Five Hungry Joes – A pictorial archive of the Trashcan Sinatras. Legendary Scottish Band

Weird, But Wonderful
February 20, 2009, 6:48 pm
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Feature article which appeared in UK music magazine ‘Record Mirror’ from November 3 1990.

trashrm_031190Here’s the article in full…

Now and again, a band comes along and you know there’s something a bit special about them, something that elevates them a few thousand miles above the rest of the pop swamp.

The Trash Can Sinatras – Frank Read (vocals), brothers John and Steve Douglas (guitar and drums), George McDaid (bass) and Paul Livingston (guitar) – are such a band. Hailing from Irvine in Scotland, they signed to Go! Discs last year, joining Billy Bragg, The La’s and The Beautiful South.

Their first single, ‘Obscurity Knocks’, was like a bees’ swarm of acoustic and electric guitars – bringing back memories of Aztec Camera in their ‘All I Need Is Everything’ days. The Trash Can Sinatras respect their influences and use them to create a pastiche of melodic and emotional guitar music couple with exceptional lyrics.

Just released is the Trashies new single, ‘Circling The Circumference’. Full of musical passion and lyrical swashbuckling. Frank’s normally crisp vocals are tossed into a psychedelic tumble-dryer, emerging confused and exalted. Switch to the B-side and you’ve got a haunting cover of the epic Seventies TV theme ‘White Horses’. They are not short of sensitivity. But with lyrics like “The man in charge is like a greasy Jesus” commonplace Trash Cans fare, you have to question their sanity.

“Hah!” replies John, “we’re the sanest people you’ll ever meet. The line you’re referring to is actually about a specific person we know in Irvine, so you’d be hard pushed to understand it. But you know the kind of person we’re on about – there’s one in every town. Picture a Jesus character and throw in a kinda heavy metal image…Jesus Christ superstar!”

Actually, most of the Trash Cans’ lyrics are pretty easy to understand, open-ended enough for wide appeal, and much too poignant to be ignored. For instance: “I’m looking twice my age/ It’s getting to this stage/ Where I’m old not wise just worried/ Stories of rags to riches leave me in stitches.” (Best Man’s Fall)

“You couldn’t actually talk like that,” confesses John, “but I always regard music as 50 per cent lyrics anyway. I know a lot of people don’t see it that way and some of the band don’t. I reckon if the music’s great then fine; but the English language is there to be used. If the lyrics are brilliant and imaginative and you put that to a good tune, then you’ve got something really special.

“Sometimes it can get a bit much and I have to admit that just lately we’ve thought that maybe the lyrics are a bit too contrived. You have to be very careful not to overdo it.”

While sitting in Paul and John’s hotel room, we hear a dance remix of The Waterboys’ ‘Whole Of The Moon’. This brings jeers about dance music and particularly unsavoury comments regarding bands who ‘rip off’ decent songs.

“Actually, there’s a really good story about that song,” says Paul. “Mike Scott of The Waterboys wrote that song about Roddy Frame. Y’see, Mike Scott was writing all this stuff on his acoustic guitar in Edinburgh, trying to get a record out. Then Aztec Camera released ‘High Land Hard Rain’, their first LP, and Mike Scott thought ‘Shit, that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do!’. Then the first Waterboys LP came out at the same time as ‘Knife’ by Aztec Camera and it was the same story again: Mike Scott thought that Roddy Frame was always one step ahead of him. ‘Whole Of The Moon’ was basically Mike Scott saying ‘OK Roddy, I give up, I’ll never be as good as you, you’re brilliant.”

So, you learn something every day. But if you really want to know the secret to the meaning of life, get yourself a binful of Trash Can Sinatras records. You could soon be circling the circumference in more style than you ever thought possible.

Rave on sisters.

rm_031190_0211990 November 3 / Record Mirror Magazine (UK)

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