Sweet and Tender Hooligans
Right on time, Embrace release a brand new
It's out at last. Embrace are back. And, well, it's not quite
what you'd expect.
'Hooligan' is a happy-go-lucky, slightly shambolic little number
with more than a touch of Beck thrown into the mix. We won't be
waving our cigarette lighters around to it at the concerts but
it marks a significant step out into the sunshine after weeks
of recording their second album. In the Gloucestershire mansion
where they have been holed up this last month, things are clearly
Embrace have come a long way from their home town of Brighouse
by the flowing banks of the M62. They were heralded by the NME
only two years ago as natural heirs to the likes of Oasis and
The Verve, as copies of their Extended Play began to dominate
the turntables of the London inkies. The album soon delivered
the promise. The Good Will Out threw Embrace into the mainstream
and live shows backed it up. For the first time in nearly ten
years Yorkshire had a real live phenomenon on its hands - a band
who could write songs with heart on the sleeve, and with a sense
of scale that such songs deserve. Danny McNamara, the band's frontman,
would tell the NME that he wanted the band to be like the Beatles
had Brian Wilson joined.
Bands from our neck of the woods seem to have a knack of bottling
it on the verge of stardom. From small jewels such as Party Day
to bright sparks like Pulp there's always been a contrary reaction
to the positive vibes. Just to prove that it's not all about predictability
and safety. Just to show that we're not in it for something as
trivial as success. The exception proves the rule - When Def Leppard
were rehearsing every night of the week above a Bramhall Lane
factory their eyes were very firmly on the stars. The band would
play to the old dears in places like High Green Liberal Club or
Wombwell Reform as if they were in Madison Square Garden.
The expectations carried on the shoulders are understandably
huge, because in a year when Noel and Liam caught Limo Fatigue
and the mighty Verve imploded, we have a deep need for a strong
Embrace. Their songs, deeply romantic and passionate, were the
soundtrack to last summer. No trace of the cynicism at the heart
of much of the music that's out there, Travis have proved this
year that there is room for a bit of emotional honesty and that
the second album syndrome is a journalists crutch. Embrace are
not about to pull any arty stunts or post-modern ironic think
pieces. There is a real sense of honesty at the heart of this
bands music, and if we have any hopes for the new millennium it's
for Embrace to emerge triumphant. However they want to do it.
The signs are good. On Steve Lamaqu's recent Radio One interview
the band were sounding very positive, and promised one song, 'Love
It Takes', that they feel has taken them to even greater hights.
The good, of course, will come out at the live shows they have
planned in January. There are shows in Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol,
Oxford and Norwich before it all comes to a head at the Astoria
in London on the 28th January. The NME Brats headliner. By then
we'll know the title, and we'll hear the songs. Sweet and Tender?
We will see.
Def Leppard - Early Doors
Rock Photographer Steve Drury, best known for his Melody Maker
work, has re-printed some of his rarest pictures. His were the
earliest pictures of Def Leppard and his shots have a candid quality
rarely seen in rock photography.
Check out his web pages at - Steve
Ann Lee Shakes
Who is this mysterious Sheffield singer with the massive
Until now there was only one Ann Lee. She was the leader
of a breakaway Quaker group renowned for their dancing,
shouting, singing and shaking. Her movement spread to America
and across Europe in the last century. And suddenly another
Ann Lee, a 27 year old singer from Sheffield, is shaking
the floors of Europe again.
'Two Times' was one of the biggest dancefloor smashes of
1999. From Ibiza and Agia Napa to Newquay and Skeggie you
probably returned from your holiday with the tune ringing
in your ears and it was no surprise to see it enter the
UK charts at No2 in the autumn. Ann Lee herself remains
a bit of an enigma, and her Peter Gabriel style video does
little to change this, set in a tiny seaside cottage with
all sorts of loopy nonsense going on around the place.
The lyrics are pure TEFL doggerel of the standard you'd
expect from Larry Pignagnoli's hand. He's the brains behind
the song, and the man who brought us the very wonderful
Whigfield and her smash hit "Saturday Night".
Ann Lee teamed up with him in Italy at the beginning of
the year together with another hot Italian, arranger Marco
Soncini. By all accounts she's well settled there now -
so don't expect her down at Republic/Gatecrasher quite yet.
You still don't remember the song? Well cop this poetry...
"Some many mind What you gonna do/ Easy gone Come
the way you go/ I never find When I'm looking for/ Easy
gone Darling gimme more... Two times..doo doo doo..."
I'm shaking already!! It probably makes much better sense