ELECTRONIC/ROCK RUBY 13th Note Club, Glasgow, Sun 1 Apr.
All interviews should be like this. Turn up at a pub for a chat with a veteran Scottish rabble rouser and find that you spend the first twenty minutes roaming the streets looking for a bank to lend them a tenner to get a round in.
Then half way through while still trying to recover our ‘rock ‘n' roll people in deep and meaningful discussion’ pose, a phone rings; it’s my father and then two minutes later another call from my interviewee’s brother, all very rock ‘n’ roll. Not.
This homely scene of misplaced purses, coffee and family chats is perhaps not fully representative of Lesley Rankine’s public image, who, as part of scuzzy noisemongers Silverfish, challenged the whole concept of female frontperson, a growling, snarling dervish in a tatty Swans T-shirt. ‘l’ve still got that shirt - one of my favourites,’ she confesses. Once Silverfish split in 1993 Rankine decanted to New Orleans
breaks, beats, guitars, skewed electronics and most peculiarly, the singing voice of Lesley Rankine. It was all about three million miles away from the scratchy grime of Silverfish.
But why wait so long to produce a new record? The truth is record company politics. Rankine numbers among one of the many that suffered because of the demise of Creation records.
‘It was finished in ‘98 and was a really painful process getting it out afterwards. Because relationships with the people I was working with went pearshaped by the time I got the DAT of the album in my hand then Creation went down the
pan. I had to wait to get it
‘I wanted that Scottish mentality again; to be able °“‘“"“'S°"ywe'e ‘"
to tell sick disgusting jokes and be understood.’
where she organised Ruby, a collaboration primarily with Mark Walk.
The first fruit of this collaboration was Salt Peter on Creation Records, a weird and wonderful collection of tracks brimming with
breach of contract for not releasing the record in time. I sat tight and then once the contract was up I went “thank you, this is my record now” and was off.’
Now safely ensconced on Wichita Recordings (ironically Dick ‘Creation’ Green’s new label) the album in question, Short-Staffed At The Gene
Pool was worth the wait. Carrying on where Salt Peter left off except with a more diverse, expansive sound, the horn and 0&8 meshing with Rankine’s Borders brogue on ‘Queen Of Denial' and the scat pop of ‘Lilypad‘ number among the highlights.
Rankine returned to her home soil permanently this year, citing crime (her neighbour in New Orleans was bludgeoned to death), earthquakes and humour as her reasons for leaving. ‘I wanted that Scottish mentality again; to be able to tell sick disgusting jokes and be understood.‘ Good to have her back. (Mark Robertson)
Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Sun 1 Apr.
All charges thrown out
Chart success. celebrity fans and critical acclaim. Toploader would appear to have it all. Not so. Despite their meteoric rise to fame, they are plagued by accusations of dullness. even criticised for their lack of innovation in this very magazine. Do we expect more from the Eastbourne five-piece. or is the Toploader success story merely an annOying glitch on an otherwise unspectacular indie pop wasteground?
Joe Washbourn. you stand accused of musical mediocrity. how do you plead?
OK. so I didn't ask that straight out for fear of primadonna uppitiness. followed by the click of a telephone receiver. But can the mop-topped singer/songwriter defend the following allegations?
Charge one: ripping off fans by re-releasing Onka's Big Moka with one additional track. shortly followed by radio
favourite 'Dancing In The Moonlight'. “Just Hold On" was a new track that we'd written and we wanted to take it onto this album because we thought it was more in keeping with the stuff that we're doing at the moment. he says ‘Dancing In The Moonlight' was such a strong song that we felt it deserved more exposure than it got. It was a gamble. but looking at what it's done since it's been re-released. that gamble has paid off in a big way.‘
Charge two: Being ‘admittedly derivative': ‘Yeah. but not in a conscious way. it's just that all the influences that have gone into my head in the last twenty years are all in there somewhere. so when you‘re writing they crop up. I think all music is derivative anyway: I mean it's gotta be.‘
Charge three: Bringing down your rock ‘n' roll image by drinking cider. ‘At the moment I'm into cider; cider with ice. Have you drank cider recently? lt's bloody rock ‘n' roll, I'll tell yOu.'
And the verdict? Does it really matter? Toploader can more than hold their own in a live show — Paul Weller. Bon Jovi and Robbie Williams have all employed the post-TOploader high at their gigs. They‘re unashamedly positive. oh. and a grounded. self-deprecating temperament makes a welcome departure from the usual indie insipidity.
FOLK SHINE Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, Mon 9 Apr.
Edinburgh's annual Harp Festival this year moves to Merchiston Castle School.
Among the many good reasons to make the hike out there is the concert featuring Irish virtuoso lvlaire Ni Chathasaigh With her spectacular guitar partner Chris Newman. Another is recently-formed Scottish harmony vocal trio Shine who use the unusual accompaniment of two French electrohai'ps. one of them played by Edinburgh’s Mary lvlaclvlaster.
lvlaclvlaster remembers being at the very first Harp Festival tv-ienty years; age. and learning from the likes of Ni Chathasaigh, who. she feels. “is an amazing
tunes player. She was a real inspiration' Since then. however. Ma(:l\/lastei"s music has continued to evolve in different directions. “A lot of our songs are iii Gaelic. and Seinn is "sing" in Gaelic' she says. But the English "shine" sounds the same, getting us r0und the usual pronunciation problems for i‘ionCaelic speakers. And we liked the other meaning as well. until we discovered quite a few hands; called that; three in Scotland alone! But they're nothing like us.’
The ‘us' includes harpist and Singer Corrina Hewat (of Bachue‘i. Gaelic songstress Alyth McCormack — whose new album is on Capercaillie's Vertical label — and MacMaster herself. a veteran of Sileas. La Boum! and the Poo/res, and someone who likes to stretch her music's potential. 'We love to use weird harmonies and counter- melodies.’ she says. ‘And the sound of the two big harps chiming together is tremendous. But the main thing is that we use our voices in a sort of abstract way.’
Audiences have so far had little chance to hear that. There have been British Council gigs in France and Italy. and one lined up for Greece. but home appearances have been few; only Edinburgh's Bongo Club and Fruitmarket Gallery on New Year's Day. But soon their first album will hit the streets. and include oblique arrangements of traditional Gaelic laments. alongside songs from Lindsey Black and Ali Maclnnes of innovative band Pollen. and even a reworking of Sting's 'Fields Of Gold'. ‘We like to deconstruct songs and do contemporary things with the muSicJ says Maclvlaster. 'We're not folksy.’ (Norman ChalmerS)
Harping on to the punters’ delight
2T: Mar—72 Art THE LIST 45