Monday, April 22, 2013

high land, hard rain

Scotland's Aztec Camera made a splash from the mountain tops down to the sunny street with the melodic impressionist pop of their shimmering thoughtful debut.  Roddy Frame started the band at the age of fifteen with Campbell Owens and Dave Mulholland and they sent two singles on Glasgow independent Postcard Records ('Just Like Gold' and 'Mattress of Wire'to the top ten of the independent chart in the UK.    Frame recalls:   "I spent a bit of time being disillusioned by the fall of punk. What did I expect (from punk)? Only that we'd change the world. It was then that I started to play a gentler music. It was music, the dole and the shopping mall ... My ambition was to leave school and go on the dole so I could play music. I never had any doubt that’s what I would be doing, and I know that probably sounds a wee bit arrogant, but I always wanted to play and write and sing. It was a sort of tunnel vision...It was a funny process that a lot of those bands went through at the time: Orange Juice, Scritti Politti, ABC, we were all pseudo-intellectual NME readers really. The whole idea of Postcard Records was getting away from denim and rock and people writing 14 pages about Joy Division, and the only place for us to go was pure pop. We were listening to Tamla Motown and The Byrds and thought we were going to make great pop music. So when we moved on from NME to Smash Hits and Top of the Pops, I don’t think any of us were very comfortable with it. We thought it would be easier than it was to be a pop star.”

The group relocated to London and signed with Rough Trade Records.  Mulholland left and was replaced by Dave Ruffy; and Bernie Clark joined the group for the of their first album.  'High Land, Hard Rain' was produced by John Brand and Bernie Clarke with Roddy Frame on vocals, guitar, and harmonica; Bernie Clark on piano and organ; Campbell Owens on bass; and Dave Ruffy on drums and percussion.  All of the songs were written and arranged by Frame.  

'High Land, Hard Rain' reached one hundred and twenty-four in the US and number twenty-two in the UK.  The band secured a distribution deal with Sire Records in the US and opened for Elvis Costello on his 'Punch the Clock' tour of the States.   Frame considers:    “For Aztec Camera, the key word is awkwardness, we didn’t really fit in anywhere. I think we were too knowing and cynical for the Smash Hits readers and too flippant and childish for the NME. Bands who are very successful have a very clear-cut image and sound. We were contrary – if you’re looking for success, that’ll count against you. If you’re looking for a bit of a laugh, it’s good.”

"Oblivious" 3:05
became the band's first national hit, going to forty-seven on the UK singles chart and number one on the independent chart.  It was rereleased and charted again at number eighteen on the national chart.

"The Boy Wonders" 3:10

"Walk Out to Winter" 3:20
sauntered to number sixty-four on the UK singles chart and number three on the UK independent chart.

"The Bugle Sounds Again" 2:50

"We Could Send Letters" 5:40

"Pillar to Post" 3:55
found its way to number four on the UK independent chart.

"Release" 3:38

"Lost Outside the Tunnel" 3:35

"Orchid Girl"

 'High Land, Hard Rain' 
full album:,+Hard+Rain

All songs written by Roddy Frame.

1. Oblivious 0:00
2. The Boy Wonders 3:13
3. Walk Out To Winter 6:28
4. The Bugle Sounds Again 9:54
5. We Could Send Letters 12:52
6. Pillar To Post 18:39
7. Release 22:40
8. Lost Outside The Tunnel 26:23
9. Back On Board 30:06
10. Down The Dip 35:00
11. Queen's Tattoos 37:23
12. Haywire 39:33
13. Orchid Girl 43:31
14. Set The Killing Free 46:05
15. Oblivious (12" Mix) 49:51
16. Walk Out To Winter (12" Extended Version) 53:42

17. Oblivious (12" Extended Remix) 1:01:29

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