SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #140 : HUE AND CRY

A re-post from just five months ago….

Here’s a single which is kind of like a skeleton in my closet in that I don’t admit to many folk that I like it; indeed it is one I rarely play given nowadays given that I’ve never transferred it or anything else by the band onto the i-pod or i-phone.

Just as I’m finding it really hard to listen to anything involving Morrissey, so it has been for some 30 years with Hue and Cry. For those of you who perhaps aren’t familiar with the group, (which I imagine will be the case with almost all the non-UK readers), it is basically a duo, formed by brother Pat Kane (vocals) and Greg Kane (everything else!) in the mid-80s.

After a debut single in 1986 on a small Glasgow-based independent label, they came to the attention of Virgin Records who signed them to a subsidiary label Circa for whom there was immediate success which was sustained for a few years with a number of chart singles and two albums which went Top 20. They were incredibly popular in Scotland, emerging at a time when a number of others acts across the country were embracing that late 80s big-sounding production with big vocals and big social statements to match, selling out much bigger venues up here than anywhere else.

It soon became apparent that Pat Kane was never going to be content with being a mere pop star.

He made use of his fame to promote himself as something of an intellectual, penning newspaper columns and appearing on television programmes in which he never shied away from airing what he considered to be left-wing credentials. He was also a very strong advocate for independence for Scotland and, to be fair, his arguments and viewpoints did make for interesting reading, gaining more than enough traction to ensure his success when he stood in an election in 1990 for the post of Rector at Glasgow University, which in effect is the highest office that can be held by a non-academic person at that particular seat of learning.

There was seemingly nothing on which Pat Kane didn’t have an opinion, and there was seemingly nothing on which his opinion was wrong. I don’t think I was alone in growing very bored of him very quickly, switching the telly over any time he appeared and completely by-passing any articles I came across in any newspapers. There was an arrogance about him that jarred and, looking back, it is clear to see that he was one of the first ‘champagne socialists’ who would rise to power in later years, albeit at the UK level of politics rather than in Scotland.

All of this made it tough to enjoy his music anymore, but to compound things, he and Greg announced that having enjoyed the rewards from two hit albums they were now going to embrace their lifelong love of jazz, which was my cue to bail out entirely.

Hue and Cry are still on the go today and Pat Kane still has something of a profile as a journalist and political activist but I continue to pay no attention.

But….and this came from looking deep for stuff that might go down well at the Simply Thrilled night(s)….there’s no denying that the duo did write and record an absolute belter of a radio-friendly tune back in 1987:-

mp3 : Hue and Cry – Labour of Love

This was the second single lifted from the debut album and it climbed all the way to #6 in the UK charts. It’s big, bold and brassy with a defiant message. Yes, it could be interpreted as a break-up song with someone telling their other half that the love they had endured for seven years was now over; but let’s not kid ourselves – this was very much an open letter to a right-wing government which was causing havoc to so many communities, including many in and around where the Kane brothers had been brought up. If Billy Bragg had penned this lyric, we’d be still celebrating it as genuine classic.

JC

5 thoughts on “SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #140 : HUE AND CRY

  1. Can I send you our CDs, it would be wholly my pleasure to post copies of them off to you ? You so kindly featires one of our songs as your Scottish song of the week a couple of months ago and I just wondered if you would like to hear more of our work ? We are called Hollow Horse. I thank you for your time.

    Kenny Little

  2. My Hue & Cry memory.
    I was in Dundee’s Phoenix bar one Saturday lunchtime and the owner, who is quirky at the best of times came in, walked up the bar and stopped. “Something’s wrong,” he said and retraced his steps. “Ah,” he said next and walked into the gents. He came out and swore, then walked into the ladies. He came out, swore again, then eyed the door to the cellar, and went down. I was puzzled to say the least, and when he came back up the stairs he said, “Bastards! Someone’s stolen a bar stool! How can my staff not notice someone walking out with a bar stool?”
    At that moment, the door opened, and someone from the Dundee Rep came in with a bar stool. “Thanks for loaning us this last night,” they said.
    “What did you need it for?” Alan asked.
    “Hue & Cry were playing and Pat needed a bar stool to sit on.”
    “What? That pseudo socialist shitebag from Glasgow? Can he no’ stand?”
    Much as I love their music, and their version of Michael Marra’s ‘Mother Glasgow’, every time I hear their name I smirk at that memory.

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