who were all seventeen-year-old kids. doing a dance routine not dissimilar to the one I satirised in “The Magic Piper“ video. Then you’d do Greek TV which is essentially a soft pornographic ltalian TV format and they‘d have a chorus line of girls with peroxide hair ﬂashing their tits. I said to the director. “are you at all inﬂuenced by Benny Hill?“ and he said, “of course. he's a genius”. as if it were a rhetorical question.
‘Talking of Benny Hill, in the Flemish- speaking part of Belgium there was a 50-year- old Benny Hill-like comedian singing a song about arboriphilia and pretending he was shagging a tree. That was right at the start, in spring ()5. and you couldn‘t really get any weirder than that. It prepared me to expect anything.’
Of course. Collins also freely acknow- ledges the advantages that come with the
Edwyn Collins: hoping his latest album I'm Not Following You will lay ‘A Girl Like You' to rest
artistic freedom that comes with assembling your own studio (where he contributed to the Slab Boys soundtrack with the likes of Lulu and The Proclaimers) that comes with the money that comes with having an international albatross of a hit. He has thoroughly enjoyed playing around with his Moog modular systems, his 70s effects pedals, his state-of- the-art sampling equipment and his Ronco cake-mix piper — hello?
‘Sebastian, my engineer and I always go on “the charity run” to the umpteen charity shops in the area to buy all the kitsch rubbish to put in the studio to amuse ourselves,’ says Collins. ‘He came back once with his “Magic Piper” box which you can see on the inner sleeve of the single.’
Thus, a ‘perfect Christmas gift’ inspired the last single ‘The Magic Piper (Of Love)’, and a Philippino boy band inspired the video.
‘I thought it would be a great thing to deconstruct your typical boy band video,’ says Collins, gearing up for another anecdote, ‘so we got in touch with Take That choreographer Kim Gavin. He was fantastic. He put so much work into it, incorporating Tavares and Tramps moves as well as Take That. Then we got people who’d worked on Spitting Image to make prosthetic masks of my face.’ The result was a quintet of Edwyns looking first like the Backstreet Boys and then like The Detroit Spinners.
‘When we farmed the idea out, only Nick Burgess-Jones went with the idea. Other directors were saying [adopts Tony Parsons- type voice] “Edwyn, the godfather of indie music, despises the commerciality and plasticity of the boy bands. At the end he starts kicking the automatons’ heads in.” But what it’s meant to be is an affectionate parody.’
Collins’s output over the past couple of years has been less affectionate parody (is that not what Paul Weller does?) and more inspired pastiche. I’m Not Following You contains paeans to 70$ tributes (‘Seventies Night’ with the irascible Mark E. Smith on vocals), anti- marketing diatribes (‘Adidas World’) and musically spans the decades with inventive steals from the past, including his own early 80s soulboy incarnation.
The last word on the matter must go to Edwyn. ‘l’m not into retro for the sake of retro. My main objection to music at the moment is it’s far too nostalgic and has far too much reverence for the so-called golden age of British pop. I acknowledge chance, because you never know when the inspiration will strike. “A Girl Like You" was at least 50% luck. I‘m not some seer or mystic who knows exactly what he’s doing; I don’t.’
He may not have a specific gameplan, but like the album title suggests, Collins goes his own way. I’m Not Following You ends symbolically (and hilariously) with the sound of sheep being gunned down.
Edwyn Collins is at the Garage, Glasgow, Sun 12 Oct. I’m Not Following You is out now on Setanta.
10-23 Oct i997TIIEU$T19