Live At The Jazz Cafe (1993)

CD - PRCD-1192
Released on March 23

Producer: Swing Out Sister
Recorded and mixed by Ian Horne
Assisted by George Stodoinick at E-Zee Studios
Recorded December 1992
All tracks published by 10 Music/EMI Virgin Music Publishers except 7 published by Warner Chappell Music and 10 published by 10 Music/Virgin Music Publishers/MCA Music/Famous Chappell; P 1993 Phonogram Ltd. (London)

Liner notes written by Yuko Takano
(Translated by Makiko Soshi)

Swing Out Sister was originally started as a band which played mainly in studios without performing live. It seems there has been a big change in their way of finding pleasure in music as well as their attitude towards music through their past three albums. We can tell from this live album that live acts became one of their most important factors in their music activity which they can really enjoy themselves.

This album was recorded at The Jazz Cafe in London, the end of last year 1992. It was about two years ago when they were attracted by the pleasure of performing live during their world tour after releasing "Kaleidoscope World". They performed 5 times in the U.K., 7 times in Japan, and also in the Philippines.

S.O.S. was organized in late 80's by Andy Connell, the former member of "A Certain Ratio," Martin Jackson, the former member of "Magazine" and Corrine Drewery joined them as a singer. Andy and Martin didn't have like the idea of performing live because they were sick of tours they had in their former careers. Corrine, on the other hand, dreamed about wild kind of tour that might come true one day in the future without knowing their intention. It was right after their release of "Get in touch of Yourself" when they told me about this episode on their different points of view about live at that time. They also told me how much they enjoyed the performances they did in '90.

Andy and Corrine had to reorganize their band for live performances after Martin left in '90, but it turned out to be an exciting experience. Even though it was a short period the tour started from London and ended in the Philippines. "It was like three long months for them," they said. It was not because they were fed up with the tour, but because they experienced so many precious things through this tour and it was exciting enough to change their point of view about live acts.

There is an interesting story about their first live performance in the Philippines. There were not many foreign artists who have performed in the Philippines because of the unstable political situation at that time. Naturally, their performances were extremely popular, so their venue had to be a big baseball stadium. There were many scalpers around the stadium. When S.O.S. arrived there, one of these people tried to sell tickets to them saying "It is going to be a brilliant performance!"

And of course, it was the performances in Japan that they most enjoyed among the tour schedule. This live album is proof of it. It is specially recorded only for fans in Japan and it can not be purchased in other countries so far. Luckily, I managed to see this live performance. The Jazz Cafe is located in Camden Town, London which is known as a town of young culture. It was opened about two years ago, now known as a live venue especially for jazz. It has a comfortable bar and a rather small space for performances.

Audiences can enjoy meals and shows also from the 2nd and 3rd floors. The capacity of this small cozy space is likely no more than 100 people, but it has friendly atmosphere in it. It's the place for people who are seeking for groove and who want to enjoy music; feel the vibes. I could see some Japanese audiences in there too. Corrine and Andy appeared from backstage on the 2nd floor, walking down on the stairs to the stage.

It started naturally as if they were checking the sound or jamming. The member was made of ten musicians, Corrine, Andy, Juneroy Johnson on bass, Myke Wilson on drums, Tim Cansfield on guitar, John Thirkell on Trumpet, Gary Piumbly on saxophones, Chris Manis on percussion, Sylvia and Erica on additional vocals. Corrine appeared on the stage last, wearing black T-shirt with full length skirt made of leather, and a big silver pendant with a charm on her chest. I think the reason why they became so popular in Japan is not only because of their music but also her beautiful appearance with stylish fashion.

Performance started with "Get in Touch With Yourself" which has nice groove of medium tempo of the '70's . I believe this comfortable medium tempo is one of the elements which make their sound attractive, neither smashing beats nor pushing melody too much in front. It tempts the audience into the groove.

Gary's flute and Tim's guitar specially his solo part are much more featured in comparison to the original track. This arrangement added a thrilling taste to the song. Another distinctive point was that they seemed to respect spacious sounds which were created by each musicians on stage. I could tell it from not only from this song, but also from whole act that they have rehearsed repeatedly so that they could concentrate on their performance and enjoy themselves as a "group." And this idea was becoming clearer and clearer as the show went by. You can feel their confidence in "You On My Mind," and you can listen to the different version of "Surrender" which they rearranged the rhythm section. It was a classical pop song when it first came out as a single, but they added a laid back jazzy flavor to this familiar song. It turned to be a more sophisticated sound like fusion.

Most of the songs they played in this live are from their brand new album, but even some of their old songs were rearranged freshly to go with it. It sounds that those arranges are influenced by particular quality and atmosphere which recognized in R&B and Jazz in seventies. It is remarkable in "Everyday Crime" especially in the sound of guitar, backing vocals, and keyboard. Corrine's vocals match to the sound comfortably and perfectly. I don't like the type of vocalists who shows off their voice too proudly. I prefer vocalists who create an atmosphere, who can control their voice elastically sound to sound depending its instrumentation. Corrine is the vocalist of this type. She sings "Twilight world" with scat. Where has that vocalist gone who had an unstable voice about three years ago? Now she has confidence and she is creating her own style.

Even though "A Certain Ratio" is never going to be popular (and never has been), this band from Manchester has been my favorite for a long time. This group started its career in '77 (in the era of punk rock) and they have been playing a kind of instant session of funk and Latin music with percussion earlier than any other bands. Of course, Andy pours his enthusiasm for percussion into S.O.S. too. In my opinion, the sound of "A Certain Ratio" and S.O.S. still shares the same basis. I can tell it especially from a song like "Circulate." Andy plays in his fortress made by some keyboards, looking out over the stage conducting the other nine members with his eyes. His face was brightened and showed an expression of happiness when audience reacted strongly to the grooving sound with percussion.

"Am I the Same Girl" is a rare cover song among their original songs. They said that Corrine and Andy have been traveling between London and Manchester these couple of years, and this is one of those songs which was played often by a club DJ in Manchester, the club they visited many times last year. The song was a smash hit of the '60's and Corrine said this song brings her memories of her youthful days back (She was a student of junior high when she often went clubs). You may have noticed the sweet reggae melody with Rastafarian rap which was done by Jeneroy (Bass). He's from Manchester where black people are seldom seen and he added a unique and vivid color to the stage. Half the members of this band are also joined the album "Get In Touch With Yourself." Each one of them has unique character at sight and plays in their original styles, neither rock nor jazz. Juneroy and Myke exchanged their instruments (bass and drums) when they played "Circulate" and I enjoyed it very much.

Their first hit single "Breakout" then a new single "Notgonnachange" and the performance ended with a Medley. This performance was originally planned with the purpose of recording for Japanese releases, but audiences were all locals. Without exception, it seemed that each audience enjoyed the excitement in a friendly atmosphere of this show.