ROCK Lo-Fidelity Allstars
Glasgow: King Tut's, Sat 28 Mar; Edinburgh: Venue,
Sun 29 Mar.
No wonder The Lo-Fidelity Allstars are making friends and influencing people wherever they go. They've got the Primal Scream dichotomy licked (and they still have many years of hedonistic philandering to go before the onset of drug-ravaged decline). Here's how it works: turn in some exquisite spacey mantras with all manner of studio-originating embellishment. Then go out and play live and lol you're a band — with guitars! So technoheads and indie kids alike dig your groovy scene, everyone comes together in an orgy of interlinking aesthetics and, unlike Bentley Rhythm Ace, you don't have to wear silly wigs to achieve beatastic nirvana. You have silly names instead.
Meet the Wrecked Train. It was his graffiti tag and it’s stuck. And it's more rock 'n' roll than the alternative, Dave.
‘I don't go around insisting people call me Mr Train or anything,‘ he says, ‘but it makes it a lot more interesting
The Lo-Fidelity Allstars: blowing minds with blowtorches
for us and a lot more interesting for the fans. It also comes from the hip-hop and Funkadelic background we're into. They all had strange names. But it was never really contrived.’
Relax, Mr Train. It‘s a blast. No one ever really questions name changes in music, be it rock, rap, blues, whatever. When the ’uncontrived’ options are Matt, Phil, Andy, Martin and Johnny, the Lo-Fi Allstars can be forgiven the odd Albino Priest and Sheriff John Stone.
Having made a disgustingly fortuitous start to their career, including signing to their favourite label Skint after their first gig and picking up a Brat award for Best New Band, the Allstars are poised to release a new single 'Vision lncision' in April and are putting the finishing touches to their debut album, the funkadelically-titled How To Operate With A Blown Mind. In fact, the Wrecked Train has just stayed up most of the night to fashion the sleeve photo by melting together model trucks with a blowtorch.
’When the album comes out a lot of people will reassess us,‘ he states. Well, are you going to argue with a man with a blowtorch? (Fiona Shepherd)
The Smiles in post-pyramid relaxation mode
half years ago, they signed to A&M in 1997 and are about to release debut single ’Say Something' — a youthful power-pop sprint — with an album, Cure For The Common scheduled for summer. It’s likely to be a diverse affair as band tastes range from Aretha Franklin to the MCS, from Black Sabbath to drum 'n’ bass. However, they’ve bench-pressed and chin-upped their way round the gig circuit in high- profile support slots, including The Bluetones, Mansun, Geneva and opening for Texas at Wembley where they were SurpiSingly well received by the Sharleen-starved crowd.
'We weren't sure whether we were pleased about that or not,’ laughs Tony. 'We got a lot of hand action. The whole standing area, about 8000 people, were clapping along. Stadium rock!’
The Smiles are also top at talking nonsense. 'We're all terrified of wasps,’ they announce, apropos of
The Big Book of Rock ’n’ Roll Etiquette allows for only three post-gig relaxation techniques: insertion of smack into eyeballs, insertion of posh motors into swimming pools, insertion of household objects into groupies. But those athletic chaps in Glasgow band The Smiles prefer to indulge in a little post-show comedown by leaping upon each other's shoulders and
constructing human pyramids.
’On tour with David Devant we got into olympic activity, various games and feats of strength’ explains Tony McGovern, the lithe and limber lead singer. ’The whole thing was very macho, but the naked wrestling happened back at the hotel.’
Henry Rollins needn’t start shaking in his jockstrap just yet: The Smiles are mere striplings in the multi-gym of rock. Having got together two and a
very little. ’l’m not,’ counters Terry Reilly, bassist and expert on the Romans. ’If it wasn’t for wasps, there’d be too many flies.’ He’s obviously thought about this. ’We're all Kung Fu masters as well,’ claims Tony. ’Well, we're not masters, but we like to slap each other'
The Smiles: they're a little bit frightening. (Peter Ross)
I ’Say Something' is released on A&M on Mon 23 Mar.
Sherburn and Bartley Edinburgh: Tron Folk Club, Sat 21 Mar.
Scotland‘s not exactly virgin territory — they played Carrbridge Festival a couple of years back — but the fluent Irish music of squeeze box player Chris Sherburn and Limerick guitarist/singer Danny Bartley is hardly known up here.
Footho/d (Sound Out), their second album, has just been released and they now have a manager in ex-Battlefield Bandsman Alistair Russell who, Chris is happy to admit, ‘is really looking after us — putting us into good quality venues'
Anglo concertina player Chris has been surrounded by music literally all his life. 'I was born, more or less, at the Whitby Folk Festival. And there was a lot going on in Yorkshire then,’ explains Sherburn. ’The Watersons were about, and Dick Gaughan was living nearby. When I was about four or five, my brother-in-law put a concertina in my hands, and I’m still at it! Though then it was all English music — l was in my teens when I first started to play Insh.’
Now one of the most expressive of the new generation of anglo players, with a lyrical, contrapuntal line accompanying Denny's songs, Chris also plays the dance tunes with real energy. ’We drive our music quite hard,’ says Sherburn. ’It’s a hangover from the days when we had to play pubs — that terrible Irish theme thing, because we didn‘t have enough folk clubs — and a little bit of it is still in our music. So playing 300 pub gigs a year did do us some good!’
With regular trips to Ireland, burgeoning UK festival bookings and a rapidly filling diary, they're also in demand across the Atlantic where they are finding that success sometimes brings more onerous meetings. 'We've been to America three times in the last year, grins Sherburn ’The last was to play at the big Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis. That was a shock to the system. It’s not a folk festival or really about music. It’s a business meeting.’ (Norman Chalmers)
Sherburn and Bartley: hard-driven music
20 Mar-2 Apr 1998 THE LIST 41