ROCK PREVIEW Billy Bragg EdinburghzThe Liquid Room, Sun 5

Dec. 'lt's always upsetting to be

pigeonholed, but at least I'm being pigeonholed for stuff I'm doing, rather than for things I'm not doing,’ sighs Billy Bragg. His pigeonholes are labelled thus: shouty lefty, crap singer, unreconstructed remnant of Uncool Britannia, press pariah, sparring partner of Nicky Wire. He's stoic about the persona he’s been assigned: 'I mean, I've got an article in today's London Evening Standard about reform of the House Of Lords and I don't suppose they're going to ask Robbie Williams to write one of those. I made my bed and - unlike Tracy Emin - I'm going to lie In it.’

Radical dad: Billy Bragg

To many of his younger fans, Bragg's politics are a novelty. They have become accustomed to a Labour government desperate to divorce itself from socialism, unionism and from the impassioned protest culture of the 80s. Does it ever get lonely, being the lone bearer of the red flag?

'No, you have to understand that I was very much a product of my time - the miners' strike, the Falklands war, the Thatcher government. We've become less ideologically political. There isn't much ideology In the Labour Party any more, so why should young singer- songwriters write about it? You can’t really make that kind of music in a political vacuum. I carry on doing what I do, but I'm certainly not doing it the same way I was in the 80s. I recognise things have changed, and I adjust my polemic accordingly.’

So he's not frustrated by the vapidity and political apathy of many of our current pop heroes?

‘Politics are not as embedded in society as they were in the 80s. You can't expect it to be a process of continual

revolution. I mean, all those guys who were radical students in the 805 are now filling Labour benches in the Houses of Commonsl If I go to Westminster all these little MPs go "ooh! Billy Braggl“, starstruck because they went to all my gigsi' Surprisingly, he‘s not a fervent anti-Blairite. 'I get disappointed with them sometimes: but then other times I’m quite encouraged. What I refuse to do is become cynical. Cynicism is the root of all ill-feeling between people.’

Bragg may have been an angry young man, but he's never been bitter, and becoming a father has reinforced his optimism. ‘If the world is not the way we want it then we should be trying to make it better. What is the millennium about if not our children? I know where I'm going to be: I'm going to be with my kids, we’ll watch the sun come up and I'm gonna say to them: "there's the new millennium. You saw it, it's yours and you gotta do your best with it." (Hannah McGiIl)

I The b-sides and rarities compilation Reaching To The Converted is out now on Cooking Vinyl.

Ex osure

"Every rtnight. we spotlight musical innovators. This issue: groundbreaking local record label "Glasgow Underground.

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Maintaining the underground: Kevin McKay

That name again? Glasgow Underground.

‘0 TIIEUST 2-16 Dec 1999

And it's based . . ? In, er, Glasgow. Established? Jan 1997.

By? Kevin McKay.

Why and wherefore? McKay and Andy Carrick ran the Muzique Tropique label to release their own stuff (of the same name) from Dec '94-Dec '96, but found the label too restrictive as it was developing a very specific sound. Define that sound without using the word 'eclectic' 'lt's normally called house, although that's probably too broad a term.‘ says spokesperson Roslyn McCallum. 'lt's funky, cliche- free, happy music that you can listen to on a dancefloor and in your living room.’

Who's tethered in their stable? Romanthony. Mateo & Matos, Daniel lbbotson, Neon Heights, The ldjut Boys, LHK Productions, Muzique Tropique, Romanthony feat. DJ Predator, Slam Mode, Michael Delta, Jersey Street, Airfix, Rick Preston.

And their first bona fide hit? Studio Blue's ‘Just A Mood/Shona's Song' in Jan '97.

Any donkeys? Not as such, although McCullen concedes that ‘Slam Mode is one of those things that is mellow and beautifully put together but only seems

to appeal to those who really know what they’re doing with music.’

Any throwaways that they now regret ’Not that I can think of. Some people have gone on to do well, but Kevin didn’t think that they were his cup of tea. He passes on quite a lot of stuff to the Under The Counter label.’ Why should we know them? GU plays a crucial part in supporting local up and comings, alongside the more established and well known names in New York, London and Europe.

Rising star Romanthony.

Finest hour 'Playing five-a-side with two men down for a full hour without the aid of St John's Ambulence or local first aider; and Danny Rampling playing a Glasgow Underground record for five weeks in a row over the summer.’ Current releases to look out for Romanthony: 'Countdown 2000'; Matio & Matos: The Many Shades Of. . .; Airfix: 'Stories/Stirfry'.

What's coming up? Romanthony's new album due out in March; Daniel lbbotson's album Frequency And Phase also in early 2000; Neon Height's: A View From The Heights in spring; Various Arists: Skanser Volume One. (Simone Baird)

Surface noise

What’s coming up and what’s going down

OASIS HAVE ANNOUNCED their first British shows in over two years. They'll make their first ever visit to Murrayfield on Sat 29 Jul. Tickets go on sale on Sat Dec 4; watch press for details on how to get them, or log on to oasisnetcom.

LABELMATES PRIMAL SCREAM have also announced dates for the New Year. They'll play Edinburgh: Corn Exchange on Mon 13 Mar.

VIRGIN’S NEW FLAGSHIP Megastore on Glasgow's Buchanan Street will be launched on Thu 2 Dec in a spectacular event featuring (in no particular order) Virgin supremo Richard Branson, maligned ex-Spice Melanie C, aircraft, abseiling and Christmas wrapping paper. The good news is that the new shop has three floors, 128 staff and 75.000 CDs, plus a 150 seater cafe designed by the Air Organic team.

FRESH AIR FM, Edinburgh's highly acclaimed alternative radio station, returns to the airwaves on Sun 20 Feb, 24 hours a day for a month. They're looking for new recruits interested in all aspects of radio - no experience necessary. Also required are DJs, musicians, bands and MCs to perform live or supply demos and recordings. They meet at the City Cafe at 7pm on Tuesday nights. Alternatively, get in touch on 0131 220 6665, or write to Fresh Air FM, 17 Guthrie Street, Edinburgh EH1 IJG.

LOCK UP YOUR small daughters, for Scottish pop moppet Justin (pictured) is set to feature in his very own BBC 1 documentary, Justin’s Story, to be screened in late December. Furthermore, Nov 30 saw him trot along to Holyrood House in Edinburgh to be congratulated by the Queen as a Scottish Young Achiever.

TICKETS ARE NOW on sale for Scottish Opera's spring and summer season 2000. The programme consists of the company's first ever production of Wagner‘s Parsifal; their celebrated Tosca, directed by Anthony Besch; their 1999 Edinburgh International Festival hit Macbeth; and Strauss's Salome, directed by Andre Engel. Tickets from 0141 332 9000/0131 529 6000.

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Justin (male)