HIP HOP STEREO MC’S King Tut's, Glasgow, Mon 2 Apr.
It may seem easy to disregard the return of Stereo MC’s until you remember a few things about these mid 90$ hip hop stars. They were one of the very few success stories of British rap, they were respected remixers of everyone from The Jungle Brothers to U2 and they survived some of seediest hedonism of the 905 among those Madchester badboys. Now these legends are back from six years of virtual silence with a new album and a British tour.
Gaunt-faced lead rapper Rob Birch picks up the story in his own gently verbose Nottingham burr:
‘For six years we didn’t have a
fucking clue, we were stumbling
around in the dark. We were
actually doing loads of music but it just wasn’t going anywhere. It was
‘ Back from the wilderness and getting dirty
frustrating. It was not really until we built our own studio and got some headspace from everything
and everybody that we started to sort out our own problems.’ The ‘we’ referred to is Birch and DJ/producer Nick Hallam (aka The Head). Childhood friends, they
have come through the mill together, from setting up their own record label Gee Street in 1988 and
dealing with the huge
‘For six years we didn’t have a fucking clue, we success of their were stumbling around in the dark.’
Connected album in 1992 and the subsequent
singles ‘Connected’ and ‘Step It Up’ to the dehumanising effects of touring. This combined with assorted drug problems, the release of a largely ignored but excellent DJ Kicks mix album and the final journey to find a semblance of normality by both settling down with families. ‘We isolated ourselves and learned new methods to do the music we made, so we got into portals and hard disc
Birch is keen to talk about the new album Deep Down And Dirty: ‘The technology allowed us to be much more spontaneous with our ideas.’ The new album is excellent mainly because it sounds just like the Stereo MC’s of old but with a heavier darker groove; think Primal Scream’s Vanishing Point as
As for playing live with the original line-up (plus three) . . . It has been a long time? ‘Yeah I’ll probably be choked by my heart beating through my chest.’
Originally they were the kings of crossover. So how does Birch see their music now? ‘Well I'd call it dance music but these days people don’t even call hip hop dance and when I started that was the only dance music.’ All hail the returning heroes. (Paul Dale)
Bankable success in Don Giovanni
SCOTTISH OPERA - DON GIOVANNI
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Wed 28 Mar.
Scotland's national opera company may have hit the headlines recently. but the press have not been reporting on Scottish Opera's prowess on the main stage. Lack of cash has meant no full scale productions so far this year.
'When I arrived last October' says Chief Executive Christopher Barron. 'we were still digging Our way out of a financial hole. We had to cut Our cloth and say no more credit. We're very sad about
46 THE LIST 29 Mar—1 2 Apr 2001
it. but there was no way the finance would have worked otherwise.‘ In the meantime. the 200 employees of Scottish Opera have had one of their busiest winters ever through giving more concerts. putting on small scale productions and undertaking education work. However. the recently announced increase in public subsidy of an additional $1 million per year for the next three years plus $1.9 million to pay for the 'historic deficit' puts Scottish Opera ‘back on the straight and narrow as a full-time company' says Barron.
Business is now back to just about usual with a revival of the
1995 production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Memorable for director John Cox's sure hand in characterisation and the first ever stage designs by Peter Howson, the company has reunited this impressive coupling and added lighting design by Davy Cunningham — ‘the best in the world' according to Barron. The cast is strikingly international.
“They're from all over — Greece. Italy, and with the Danish baritone Morten Ernst Lassen as the Don,‘ says Barron ‘and bring a real richness through their cultural differences. I'm really delighted that Richard Armstrong is conducting.‘ Although controversy seems to shadow the company’s finances. the reputation of its artistic success with Armstrong as Music Director remains high. ‘We have a very strong team.‘ says Barron ‘It's really all Richard's doing that the company is in such good condition artistically. The Ring at this year's Edinburgh Festival is the next big thing and we announce our autumn season at the end of April.‘ Watch this space. (Carol Main)
JAZZ SNJO Queen‘s Hall, Edinburgh. Fri 30 Mar.
If I told you the the drummer in the Scottish National Jax: Orchestra was writing a piece of music about a Hips—Hearts match at Easter Road as his contribution to The Edinburgh Suite. you would be forgiteri tor assuming that l was talking about that well known Hihie. John Rae. It was he who chose Jock Stein for the SNJO's earlier Great Scots project. on the basis of a brief spell as Hihs' manager (although he grudgingly acknowledged some trifling achievements in Glasgow).
However. you would be wrong. The composer is the Dutch drummer Sebastiaan de Ki'om, known to his mates as Bash. Bash, who was at Berklee College at the same time as saxophonist Laura MacDonald. and is Currently a member of Tommy Smith's Quartet. explains his chOice.
‘The Edinburgh St/ite is based on muscal pictures inspired by nine
places in Edinburgh. and I had a few options. but this seemed the most compelling one. Tommy invented a character. a poet. who is in all the
pieces. My story is that he goes to the match, where Hihs are playing their closest rivals.
‘I've burlt it like a football match. It starts with a drum solo. then the main march theme. then a trumpet solo. which is a goal for Hearts. In the middle. which is half-time. | change from 32—bar AABA to a piano solo based on an F-blues. That leads hack to the march for the second half, wrth a tenor solo. and another drum solo. I won't give away the score. but the poet leaves happy.‘
Laura MacDonald is the talk of the town
The drummer is one of ten musrcians contributing to The Edinburgh Suite. which has been commissioned by the City of Edinburgh Council. Smith will write a prologue. followed by De Krom (Easter Road). Brian Kellock (Duddingston Loch), Mario Caribe (lngliston), Chick Lyall (North Bridge). Eddie Severn (Brodre's Close). Steve Hamilton (Usher Hall). Laura MacDonald (Royal Mile). Gail McArthur (Greyfriar's Bobby), and William Sweeney (Heave Awa House).
It's not known if Tommy plans to do a Woodstock-style ‘what's that spell?‘ chant from the stage. but if you take the first letter of each location. what you get is — well, you work it out. (Kenny Mathieson)