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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 ‘80’s, so I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to see the great Denis Locorriere sing hits like ‘Sylvia's Mother’s 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, here’s what I’ve seen around the local area over the past week or two.

Bands2C : Empire Mayde (aka Karma)

@ The Colin Campbell, Thursday 25 February 1999

Empire Mayde

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. I’d 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 band’s 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.

DaveChanner’s 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 he’s influenced by singers like Johnny Gill. I could also hear elements of Terence Trent Darby’s 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.

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Shakedown @ Kelly’s, 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.

I’d 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.

Kelly’s 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, 70’s 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 70’s 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 what’s 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 didn’t stay for their second set.

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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 embarrassed.

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.

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Behind The Scenes

Last week I promised you a sneak behind the scenes of The Selecter’s life on the road, during our gig in Paris scheduled for Saturday 6 March.

Well, unfortunately our keyboard player fell over (no he wasn’t drunk at the time!!) and chipped a bone in his foot, so he can’t gig for a few weeks. So you’ll 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 20 March.

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Future tense

That’s 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 with your opinions and questions, which will be answered on these pages.


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CWN / the blackroom / 9 Mar 99

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