SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #202 : MALCOLM ROSS

Malcolm Ross was the subject of ICA #143 back in October 2017. These words are cribbed from that piece:-

The only man who has recording credits on all three of the Scottish bands who signed to the original Postcard Records.

Malcolm Ross first came to prominence as guitarist-extraordinaire with Edinburgh band Josef K, whose spiky and angular material, combined with a rough and ready production, laid out the template for so many indie groups who would later come to some level of prominence in the middle part of the 80s.

Josef K messily broke up in 1982, but Malcolm was never short of work thanks to all sorts of offers from his contemporaries across the Scottish music scene. Edwyn Collins made him an integral part of Orange Juice after the initial line-up of that band had imploded, (by intergral, that includes songwriting and lead vocal contributions), while Roddy Frame, having recognised that, despite his own unique talents, a second guitarist was essential for the live setting drafted him into Aztec Camera initially for touring purposes and later into the studio.

Malcolm also continued to work with David Weddell and Ronnie Torrance, the rhythm section of his old band and contributed on the song-writing side to the short-lived The Happy Family whose vocalist Nick Currie would go on to later enjoy a lengthy solo career under the name of Momus.

He spent the latter half of the 80s and much of the 90s as a musician for hire, including stints with Barry Adamson, Edwyn Collins, Blancmange and Paul Haig, as well as contributing to a number of films either in an advisory or performance capacity. He also found time to record some solo material or as part of combos, releasing a handful of singles and albums on a number of different indie labels based in Germany and America. He’s been less busy in the 21st century but his name can be found on releases by Nectarine No.9 and The Low Miffs, always bringing a touch of class and quality to the recordings.

He was one of the key folk involved in telling the story of Big Gold Dream, the first of the documentaries about the Scottish indie scene made by Grant McPhee. This was a work that received its world premiere in Edinburgh in June 2015, after which there was a live performance by a specially convened ‘super-group’ consisting of past members of Subway Sect, Fire Engines and The Rezillos along with Malcolm Ross who raced through a hugely enjoyable 10-song set from the era, all of which only demonstrated just how great a guitarist he still is. He’s no longer a full-time musician, instead making his living as a taxi driver in the city that he has called home for so much of his life. Another example of how the music industry failing to recognise and reward its greatest talents.

Here’s a fantastic solo single from 1993:-

mp3 : Malcolm Ross – Low Shot

Worth mentioning that the great man is accompanied on this 45 by Steven Daly (ex-Orange Juice) on drums and Robert Vickers (ex Go-Betweens) on bass.

JC

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