Posts Tagged ‘Hue and Cry’



[Picture of Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett]Sometimes I come across a name all the time, and that is the case these days with Owen Pallett. For me he’s everywhere.

I probably first came across this name back in 2007 when I heard Arcade Fire’s “Neon Bible”.  It’s a funny name: Owen Pallett. The chap is an overtly homosexual violin player and singer. OK, not my usual bag.

Then I spotted that he appeared on “Joys” from “Worried Noodles” a compilation of David Shrigley’s lyrics set to music back in 2007 (see my post on David Shrigley).

I went to a concert to see St. Vincent last year, she was in support of Grizzly Bear — and up cropped Owen Pallett’s name yet again (see my post on Grizzly Bear, and my review of the St Vincent-Grizzly Bear gig) — Owen did the string arrangements and stuff for Grizzly Bear’s “Yellow House”, and is associated with Beirut from a few years ago (see my post on Beirut’s The Gulag Orkestar).

I have his album “Heartland” which is just out, and tonight I spotted A tweet by Hue & Cry

Greg: Hav 2 agree with all the gr8 reviews. Owen Pallett’s “Heartland” album is a masterpiece. On my 4th listen :)    9:46 AM Jan 18th   from web

This was the tipping point I think, it forced me to post here — and to look up YouTube! Here’s a vid uploaded of him with just a violin – live — doing a Joanna Newsom song:

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The thing is, he’s a clever cookie — not just a violin player, but a graduate in musical composition. This explains why he keeps cropping up in all sorts of places — in my mind, usually associated with East Coast American/ New York and pretty “gay” acts such as  MikaOwen did the string arrangements for his album “The Boy Who Knew Too Much“, and The Pet Shop Boys (their “Yes” album from last year).

You can pretty-much guess what Owen Pallett/ Final Fantasy will sound like just from the associations, but he is definitely worth a listen; the musicianship is high, and it makes a nice change to hear something fresh! Enjoy!

Here’s an amateur vid of him playing live the Jennifer Rush/ Celine Dion “Power of Love” on YouTube: It’s just him and a violin, and it just ought not to work… but it does!  Brilliant!

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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!