Whilst Young Marble Giants have rightly been lauded for their magnificent LP Colossal Youth (and if you are unfamiliar with that meisterwerk then the Lebanese militias are coming for you), the bands that formed in their wake have been unjustly overlooked. The Moxham brothers went on to form The Gist (and their music, a clear progression from YMG, is well worth checking out), but lead singer Alison Statton changed tack completely and formed a lush, technically accomplished, almost Carpenterish band, though one which leant more towards jazz than easy listening thanks to the vigorous tenor sax playing of Larry Stebbins.
The cover reflects the bucolic, relaxed nature of the band – a primitive, childlike watercolour of a lake with a man in a rowing boat while a girl and her dog are on the bank. The impression of tranquillity and space the cover conjures up is replicated in the music as well. The name of their debut LP was La Variete which we are told on the back sleeve is “the French term for popular radio, everything that’s not heavy rock; music drawing on diversity and depth.” So if you are seeking the vicarious thrills of Turbonegro, you are probably best advised to go elsewhere. However, if you are in the mood for a wallow in nostalgic bossanova, you have come to the right place.
Drumbeat For Baby starts with the sort of minimal guitar riff that could lead you to think you are listening to Colossal Youth but after ten seconds a real drummer kicks in followed by tenor sax. These are not the pencil thin doodlings of three Young Marble Giants but the colourful brushstrokes of a full, technically accomplished band. The music is reminiscent of jazz on a lazy Sunday afternoon, not the mad, free jazz of Albert Ayler or the desolate beauty of Jan Garbarek but the cool, sophistication of Stan Getz at his melodic best. To be honest, Alison seems a little overawed to be singing in such company and her voice and lyrics can get lost in the instrumentation (in other words I haven’t a clue what she is singing about as I can only make out the occasional phrase). The best thing to do is to wait for a hot, sunny day, pour yourself a vodka martini, drag your deckchair into the back garden and succomb to the relaxed and relaxing music this band provide.
They weren’t called Weekend for nothing although we should always remember that the weekend has to end and the rough drawings of masters are often superior to the fully finished paintings of others.