For Del Amitri's singer/bassist and chief songwriter Justin Currie, the song's the thing, those three minutes of formal pop perfection in which he can forget the imperfect grind of reality. The Scottish band's fourth A&M album (and fifth overall), SOME OTHER SUCKER'S PARADE, seeks to evade that grind in 14 pop gems that cover a gamut of rock & roll styles and observations on life's vicissitudes and poignant ironies.
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There's the jangly, Byrds-like guitars and self-deprecation of the first single, "Not Where It's At," which laments that "the one girl I want, she wants that one bit of geography I lack." The title track turns yet another losers lament into a Dylanesque ode to drowning your sorrows in a bottle with guitarist/co- songwriter Iain Harvie's Ron Wood riffs underlining the tongue-in-cheek self pity of lines like "Patience they say, is a saintly virtue/But hell, why should I wait/Til the clouds go rain on some other sucker's parade" (Currie: "Glasgow's a town that's obsessed with different forms of intoxication and inebriation...The way people deal with their problems here is by going on binges.")
The band's love of American pop-rock comes out ringingly clear on the rousing, pure pop flavored "Won't Make It Better," the southern-rock boogie of "Funny Way To Win," the Television-meets-Rolling Stones lyricism of "Through All That Nothing" and the sweet country strains of Harvie's low-range pedal steel guitar, which adds flavor to "Lucky Guy," Currie's sarcastic tale of a cuckolded boyfriend enviously imagining himself in the shows of the married man with whom his partner is cheating on him. Says Currie: "In Scotland, we seem to be a lot less snobby about liking American music than in London...We have a very naive, romantic idea about the States."
"I am an athiest and a pragmatist," says Currie. "I loathe this neo-hippie revival of mysticism. I believe the world's problems can only be solved by people getting off their asses and doing some work. The original hippie movement was about action as much as it was about introspection. The word 'spiritual' has no meaning to me. It can't be explained in any logical terms and has been used to cover up a multitude of sins, including inaction. To use the English cliche, "It's like punk never happened." And while Currie's lyrics aim more to personal epephanies than political abstractions, he is not afraid to tackle society's hypocrisies, as in the anti-escapist neo-realism of "Won't Make It Better" and "Medicine," which both criticize the reliance on "pseudo-therapeutic, self-help solutions" to complex problems.
There's a theme running through Del Amitri's songs of not being able to find one's place in the world, the feeling of being disconnected, out of time, out of step, isolated. Just refer to the album's closing song, "Make It Always Be Too Late," about sitting in a bar at the end of a tour after an allnighter and dreading the sunrise (Cos what I want is everything to clear/So if you stop your watch/You might stop the morning's cruel hammer falling here.")
"We've never pretended we didn't want to be in the mainstream," insists Currie. "I don't mean in terms of sales, but in terms of everybody should be able to get our music. To me, that's one of the functions of pop music. You bring everybody together in a room to sing along to a catchy tune. And I don't see why that tune can't have a complex lyric attached. That's part of pop music's appeal. It can identify really quite complicated things in a really accessible way, a way that can give people chills." Yes, Del Amitri's Justin Currie considers himself to quote one of his more sarcastic compositions, a "Lucky Guy." "I do feel lucky," he says, "I can't think of anything better in the world than running around in a tour bus and playing your songs for people."
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