auteurs can stroll moodily through seedy urban wastegrounds. led enigrnatieally by Luke in his billowing greatcoat. for the purposes of their ‘Chinese Bakery’ video and few will snigger at the subtle flirting with cliche. Not that the band really harbour any desire to be visually imposing. Where they connect with the aforementioned outﬁts is more in the bite of their lyrics. so often misconstrued. Perhaps if Luke were to turn his bilious observations into a stand-up routine . . . but then. we already have one Jack Dee.
‘People do take things too literally.‘ he agrees. ‘1 don't mean everything I write.‘
Now I'm A Cowboy won't surprise fans of the debut album. New Wave. Again. temperate. spare guitar and piano are offset by poison pen portraits of hollow aspirations and deluded human behaviour. delivered casually as Luke reclines on the chaise longue. aware that he‘s close to larnpooning the very image he projects. Whatever. it‘s an assured, cohesive collection. The Auteurs are not party to the Difﬁcult Second Album syndrome. as Luke will testify.
‘A lot of bands have the situation whereby they've been writing songs since they were ﬁfteen. and by the time they get to do their ﬁrst album it is always their deﬁnitive album because they've had the whole of their lives to prepare for it. and when you come to the next one you‘ve got a year to write and record it. But New Wave was written in a very short space of time after I left The Servants. who never sold any records so had to do something — and getting better was one of them.‘
Hence the maturity of New Hill‘l' which was garlanded with. among other plaudits. a Mercury Music prize nomination. It was pipped by another debut. Suede's.
Despite some initial comparisons with their Mercury rivals. The Auteurs appeal to an older crowd. Personally l see Luke in the same bracket as Elvis Costello. still ﬁring lyrical bullets way over the heads of most consumers. This sparks a conversation on why the likes of Bryan Adams can have Number One singles with lyrics full of inane truisms that connect with a whole cross-section of the populace. while something as intelligent as ‘l..enny Valentino‘ peaks 40 places down the chart.
‘He must turn it out in five minutes.‘ says Luke. ‘He obviously doesn't write his songs by playing his guitar. He must do it all on computer. So l‘m sending off to Arnstrad for some information next week.‘
However. there‘s still some way to go before we see the unveiling ofthe automated Auteurs. Thankfully.
The Auteurs play The Garage. Glasgow on Fri 27.
Andy Summers is not usually thought of as an acoustic guitarist, but his latest venture unites him with a long- time friend, fellow guitarist John Etheridge, in an acoustic duo. Anyone who knows Summers only from his work with The Police, or for his brilliant use of electric guitar effects in his subsequent, wide-ranging solo projects, might be a little surprised at the music which the duo produce.
0n the evidence so far, namely their self-produced album ‘Invisible Threads’, this is a much more relaxed mode than that normally associated with either player. 0n closer inspection, though, it is maybe less surprising: Summers comes out of a predominantly rock background, but is a self-confessed closet jazz fan with an eclectic musical sensibility, and had ‘a long acoustic apprenticeship’
playing classical guitar in his youth, while Etheridge is associated with a jazz spectrum which runs from Soft Machine through to Danny Thompson’s Whatever, and takes in most points In between.
The two met, Summers explained, In 1976 In Edinburgh, back in the good old days of avant-garde rock, when he was playing with Kevin Ayers on a bill shared with Soft Machine. They remained friends over the years, brought together by the fact that ‘we were both really interested in playing jazz. We have played a lot in private over the years, but this album was the first time we had recorded.’
Summers put together the outlines of much of the music in his studio in California, but left plenty of space for improvisation. It is, he says, ‘a purely musical, non-commercial record, but at the same time it’s quite lyrical and accessible. It’s definitely a jazz record, though. The whole idea was to just go out and play - John is a faster player than me, and technically he’s a real wizard, while I play more behind the beat, and with a different rhythmic feel.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
Andy Summers and John Etheridge play George Square Theatre, Edinburgh on Fri 27, and the Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow on Sat 28.
Women of the world
Teaching, talking and performing in the workshop, the debate, and one of the two concerts, American-born Edinburgh resident Talitha Mackenzie admits she’s going to feel a little tired at the end of Women Voices of the World, an all-day Mayfest Special-
‘lt’s been promoted by Women’s International Network Music. Based in Holland, networking women round the world. At the early concert I’ll be playing with my band - we’ve also got the big Glasgow all-women world music choir Eurydice - and we’ll be playing a reciprocal concert in Amsterdam’s Milky Way later this year.’ .
Talitha was vocalist in the original version of Mouth Music, where her version of Gaelic song married to, synthesised Afro-pop rhythms, while being commercially successful, engendered everything from loathing to apoplectic rage among some of the guardians of Gaelic culture.
Here she plays with the band from her new album ‘Solas’ (percussionist Dave Haswell, guitar and keyboards by Ian McKenna and Mike Nolan) some old material, some new arrangements of Gaelic song and some songs that Talitha has composed.
‘My workshop is titled “Mouth Music For Dancing”, and I will be teaching songs for some of the time and dancing the rest, alternately. They’ll be Highland folk dance steps. Simple ones, so would anyone coming please
wear low-heeled shoes. In the afternoon, the debate is going to explore the ways that the tradition passes down through women, as compared to men.’
With Talitha on the panel will be Jan Fairley, who presented the world music programme ‘Earthbeat’ for Radio Scotland; chairperson from the Beeb and ‘Folk Hoots’ magazine, Lucy Duran; and [lust Mhlongo, stunning South African vocalist, a star performer of pop, Zulu, Xhosa, soul and jazz since the 603 and who, with her group Twasa, headlines the all-day event. (Herman Chalmers)
Women Voices Of The World takes place at The Ferry, Glasgow on Sat 21 .
Tennents Live! Making Music Happen
The List 20 May—2 June 1994 35'