All that glitters
From thrash punk to sophisticated dance, Lesley Rankine rings the changes. Fiona Shepherd listens to the metamorphosis.
When an artist jumps ship and heads off into the wild blue yonder — and possibly unknown — the chances of them returning from the britik with something worth relating are quite slim.’
Not so with Livingston—born Lesley Rankine who ended 1993 by unceremoniously quitting her moderate]y-successful thrash-punk band of five years Silverfish. anti heading off to America to chill out in an area that basically wasn’t Camden. Her first postcard to her British fans mentioned that she was hanging out with fellow shit-kickers Ministry and Revolting Cocks (featuring fellow Lothian refugee Chris Conneily). No great departure there then. The scream queen of Camden fraternising with a crowd of punk agitators in a warmer climate.
Then last summer our Les brought home what she‘d done at school that day. At the time she said: ‘The tnost important things to achieve were a sense of beauty. sensuality and feminity.‘ the polar opposites ofthe persona she had forged in Silverfish. Ruby was the name. computer-generated, studio-based sounds was the game.
Ruby sparkles more than silvery fish
A single ‘Paraffin‘ took a simple vocal refrain (about bodily ﬂuids — so that's some continuity with Silverfish) and wound it round some laidhack. minimalist beats. The words ‘trip-hop‘ were readily uttered. The words ‘who does she think she is‘.". ‘radical departure‘ and ‘where‘s the guitars .” were not. Such was the confidence and integrity of the project that few chose to make an issue of the fact that Ms Rankine was now singing sultrin as opposed to growling. wearing dresses rather than l.)oc Martens and swaying moodily instead of lurching
Rankine maintains she split .‘\i|\crltsh knowin;v what
her routine there became moribund and
aggressively. With the albtim Suit /'('1'(’l'. Ruby exemplified (tliL‘ itl‘llie lttos’l successful and radical musical reinventions of our time.
The remodelling was not just a happy accident.
her subsequent musical agenda wv'zltl be and knowing that she did not wish to tL‘lLll'!l 'e the conventional band format. ‘I honestlv believe that l was not pill on this earth to share in} iile with a bunch of other people.~ she said with characteristic .\iachia\ellian undertones.
While she‘s not quite up there with Madonna in the calculating businesswonian stakes. Rankine was determined and courageous enough to recognise that sticking to a tried and tested musical rotttc was not a viable creative t’lttion for her. .-\s a teenager she’d shaken off the cabin fever ol growing up in a Scottish New Town and headed for the bright lights. \Vlien
claustrophobic it was time to move on .«\nd even on the release of Sit/r l’en r she was talking about another shift ofthe musical furniture. though still under the name Ruby.
Another esample of Rankine's env iable ct'cali‘. liberty came in the shape of New net. 'I/n Sn et/MI l‘l'illl. an entire album of rcmi\es of Sit/l /’t ler tracks by the likes ofthe Scream Team. Red Snapper tw ith whom Ruby conducted their tirst l'ls' tour). The Boo Radleys’ ’l'im Brown aridiungle 1).! l’eshay liach single has come with a host of remixes. most of which boast a currency and momentum of their own. (‘Ds crammed full of interpretations of the one song would have seemed unthinkable in the Rankine plan a few years ago; now it‘s a staple.
She may never scale the international heights of Biork but as long as Lesley Rankine doesn‘t allow her essentially irreverent personalin to be remised out of the picture. Ruby will retain a sparkle.
Ruby pit/y Hie (forage. (it'rts’eow u.” [it .il.‘ The Venue. [Cit/illi/llll‘t'll on Sun 2.
rm:— Fairport break with Convention
Richard Thompson is currently on tour with a band that includes Danny Thompson on double bass, Pete Zorn on saxes, and drummer Dave Mattacks, his old pal from Fairport days.
The doyen of English songwriters, and an outstanding guitar stylist, Thompson plays his only Scottish gig at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, promoting the new (double) album You? Me? Us? which features one disc of “Voltage Enhancod’ tracks, played on electric instruments, and the other ‘lludo’, of, yes, acoustic settings.
The aforementioned Fairport Convention is the 30-year-old dinosaur of English folk/rock, and is also on the
road plugging a new, and very well performed album of unplugged music Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, but minus Mattacks. i asked bassist Dave Pegg whether he was enjoying the decibel difference, and he had only one
'Well my tennis elbow is acting up a bit, getting my arm round the much bigger body of the acoustic bass guitar. it’s got too amplified anyway, so why don’t I just plug in my electric? I’ll have to ponder that one. But, seriously, it’s great playing more intimate venues as a four-piece. We’ve just come back from Hong Kong, flew Zealand and Australia, playing the acoustic set, and they loved it. What we’re playing is much more accessible, and you build up a direct relationship with the audience.’
line of the new album tracks are live concert recordings, with seven original studio tracks, and instrumental tracks like ‘Woodwonn Swing’, and especially ‘Mr Sands is in the Building’, the rhythmic textures of guitar, cittorn, acoustic bass and Bic Sandors’ acute, cheeky fiddle could
easily be mistaken for the Easy Club. Will they be playing acoustically at this year’s Cropredy, Fairport’s own annual 0xfordshire festival? ‘We had 18,000 last year, and probably some more this year, so we might, but I don’t think so.’ He smiles,
Fairport Convention go acoustic
‘People come there to hear us playing traditionally. For us that means electrically!’ (Norman Chalmers) Fairporf Acoustic Convention play A yr, Wed 29; Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall, Thur 30. Cropredy Festival, Banbury, Oxfordshire, Aug 9, 10.
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