Jokaz with rapitude
With rap, it’s practically all there in the name. Think of the statements of intent from old school and gangsta rap crews - Public Enemy, Niggers With Attitude. Wu-Tang Clan. names with a menacing undenow. To illustrate: The Gravediggaz = you‘re going home in an ambulance. Vanilla Ice = lightweight wuss. Drawing a veil over Snoop Doggy Dogg for the sake of consistency of argument. we come to New York trio Fun Lovin‘ Criminals. whose wonderful album Come Find Yourselfcombines the sonic invention and blues roots of Beck with the laid- back. soothing raps of Urban Species with the street character of The Beastie Boys. Am'. a straight cover of ‘We
Have All The Time In The World‘.
The ‘criminal' element comes from vocalist/guitarist Huey's petty crime- splurged adolescence. but we‘re not talking East/West rap gang warfare or ﬁrearm-brandishing. or anything else which might be used to legitimise some hard-nosed or radical politicising. Instead we get the ‘fun lovin’ ‘ which comes from the cartoon impishness of their outlook. This is. after all. the band who regaled us with ‘Scooby Snacks'. a shaggy dog story about bungled bank raids, and the only track ever for which Quentin Tarantino takes a songwriting credit. (in fact. he had nothing to do with the writing, hejust demanded that he be namechecked before he allowed sample clearance on dialogue snippets from his films.)
Add to this their NYC urban savvy for the epitome of cool. Some have called them Scorcese-esque. but they are more like the larger-than-life personalities who hang out in Augie‘s cigar shop in Smoke and Blue In The Face.
For the benefit of those who wish rap acts in concert wouldjust cut the crap and crank up the volume. the Cri ms belong to the full-band. hold-the- dancers school of performance, playing all their instruments between the three ofthem and. as a tantalising taster of an appearance on The White Room showed. they should be Rap’s Most Wanted in the very near future. (Fiona Shepherd)
F an Lovin' Criminals play The Garage on Mon 4.
Goofln‘ in the hood
The Bisness of sardom
Bis, captured here in a rare, wristband-free moment
The Bis juggernaut continues to hop along with the news that the Glasgow trio have signed a US contract with The Beastie Boys’ label, Grand Royal. The deal is for two albums with options for four more, which will shake up a few people who thought they had Bis sussed.
‘I think there’s this misconception people have about us, that we’re very much a “0h, let’s do it all quickly and
then vanish” kind of a band,’ says Sci- Fi Steven. ‘Obviously, we’re quite young, so we want this to last as long as we can, otherwise we have to go and find something else to do. We’ve set out our stalls to do this as a career, and we intend to have as much longevity as we possibly can. We are very committed to being around for a long time, whether people like it or not. If they expect us to vanish, tough!’
Their commitment to a career in the fast lane of pop can be seen in the video for ‘Starbright Boy’, the lead track from their recent Atom Powered Action EP, which is about how Bis would love to enjoy an ‘80s kind of stardom’. Manda is seen flaunting a Madonna look circa Desperately Seeking Susan, John Disco sports fingerless gloves and studded wristbands and . . . no, I can’t go on. ‘lt’s, like, how cool it would be to star in an 80s film, because it was so cheesy,’ grins Steven, clearly a man for whom shame is a distant memory.
‘Actually, a lot of it was due to being in los Angeles, and seeing all those things that we’d seen in films. We sing from experience, and our experience of America was: how cool would it be to be in one of those films?’
Any reports that Bis are including a cover of Duran’s ‘Rio’ on their forthcoming album (due early next year) should be taken with a pinch of sherbert. (Alastair Mabbott)
Bis play The Venue, Edinburgh, Sun 3; The Garage, Glasgow, Thurs 21.
Im— Top Rankin
The Rankin Famin are now firmly established as a major draw in Scotland, and still hold the box office record at Celtic Connections, which is no mean feat, given the stellar names who have appeared at that event. They return to Glasgow Royal Concert ilall this month, in support at their newly released album.
The album itself, though, is not strictly new. Collection gathers together their best known singles, with a smattering of unreleased or re- worked material to snare the completists. The band - brothers John and Jimmy, and their three sisters, Heather, Cookie and Raylene - cut their teeth on the Scottish music they grew up with in Inverness County, Nova Scotia, where playing music at home was the norm, as John confirms:
‘My parents were never professional musicians, but they encouraged all of us to play, and we were all exposed to traditional music at a very early age around the house. Our first record had mostly traditional material on it, but as time has gone on, we have introduced more and more original material into the set, and that is now
‘ mainly what we do.’
That debut album launched them on a professional career. Their sweet vocal harmonies and potent mixture of traditional and contemporary tunes has clearly struck a powerful chord with audiences, pushing each
The Rankin Family: broad appeal
successive record to greater sales, and establishing them as a major concert draw.
‘I think the versatility and the range of what we can do within the group has helped us - I suppose if there is a cross-section of music happening, that helps broaden out your appeal. We have tried to keep the music fresh as well. When you start making records, you face the risk of duplicating yourself, so we have tried to do something a bit different each time, and now we have our own sound which people can relate to, I guess.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
The Rankin Family play Glasgow Royal Concert flail, Fri 8: Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Sun 3.
Buy it or she’ll shoot you
Hands up who remembers the Glaswegian musical climate of the late 80s. Pseudo-sophisticated crooners fronting bands with an AOR thrust which they would try to pass off as something like a Scottish Velvet Underground for the 2 lst century. Most of these bandsjust had to burp to secure a major record deal. Most just had to release an album which didn't go into sales hyperspace to be dropped. No wonder The Jesus And Mary Chain were hailed as saviours.
Some of the musicians from that seemingly corporate era are still around in similar guises. Others have regrouped under different names and kept a modest profile. But. whaddya know. history has treated them kindly. Nostalgia is a selective beast and so is Hamburg‘s Marina Records who. after three years of releasing Li’s by mainly Glaswegian acts like Paul Quinn. Cowboy Mouth and The Bathers. has produced a compilation In Bed With Marina with tracks from the bands on their roster. some old kitsch faves from the ()0s. rarities from Teenage Fanclub and Edwyn Collins and — gadzooks! — some late 80s excursions from The Kingfishers (three songs and then they went down the tubes) and The Jazzateers. one of the more idiosyncratic bands to emerge in the Postcard slipstream.
So have Glasgow and Hamburg been musically twinned when no one was looking?
‘I know it seems it but I don't think our Glasgow connections are the main issue.‘ says Marina's Stephan Kassel. ‘We probably would have done the same thing if we'd been in Glasgow.‘
'Please play loud’ requests the compilation sleeve in a characteristic mix of politeness and rock 'n' roll. it's enough to make you think suede jackets with fringes weren't that bad after all. (Fiona Shepherd)
In Bed With Marina is released on Mon 4.
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