YOU CAN’T FUNK THE FREAK
Freakpower, wearing some silly clothes, yesterday.
As handy editorial and geographical links go. the fact that Freakpower frontman Ashley Slater used to live in Edinburgh is a good start. That he's originally from sunny California and now resides in beachy Brighton is another story. For all intents and purposes. he‘s one of us.
Quite where Freakpower lit in to the current music scene is a mystery. Their new album (recorded in the Bahamas no less) More Of Event/ring For Everyone (Island) is a wonderfully
c0smopolitan affair. stretching seductively through funk. disco and Classic pop. with a few acid tweaks thrown in for that authentic 90s ﬂavour. Slater explains: ‘We love and respect people like Stevie Wonder. Marvin Gaye and Sly And The Family Stone so our music is a combination of new and old.‘
It‘s a warm. oozy everyday record. perfect for those smiley. singalong kitchen sink moments. it‘s also very sexy in a kinda smooth. naked and fearless way.
It‘s a classic record in every sense too. Slater‘s soft transatlantic tones are timeless. The lyrics. written by Slater and freak~partner. the ex- Housemartin and occasional Pizzaman Norman ‘Beats lntemational‘ Cook are suitably cool.
‘We love playing live.‘ insists Slater. looking ahead to their UK tour. ‘A lot of people have said that we really come alive on stage and i think that‘s probably true. I love the energy that we create and the way we can get completely manic if we want.‘
Mind you. they‘ve already played in front of 20.000 people at Glastonbury so they've had some practice. They‘ve also sold well over three million records worldwide. including their
top ten hit. ‘Tune in. Turn On. Cop'Out'. the soundtrack to last year‘s Levi‘s ad. (Jim Byers) Freakpmr'er play the Garage in Glasgow; Thurs 6 June.
rm— On their Marks
Driving through the forests of deepest rural Wales doesn’t agree with Super Furry Animals’ mobile phone but an interview with The List beckons and contingency plans must be laid. So singer Cruff keeps the appointment from an isolated phone box near the equally isolated hotel the effervescent quintet will be playing that night. So what’s the view like from where you’re standing, Cruft?
‘We’re in Betws Y Coed, which is about twenty miles away from where I’m from. It’s a country resort by the river with Wales’ answer to Niagara Falls, only it’s about an eighth of the size. it’s nice doing strange gigs,’ he adds by way of justification.
Super Furry Animals can afford to go out on a limb in their native Wales. They’re well established there, having
Cruft and ready: Super Furry Animals
emerged from the Welsh language music scene which has also produced the equally imaginative Corky’s Zygotic Mynci and equally poppy Catatonia. Following various single releases on Welsh indie Ankst, the band have been picked up by Creation and have just released their wildly inventive debut album Fuzzy logic, stuffed full of heart-racers, arm- wavers and life-savers about subiects as diverse as alien abduction, harsher: and playing Nintendo, all sung in English, so everyone can appreciate the utterly bizarre perspective from which Fuay logic views the world.
‘We didn’t want a Welsh song on the album for any token reasons,’ says limit. ‘The Alarm used to do Welsh versions of their albums but that seems really patronising. The translation is usually weaker and we’d rather have Welsh records released internationally. I don’t want to go on about Wales all the time but we’re trying to redefine ourselves as a Welsh band and introduce people to new heroes like lloward Marks [international drug smuggler whose mugshots adorn their album sleeve - well, that cerhinly constitutes a new breed of hero]. The English media is so xenophobic to other cultures. Every time the Manic Street Preachers used to get a headline it always involved sheep or references to leeks and daffodils.’
And sadly it’s not confined to the English.
‘When we played in Creenock the local paper called us “leek-munching Taffys”. ’ (Fiona Shepherd)
Super Furry Animals play King Tut’s, Glasgow on Sat 1.
The beautifully produced string arrangements — played by no less than the Warsaw Philharmonic - on the Walkabouts’ new Devil's Road album come as sornethiug of a surprise in the context of their customary fusion of dense, grungy guitar with a rootsier folk-country feel. For song writer Chris Eckman, who shares lead vocals with Carla Torgerson, it represents not so much a change of direction as a return to the Seattle band’s original conception.
‘In some ways Devil’s Road is the album that has been in the back of our heads pretty much from the start of the band, but we never had the money to do it before. The kind of stuff we listened to when we first became a band back in 1984 was by people like John Cale and Love, and that is maybe reflected here.
‘We brought in violin players and cellists on our early demos, but not very good ones, and they were a bit of a mess. So this is kind of going back to the original Walkabouts vision that the practical necessity of playing live and so on took us away from. It was a long process - we had nine months of preparation getting the string parts together and so on, but it has worked out pretty much as I hoped it would.’
The album is the band’s first for
The Walkabouts: string driven
Virgin since moving over from Seattle indie Sub Pop. It is their sixth album in all, and if some of the rough and ready guitar feel has been sacrified, the quintessential roots-rock sound of the band remains intact amid the higher production values.
‘The folk element was there from the start, because folk singing was where Carla came from, so that was a really natural thing to do. Country took us a while to warm into - if you grow up in America you can think that country is kinda stupid music, but over time I realised that I had been listening to it all along. Records like lleil Young’s Harvest were basically country records, they were inst marketed as pop.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
The Walkabouts play at King Tut’s Walt Wah Ilut on Fri 7.
en:— The big squeeze
Feeling the squeeze: Sandy Brechln
stretches the accordion’s potential Called the guid Scots word Burach after the state of a member's bedroom. this Edinburgh band is not guilty of musical untidiness. but can certainly make a lot of noise. Evolving through a few personnel changes over the couple of years since its formation. the band has already won a national folk-group competition and released a ﬁrst album on Greentrax.
The current. stable line-up consists of electric bass. drums. electric and acoustic guitar with one or sometimes two ﬁddles. Sheila MacWhiner’s beautiful vocals and the outstanding accordion of Sandy Brechin. Summing up or pigeonholing the sound of a contemporary ‘folk‘ band like Burach is always a fraught business — how would Brechin describe it“?
‘Well. I‘m happy to call it folk rock. though the music's pretty original. It‘s very exciting — it’s a big band. with seven. and eight ifGavin Manvick's with us — sometimes he can‘t make it as he‘s off playing with the Iron Horse. I think one of our strong points is George Stott's songwriting. He writes nearly all our songs. He‘s inﬂuenced by composers like Richard Thompson. that‘ll give you an idea ofthe area they cover. We don‘t really do traditional songs. And more and more we‘re writing our own tunes. composing whole sets.
‘We seem to appeal to a wide range of people. not just those that want to dance. It‘s kind of strange. but we did a gig at Girvan — not unplugged or acoustic. but with the full gear and a sound system — and we went down a storm playing to a small sit—down folkie audience.‘
Other aspects of the varied band sound are the country rock. and even Tex—Mex excursions. when Brechin gives a‘passable imitation of the king of the Tex-Mex accordion. Flaco Jiminez.
In Scottish music. Brechin is :merging as one ofthe country's finest players. as a listen to his new solo album. ()uI ()fllis Bur will conﬁrm. ‘lt's accordion music. btrt different from anything that‘s been done before.
I think the instrument's been locked in this traditional room for too long. I'm :specially interested in doing things with the left hand. trying to make new :hords. be original. stretch the instrument.‘ He does. (Norman Chalmers)
Burach play SI Bride Is Centre. Edinburgh on Sat 8 and K in g 'Iirl is Walt thl/l Hul. (ilusgmr' (in Sun 9.
40 The List 31 May-l3 Jun I996