Texas Glasgow: King Tut’s, Mon 10 *‘kir Reports of Texas’s musical
reinvention have been greatly exaggerated in dispatches from the style frontline. True, singer Sharleen Spiteri may have been photographed by some of the hippest fashion snappers in the business and dance producers Manchester's Grand ' Central contributed to the new album, but in essence Texas are a little-changed commodity. The alleged clubland influence on White On Blonde seeps through only occasionally on what is essentially a collection of catchy pop tunes.
Live, the fact that Texas are still a guitar band at heart was reinforced. The King Tut’s gig in aid of Comic Relief was the first public unveiling of 'new Texas', with a set predominantly made up of songs from the latest album. A warm reception from the home crowd suggested that people were being more than charitable about the local heroes’ comeback. The superficial sonic make-over is not the kind of radical departure which is likely to lose the band any friends.
Returning from their four-year sabbatical, the country chops of old have been replaced by a funkier, R & 8 sound but the song structures remain remarkably similar. The only difference is that Ally McErlane has ditched the trademark slide guitar for that wacca-wacca sound beloved of American cop show themes, while the controls of Eddie Campbell’s keyboards are at a setting probably marked ‘Stax soul revue'.
The chart success of ’Say What You Want' means that
their first and, until this year, biggest hit, ’I Don't Want A
Lover’ no longer has to provide the crowd-pleasing highlight. Tossed in mid-set, the song is given the R & 8 treatment but was hardly a fundamental reworking.
With Sharleen now pushed unashamedly to the fore to promote the band, Texas are a marketable commodity and they have undoubtedly become more radio-friendly since the last record, Ricks Road. The cover of Al Green’s 'Tired of Being Alone' in 1992 demonstrated a hankering for a more soul-orientated sound and the new record continues in a similar vein. On the evidence of tonight’s gig, Sharleen’s voice is powerful enough to carry it off.
Having dropped the Deep South(side) trappings of their name, Texas have styled themselves as a suburban soul band. Up close, their disarming lack of pretension and a couple of strong songs made them very hard to dislike, but whether the enjoyable club intimacy survives the transition to SECC in May is another matter. (Eddie Gibb)
ROCK BeHefi Sebastian/Monica
Edinburgh Assembly Rooms, 9 Mar
Pity support band Monica the up- iiiountain task of vxoomg a Crowd maintaining a stubborn here-to-see- Bellets-Sebastian-and-no-fool-else
attitude Such is the bubble-bubble surrounding the headliners that polite c0u|dn't care less-ness was the most the first ens could hope for. Imagine the cOuntry rock band from Nick HOrnby's High Fidelity unplugged, a celestial coupling of lvlazzy Star and Dolly Parton With a drum machine.
Whatever became of Thrum? Given the sporadic nature of their live
; outings and a hardly prodigious Output l\'Vllll only the /f You’re Feeling Sinister
available), Belle &
Sebastran have recruited oiiite a ; fanbase But when are all the Johnny 3 Come Latelies, for there are many of us, going to be able to get our mitts
on Tiger/iii; that bloody difficult to find
first album? ‘You'll have to ask my
dad,’ says singer Stuart Murdoch
mysteri0usiy Come On, Stuart’s dad.
To say the show (because gig would
42 THE LIST Zl Mar—3 Apr 1997
infer a humdrum affair) is shambolic w0uld be a delirious understatement. An eight-piece game of musical chairs would better describe the logistical nightmare that is Belle & Sebastian On- stage, WIth Stuart facing a task every bit as daunting as the choreographer of Riverdance Watch. The tiara- wearing cello player swaps instruments every second number, the keyboardist indulges in a spot of Tales Of The Unexpected-style dancIng before spilling his drink, the guitarist ENJOYS a lie down when it all becomes too
much. Commendany un-rock ’n' roll.
Songs? ’Like Dylan At The Movres' delivers an almost Arthur Lee cool paean to narcissism complete With one of those three-note goitar solos that proves simpliCity beyond genius. ’Judy And The Dream Of Horses’ is a gentle flit that breaks down in giggles provoked by audience over enthusiasm, and ‘Me And The Maior' is more iaunty than the angle at which Joe Orton wore his cap. I doff mine. FOr as One emotional punter framed it: 'LJ’s r starzl' (Rodger Evans)
Glasgow: Barrow!ands, Fri 14 Mar * at 'k
For fifteen minutes, James had nearly gained themselves a convert to their cause. A vision appeared of spending the next morning telling everyone I know to run to the nearest vinyl vendor to ask two embarrassing questions to the embarrassed assistant — Have you got Laid? (No, I’m celibate) and have you got the latest Whip/ash? (no, it's just the way my trousers ruck up).
The band’s appearance was engaging i enough. The elongated whistley intro to ’Come Home’ acted as the frantic
soundtrack for the entrance of a spiky- bonced masked marauder (gasp, who can it be?) who bore an uncanny
resemblance to the backdrop of 3 looming faces encircled by a couple of
huge white horsepills.
Departing from his masked state, Tim 3 Booth (for it is he) brought about a
predictably orgiastic reaction from a crowd who echoed every word of every hit and attempted, unwisely, to dance like the frontman. To be kind about Tim Booth’s gyrating you would say it recalled memories of early Michael Stipe. Choosing cruelty you would offer that it was reminiscent of a particularly hyperactive puppet on a string controlled by a child on a tartrazine overdose.
Those early moments were as close to inspired as the evening got, the band picking up from Booth’s lead and pumping up the adrenalin of both themselves and the audience through each soaring chorus — the latest single ’She's A Star' is a prime example of taking very little and giving it a flourish.
Yet, by the time it got to the 'we've warmed you up, now let's get to the album fillers’ stage, the initial fever had been replaced by a chesty cough. Perhaps the sound system was playing tricky buggers, but an empty lethargy had crept into the band which all too obviously sharked its way through to all but the first six rows of the audience.
Whether James will fulfill the early
predictions of being the new UZ/ :
Smiths/REM is not particularly involwng.
They should concentrate on being the
new James. (Brian Donaldson)
STAR RATINGS * 1k * * * Outstanding * ‘k t 1: Recommended * t * Worth a try * * So-so * Poor