«Aztec Camera» - biography, albums, songs, video clips

Aztec Camera were a Scottish new wave band formed by Roddy Frame. Formed in 1980, the band went on to release a total of six albums—although, most of the records were essentially written and played by Frame—High Land, Hard Rain (1983), Knife (1984), Love (1987), Stray (1990), Dreamland (1993) and Frestonia (1995). "Oblivious", "Somewhere in My Heart" and "Good Morning Britain" (a duet with former The Clash guitarist Mick Jones) were popular songs for the band.

History

Early years

The band first appeared on a Glasgow cassette only compilation of local unsigned bands on the Pungent Records label, affiliated with the Fumes Fanzine run by Danny Easson and John Gilhooly. Fumes and Pungent Records championed several Glasgow bands before they achieved popular success.

Postcard Records

The band's first United Kingdom (UK) single release was sold in a 7" format by Postcard Records, a Glasgow-based independent record label, in 1981. The single featured the song "Mattress Of Wire" and a B-side entitled "Lost Outside The Tunnel". A second single, also released in 1981, featured the songs "Just Like Gold" and "We Could Send Letters", and an acoustic version of the latter song appeared on a compilation album, entitled C81, released by NME magazine, in partnership with Rough Trade Records, on cassette in 1981. Following the two releases with Postcard, the group signed with Rough Trade and Sire Records, with the latter deal regarding releases in the United States (US).

Rough Trade

Aztec Camera's debut album, High Land, Hard Rain, produced by John Brand and Bernie Clarke, and was released in April 1983. The album was successful, garnering significant critical acclaim, and peaked at #129 on the Billboard 200.

WEA

Aztec Camera changed record labels once again for the release of their second album, Knife, which was released through WEA (Warner Music Group). After High Land, Hard Rain, Frame spent a significant amount of time living in New Orleans, United States (US), listening to Bob Dylan's album Infidels. Upon reading that Dire Straits' guitarist and singer Mark Knopfler produced the album, Frame began writing songs based on a sound that he thought Knopfler could work with. Frame then signed the band to the WEA record label and managed to hire Knopfler to produce Aztec Camera's second album, Knife, which was released in 1984. The duration of the titular song is nearly nine minutes, while "All I Need is Everything" received radio airplay.

At the time that the band's third album Love (1987) was created, Frame was the only original member of the band involved with the project; Love and future Aztec Camera albums were written and recorded by Frame under the "Aztec Camera" moniker, and session musicians recorded with Frame on a track-by-track basis. The Love album produced the popular song "Somewhere In My Heart", recorded by Frame with dance, R&B and pop producer Michael Jonzun in Boston, Massachusetts, US.

For the band's fourth album, Stray, Frame collaborated with the Clash's Jones on the song "Good Morning Britain", and Jones also toured with the band following the album's release. Jones performed with Aztec Camera at the Glasgow Barrowlands and the Ibiza Festival in 1990.

After the release of Aztec Camera's sixth album, Frestonia, Frame finally decided to record under his own name and was no longer a Warner artist.

Three Aztec Camera "Best of" compilations were eventually released: The Best Of Aztec Camera was released in 1999 by Warner.ESP, a division of the Warner corporation that specialised in compilations; in 2005, Deep And Wide And Tall was released by the Warner Strategic Marketing United Kingdom label as part of the Warner Platinum series; and Walk Out To Winter: The Best Of Aztec Camera, a two-disc collection that was released by the Music Club Deluxe label in 2011.

Post-WEA

All six Aztec Camera studio albums were reissued in August 2012 by the Edsel Records label, which had previously completed the same process for the studio albums of Everything But The Girl. The reissued editions included bonus tracks and live recordings. Edsel is a part of the Demon Music Group and owns the catalogues of artists such as Marc Bolan and T.Rex and Al Green, as well as the recordings of the Philadelphia International Records label (Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, Lou Rawls).

