Heaven scent

Fiona Shepherd on Skunk Anansie: the best band of the year?

The middle ofJanuary not a great time for gigs. it

has to be said. So the Bratbus four-band package tour

was a bit like finding a meticulously-wrapped Christmas present overlooked in the festive rush. breaking it open. rummaging around and greedily consuming the contents. There was main attraction Veruca Salt. but they proved to be one song in a college rock mire. There was Marion with influences from all over the place and sounding all over the place. There was 60ft Dolls. but they were on first so no one saw them. And there was Skunk Anansie. the only band who sounded ready to take on the world as New Faces of ")5. the only band who sounded like they had guts. power. drama. purpose and a place to take their muscular groove rock.

The two knockout things about Skunk Anansie are the gargantuan riffs that sweep all before them and singer Skin. She has a voice as raucous as Tina Turner. a glare as fiinty as Medusa and a presence as commanding and intimidating as Grace Jones.

Guitarist Ace sees her as one of a kind. ‘There has never really been a woman singing in a band like this. There's been heavy metal bands with screechy. bleached blonde hair LA woman singers. but Skin is a powerful woman with strong views and she's very frightening at the same time.‘

Skin‘s favourite singer is Betty Davis (wife of Miles). a raunchy mur (/(’_fr)l'(‘r' with a mean streak to her voice. it‘s hard to imagine Skin having any time

for her contemporaries. The first time the world outside London saw and

heard Skunk Anansie was a specially-filmed slot on = .Vukr'rl City which took the opportunity to wipe the

floor with the competition. The overall sound was a

blood relative of rage rap with guitars that sounded

like a sparring match between Deep Purple and Sex Pistols and vocals that were both soulful and

. attacking. This from a band who had only been in » existence for a couple of months.


‘You know when you get people who just click‘?‘

asks Ace. ‘We got together and it just went off. After

years and years of playing. between the four of us it just clicked. There's a chemistry between the band and people can always pick upon a vibe.‘

They met up. rehearsed fora fortnight and played their first gig. By their third gig. they were considering record company offers. It was that easy. Musically. the collision of their disparate influences produced something hefty immediately. It was that easy too. They make it sound easy. Sickening. isn't it‘.’ (iootl fortune follows them around like it was

Skunk Anansie: a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

tethered to their ankles.

Radio i decided to press up 30 copies oftheir ‘Little Baby Swastika' track from the live/1mg

; .S'essi‘n/i they had recorded and invited listeners to ' write in to claim them. They received 2000 replies.

‘Little Baby Swastika‘ shifted l500 copies. All this groundwork before the band was one year old or had released their first single.

‘Selling Jesus‘ is their first release. and like most of their songs tackles a social issue from a fresh tangent.

“‘Selling Jesus“ is about when Skin went to San Francisco.‘ says Ace. ‘The education authorities were giving away $2000 to families to spend on their child‘s education so all these phony churches were setting up to get the S2000 off the parents.

“‘Little Baby Swastika" is about when Skin saw a little swastika on a wall and it was really low and looked like it had been done by a little kid. We’re not preaching; we‘re just raising the issue.’

Raising the issues? Raising the roof more like.

Skunk inI(Ill.\‘l(’ play King 'l'ul's. Glasgow on Sat //.

im— The nerve of Steele

l Slainte! The Gaelic toast to life and i enioyment is the title given to ! Cumbernauld’s annual festival | I

celebrating the Celtic Arts. Stones and Symbols, Painting and Crafts, Drama and Puppets, and, of course, plenty of music are scheduled for two weeks in the town theatre. See Folk listings. Dougie MacLean, Iron Horse, Michael Marra and The Humpft Family are well

Their name may be lightweight, but a not the level of Highland musical

Urbn Hi: (left to right) Fred Morrison, Eilidh Shaw, Davey Steele

i i


the music of the family home near

our recent German tour, they were both singing. And Eilidh, though she wouldn’t admit it, picked up a medal at the Mod years ago.’

Fred also plays a beautiful-sounding set of border pipes made by Edinburgh’s Nigel Richard, and various whistles. Davey handles guitar, cittern and bodhran and the combination have recently recorded one of Fred’s compositions, in conjunction with a reading of Derek Thompson’s Gaelic poetry, for the new ‘Callanish’ CD compilation, celebrating ten years of Stornoway’s Art Centre, An Lanntair.

An album is promised, and they hope to have it released by May of this year before a European trip, but you’re more likely to hear this band in the

i talent, with two top instrumentalists

! making up the trio. Fred Morrison is a

: hugely respected, and international

F competition-winning piper of the younger generation, and fiddler Eilidh

3 Shaw is the younger sister of

l Capercaillie keyboard and accordion

i maestro Donald, brought up steeped in

known names on the programme, but who or what is Urbn Hi? Is it Gaelic? Urdu?

Elects Yevad is the lead singer of the group now happily stuck with a name hurriedly made up to meet a press deadline. Scotland’s other national drink reversed. Geddit?

34 The List 10-23 Mar 1995

l Having parted amicany with Ceolbeg

(who are now performing with singer

' Bod Paterson) Davey is excited about

I the sound of the new threesome. ‘Fred

i describes a “rolling Highland feel” in the music, and we combine that with my Lowland Scots songs and vocals.

But the others can sing. By the end of

Celtic heartlands, with gigs in Lewis, lnverness or Glen Uig, or even in Spain’s Galicia, than in the Scotland’s central belt. So catch them in Cumbernauld. (Norman Chalmers) Urbn Hi play the Slalnte! Festival of Celtic Arts at Cumbernauld theatre on

Wed 15. J