A-Z of Dead Man Singing: D
143 days ago
D is for Del Amitri, one of the great under-rated bands of the late 80s/early 90s. You can find their music all over Dead Man Singing: it’s there in one of Dave and Cindy’s first meetings and the group crop up sporadically throughout the book, culminating with an account of one of their gigs. I’d love to say this section is written from personal experience, but I never managed to see Del Amitri back then. My account of the gig is based on contemporary reviews (thanks, Google!) and Youtube footage from around the right time. Ironically, the gig that I chose – Hammersmith Odeon in late 1990 – saw a young Vic Reeves join them onstage for the encores. Tempting as it was to include that detail, it seemed an unnecessary distraction from the story, so I left it out.
I first came across Del Amitri when ‘Nothing Ever Happens’ was a retro-sounding breath of fresh air in the charts (accordions on Top of the Pops!). A good friend had seen them three or four years previously as a support act, branding them the worst band he had ever seen. In fairness to my friend, their sound then was very different to their 1989 breakthrough, and I’ve seen members of Del Amitri make similarly dismissive remarks about their earliest work. Sadly, that review was probably the reason I didn’t check them out more thoroughly at the time.
A string of enjoyable albums followed, but they were always a band who did alright rather than having the huge success they deserved. After a hiatus of more than ten years, the band reformed in 2013 and, happily, are still with us. I’m hoping to finally catch them live sometime.
D is also for David Lindley, a phenomenal guitarist who sadly died in the time between Dead Man Singing being accepted by The Book Guild and it actually being published. He isn’t specifically mentioned in the book, but he features on a lot of the music that Dave holds close to his heart.
Lindley was a multi-instrumentalist, effortlessly mastering just about anything with strings. He is best known for his work as a sidesman for the likes of Jackson Browne, Terry Reid, and Ry Cooder. I saw him in 1990, playing as a duo with Cooder. At the time I was unaware of him and was there purely for his collaborator, but it was Lindley who blew me away. The two guitarists, surrounded on the Hammersmith Odeon stage by stringed and percussion instruments galore, were staggeringly good. For a while, I planned to include that gig in Dead Man Singing, as an early date for Dave and Cindy, but it didn’t fit the pacing of the story and had to be cut. It was a night that places highly in my list of gigs I would revisit and experience all over again given the chance.
Who would you name as the most under-rated band or artist in your music collection?
‘Nothing ever happens ‘? I think not
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