THIS IS GOING TO BE DULL, BUT IT’S ALL TRUE, UNLIKE ALL THE CRAP IN THE BOOKS
DEL AMITRI MARK 1. Started at school in 1980, originally called Del Amitri Rialzo in order to confuse the public (name was invented for its meaninglessness; all other stories are fabrications) in west Glasgow, Scotland. Wanted to be The Feelies, The Cramps, The B52s, Joy Division, Orange Juice. Played Cafe Vaudeville, Charing cross in 1981 amongst a handful of other shows around Glasgow. Line up: Justin Currie (Bass, Singing), Donald Bentley (Guitar), James Scobie (Guitar, Singing), Paul Tyagi (Drums) Releases: “What She Calls It”. Flexi-disc also featuring The Bluebells given free with fanzine “Stand and Deliver” Signature Tune: “Penelope” Writers: Whole band, everything co-written with most but not all lyrics written by Justin and James.
DEL AMITRI MARK 2. After the two guitarists leave to attend university in 1982, Justin and Paul meet candidates to replace them in the Equi Cafe on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. While, Mary, the old waitress who had to pay the kitchen for the customer’s food served them Snowball Ices and milky coffee in her blue apron, the bassist and drummer eyed up the various style casualties obsessed with Grace Jones and Simple Minds who had applied for the job through an advert in MacCormac’s music shop. The only impressive applicant, fresh from a year out of art school working on a farm is Iain Harvie, a tall young man in an ill-fitting second hand jacket with a Captain Scarlet badge on the lapel. This was the age of the badge. Iain hails from East Kilbride and lets the band keep their gear in his parents’ garage. After one or two rehearsals, Iain recruits fellow art school architecture under-graduate Bryan Tolland, a tall thin blonde classical guitarist with a liking for Van Morrison and Magazine. New material is written and features alongside the previous line-up’s at Glasgow University Queen Margaret Union, Cafe Vaudeville and Night Moves. The group want to be Television, The Undertones, The Buzzcocks, The Fall and later, Murmur era REM. A single, “Sense Sickness” is recorded at Palladium studios in Edinburgh in early 1983 and released in the spring on Justin’s sister’s friends, Nick Low and Graham Cochrane’s label Nostrings. This leads to a single of the week in Sounds magazine, a John Peel Roadshow live appearance which in turn leads to their first Peel session and a new manager, Barbara Shores, an ex-pat American loosely involved with the Postcard label so admired by the band. An A&R man called Pete Lawton at Chrysalis Records hears the debut broadcast of the session late one night and quickly moves to sign the band to an album deal on his in-house alternative imprint Big Star, run with Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis. After a not wholly successful session with Tom Verlaine in Britannia Row the band record their first album with Hugh Jones producing in two stints at Park Lane in Glasgow and the Garden in London. Before the release of the first single on Chrysalis, Ian Pye of Melody Maker hears a cassette of work in progress and proceeds to put the band on the cover touting them as the next big thing leading to a hideous backlash when the single and album are belatedly released in 1985 a good six months after the feature. Del Amitri will never again be entertained by the music press. The group begin to resent label-mates The Housemartins and become friendly with The June Brides and Grab Grab The Haddock. A little evening airplay is garnered but few records are bought by the public. At the behest of Barbara Shores the group become heavily involved in their fan club, writing to many of their fans who have picked the LP up on import in the States. The album is released domestically in America in 1986. By early ’86 the band’s coat is on a shaky nail, relations are extremely strained with Chrysalis and after a six week tour of continental Europe supporting their highly successful contemporaries Lloyd Cole and the Commotions the group return to beg their record company to release them from their deal. The company eventually accedes to their demand after Barbara organises their fans to threaten a sit-in at the company’s offices in London’s West End. With little money remaining and restaurant jobs looming the Dels throw their lot in with their manager’s crackpot plan to tour the United States by getting fans to organise parties in their home towns, selling tickets to their friends and family and putting the band up in their parents’ homes. In August ’86 the four musicians alongside a journalist, Iain’s sister, Lynne and their friend Kevin McDermott in support, pile into a borrowed van in New York and set out to play 12 shows in six weeks in living rooms, bars, restaurants, record shops and around swimming pools from New Jersey to Dallas to LA to Iowa to Philadelphia with no money, no hotels and no gas. They return in September changed men. Something has clicked, something is growing, they are determined. Line-up: Justin Currie, Iain Harvie (Guitar), Bryan Tolland (Guitar), Paul Tyagi (Drums) Releases: Single “Sense Sickness”/”The Difference Is” (Nostrings). Single “Sticks and Stones Girl”/ “This King Is Poor”. Album “Del Amitri”. Single “Hammering Heart”/”Lines Running North”. All Chrysalis/Big Star Signature Tune: “Crows In The Wheatfield” Writers: Whole band co-writes everything, Justin writes lyrics.
PART TWO CONTINUES SOON WITH DELS MARK 3….