ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE (AND MONEY)

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:-

mp3 : Love and Money – Love and Money
mp3 : Love and Money – Strange Kind of Love
mp3 : Love and Money – Looking For Angeline

JC

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 75)

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From wiki:-

Love and Money are a rock/soul/funk band formed in 1985 in Glasgow, Scotland. The band was formed by three former members of Friends Again (singer-songwriter and guitarist James Grant, drummer Stuart Kerr and keyboardist Paul McGeechan) along with bassist Bobby Paterson, who replaced Friends Again’s Neil Cunningham and who had been a member of Set The Tone, a band previously signed to Island Records in 1983.

In their initial nine years together they recorded four moderately successful albums, three of which were released in the United States, and had six chart hits in the United Kingdom.

Now given that I’ve long professed a huge amount of affection for the work of Friends Again, it really should follow that I’m a huge fan of Love and Money, but it never worked out that way.

I did try.  I went along to loads of the early gigs which were enjoyable enough but in a scary reprise of what had happened with Friends Again when they signed with a major label, the production on many of the  records left me cold.  It was almost as if the label bosses had a pre-conceived ideas in their collective heads that Love and Money could obtain the same sort of pop audience that had been attracted to Wet Wet Wet. Some very fine songs were butchered in the studio, at great expense and with big-name producers in the chairs,  and all to no avail as single after single failed to dent the higher echelons of the charts.

The strange this is that having turned my back on the band after 2 LPs that were just too clinically conceived for my liking, the band then delivered Dogs In The Traffic in 1991 which was very stripped-down and almost rootsy compared to previous efforts…..but I didn’t know that for about another 10 years when I picked up a very cheaply priced second-hand copy and gave it a listen.  Since then….and again back to wiki:-

Love and Money’s fourth album, Littledeath (1993) was released independently on Iona Gold records and featured the single, Last Ship on the River. Due primarily to lack of promotion, Littledeath sold 25,000, around one tenth of the sales for Strange Kind of Love and the group were subsequently released from Mercury. Bassist Bobby Paterson had split from the band to form a career in bar management and did not feature on this album, Grant himself taking on bass duties. The remainder of the band went their separate ways in 1994, although they did regroup for one, seemingly final, gig at Glasgow Barrowland on 23 December 1994.

James Grant released his first solo album Sawdust in My Veins in 1998 and has released four further albums, My Thrawn Glory, I Shot The Albatross (a collection of poetry set to music), Holy Love, and Strange Flowers. The latter was released in February 2009 and Grant premiered the tracks at the Glasgow ABC venue as part of the 2009 Celtic Connections festival. He also scored the film, The Near Room and has collaborated with Capercaillie’s Karen Matheson, performing live and writing songs for her solo records.

Love and Money reformed ‘for one night only’ for a successful sell out show at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as part of Celtic Connections 2011. They played the albums Strange Kind of Love and Dogs in the Traffic in their entireties and dedicated the song Walk The Last Mile to bassist Bobby Paterson, who had died in 2006. It was announced in March 2011 that the band would continue their reunion with a show at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow on 4 December 2011.

The band previewed its fifth studio album ‘The Devil’s Debt’ to a sold out show at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow on 5 May 2012. The album was released on Vertical Records in October 2012 to positive reviews.

Maybe one day I will get around to getting my hands on the later material, but I just cant really listen to the band without thinking about what could have and probably should have been. James Grant was a bit of a guitar hero of mine back in the day and I really wish the harder rock-orientated versions of the songs from those early live gigs had seen the light of day. In the meantime, here’s the debut single in all of its 12″ finery:-

mp3 : Love and Money – Candybar Express (extended mix)
mp3 : Love and Money – Candybar Express (LP version)
mp3 : Love and Money – Love & Money (dub)

As produced by Andy Taylor of Duran Duran and The Power Station.  It has, I’m sorry to say, dated appallingly.