MAR 99] THE BLACKROOM
Hi and welcome to the blackroom. My name
is Pauline Black, lead vocalist with The Selecter.
My week started with a surprise last Sunday 28 February. Early in the morning I had a
phone call from a very good friend of mine, Pick Withers, who was the
original drummer in Dire Straits. He left Dire Straits back in the late
eighties and is currently drumming with Dr Hook. He invited me over to
the gig they were playing that night at the Bedworth Civic Hall.
Now Dr Hook were always one of my favourite bands since I first discovered them in the
early 80s, so I couldnt possibly pass up the chance to see the great Denis
Locorriere sing hits like Sylvia's Mothers Said
and The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.
But as luck would have it, Denis Locorriere is also a very, very nice man and when
asked if he would do a short interview for the blackroom, after they had
finished soundchecking, he immediately said yes and next thing I knew, I was whisked off
for tea and sandwiches in his dressing room. Find out what he had to say in The
Story So Far and a review of the gig in Bands 2C.
Meanwhile, heres what Ive seen around the local area over the past week or
Bands2C : Empire Mayde
@ The Colin Campbell, Thursday
25 February 1999
Empire Mayde personnel:
David Channer: vox
Michael Wilson: drums
Ross Clark: bass
Simon Nakra: keyboards
Neil Bhaduri: lead and rhythm guitar
Can dance music cut it live? Usually the answer to this is a resounding no. The beats
get lost, the singer outside of a studio is usually shown up for what they are,
someone with a pretty slight voice, but unused to performance.
Well Empire Mayde are different. Id gone to the Campbell,
planning to do a review of the Superheroes gig, but
was instantly impressed by the sweet sounds of the support band, who this
particular night had chosen to call themselves Karma, but currently would
prefer to be known as Empire Mayde. A good decision I reckon.
They do a slick set of hip-hop/funk/r&b influenced music, which
was refreshing and well executed. The bands influences are wide and they fuse
many different types of cultures into their music. They really grabbed the attention of
the audience, despite a technical hitch in the middle of the set, where the power went
down, leaving the band high and dry.
By the end of the set, the audience who were a bit disinterested at the beginning had
warmed to the band and people had taken to the dance floor, helped along by the heavy
funky drumming style of the excellent Michael Wilson.
DaveChanners vocals were well pitched, equally at home with the
soft r&b soul sound, or with the heavier funky beats.
A very talented, charismatic performer, who does not sacrifice the song to a useless
display of vocal pyrotechnics like so many other singers of this ilk. He says that
hes influenced by singers like Johnny Gill. I could also hear
elements of Terence Trent Darbys style in his vocals. Confidence is
all they lack at the moment, but this will come with gigging and work.
I spoke to him after the gig and found out that the band has been together for 19
months, actively involved with the usual band exploits, of rehearsing and songwriting. The
songs maybe need strengthening in terms of lyrical content and style and but show great
early promise. Definitely a band to watch.
Shakedown @ Kellys,
Leamington Spa, 1 March 1999
I thought that I would move further afield this week and see what Leamington
had to offer by way of live music.
Id seen a really good poster, which had, among other things, a photo of a cool
black be-bop style jazz dude on it. It promised funky tunes,
psychedelic vibes and jazz grooves. Brilliant, I thought. So I paid my £1
and in I went.
Kellys is a good venue; cosy, but large enough to view a band.
They also have a decent sound system and an interesting, if slightly ubiquitous these
days, 70s light show. The place was peopled with a young lively
crowd; sporting fleeces and the like, with the odd spattering of tattoos,
piercings and an assortment of lonely leather trousered souls.
Perhaps I should say, nice venue, shame about the band!!
Shakedown are a five piece, guitar/vocals, bass,
drums, congas and Hammond organ. A promising set-up on first view, until they start to
play and you get a mish-mash of Osibisa/Doors meets Santana on a
bad night. Only traditional 70s heads need apply.
Jazzy woman, taking me over with a flower in her hair,
intones the unexceptional voice of the lead singer. Such lyrics give you some idea of
whats on offer. This kind of lyric interspersed with extended pseudo jazz
funk work-outs is not my idea of heaven. Mind you, the Hammond organ guy was
really good when he got going. He was the most enjoyable musician in the band. And to be
fair, the vocalist did say that the drummer was new, because until recently he had been
the sax player in the band. So perhaps I just caught them on a bad night.
I didnt stay for their second set.
Three Words @ The Golden
Cross, 4 March 1999
I could write this review in three words; not very good, but that
would probably be unfair. Certainly judging by the audience, there were plenty of people
who thought they were great.
Three Words are a Warwick/Leamington-based band and
their line-up includes lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Tuneful enough
indie pop, even if the singer is somewhat charismatically challenged.
The main problem is the lead guitarist who has a penchant for playing fast,
furious riffs over all the songs, with apparently no interest in song structure,
harmony or the problems this might give the vocalist. At times I wondered whether he knew
that there was anybody else in the band apart from himself! On the other
hand he does have a nice-line in floppy fringes and an almost pathological interest in staring
at his feet! He played so furiously, in fact, that after the first number he
broke a string, which had to be replaced while everybody in the band stood around looking
After the string was replaced, the band launched into Last Night,
an oddly structured, lop-sided song; nothing wrong with that in essence, but again
somebody should point out to the guitarist that less is more!!!!!
Staring Into Space was probably the best song of the set
and would seem to be a state of mind that the guitarist and vocalist are familiar with.
Behind The Scenes
Last week I promised you a sneak behind the scenes of The Selecters
life on the road, during our gig in Paris scheduled for Saturday 6 March.
Well, unfortunately our keyboard player fell over (no he wasnt drunk at the
time!!) and chipped a bone in his foot, so he cant gig for a few
weeks. So youll have to wait for the next instalment. Still it gives me plenty of
time to get out and see new local bands!
The Selecter are playing The Foundry in Birmingham on
Thats it for this week. My thanks to Martin Nike for emailing me
with info about a new band Endless Knot, that he thought I might enjoy.
Bands 2C this coming week are Boiling Peter Bread,
Prole Position and Endless Knot; plus an interview with
ex-Specials, ex Fun Boy Three, Coventry star Neville Staples for The Story So Far
See you out and about somewhere!
E-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your
opinions and questions, which will be answered on these pages.
ALSO THIS WEEK: DR HOOK