ELECTRONICA POP HUMAN LEAGUE Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 30 Nov.
Whilst Depeche Mode and New Order’s bombastic returns to the fold heralded 2001 as the official 80$ electro-pop revival year, arguably the most iconic group of that era reintroduced themselves as the real masters of the genre. Human League’s first album for five years, Secrets, is a truly rare experience. It’s the sound of a band unembarrassed by their past, embracing their future and just generally doing what they do. Unlike the relief that Get Ready wasn’t completely awful, Secrets’ marriage of Don’t You Want Me-style modern love songs and Travelogue-era instrumentals irresistibly asserts the League as an essential sound and a lasting inspiration.
Their influence on today’s synth-pop (or ‘electroclash’, as the Americans are calling it) simply cannot be underestimated. Felix da Housecat blatantly steals the immortal intro to ‘Sound Of The Crowd’ on his track ‘Harlot’ while a mash-up of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ and the early Human League single ‘Being Boiled’ has become a club favourite and the first official classic of the ‘bastard pop’ genre. The 1981 album Dare is still the electro-pop benchmark record, its brilliantly manipulated electronics endlessly imitated by everyone from the International Deejay Gigolos posse (Miss Kittin and The Hacker et al) to the UK’s DMX Krew and Kitbuilders.
Secrets is a return to the trademark Human League sound, Oakey’s insistent burr and outrageously camp wordplay backed up by the untrained yet emotive voices of Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley. The analogue sounds are all
back in place, albeit in a somehow digital way, and the over-produced glycerine of ‘Human’ banished for good. To say it’s their best album since Dare is faint praise. Ever since ‘Hysteria’ failed to capitalise on their initial pop success all of twenty years ago, they seem to have knocked
Back in the big League
on every door to find a way back into the pop epicentre, leaving some truly bad records behind (1986’s Crash anyone?), so the fact that in 2001 they are actually valid and making excellent pop music puts the Human League back to the top of the league. (Steven Clark)
Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Wed 5 Dec.
The talented Ms Amos brings her unique blend of intensely intricate piano lines and heartbreaking melodies to Glasgow on this mini-tour to promote new collection. Strange Little Girls: a collection of covers of misogynistic songs given a dark twist in the Inimitable Tori Style. Expect adulation aplenty as her in- depth and personal songs
seem to attract the most devoted of followers. and despite being well known for her creative flair and musical genius. it's not too often that we get the chance to Witness her electric live act. The show at the Clyde Auditorium has been preceded by an tiiicharacteristically calm comeback for our very own rock ‘n' roll diva with a difference. The calm before the sterm? We await her arrival With baited breath. (Camilla Pia)
52 THE LIST L“! NH. tier: 9" ‘
Stranger things have happened
String Jam Club, Galashiels, Sat 1 Nov; Montrose Folk Club, Tue 4 Nov; Edinburgh Folk Club, Wed 5 Nov.
At Edinburgh's Bongo Club. guitarist and Singer Martin Carthy recently played a sterm alongside daughter Liza on fiddle. An astonishineg agile and energetic veteran of 40 years in the folk biz. Carthy senior has been there. done it all. and run out of space for the T—shirts. Paul Simon famously ripped off Carthy's arrangement of Scarborough Fair' and didn't credit him. Dylan took his ‘Lord Franklin' tune and did credit him (‘Bob Dylan Dream' on the Freew/iee/in' albumi way back when the streets of 605 London were awash With sad guitar-toters. That Carthy has survwed. prospered and continued to churn out albums is in no small way due to the power of his material — based as it is on the huge legaCy of powerfully beautiful traditional songs that survived throughout the British Isles and the English language diaspora — and his refusal to be iudgemental about muSic-making.
'l'm glad that there are always new people coming along doing new stuff. beautiful stuff." says Carthy. 'Some l like listening to. and some I don't enjoy. but it's important to have that diversity.' Even the oft-noted lack of young singers doesn't faze him. 'I once used to harbour a sadness that the younger generation were turning away from singing. but now I don't see it that way. In our day the instrumental skills were generally crap. Now they're amaZing. YOung people love pub sessions. where there's an energy. and the competitive element they go for. Yes. the balance did swing toward the instrumentalist — but I've already noticed it turning back. | dOn't see any reason to be gloomy]
Awarded an MBE a cOuple of years ago for his services to English folk song. Carthy has no intention of hanging up his battered acoustic. While he might only rarely step on stage in the Steeleye Fairport reunions. more often. he's Out there gigging With wife and daughter (and being nominated for Mercury Awards) in Waterson Carthy instead. Lest we forget his seminal ‘folk With horns' outfit Brass Monkey which has Just released another fine album. and he still tours the original Brit fiddle- and-guitar duo With Dave Swarbrick.
So. does he still have ambitions? ‘Well. yes.‘ he admits. ‘l'd love to play slide guitar. properly. Like Ry Cooder. No. make that DaVid Lindlay. he's my real guitar hero. and such an erudite guy. A r. real freethinker.’ (Norman Chalmersi Dad’s the word