The music scene north of the border was once disparagingly referred to as 'Del Amitri Land'. The return of Currie's boys has the happy side effect of reminding you how much great music has been recorded in Scotland since they stopped. ‘Just Before You Leave’ (Mercury 000 ) is actually something of an improvement. You could actually call ‘soulful' if you were feeling generous. but ‘very like that old band of bald scousers The Christians‘ if you were in a more a sober frame of mind.
It‘s self-righteously odd pieces of genius like Mouse Eat Mouse‘s ‘Hush Nou' (Star Harbour 00000) that have made the last few years such good ones in this neck of the woods. So. Single Of The Fortnight for this robust Scots verse grafted onto Half Man Half Biscuit jangles. then.
Given the choice however, I'd rather still be living in Del Amitri Land than anywhere near ballboy's big old eighties indie thing. Their All The Records On The Radio Are Shite ep (sl 0. ) doesn't even include the classic ‘Why Do You Hate Us? It's Because We Think We Are Really Clever, Isn't It?’. Like all good Edinburgh bands. though. at least ballboy are a gang that provoke you to love them or hate them. Empire Windrush aren't even irritating (Demo 0 ).
Moving out into the wider world. the rules become slightly different. Blue may not be irrirating but when you are boy band that qualifies you for tearful gratitude. ‘Fly By“ (Innocent COO ) sounds like a British boy band should: a simple tune produced in London by people who have been listening to Timbaland and Dre religiously. George Michael‘s ‘Freek!’ (Polydor O. ) has been well-produced too, in a squelchy-disco kinda way. When George opens his mouth however. he sounds (and looks) like a sex tourist.
On the other land. the ex-of-Spiritualized Lupine Howl (Vinyl Hiss O. ) sound like. er, Spiritualized (with all the good bits removed). while Poor Misguided Fool (Chrysalis COO ) is Starsailor at their most Suede-like. The big jessies.
Hmmm . . . everyone is beginning to sound like everyone else. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion are a bit tougher but “She Said' (Mute O. ) is still a lacklustre Stones rip off despite Dr John's presence on piano. Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster are better. But only because on ‘Morning Has Broken' (Radiate COO ) they sound like Mudhoney.
This is why Zero 7's ‘Distractions' (Ultimate Dilemna 0000 ) is actually a damn good tune. Sure this is music to drink white wine too but the quality in their writing. performing and production gives them a direction that much music lacks. No one comes near Mouse Eat Mouse for out-and-out individuality however. And. oh sweet Celine Dion. we need some of that right now. (Tim Abrahams)
1 12 THE LIST M ya Why you?
Groove Anthology (indigo) 0000
Bar Grooves 2
(Bar Grooves) 00. Ingredients
(Good Looking) .000
Warm organic melodies and intelligent beats simmer away nicer at the outset of the explicitly Subtitled Nu Breaks and Deep House Gems. Enriched by Latin-jazz percussion, horns and flute. this album is given a decidedly grown up vrbe as it morphs between the genres its title implies.
With a brisk tempo not expected or indicated by the content. Bar Grooves 2 draws from some of the finest quality deep house labels around. including Glasgow Underground. Nuphonic. and Guidance. A few tracks in Graeme Park's mix don't stand up in context. but a sweet surprise can be found in Sou! Doubts )a/xier than uSLial outing.
Cookin's log/'edients comes. like 'intelligent' drum & bass ambassador LTJ Bukem. from the well mucked out stable of Good Looking Records. Smooth and full bodied are the watch words here as we are enveloped by a heady mist of intoxicating )a/zy breaks 'n' beats. not Without inflections of dub and soul. (DaVid Allen)
JOHN SURMAN/JACK DEJOHNETTE Invisible Nature (ECM) O...
Any fears that saxophonist John Surman was no longer up to tackling the fiery. freely improVised approach which made his early reputation are firmly quashed by this da/xling live recording. Surman (on baritone and soprano saxes and bass clarinet) and drummer Jack DeJohnette are old sparring partners, but this disc. recorded in Finland and Berlin in late
2000. Is their first live recording as a duo. and their first release of any kind in that format Since way back in 1981. It proves to be well worth the wait. Both men produce intense. higth communicative playing in the course of creating shaper and often lyrical forms from spontaneous improvisations.
