Lush life

When their debut album turned out to be a millstone, Lush had a lot of ground to make up. Craig McLean finds out from the band’s Emma Anderson how they did it.

Lush were too good too soon. Through 1989 and 1990, they released a slew of concise and otherworldly EPs. They buzzed, they chimed, they mooned about a bit. But they were EPs by a band on 4AD. rare and graceful and tasteful, putting the ‘art' into ‘artefact‘, and everything was permitted. And indulged. Then, eventually, came Spooky. Lush’s first album was really boring. What was good in thin slices, spread evenly round a mini-album or maxi- single, was stodgy and workaday on an album. Spooky was a whole hog of numb ethereality: the sound of fey. underachieving dabblers who had forgotten to have some more good ideas after the first couple that had inspired the six-track Scar and the Mad Love EP. As if treading water was the way forward,,the better to ensure the continued enthusiasm of a frothing press.

The cossetting cloak of Robin Guthrie’s sub- Cocteau Twins production didn‘t do the band many favours either Lush indelibly stamped as another vague bunch in thrall to the House Sound Of 4AD.

The new album, Split. and their twin EPs, Hypocrite '

and Desire Lines, showcase a new Lush, with binary appeal part lndie Guitars Are Go, part Ambient Pop Fun. Split indeed. Lush are a lot better now. Guitarist and backing vocalist Emma Anderson tends to go along with that. ‘With this album, we’re just a more confident band,‘ she says. ‘We toured for a year, got really tight live, got all the songs written, demoed, rehearsed, finely honed, then went into the studio . . . ‘The thing about Spooky was that we wanted

Robin’s sound on that record, and we knew it wasn‘t

gonna sound like . . . us, the pure Lush sound. But he did some stuff on that record that we really liked, that we couldn‘t have done without him, and he had some i Lush p1“). King Tum Glasgow 0,, Sun 5. 1 really brilliant ideas. I would go along with it that he i

did smooth the sounds out a lot and took some of the dynamics away. But one of the problems with that album is that it doesn‘t work that well as an album, that the songs in themselves sound really good but all together was a bit too much.‘

Enough ofthe recent past, ‘cos it wasn't very good. Like Anderson says, Lush toured fora year: Britain, America. Europe, America again on the Lollapolooza package tour in 1992 (with Pearl Jam, Ministry, The Jesus And Mary Chain and Ice Cube among others), Japan. Australia. They loosened up and livened up. Come summer 1993. Lush had eighteen songs on the starting blocks, but no starter.

‘We had three months where we were just sitting twiddling our thumbs, sending out demos to producers.‘ Lush's wish-list included Paul ‘Sugarcubes. 10,000 Maniacs‘ Fox, Robb ‘Lemonheads' Bros, John Paul ‘legend' Jones. John ‘Stone Roses, Trashcan Sinatras‘ Leckie, and Bob ‘fat bloke' Mould. Most were unavailable or uninclined.“Bob Mould wanted to do an EP and we nearly did it. He got the demos, and he said he liked half the songs ~ probably the more uptempo ones. But we didn‘t want to do an EP and then re—record

6 them for an album and have a’l these bits again.’



Eventually Mike ‘Beautiful South’ Hedges got the job, the band won over by his desire to work in co- production stylee. In partnership, band and producer made an album with much life, style and case. This new, out-of—the-cloisters, open-to-suggestion stance by Lush is typified by the remix of album track ‘Lovelife’ on Desire Lines. Sugar Bullet (here dubbed Suga Bullit) tease and stretch Lush, a follow- on from the band's collaboration with The Drum Club last year on a mix of Spooky’s ‘Stray‘. It could have been a disaster. since Edinburgh‘s hip-hop bofflns were only sent half of the track, the half without Miki Berenyi‘s vocals, and had about, oh, ten minutes to turn the mix around.

‘It was fine, though,‘ says Anderson, with a laugh and a shrug. And that's Lush, 1994, second album model, all over: out of adversity comes forth innovation. And a better band.

In good nick

Bonnie Raltt’s career takes on the rock ’n’ roll paradigm, and toms it upside down. Granted she was never really ‘mega-star headed for spectacqu burn-out’ material, but her success in the 70s, built on rock- solld guitar playing and an ear for a great song, turned sour for a while In the 80s when Werner unceremoniously dumped her after thirteen albums. At the same tlrne, and by her own admission, she was doing herself no favours with drink and drugs, even if she is unrepentant about her enjoyment of that side of the r ’n’ r


song. She professes not to like her

Raitt, though, did not hit the skids own voice. but it lends itself well when the downturn came. Instead, and enough to the potent amalgam of

with the exception of a couple of

blues, folk, rock and country

misjudged albums in the mid-803, she influences which weaves through her kept doing what she had always done, music, deftly shifting tack from song playing quality music to her loyal core to song.

of fans (she likens herself to Richard Widely respected by her fellow Thompson in that respect) who stuck musicians, she has never had a

with her, come what may. An invitation problem attracting guests when album to work with Prince slammed her back time came around, and her newest into the public eye, and her biggest- offering, ‘longing In Their Hearts’ selling album to date, ‘iilck Of Time’, (Capitol), boasts the likes of Paul

kept her there.

Brady, Richard Thompson (two of her

Now in her mid-40s, Raltt still plays favoured songwriters), Levon Helm and great guitar (she was the only women Charley Musselwhlte amid the high- featured in the boy's-world television quality cast. (Joe Alexander) documentary about Fender guitars you Bonnie Raitt’s concert at the Glasgow may have seen a few months back), Royal Concert Hall on Mon 6 is sold and still has that same ear for a great out.

Tennents Live! Making Music Happen

The List 3—16 June 1994 37