My one previous mention of Love and Money was as part of the Scottish Singles series back in January 2014. It was always likely that the next mention would have been when it was their turn to feature in the Scottish songs series currently running every Saturday but given that I’ve only just hit the letter ‘D’ after 64 weeks it would have been a long wait.
But there were a couple of admiring mentions in the comments section accompanying the recent birthday tribute to my young brother and so I’ve decided, in a Going Underground sort of style, to ensure (some of) the public gets what the public wants.
Love and Money rose from the ashes of Friends Again when three members of the latter decided to continue to work together while drafting in a new bass player. The fact that I had been such a huge fan of Friends Again should really have meant that I’d fall for the charms of this new combo but in all truth it never quite happened. It wasn’t for a lack of effort on my part as I went along to a lot of the early gigs in Glasgow and bought the singles and then the debut LP (All You Need Is….Love and Money) almost as soon as they were released. But the purchases were often out of a feeling of loyalty to James Grant (vocals/guitar), Paul McGeechan (keyboards), Stuart Kerr (drums) and Bobby Paterson (bass) as the music was just a bit too clean and antiseptic for me, certainly in the form it was released on vinyl, although they remained at all times a formidable and entertaining live band with a great mix of pop, soul and funk to get your feet moving.
They were part of what seemed to be a movement based around Glasgow in the mid-80s. The success, critically, of Orange Juice and Aztec Camera in the early part of the decade had seen the A&R departments of all the major labels send their foot soldiers north of the border with the mission to sniff out and sign the next big thing. The indie aspect of things from the Postcard acts were however to be just a minor element of what was to be scouted out and so the likes of Hue and Cry, Hipsway, Wet Wet Wet, Fiction Factory and Deacon Blue would sign deals and have hit singles while the likes of The Big Dish, The Silencers, The River Detectives, Fruits of Passion and Sunset Gun joined Love and Money (and others) as getting advances but no big hits.
In Love and Money’s case they were signed to Mercury Records who first of all teamed the band up with Andy Taylor (Duran Duran and The Power Station) and then with Gary Katz, a producer who had done much to popularise Steely Dan.They even sent the band to Los Angeles to make the record.
As Friend of Rachel Worth astutely observed in a comment last time round, this all led to a very expensive 2nd LP – Strange Kind Of Love (1988) where all the rough edges were smoothed out. The singles should, by the formula they followed, have been huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic but it just never happened.
In 1990, a third LP was rejected by the label but they provided enough finance for another release the following year. I never bought Dogs In The Traffic at the time and indeed it took me till about two years ago to finally pick up a copy. It’s a long way removed from the first two releases and all the better for it, but I’m not sure if it is really as good as the critics would have you believe with a number of appraisals many years later proclaiming it to be among the best albums ever released by a Scottish band and something of a lost classic.
The band was dropped in the early 90s and eventually released one more LP on a local indie label before calling it a day. James Grant still writes and performs to this day, having successfully reinvented himself as a solo artist of some note and critical standing with a large following in his home city meaning his gigs tend to sell out decent sized venues in short amounts of time. And deservedly so….what I have heard of the stripped back versions of the Love & Money material demonstrate he’s always been a highly talented singer, songwriter and guitar player who ought to be better known further afield.
Here’s one song from each of the three LPs released on Mercury:-