IE— Kirsty galore
Kirsty MacColl is Britain’s Queen of Pop, and anyone who disagrees can see Alastair Mabbott afterwards.
Were there myopic souls who branded Kirsty MacColl a one-hit novelty when the charming country pastiche ‘There‘s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis‘ grazed the charts in 198]? No doubt. And it goes without saying that they‘ll have been keeping theirjaws wired shut for the last two months. which is how long MacColl‘s ‘Best Of‘ collection. Galore. has resided in the Top 20. exceeding all expectations of her current record company. Virgin.
There‘s fourteen years' worth of hits here, Virgin having licensed tracks from Polydor. Stiff and ZTT. and making it. as MacColl only half-jokingly dubs it. ‘the ultimate collection‘. These are songs that have begged to be compiled in one place to prove once and for all what an important part of British pop life Kirsty MacColl is: a one-woman girl-group; populist but classy. the complete professional but never perfunctory nor precious.
The package includes fulsome testimonials to MacColl’s greatness from friends and collaborators like Shane MacGowan (‘Kirsty‘s got the talent, the looks. the guts. the imagination. the passion. the humour and whatever that magic thing is that makes her one ofthe great one-offs'). Billy Bragg (‘wn'tes like a playwright, sings like an angel‘). David Byme ('the voice of an angel from a mind and heart inﬂamed by Thatcher‘s England'). Johnny Marr (‘the wit of Ray Davies and the harmonic invention of The Beach Boys‘) and. making the most ofthe
Kirsty The Cnsistent: fourteen years at the top of the pops
opportunity to promote his laddish side. Morrissey (‘She has great songs.‘ he scrawls. ‘and a crackin' bust.‘).
To celebrate, she's set out on tour. which is quite an event. It‘s only in the last three years that audiences have had the chance to see Kirsty MacColl playing live — the result of stage-fright brought on by gruesome early experiences oftouring when her voice was drowned out by older. experienced musos who added nothing to her songs but intense volume.
‘lt‘s turned around quite a lot. really. because I made myselfget over the stage fright. About three years ago. I thought. right. I‘ve got to get down to it. I can't be put off somethingjust because it was a bad experience when I started out. and I‘ve done so much
a tour and thought. if] don't enjoy it. after this I won‘t do another one. But it turned out to be really enjoyable and it‘s great seeing the audiences getting off on it and getting an idea who your fans are.‘
One positive aspect of MacColl‘s long absence from the stage is that, because they haven‘t been through that process of being worn ﬂat by touring. even material as old as ‘They Don‘t Know' is still fresh.
So songs from the length and breadth of MacColl‘s
in the studio it‘s about time I expanded. So I ﬁxed up -
career are currently being performed with as much life as when they were new.
To the charts. she has brought her own distinctive voice: strong. independent and with the kind of matter-of-factness that. as Billy Bragg noted. a playwright would appreciate.
‘I think one ofthe things that hindered me to a certain extent in the music business is that your life seems to consist of 90 per cent doing the business and ten per cent doing the music. and I‘d much rather have it the other way around. I don‘t enjoy the hype. and I never wanted to be A Celebrity. who turns up to charity dinners and wears a tarty dress on telly. That was never my goal. really. and l tried to carry on and do my own thing without getting sucked into all that. I find all that completely phoney.‘
For years. she says. she felt she had a problem in that every time she ducked out ofthe limelight —
‘l don’t enjoy the hype and I never wanted to be A Celebrity, who turns up to charity dinners and wears a tarty dress on telly. I tried to do my own thing without getting sucked into all that.’
changing labels. having children — she felt she had to build up her public profile again from scratch with every new record. Things aren't so bad these days. though. as the success of Galore demonstrates. Even so. being Kirsty MacColl has its disadvantages.
‘lt’s probably getting a little less so. because I‘ve been more prolific in the last few years, but I think
. that I’ve got an anti-image image really, and it‘s got
disadvantages in that a lot of people. because I’m not that high-proﬁle. don‘t know about my stuff. But on the other hand I don‘t have to constantly reinvent myself. ‘cause I've never been fashionable. I don‘t need to come back as something else. I‘ve always been Kirsty MacColl. so if you like Kirsty MacColl you like her. if you don‘t you don‘t. I don't turn into a different person each time I release a new record. I don‘t get a new hairstyle.‘
Novel thing these days. consistency. ‘Yeah.’ she agrees. ‘lt is quite unusual. isn‘t it?’
Wouldn‘t have her any other way. K irsry MacColl plays The Garage. Glasgow on Mon 8.
At the age of twelve, most budding young violinists would be deservedly pleased to achieve a place In their local youth orchestra. But to perlorm a concerto in a prestigious concert hall would almost certainly be beyond their wildest aspirations. Yet proving such a teat is possible is the phenomenal Korean-born So-Ock Kim who appears with the Meadows Chamber Orchestra in the ‘Vlolln Concerto’ by Max Bruch.
Child prodigy is the description that
So-Ock Kim: ‘disarmlngly normal'
invariably comes to mind, and no doubt she is, but at the same time So- (lck is no hot-house prima donna. ‘She’s an almost disannlneg nomtal, highly intelligent young girl,’ says Meadows conductor Peter Evans, who first came across So-Ock in Germany when she was about nine and had been playing violin seriously for lust a couple of years. ‘And she’s not the product of pushy parents, nor does she practise tor endless hours each day. She’s out playing football with the boys, has a great sense of humour, and the thing which really impresses me,’ says Evans, ‘is not so much her actual fiddle-playing, but her musicianship. She sounds like a young lirelsler. It’s
The Meadows concert is not So-Cck’s Scottish debut as she played the Mendelssohn concerto here a couple
at years ago to great critical acclaim. Evans believes that the Bruch, like the Mendelssohn, is a very good piece tor a young person to perlorm. ‘lt has direct emotional appeal,’ he says, ‘and she plays it extremely well. She has such natural presence and communication when she plays. So- Ock does it because she likes it and loves it.’
As it one stunning soloist is not enough, the Meadows concert also otters the award-winning 22-year-old Alex Taylor in Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’. And to start there’s the world premiere of the specially commissioned ‘0 Satyros’ by lyell Cresswell. (Carol Main)
The Meadows Chanber Orchestra with So-Ock Kim play the Queen's llall, Edinburgh on Sat 13.
The List 5-18 Mav 1995 45