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BMX BanditsInterval / Cara Records
Released: 21st August 2020
|Clear vinyl LP||£20.99||Buy Now||In Stock. Dispatched on Monday.|
My Chain is a late-period BMX Bandits gem. At the time the group, by then operating without proper record company support, seemed almost renegade. Duglas and friends turned this to their advantage making ever more personal work in much the same way as one of their guiding lights, Jonathan Richman, a couple of decades earlier. Recorded with David Scott in his East Kilbride Arts Centre studio, it marked a new way of making records for the BMX Bandits and is a beautiful document of a very special time. It sparked something important for Jim Burns too, and he went on to make an acclaimed documentary about Duglas. It feels very apt that he’s re-releasing the record on his new Interval imprint. My Chain featured recently on Tim Burgess’ Twitter Listening Party.
Launched over 35 years ago, and captained by Duglas T Stewart, they cohabited Bellshill with extended family members from Teenage Fanclub and The Soup Dragons, and have released records on labels 53rd & 3rd, Creation and most recently, Elefant. Their early 1960’s pop and rock influences have been steered into more sophisticated, autobiographical, emotionally-charged waters reminiscent of Legrand, Morricone and Gainsbourg and nowhere is this more evident than on 2006’s My Chain, where Stewart’s heartbroken voyage is skilfully navigated by a crew including Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, The Pearlfishers’ David Scott, The Wellgreen’s Stuart Kidd and vocalist Rachel Mackenzie Allison. Despite inspiring the 2011 documentary, Serious Drugs, about Stewart and his music, My Chain is the soundtrack for a feature film not yet made; a film about love, loss, yearning and hope. Never before available on vinyl, and with album art completely redesigned, My Chain is pressed on a 140gm clear disc, and is accompanied by an inner sleeve comprising extensive notes and behind the scenes photographs, created during the studio recording. The cover art continues and extends the themes of the album; reaching, touching, memory, space, love and impermanence.
JIm Burns, Interval, 2020
From my first floor studio at East Kilbride Arts Centre you can look through tall windows to see a park with trees, climbing frames for children and an odd sculpture that looks a bit like an unexploded bomb. It’s called “the milestone” but people call it the “millstone”, as in “round your neck”. There’s always somebody walking a dog, in fact I’ve seen one woman walk a succession of dogs in the park over the years. She’s either a professional walker or they keep dying on her and I have to say the hopes of my imagination are pinned on the latter – just for the drama, nothing against dogs. What else? Well there are cars of course, beyond the park, because this is East Kilbride and car is king and in any case they just trundle along quietly. I’ve never seen an accident, let’s put it that way. Quite often there’s a twenty minute flurry of excitement just outside the window as a plush limo pulls up and out tumble a wedding party to have their photograph taken in the greenery, happy brides and grooms scrubbed like new pins thinking it could be forever, hoping it’ll stay shivery good and maybe it will and maybe it won’t and if it doesn’t maybe there’ll be someone else. And sometimes there is someone else.
The other thing you see from the window is the sweep of the seasons. It’s a vivid change that makes a bigger impact with the turning years – in a day you can watch burnt October leaves being chased from their trees by the year’s first snow flurry and, actually, that’s sort of my point, albeit one that’s taken 300 words to get to. It seems to me that Duglas Stewart has been holding a mirror up to the seasons for a while now. Every time we meet here to find a way into a piece of music / song / little movie it seems he’s feeling the winter burn or the sun bruise or the damp or the spring rush and feeling it change fast, hardwired, pinned to the windscreen. He thinks he might die in flames. I’d ask you to listen to the songs and take them at face value and hope you understand what I mean. Simply put, these songs represent a narrative, real, lived, written, recorded in real time and sequenced that way too.
“Should we go for this Duglas”?
“Yeah, I think we need to shout it! We can’t run away from it”
“…a fine cabin boy, for a pirate…”
A Missing Front Tooth – scene selection through diamond, shards of time and place, back and forth, he might look like he’s keeping on joking but he’s not this time. Just jump into the song and take the journey. 4 minutes 22 is how long track one lasts and is also the title of track two. That’s a good start point for you if you’d like a road map to this album. Once you know that you sort of know where you are.
I think the songs are really beautiful and sad and sometimes funny and sometimes a bit, you know, ouch, but most of all truthful and uplifting. A last word for those of you who, like me, want a little extra silver lining with your clouds. I’d just say that Duglas came to the studio the other night, the climbing frame was abandoned, tyre swings empty and the dog walker was getting soaked in the winter outside but inside the glow of the studio there were definite signs of spring.
David Scott, 2006