Archive for February, 2009

HUE AND CRY

22 February 2009

I first chanced upon the Labour of Love video back in the early 1990s, and from that I bought Hue and Cry albums — but I did not manage to catch any of their gigs — and I am not sure why.

I have always liked funk, soul, jazz — fat bass riffs, guitar chops, good vibe, fun tempos, interesting words, good singing, and there has been a good tradition around here for just that sort of thing.  Musically, Hue and Cry reminded me of Cado Belle or The Average White Band, but not vocally; Cado Belle had a female vocal (Maggie Reilly), and AWB sang falsetto like the Bee Gees!

There is a strong vocal tradition from these parts too — from the gravelly Dan McCafferty of Nazereth, or the legendary Frankie Miller, through the mumbling John Martyn, and the power of Paul Buchanan and Justin Currie, to the soulful rock voices of the likes of  Kim Beacon and Jimmy Dewar.

This is what set Hue and Cry apart — Pat Kane’s voice was unique; it was jazzy — almost Sinatra at times!

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Back then, there was a market for jazz-influenced stuff watered down for pop charts — Level 42, Nik Kershaw, Paul Young, Terence Trent D’Arby, Jamiroquai, The Blockheads, Chic, McFadden and Whitehead — and Hue and Cry.

Hue and Cry are back, but the market has changed.  Their new album is Open Soul — and if you liked them back in the day, this is more of the same. You could say that their old material doesn’t sound dated, or you could say the new album sounds as dated as their earlier stuff. The fact is they are still doing what they do — it has not changed.

If you liked them then, you will like them now. I did and I do.

The biggest problem back then was Pat Kane’s politics, or rather his approach to politics.

I personally do not think musicians should abuse their celebrity — they are merely entertainers. I should mention that I hate Bono, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and Sting for that same reason.

The shame of it is that I know this put a lot of people off the music — people actually chose not to allow Hue and Cry to entertain them! Pity really.

At the end of the day, Pat Kane is a really good singer.  I like his singing, and I like his songs.  His brother’s music is right up my street.  I have artists I adore, albums I love to bits, and there will be maybe one or two tracks I don’t like so much — track I delete from my MP3 player, y’know?  But — for me — Hue and Cry have not done a bad track.  Every track is good on Seduced and Abandoned, Remote, Stars Crash Down and Open Soul.

OK, there is a still a jazz market — but can Pat Kane’s Jazzy voice take on the massively popular Michael Bublé, Jamie Cullum, Harry Connick, Jr.James Morrison, Ray LaMontagne, and even locals Paulo Nutini and Leon Jackson? Rod Stewart and Sting have done the swing Jazz thing, but there’s no real market for soul or funk these days (sadly). On top of that (no pun intended), The Brothers Kane have gone baldy.  They are in their 40s now, and it shows — can thick-set bald men in suits appeal to the pop record buying kids? I doubt it.

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Dance has gone techno rather than disco.

Unless they change, and try to modernise — add beats or raps bits, I guess Hue and Cry will have to bank on being a come-back band — like Take That! — and bank on there being a market for nostalgia.  All they have to do is tap into their old fans again.

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I was a fan, and I still am.  The brothers from Coatbridge still deliver the goods in a world full of tedious, sad music.  Hue and Cry make me smile, it’s enjoyable and uplifting – – and what’s wrong with that?  They’ll never be a pop band, they are unlikely to have hit records, but they will sell-out gigs and they will make good records and video clips, and hopefully make a living.

It’s a vain hope, but I wish Glasgow would be more like New York in recognising home-grown talent — wouldn’t it be great if we had stars in the pavement or some hall of fame or something?

People of Glasgow — know what you have and have had, appreciate and support the amazing talent and celebrate bands like Hue and Cry! Come on!

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RICHARD HAWLEY

12 February 2009

I am still in love with “Cole’s Corner” — what a superb album (every track too).  Richard Hawley is the ma-an!

It is so-not like Pulp or anything to do with Jarvis Cocker. There’s nothing else like it out there, let me tell you that much. It owes much to the 1950’s crooners, and to Edwyn Collins or Roy Orbison.

Remember back at the 2006 Mercury Music prize was won by “The Arctic Monkeys”? — as they accepted on stage, they cried “someone call the police; Richard Hawley has been robbed”. Too right.

This album seems older than it is, more familiar, comfy.  It’s lushly orchestrated and produced beautifully to bring out the incredibly deep and rich vocal, and the Duane Eddy guitar.  It’s mellow, cooooool, and long hot summer nights.  It’s musical radox.

I just let this music massage my mind from the worries of the day. Aaaah, the sssh of the sea on “The Ocean”… it’s mature, proper grown-ups music, but it’s weirdly hip as feck!

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LUX INTERIOR

5 February 2009

Good grief — another dead rock star! Mind you, the utterly fabulous Lux Interior managed to get to 62 — which just blows me away!

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Ol’ Lux was the front man and lead singer with The Cramps.  And what an influence they were on everyone (and probably still are) .  Imagewise they definitely had an effect on Iggy Pop, The Cure, Siouxie, INXS and o-so-many-more.

From the superb “Naked Girl Falling Down The Stairs”, through “Bikini Girls With machine Guns” to “What’s Inside A Girl?” — they were real pioneers.  They blended punk with rockabilly to get psychobilly.  I was aware of The Cramps for ages before hearing The Jesus and Mary Chain’s cover of “New Kind of Kick”.

This got me onto Poison Ivy’s guitar playing — and I have always had a soft spot for band that have a chick in the line-up for some reason.  Everyone knows “The Human Fly”.  Poison Ivy got respect in the way that Joan Jett or Tina Weymouth did.

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I liked The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, The New York Dolls and all that, so The Cramps were well within my radar at the time.  Scary thought: most are dead or ancient now. Yikes!

As a last word, I would say that it seems a little strange.  The whole thing.  I mean, who would have thought that The Cramps would have lasted from the early seventies!  I guess you would have a punk type band down for a few years at best.  Then what about a married couple in a band  — how long would that be expected to last?  All those gigs, all those years — yet Poison Ivy and Lux Interior stayed together — and were very nearly pensioners together! jeez, punk pensioners!

Anyway, I reckon Poison Ivy influenced a good few girls,  I was always reminded of Kirsty McCall simply because of the red hair, but she wore skirts and dresses and played big rockabilly guitars — like loads of country girls since, but also in rock.

Ah, it is the end of The Cramps, and so the end of an era.  They have left a pretty robust legacy, there’s no denying that.

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