From October 2013, a book entitled The Lyrics: Roddy Frame—containing all of his lyrical work with Aztec Camera—and a High Land, Hard Rain t-shirt are available as part of the "Roddy Frame" collection. The Domino Recording Company reissued High Land, Hard Rain to commemorate the album's 30th anniversary, including a vinyl pressing of the album that was released in the second half of 2013. In August 2013, Frame announced three special live performances to commemorate the 30th anniversary, at which the album was played in its entirety with a full band. The December 2013 shows occurred in London, Manchester and Glasgow, UK.

Causes

On 21 January 1985, alongside Orange Juice, Wooden Tops and Everything But The Girl, Aztec Camera raised an estimated £18,000 for the striking miners of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) through a fundraising event at the Brixton Academy—the year-long strike concluded six weeks later.

In 1990, Aztec Camera contributed the song "Do I Love You?" to the Cole Porter tribute album Red Hot + Blue that was produced by the Red Hot Organization. The proceeds from the album benefited HIV/AIDS research.

Awards and accolades

The band's album Love was among the nominations for "Best British Album" at the 1989 BRIT Awards. "Somewhere in My Heart", the second single from Love, was the band's biggest hit, reaching No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. Following the release of the Stray album, "Good Morning Britain" was considered to be a comeback for Frame, as the preceding single "The Crying Scene" had only reached No. 70 in the UK.

Musicians

Roddy Frame – guitar, harmonica, vocals (1981–1995)

Bass

    • Campbell Owens (1981–1985, 1990)
    • Will Lee (1987)
    • Paul Powell (1990–1993)
    • Clare Kenny (1990–1993)
    • Gary Tibbs (1993)
    • Yolanda Charles (1995)

Guitar

    • Craig Gannon (1983–1984)
    • Malcolm Ross (1984)
    • Gary Sanford (1987–1991)

Keyboards

    • Bernie Clarke (1981–1983)
    • Tony Mansfield (1983)
    • Eddie Kulak (1984–1990)
    • Rob Mounsey (1987)
    • Gary Sanctuary (1990–1993)
    • Mark Edwards (1995)

Drums

    • Dave Mulholland (1981)
    • John Hendry (1982)
    • Dave Ruffy (1983–1988)
    • Dave Weckl (1987)
    • Kevin Smith (1988)
    • Frank Tontoh (1990)
    • David Palmer (1993)

The band's line-up changed numerous times during its first few years of existence, while the constant member has been founder, Frame (guitarist/vocalist/singer-songwriter). Early members included Owens (bass) and Mulholland (drums). Gannon was a member from 1983 to 1984 before joining The Smiths, while guitarist Ross (formerly of Josef K and Orange Juice) joined the band in 1984 and played on the Knife album.

Other musicians

  • Paul Carrack – keyboards (1990)
  • Edwyn Collins – guitar, vocals (1990)
  • Mick Jones – guitar, vocals (1990)
  • Steve Sidelnyk – percussion (1990–1993)
  • Ryūichi Sakamoto – keyboards (1993)
  • Victor Bailey – bass (1993)
  • Barry Finclair – violin (1993)
  • Marcus Miller – bass (1987)
  • Sylvia Mason-James – vocals (1993)
  • Romero Lubambo – guitar (1993)
  • Vivian Sessoms – vocals (1993)
  • Naná Vasconcelos – percussion (1993)
  • Sue Dench – strings (1995)
  • Claudia Fontaine – vocals (1995)
  • Leo Payne – strings (1995)
  • Audrey Riley – strings (1995)
  • Chris Tombling – strings (1995)
  • Guy Fletcher of Dire Straits - Keyboards (1984)

Touring band members

1980–1982

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitar
  • Craig Gannon - guitars
  • John Hendry - drums

Pillar to Post Tour (1982–1983)

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitar
  • John Hendry - drums
  • Craig Gannon - guitars
  • Bernie Clark - keyboards

Late 1983 tour

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitar
  • John Hendry - drums
  • Malcolm Ross - guitars
  • Bernie Clark - keyboards

Knife Tour (1984–1985)

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Campbell Owens - bass guitars
  • Dave Ruffy - drums
  • Malcolm Ross - guitars
  • Eddie Kulak - keyboards

Love Tour (1987–1988)