LATIN VARIOUS ARTISTS Brown Sugar (Harmless) COO
‘What a night. man. We was in Joey's place. Yeah. Joey Cain. the Latin-a -go-go producer. Anyway. we was up in East Harlem one hot summer night back in 67. maybe 68. but that heat was nothing compared to what was geing down in Joe's basement. Bay Terrace leads his beautiful girls on stage for a little boogaloo. So I'm feeling good when Bay Barretto jumps up With his congas and lust kills us. End of the night the rum was going hard to my gut. but I remember Eddie Palmieri tickling the ivories. It sure was one chugging night of Latin SOuI' (Tito Ramos)
Down 11 (Elektra) 0000
Hey all you old skool rockers. feeling a bit left behind by all this nu fangled nu metal malarkey? Limp Bi7kit just a bit too limp for ya? Linkin Park just too similar to Westlife for comfort? Well salvation is at hand as some good of boys are here to save rock'n'roll from these young pretenders. Metal royalty (assorted members of Pantera. Corrosion Of Conformity. Eye Hate God and Crowbar) have got together for their second outing as Down. And what you get is an album of rum soaked. blues drenched. Black Sabbathesgue heavy rock. L-njoy.
INDIE‘EASY LISTENING THE BEES Sunshine Hit Me
(We Love YOU) 0...
Not much of muSicaI note has happened on the Isle of Wight Since the 603 festival so. with another one planned for this year. it's heartening to see the locals chipping in with some tunes of their own. This promising debut is mellow without being torpid. skipping idly between reggae. Io-fi and sixties pop like pigeonholing never happened.
The Bees sound alternater like Zero 7. Blur and Mike Flowers. and even go a bit Pixies on the splendid 'A Minha Menina'. It's not a perfect album — a few of these tracks s0und too much like stoned Jams — but this la/y record makes for a deeply productive listen. (James Smart)
ROCK POP TRASH- MONKEYS
Clubtown (Acid Jan) 0000
Touting themselves as the biggest rock band to come out of Germany since The Scorpions. Trashmonkeys may want to rethink their PR strategy. This is actually gleefully gloriOus, like a speedrushed fusion of The Inspiral Carpets and The Spencer Davis Group fronted by a dying Jim Morrison. We should have really known this was geing to be great from their scorching first Single ‘Sundays'. which opens an album that screeches into life like an old Rocket From The Crypt tune remastered by the Yardbirds. Their cover of SDG's classc 'I'm A Man' is spotless and ‘Fooling' just rocks Out. More fun than an hive full of. well. Hives. (Paul Dale)
Coat Of Many Cupboards (Virgin) O...
I won't hear a word against the Strokes or the Hives. but I'd never describe either as multi- dimensional. But reWind back to a time when new wave was actually new. when SWindon's XTC were fashioning a noisy kind of upside-down pop. and you'll discover a multicoloured landscape that leaves
their latter day imitators looking deCidedly flat.
It's the live pre- 1982 material that holds up best in this four-CD collection of demos and outtakes. It's all wrong. of course. Too awkward. too interesting. too many odd edges to be real pop. nagging. niggling and demanding your attention. And all the more brilliant for that. though for the more recent studio-based stuff you're better geing to the original albums.
DOWN 'I EMPO
CI IILL OUT VARIOUS ARTISTS Another Late Night (mixed by Zero 7) (Treaclel 0000
Just in case you ever wondered what Zero 7 listen to in the wee small hours after (angling their nerves With pills and thrills. here is a porthole for us plebs to peer through. This is the latest in a growing and for the most part innocuous trend of low key mix albums that was really kicked off by the All Back To Mine collections. Have no fear thOugh. as Zero 7 have taste by the bucketful and the only really dodgy track here is the Souls Of Mischief's '93 Til Infinity (Livel' which stinks. The rest is precious and thoughtful and includes some wonderful stuff from Serge Gainsbourg. DOn Blackman. Da Lata and The Stylistics. (Paul Dale)
R&B BEVERLEY KNIGHT
Who I Am (Parlophone) COO
Beverley Knight should think about changing her name. What With Delia