FOLK SOUl TERRY CALLIER Wilkie House, Edinburgh, Wed 28 Mar.
The unsung hero of soul
‘l’m kind of at a crossroads right now, I don’t have a contract - I do have something else I can do to make a living, I need to take economic factors into account more than twenty years ago. I’m really thinking seriously of getting about getting back into computers - it’s substantial, paid and solid.’ These are heartbreaking words from the man who should have been King. A deeply talented singer and brilliant musician, Terry Callier’s name should be synonymous with that of Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott-Heron and Jon Lucien. Instead, he is a truly overlooked genre-bending genius. Believe me these are words not used lightly.
Callier’s story is one of missed oppurtunities and fatalistic resignation. Born in 1945 Callier initially emerged through the US folk/jazz scene showing off his astonishing vocal gifts in the belatedly released The New Folk Sound Of Terry Callier in 1968. Belated because his then wild card manager disappeared to Mexico with the demo tapes for five years. In the 708 he produced three fantastic albums for Cadet - Occassional Rain (containing Callier’s theme tune ‘Ordinary Joe’), What Colour Is Love? and I Just Can’t Help Myself. Although equal to anything Stevie Wonder was doing in this period, the world wasn’t ready for Callier’s ochre-voiced passionate funk and he remained in relative obscurity.
Dropped by Cadet in 1973, Electra picked him up in 1978 and produced two fabulous
disco-tinged albums Fire On Ice and Turn You To Love, the latter contained a little tune called ‘Sign Of The Times‘. ‘I was touring in Europe and we got a copy of Billboard and ‘Sign Of The Times’ had charted at number 75 in America,’ he explains. ‘We thought we was on a win, we rushed home - that was a bad move, we probably should have stayed in Europe.’ Nothing materialised, Callier became a computer programmer at the University of Chicago in order to provide for his young daughter for most of the next fifteen years.
Finally on the back of his Northern Soul weekender mini hit ‘I Don’t Wanna See Myself (Without You)’ on Talking Loud - run by DJ Gilles Peterson - brought him back to these shores in 1991 for some low key performances at London’s Jazz Cafe. This allowed him time to collaborate with long time admirers Beth Orton and Urban Species. This was a visit that was to prove even more fruitful as Peterson signed Callier up for his first album in sixteen years. 1998’s Timepeace was a serene, stress defying classic. A life affirming British tour followed.
Three years on Callier is back without a label, special, spiritual, spinetingling and possibly for the last time - and should he hang up his six string and make his fateful return to the computer keyboard the result will be that, in the words of the man himself: ‘You Goin' Miss Your Candy Man’. (Paul Dale)
TOMMY SMITH QUARTET
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 18 Mar.
These are exciting times for Tommy Smith. albeit With a few sleepless nights thrown in. SandWIched between two exciting SNJO protects. the wonderful concerts With Maria Schneider last month and the forthcoming Edinburgh Suite at the end of March. the saxophonist takes his guartet into the Tron Theatre for a slightly belated launch of his latest CD. Spartacus (reviewed last issue).
And therein lies the cause of the insomnia. Smith (leaded last year to end his long assocmtion with Linn Records and start his own record label. Spartacus Records. With all its accompanying financial worries. The saxophonist acknowledges that he has baSically invested 'iust about eveiything I have" in the HOW
I’m Spartacus and so is my wife
label. so success is essential. He has no doubts. however. about finally taking the plunge after his expt-zriences With Blue Note and Linn. even if he is cast as Spartacus in the scenario.
'Yeah, I've been a slave to the record companies. and now I'm free to do my own thing,‘ declares Smith happily. ‘And setting up my own company. I could easily get cruCified! This is a huge financial commitment for me. apart from anything else. but I can make all the important decisions myself now. As a lllUSlClEtli, having your records available in the long term is really important. and I see that as an investment'
The next release on the label Will keep things in the family. in the shape of the still-untitled debut album from his missus. saxophonist Laura MacDonald. which they recorded in New York at the same time as Smith's album. With the great Jeff 'Tain' Watts on drums.
For the Glasgow gig. Smith Will be iomed by pianist Gareth Williams. basSist Orlando LeFleming and drummer Sebastiaan de Krom. The saxophonist is increasingly obsessed by sound. He prefers analogue to digital recording methods. and whenever possble likes to play with no amplification, uSing only the natural acoustics of the room. The Tron should work out just fine for that purpose, in what is a rare opportunity to hear this quartet in Scotland.
ROCK POP SNOW PATROL The Liquid Room. Edinburgh, Tue 27 Mar.
Jesus Christ! Not superstars?
Snow Patrol are not about to become the new Travis. in fact the veiy idea of it probably makes them feel a bit queaSy. The three Belfast—born lads now based in Glasgow are the epitome of the hands on, do-it-yourself approach to music- making currently all the rage in Scotland. Dealing With every aspect of the music business themselves isn't easy. but bassist Mark McClelland wouldn't have it any other way.
‘Being in a band is just like any job. y0u don't want to be stuck doing the same thing every day.‘ he says. 'I love recording. I love playing live and I love getting artwork together and making videos. Loads of bands spend silly money getting a stylist in to tell them exactly what's right. When I buy a CD. I don‘t want to know what a stylist has to say. I want to know what the band has to say.’
The latest eVidence of the band's hard work is their forthcoming second album. the excellently titled When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up. A gently experimental record. it's an understated gem of heartbreak. love and passion. with hints of forward-thinking bands such as Super Furry Animals and Sparklehorse cropping up. and pure pop senSibilities at its core.
While it is both innovative and impressive. it's unlikely to catapult them to chart stardom, something the three lads c0uldn't really give a toss about. 'If people want to listen to manufactured music they should buy Madonna cos she does it better than us.‘ says McClelland. 'We can't compete with her and we don't want to.‘
Successfully doing their own thing is something the band feel is faCilitated in no small part by their choice of Glasgow as a base. 'I think it's definitely kept us going the fact that there are other successful bands here.‘ says McClelland. 'When we started I didn't think that people like us could get Signed. I thought they bred rock stars in London. Every band in Glasgow now thinks. “we could be the next Delgados or Belle and Sebastian." which is great.‘ (Doug Johnstone)
15—29 Mar 2001 THE LIST 49