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Dave Ruffy - drums
  • Eddie Kulak - keyboards
  • Paul Powell - bass guitar
  • Gary Sanford - guitars
  • Steve Sidelnyk - percussion
  • Sylvia Mason-James - vocals
  • Vivian Sessoms - vocals

Stray Tour (1990)

  • Roddy Frame - guitar, vocals
  • Eddie Kulak - keyboards
  • Gary Sandford - guitars
  • Clare Kenny - bass guitars
  • Frank Tontoh - drums
  • Mick Jones - guitars, vocals (formerly of The Clash, Jones performed "Good Morning Britain" during the European tour)
  • Edwyn Collins - guitars, vocals (formerly of Orange Juice, Collins performed "Consolation Prize" and "I Threw It All Away" on the European tour)

Dreamland Tour (1993)

Full band tour

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Gary Sandford - guitars
  • Clare Kenny - bass guitar
  • Frank Tontoh - drums
  • Steve Sidelnyk - percussion
  • Mark Edwards - keyboards

Acoustic tour

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Gary Sanctuary - keyboards

Frestonia Tour (1995)

  • Roddy Frame - guitars, vocals
  • Gary Sandford - guitars (early 1995 only)
  • Mark Edwards - keyboards
  • Yolande Charles - bass guitar
  • Jeremy Stacey - drums

Discography

Studio albums

  • High Land, Hard Rain (1983) - UK Albums Chart No. 22, No. 154 US Billboard 200
  • Knife (1984) - UK No. 14, Sweden No. 29, No. 188 US
  • Love (1987) - UK No. 10, No. 193 US
  • Stray (1990) - UK No. 22, Sweden No. 50
  • Dreamland (1993) - UK No. 21
  • Frestonia (1995) - UK No. 100

Compilations

  • In and Out of Fashion (1980) – Pungent Records cassette compilation
  • New Live and Rare (1988)
  • Red, Hot & Blue (1990)

"Best of" compilations

  • The Best of Aztec Camera (1999) - UK Albums Chart No. 36
  • Deep and Wide and Tall (2005)
  • Walk Out to Winter: The Best of Aztec Camera (2011)

EPs

  • Aztec Camera (1985) - a 10" US-only release (was also available in Australia) featuring a cover of the Van Halen song, "Jump", plus four tracks that were recorded live at the Dominion Theatre in October 1984.

Singles

Year Single UK Singles Chart UK Indie Chart U.S. Modern Rock Australia Album
1981 "Just Like Gold" - 10 - - -
1981 "Mattress of Wire" - 8 - - -
1982 "Pillar to Post" - 4 - - High Land, Hard Rain
1983 "Oblivious" 47 1 - - High Land, Hard Rain
1983 "Walk Out to Winter" 64 3 - - High Land, Hard Rain
1983 "Oblivious" (re-issue) 18 - - - High Land, Hard Rain
1984 "All I Need Is Everything" 34 - - - Knife
1984 "Still on Fire" 83 - - - Knife
1985 "Backwards and Forwards" - - - - Knife
1987 "Deep & Wide & Tall" 79 - - - Love
1988 "How Men Are" 25 - - - Love
1988 "Somewhere in My Heart" 3 - - 34 Love
1988 "Working in a Goldmine" 31 - - - Love
1988 "Deep & Wide & Tall" (re-issue) 55 - - - Love
1990 "The Crying Scene" 70 - 3 - Stray
1990 "Good Morning Britain" 19 - 12 - Stray
1992 "Spanish Horses" 52 - - - Dreamland
1993 "Dream Sweet Dreams" 67 - - - Dreamland
1993 "Birds" - - - - Dreamland
1995 "Sun" 136 - - - Frestonia

Cover versions

  • Van Halen: "Jump" (released in 1985)
  • Blue Orchids: "Bad Education" (released in 1987)
  • "The Red Flag" (traditional song released in 1988)
  • Edwyn Collins: "Consolation Prize" (released in 1990)
  • Cyndi Lauper: "True Colors" (released in 1990)
  • Cole Porter: "Do I Love You?" (released in 1990)

See also

  • Alternative rock
  • Indie pop
  • Indie rock
  • List of new wave artists and bands
  • List of Scottish musicians

References

External links