POP BURT BACHARACH Edinburgh Playhouse, Mon 29 Jul
On the wall of Burt Bacharach’s home is a framed newspaper cartoon. It shows the doors of three elevators. Above each is a different name: Mancini, Manilow and Bacharach.
It’s a sign that the godfather of easy listening can take the piss out of himself. But don’t take labels at face value. Although, there have undoubtedly been too many elevator versions of the Bacharach catalogue, the man himself is responsible for some of the most perfect pop ever recorded.
There are good songwriters, there are great songwriters and there is Burt Bacharach. Just pick a handful of songs from his massive output (he’s had 52 top 40 hits) and try to say otherwise: ‘Anyone who had a Heart,’ ‘I Say a Little Prayer,’ ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head,’ ‘Magic Moments,’ ‘What’s New Pussycat,’ ‘Walk on By’ . . . (shut up at the back with your Christopher Cross ‘Arthur’s Theme’ quips).
It’s true that it’s a catalogue that appears to bypass rock’n’roll, that Noel, Michael, Dionne, Dusty, Gene, Elvis - they all love him, owes more to Rodgers and Hammerstein than to Leiber and Stoller (although, in fact, he was inspired by their pre-Elvis work with the Coasters). His is a pop of big orchestras, sublime melodies, classic singers (he wrote for Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Gene Pitney and Dusty Springfield) and sophisticated lyrics (most famously Hal David, but also Carole Bayer Sager and even Elvis Costello).
And though it sometimes seems that he has been impervious to rock’n’roll, the same cannot be said in reverse. In the land of rock, he is, to coin a broken phrase, standing on the shoulder of giants. Everyone from Noel Gallagher to REM, Stereolab and John Zorn have paid tribute to Bacharach, now 73. And occasionally, he’s returned the compliment. ‘Oasis?’ he told the NME. ‘I do like them. I wouldn’t have listened to them as much if Noel hadn’t shown attention and affection for some of my songs, but it certainly made me go check those guys out, and they’re good.’
But not for Bacharach the rudimentary three-chord punk thrash of ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’. Listen to his melodies and arrangements and they’re continually surprising, operatic epics condensed into three-minute chunks. ‘I just wouldn’t be able to write a song in three chords, simple vanilla G majors and stuff,’ he once said. ‘What, no suspension on the fifth, no seventh? I couldn’t do it. It’s a short form, three and a half minutes, so everything counts. You can get away with murder in a 40-minute piece, but not in three and a half.’
His gig in Edinburgh, where he’ll be delivering 40 years of hits, is not his first visit to the capital, but this time he’s playing under his own steam, unlike his visits in the early 60$ when he was leader of Marlene Dietrich’s band. ‘We once came out of a stage door in Edinburgh,’ he recalled. ‘We’d just done a concert, and there were about 50 people out there waiting for her to sign autographs. Marlene said to them, “Ah, you don’t vant my autograph, you vant . . . Mr. Bacharach’s.” And they were like: “Who’s he?” And she said: “Ah, you’ll know one day.”’ (Mark Fisher)
SIAS Hmm. just another section of the Swedish invasion eh? GRG No way. this quartet are British born and bred.
SIAS Really. British rock is cool again?
GRG Who cares? There's only one bunch of delinquents you need to hear this year.
SIAS I've heard it all before . . . GRG You're mad to pass up a fine young rock band because of
The newest and shin/est and prettiest from the world of rock et pop. This issue: The Beatings
Garage Rock Glutton Mmm: Do yOu smell the sweat. “fuck ‘ yOu attitude' and feedback off ' ‘” "" this lot?
Seen It All Sam Yeah . . . and? GRG Holy Punk Rock! Four good looking. garage rock reprobates
With a penchant for the Stooges. Billy Childish and all things rock'n‘roll. They're what the world's been waiting for.
SIAS And the rest . . . NAM namby pambyed off back to bed and Emo's all emotioned out so what's so special about this next lot? This garage rock thing's getting out of hand.
GRG For a start they have an exe-
S&M-porn—horror film star in vocalist Matt. guitarist Nick likes
58 THE LIST Its Jul 1 Air; 700?
Need a good Beating?
to call himself Jack Knife. they have a bass player called Dino and Todd is the Status (Duo IoVing drummer. Not to mention new single 'Jailhouse' ‘Nllll its hand-sprayed sleeve and raw. unadulterated rockorama on a crash course in chaos. Keyin Shields has even seen fit to produce their debut album.
Hives hysteria and other nameless; no-marks. With song titles like ‘Mutilate the Trash' why not give it a go?
SIAS When you put it like that. might as well get stuck in to the grotf
GRG So. d'ya fancy a Beating? SIAS Oh goon then . .
I The Beat/rigs play The Barf/y on Thu 2:3 July. 'Ja/lhouse' is out now on Fantastic Plastic.
TRIBUTE NIGHT WE BELIEVE IN AC/DC Barfly, Glasgow, Sun 28 Jul.
Anyone with a sadistic streak so wide that they'd actually like to frighten the power of speech out of a small child for years to come could do a hell of a lot worse than take them along to see the Silver Pill playing live. But. while the Edinburgh-based band are justly infamous on the circuit for their cacophonously grungy. post-rockin' live act. it's the ‘We Believe in . . .' nights which they organize that will surely see them pass into local legend.
For West Coast gig-goers experiencing the concept for the very first time. the premise is blindingly ‘why-didn't-l-think-of-that?‘ simple. Just invite along a selection of the finest bands in Scotland (be they familiar faces or raw newcomers) On the condition they play one cover version in keeping with the theme of the occasion.
Astrid are believers
Thus far. then. we've had conSistently top-quality nights with the likes of Annie Christian. ballboy. Torqamada and Huckleberry affirming their faith in Father Christmas and Elvis Presley. so now it's the turn of some new faces to pull On the school uniforms and pledge allegiance to Angus Young and his cadre of Aussie cock-rockers. And in the city of Young's birth. no less!
'We believe in a lot of things. AC DC is just one of them.‘ say the Pill. whose lead singer Bruce will be making an unlikely solo acoustic appearance. ‘Although. to be honest. none of us have ever seen them in the flesh. so we just have to take it for granted that they exist!‘ Also playing are sweet indie jangle-poppers Astrid. the intermittently excellent Major Major and hotly-tipped newcomers the Darkness. Not to mention the most evil man in rock. Radio 1 and Huckleberry's Vic Galloway. manning the decks.
Just one question. though; as the icons in question get slightly less relevant each time (Santa. Elvis. AC/DC). how long before the how of the long-awaited 'We Believe In Half Man, Half Biscuit' is upon us?