Glasgow: The Arches, Mon 24 Mar.
The black militant rap of Michael Franti has been captivating hip hop fans for ten years now. However, previous bands The Beatnigs and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, employing the likes of chainsaws and oil drums as instruments, turned as many off as they turned on.
So Franti reinvented himself and Spearhead emerged, melding Franti's passionate politics with a softer, soulful sound. Their debut Home was a slowburn success, bringing Franti to wider notoriety. Reportedly difficult to work with, he has never recorded a second album with the same colleagues. Until this month’s Chocolate Supahighway, that is.
Musically the new release is a further move towards commercial acceptability with a strong reggae influence and timely social themes. The title refers to the Internet, which Franti describes as 'this demonist resource.’ He explains: ’lt's like the "World Series” in baseball — it only happens in America. Africa as a continent is pretty much off the "World Wide Web".'
Franti believes that in hip hop the world has an alternative world-wide network. ’From Glasgow to Turkey, people are rapping about their own experience. If something happens you hear about it.’ Hence, the Chocolate Supahighway.
The millennium also gets a lot of attention on the new record. ’As we get closer to year 2000 people are going to be asking "what the fuck happened?“ Franti reckons, 'We have the same social problems. Will people just be saying: "Yo, it's the year 2000, buy the fucking T-shirt?"'
However, compared with his previous output, the politics seem blunted on Chocolate Supahighway. There
Spearhead: surfin' the hip hop highway
is nothing as vicious as ’Television', the Disposable Heroes’s coruscating take on the dumbing-down of America, or so tellingly personal as 'Positive', from Home, which dealt with the confused emotions involved in taking an HIV test.
Franti denies this aspect has been watered down. The new material is more commercial, he agrees, but he is a realist: ’We are taught how to succeed at the rat race — when you win, you’re still a rat. But if you are with a record company it is good if you can sell records.’
A third fundamental theme of the album is an insistence on the glories of marijuana. References to ’herb’ and ’la’ abound — as usual Franti is unapologetic. 'Herb is an important part of our diet. The government pretend everyone will eventually use heroin and die if they take it. They should be teaching people how to use it.’ (Stephen Naysmith)
l Chocolate Supahighwt‘ y is available now on Par/ophone. NBP/ease note change of venue
gr in: rl':
The Scottish Early Music Consort sing the Easter Story
charge of the music.
The Cathedral as an apt chorce of venue is further confirmed as some of the recently discovered 13th century plainchant which Will be woven through the Easter .st0ry was probably written for it. ’No one really knows', explains WarWick Edwards, 'but since the chants form a big chunk of the Sprouston BreViary, which is housed in the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, and are all to do wrth St Kentigern, then we think that really the music must have been intended for Glasgow Cathedral' Well known for his miracles, as reflected in Glasgow’s coat of arms, St Kentigern brought a bird back to life, was able to re-kindle flame Without fire and, perhaps most remarkable of all, saved the Queen of Strathclyde from execution on a charge of adultery by finding her lost ring in the mouth of a fish. Ewdenc‘e that's unlikely to stand up in com today but there you go.
The SEMC production is in three parts linked by instrumental sections and
Scottish Early Music
Glasgow: Glasgow Cathedral,
Hi 28 Mar.
It is unlikely that he Will be birling in his grave, but who could blame St
KCllll’lf'fll « or St Mungo as he is more affectionately known for at least
38 THE LIST 2i Mai» ,i Apr 199/
Sitting up to take notice of the events gomg on tip above him this coming Good Friday in Glasgow Cathedral. Reputed to be buried there, St Kentigern is, of course, Glasgow’s patron saint His resting place is the perfect setting for the Scottish Early Music Consort’s version of his Easter JOurney presented in the form of a staged production directed by Kate Brown With Warwick Edwards in
tells the Easter story through ‘The Lament of Mary', ‘Visitatio Sepulchri' and 'Peregrinus' Byzantine costumes and theatrical lighting wrll further heighten the sense of drama. St Kent/gern’s Easter Journey is part of a series of special events in 1997 arranged to mark the 800th anniversary of the Consecration of Glasgow Cathedral and is supported by its Society of Friends (Carol Main)
ROCK Roy Harper
Edinburgh: George Square Theatre,
Sat 22 Mar.
Singer-songwriter Roy Harper has been through the kind of physical and mental tortures that would have floored most people. They included a desperately troubled childhood, incarceration and electro-convulsive treatment after suffering a nervous breakdown while in the RAF as a teenager, imprisonment for escaping, a serious lung complaint in the early 70s which almost killed him, and the ongoing effects of all these traumas.
Despite that catalogue of woes, Harper has continued to turn out his idiosyncratic music, and has been able to transform many of those experiences into songs.
'lt’s very, very difficult to explain that sort of process. Sometimes it’s much more perspiration than inspiration, and with others it comes and you have a couple of lines or a stanza that yOti work, and with me what happens is that I get tears,' says Harper. ’l’ll get tears because I know that We reached something again, I’ve reached out and I’ve grabbed something from nowhere, something that means a lot from nowhere, and the process then is to
work and work and work until I have
something I can play as a finished thing, and it brings those tears back. 'l’ve always thought of myself as an
actor first and foremost, who wrote his
own scripts for himself Some of them got a bit too anarchic for the person who’d written them, who had to sort of Withdraw to certain points in time or certain places, and some of them were kind of tamer than he wanted. You know, it’s the usual six of one and half-a-dozen of the other, but I do reckon myself as an actor.’
Most of his early albums have now been re-released on the SCience Friction label (he made his first, The Sophisticated Beggar, in 1966), and if his highly persOnal, hard to pin down
amalgam of folk and rock has never
made the big commerCial breakthrough once forecast for him, it remains immediater recognisable, and
With its integrity firmly intact. (Kenny 1
Roy Harper: painful inspiration