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Showing posts from February, 2018

Eddie Amoo obituary

Eddie Amoo
Singer, song-writer with The Real Thing Born May 4 1944; died February 23 2018
By rights, Eddie Amoo, who has died suddenly in Australia aged 73, should have had as high a profile as a singer and song-writer of socially conscious soul as his heroes Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes and Marvin Gaye. If Amoo had come from frontline Harlem or Watts, both crucibles of the 1960s civil rights movement, it might have happened. Coming from the rough-house streets of Liverpool 8, or Toxteth as the city’s multi-racial inner-city neighbourhood built on the back of slavery became better known following the summer riots of 1981, things worked out differently.
This was despite Amoo and The Real Thing, the band formed by Amoo’s younger brother Chris, writing Children of the Ghetto, the centre-piece of the twelve-minute Liverpool 8 Medley. This three-part suite formed the climax of the band’s 1977 album, 4 from 8, and attempted to give voice to some of the conflicting tensions that existed on the …

Ross Sinclair - Artists who make music Musicians who make art

When Ross Sinclair designed the cover for the first album by his band The Soup Dragons, he was accidentally setting a marker down for the relationship between his artistic practice and his role as the band’s drummer. ‘this is our ART’ went the legend set on a painted five-pointed star that seemed to shimmer like a wild west sheriff’s badge. ‘USELESS, BORING, IMPOTENT, ELITIST AND VERY VERY BEAUTIFUL’. 
As revolutionary slogans go, it was tailor-made for t-shirts some of us still wear. The album was released in 1988, a few years after Sinclair had taken time out from his studies at Glasgow School of Art to join in with a nascent underground scene that saw the then Buzzcocks-inspired Soup Dragons play their first gig supporting a still jangly Primal Scream. That was at Splash 1, the Sunday night Glasgow Happening that recast Andy Warhol’s Factory in a sticky-floored 1980s neon-lit nightclub set to a punk/psych soundtrack played on cassettes.
Thirty-odd years on, Sinclair continues to cri…

Stephen Mallinder - Wrangler, The Tourist and Cabaret Voltaire

It felt like things had come full circle when Stephen Mallinder found himself working with his students in Brighton making 16mm film loops. More than forty years earlier, he and his collaborators in Sheffield-sired electronic trio Cabaret Voltaire had done something similar. Taking their name from a Dadaist nightclub and inspired by William Burroughs, Mallinder, Richard H Kirk and Chris Watson cut and pasted a set of rhythmically pulsed soundtracks to a scary dystopian future set to back-drops of found footage collages. Now here was Mallinder in a digital future which seemed to have caught up on itself.
“Technology has changed everything,” he says, “but it’s great that a new generation want to work that way.”
A similar sense of experimentation with sound and film should be in evidence when Mallinder’s current band, Wrangler, appear at Glasgow Film Festival this week as one half of an event called The Unfilmables. Scheduled as part of GFF’s Sound and Vision strand following a short tour …

Candy Opera – With Yesterday in All the Right Places

Candy Opera was the first band I ever met. For a young shaver attempting to make his way in Liverpool during the early 1980s, this probably sounds a bit weird. Maybe not as weird as hearing them again for the first time in more than 30 years, but still. That strange sensation comes courtesy of 45 Revolutions Per Minute, a collection of never-released demos recorded between 1983 and 1993 by several incarnations of a band who should have caught fire alongside contemporaries such as The Pale Fountains, Prefab Sprout and Friends Again. Fates decreed, alas, that Candy Opera’s elegant brand of what some are now calling sophisti-pop somehow fell off the radar, only to be discovered online by Uwe Weigmann, co-owner of the Berlin-based Firestation label, ace purveyors of indie obscurities par excellence.

What those coming with fresh ears to the album when it is released this weekend on limited edition CD and vinyl is anybody’s guess. For me, even though the bulk of the album was recorded long …

The Return

MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling Four stars
In small town life, everybody knows your business. More importantly perhaps, they also know your name. So it goes in the rural 16th century French community that occupies Ellie Stewart’s dark and elegant mystery as it investigates the existential human consequences of stepping into someone else’s shoes. The cuckoo in the nest here is Arnaud, Thoren Ferguson’s rugged stranger who fills an absence left by the disappearance of Bertrande’s husband when he wandered off into the hills seven years before. Never, Bertrande presumes, to be seen again. Until now, that is. Like Arnaud says, he’s returned a new man.
Drawn from various takes on the real-life story of Martin Guerre, Stewart has constructed a dramatic smoke-screen of beguiling beauty and shadowy erotics. Philip Howard’s touring production for the Inverness-based Eden Court Theatre wraps this in a slow-burning musicality pulsed by brooding cello drones created live by Greg Sinclair, who also pl…

Deathtrap

Dundee Rep Four stars
If there was any justice, what happens in play-writing class should stay in play-writing class in Ira Levin’s 1970s comedy thriller, revived here by Dundee Rep Ensemble in Johnny McKnight’s forensically dissected production. There’s no chance of that, alas, in veteran pulp thriller hack Sidney Bruhl and his young charge Clifford Anderson’s world. Sidney has lost his mojo following a series of flops, but when he reads a play called Deathtrap by wannabe genius Clifford, he smells a hit. With wife and apparent accomplice Myra in tow, Sidney concocts a half-jokey plot to kill the kid and pass off his play as his own.
What follows as Levin’s yarn twists and turns its way towards a not entirely inevitable denouement is so darn knowing it practically winks at an audience who lap up this sort of thing. Like an extended episode of Inside No 9 as directed by Ryan Murphy, Levin’s post-modern high-jinks are plotted like a well-oiled if somewhat eccentric machine programmed to …

Denise Johnson – Neu! Reekie!, Primal Scream, 10cc and A Certain Way to Go

When Denise Johnson decided she wanted to record an album, she thought she might do a set of covers of songs by female singers from her home town of Manchester. It would have been a tribute to where Johnson came from, both in terms of geography and as a woman, Except –
“I couldn’t find any,” says Johnson, as she prepares to headline Edinburgh-based music multiple artform mash-up, Neu! Reekie!’s February Fling tomorrow night. “The only one I came up with was Elkie Brooks, and she’s not even really Manchester.”
Veteran blues diva turned MOR crooner Brooks was born in Salford, and raised in Prestwich. Both places may only be a stone’s throw from their big city neighbour, but these things count in the north. Johnson is from Hulme, the inner-city one-time brutalist rough-house turned bohemian playground. She also spent time in Whalley Range, the nearby suburb notable for a nineteenth century heritage that includes a strata of Victorian women living there being empowered to vote. All of that …