Olympian resurrection is all in the genes according to Martin Rossiter, left.
‘Be My Light, Be My Guide‘. With ‘Sleep Well Tonight‘. replete with marvellous. soulful Hammond. Gene proved themselves so strikingly of the moment yet so obviously built to last. Now the Smiths infatuation was revealed as just something that this young band had to work through their system. And so what — if mimicry sounds this inspired. this heartfelt. is it still ntimicry?
On stage in France last November as part of a festival of new (mainly British) bands. Gene were up against the adrenalin-driven. stage-friendly likes of Oasis, Echobelly. Elastica and Shed Seven. For the first time. Gene looked like less like calculated arrivistes than blossoming legends. People were stage-diving.
In Edinburgh on 22 November. The Venue could scarcely contain them. In London last month. singer Martin Rossiter was still strutting and still posturing. but now he meant it. Guitarist Steve Mason was still playing the axe-hero. but now he had reason to. In little over eight months. Gene had become legendary.
Martin Rossiter sits in a pillbox studio in south-east London and smirks. ‘Viitually everything that's happened has followed our plans. We're about two weeks ahead of schedule at the moment.‘ he says in a snatched moment between smoking fags and recording Gene's debut album.
Was there anything as concrete as a plan?
‘There certainly was. it was all mentally mapped out. There were many pie charts involved. We wrote for nine months. we didn‘t play. and became preposterously prolific. and wrote probably twenty songs. It was simply
that we knew. front literally within a month of fortning in spring 1993. “We will get a record contract. we will release a first single. it’ll do this well. 8! (Went. el trivia" And the Lord Almighty is shining. is smiling. very kindly on us.‘
Whence this supreme confidence“?
‘It was instant. the first time we met and rehearsed. It was obvious. A lot of jumping around ensued.‘
He's an annoying. smug bugger. Martin Rossiter. He can understand the accusations of affectation. ‘but it simply isn’t true. People picture me as some sort of Chaucctureading. sandal- wearing fop. who sticks on a smoking jacket and has a cigarette holder. I’m not. The one time in my life when I am entirer hottest is when I'm on stage. I have my fair share of testosterone.‘
Olympian. their March-due album. has brilliance to spare. Only one of their nine single tracks from last year appears (‘Sleep Well Tonight‘). and pacy. rocky new single ‘Haunted By You‘ still can’t match its more art-felt predecessors. But there are giants like ‘Olympian‘ and gems like ‘Truth, Rest Your Head'. songs that have been blooded on stage and are even more trenchant on record. Olympian proves that Gene are . . .
Martin. how good are Gene?
‘We’re potentially excellent.‘
And your goals?
‘Oh. the luxurious island just off Mauritius. of course. with several muscled companions to oil me down every morning.‘
Gene play CC. Brown '3‘. Ul'(’(’ll()(‘k an Tue 28. Bruce Hotel. Iiasr Kilbride on Thurs 2 and The Garage. Glasgow (in Fri 3.
mt:— Giant steps
Funny how a musician can pass you by tor years, then suddenly drop in with a resounding crash. Jessica Williams has been around in the US for a couple at decades and has cut around 45 discs, mainly on her own labels. I had never heard her play, however, until a couple oi years back, when Alastair Robertson turned up with a scintillating solo disc, The Next Step, on his Edinburgh-based llEP label.
The sleeve notes indicated that the revelation ol hearing Williams lor the iirst time was not unique to me, and her subsequent IlEP altering, the equally dazzling, hard swinging trio session ‘In The Pocket’ (1994), simply coniinned that we were in the presence of a very special talent. She should have made her Scottish debut at last year’s Glasgow Jazz Festival, but a back injury lorced a late cancellation, and we have had to wait until now for the chance to hear her play live.
Williams is based on the west coast of America, and has either worked with or opened tor a whole slew ol jazz luminaries over the years, but her playing on both these albums suggests that she is reaching a new level of artistic maturity.
‘llight now I’m stronger artistically than ever, but I would like to think that my potential is still growing.
Jessica Williams: an original musical voice
When we cut “In The Pocket”, I think I played to the limit of my ability, but since that date I leel that my potential. has continued to grow, and it we did it now, it would be dillerent. The clarity and locus oi my playing has developed over the last decade, but what I have been really trying to do is to large my own concept, my own personality and identity within the music.’
Even a cursory listen reveals how successful she has been in developing a lonnidable, highly distinctive musical voice and a remarkably wide stylistic range, lrom righteous stride ligures through to dazzling post-bop harmonic llights. Dn no account miss out on this one. (Kenny Mathieson) Jessica Williams plays at the BBC Studios, Edinburgh on Mon 6.
mm— Dodgy haiuts
Dodgy: underdogs no more
It was an amazing sight and sound, a road-to-Damascus revelation ol plural proportions. Dodgy were playing an ‘llME’ Brats gig in london last month. They were second on, alter a rollicking set trom london’s newest lave-raves, Menswear. To come were Echobelly, Galliano, Spiritualised and a rumoured acoustic set from Blur. llow Dodgy, for various rubbish reasons involving haircuts, record labels and scams, are not the music biz hipster’s lriend. And as this gig was wall-to-wall music biz, the atmosphere was ten degrees below Baltic.
‘Come on!’ yelled an exasperated lligel Priest as the crowd did their best pack-ice impersonation. But slowly, surely, things thawed. Dodgy
lrolicked through the highlest)lights at their second album, ‘Homegrown’. The threesome, bolstered by lull-on harmonies and lull-back brass, brought Dodgy-shaped heat and light to The Forum. They brought the irrepressible zip ol ‘Staying Out For The Summer’ and new single ‘Maklng The Most Dl’ and the agit-prop venom ol new, antl-CJB track ‘llll illP’. They brought pop. The worm turned, the crowd began dancing, and everyone lived happily ever alter. Amen lor Dodgy and their general excellence.
‘It’s nice to get in lront ol crowds that don’t give a luck,’ says guitarist and bon viveur Andy Miller at that cold January night. ‘It gives us a lot more angst. We’re like the underdogs to that scene, so it’s nice to get up and show them. The media have always got to have a little dig, saying things like “they wear sad clothes” or “must try harder”.’
llow stardom beckons (it’d better). And ‘Top Of The Pops’ (again). And Creation - ‘Dasis like us, and Alan McGee said that ii things don’t work out lor us at ASM, we could go to Creation.’
So are Dodgy really the best band in Britain?‘llm...er. . .sorta.Whenwe started, we pretented to be great. But now we are. And I’ve just got my hair out. It was only £6. By an Italian.’
And so it came to pass that Dodgy lound street-cred too . . .(Craig McLean)
Dodgy play Strathclyde University Ilnion, Glasgow on Friday 3. Their Edinburgh Venue gig has been postponed. Tickets already sold will be valid tor a new date.
The List 24 Feb-0 Mar IWS 37