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Classic Scottish Albums: Franz Ferdinand

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Davie Scott Davie Scott | 10:00 UK time, Monday, 22 August 2011

Another episode in an emerging sub-series of Classic Scottish Albums this week: Relatively Recent And Therefore Risky Classic Scottish Albums. As it is extremely unlikely that an actual series bearing that title will be commissioned by BBC Radio Scotland my proposal is to carry on making regular Classic Scottish Albums occasionally firing a newbie into the mix. Hope that works for everyone...

Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand not only shares currency and eponymy with Glasvegas by Glasvegas (CSA Series 4) but also some of the swagger and confidence of that Naughties wonder. It also emerged as a fully formed, been-there-waiting-to-be-plucked-from-the-sky debut. But seven or eight years since release it is easy to forget the initial impact and visceral power of something like Take Me Out - that unexpected lurch in tempo about a minute in and the subsequent slow wind up back into itchy, trebly, just-distorted guitar and Blondie style pea soup drumming (try saying "pea soup pea soup pea soup" and you'll get my drift). On the vague topic of pea soup one of my other favourite FF related releases has been Alex Kapranos's fantastic Sound Bites published a few years back. Beautifully written, the book offers a series of glimpses into one of the most important relationships in music: that between the performing artist and food. Sometimes, amidst the monotony of touring, the late dinners, road-stops and dressing room buffets can become a series of wonderful oases hovering dream-like on the horizons of homesick little bass players and singers. Even terrible meals can provide a wonderful outlet for frustration and gallows humour.


My own favourite food humiliation dates to 1985 and a tres chic Nouvelle Cuisine joint in London. Recently dropped like a hot potato with my band Chewy Raccoon from Phonogram Records after only one dire 7", I am being entertained by an A&R gal from Geffen Records who has invited me to London to "hang out" and "see if we're on the same page" before proceeding with the offer of a new recording contract. She has already discombobulated me by purchasing several Bryan Adams records as an indication of the musical direction I might now take and has disturbed me further by inviting a somewhat obnoxious record producer along to dinner. They are getting into their record label shop chat when the producer starts rolling his eyes, talking about Phonogram and "that Chewy Raccoon fiasco". So at this point my evening is over. After hurriedly outing myself as the Raccoon to prevent further ignominy I distractedly devour a dish of two small langoustines shell-on. As I lacerate my mouth the A&R Gal says" "You know honey, I guess you might wanna take the shells off of those." Giggling sweetly and looking on from the next table? Lynsey DePaul. No, honestly.

Much has been made of Franz Ferdinand's debt to groups like the wondrous Josef K, The Fire Engines and (as we discovered during the making of the show) the hugely underrated Sparks. While all of that is no doubt true in terms of the group's angular, rattling and spiky arranging style, in terms of performance Franz Ferdinand add something seriously muscular to the mix. Towards the end of our show CSA producer Victoria McArthur has edited a sequence from FF at T In The Park that gives you a fabulous sense of the power of four musicians just KICKING IT. The Roaring Naughties indeed.

We're going to Oban next week... for now enjoy the mighty Franz.

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