The early 1980's was an excellent period for Scottish pop music. It seemed like Scotland was the hippest place to be as band after band tumbled out. Cocteau Twins, Orange Juice, Associates and Big Country. But the high spot debut which blew away the competition originated in the distinctly un-metropolitan East Kilbride, a modern urban eyesore wheretown planners dumped the Glasgow dispossessed in the 1960's.
Although a couple of singles on Postcard registered in the independent charts, it was the release of "High Land Hard Rain" in 1983 that rocketed Aztec Camera into public consciousness
A stunning entry into the world of pop music. Disappointingly, it never got any better than this. But, when you have produced one of the classic records of the decade, how much better can it get?
The album kicked off with "Oblivious", as fine a pop song as has ever been written. Replete with acoustic guitar hooks, classy backing vocals and pastel-shaded funkadelic rhythms, it was just the precursor to an album where each track fought to outshine its predecessor.
High Land, Hard Rain - a classic
Twenty years on and the album has aged splendidly. Tracks such as "The Bugle Sounds Again", "Walk Out To Winter" and "We Could Send Letters" are every bit as refreshing as they were in 1983.
Aztec Camera was Roddy Frame. Singer, songwriter and highly accomplished guitarist. Roddy quickly lost his early collaborators and went on to produce a further four albums for WEA.
The release after High Land, was turgid and over-engineered. "Knife" was produced by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, and itshows.
The subsequent album, "Love", although nominated for "Best British LP of 1988" by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), fared little better. It did however produce possibly the only track which can lay claim to rivalling the artistry of High Land. "How Men Are" combines intelligent lyrics with a swirling arrangement of strings and guitars. The album also spawned a number 3 single with the somewhat lightweight "Somewhere In My Heart".
Since the late 80's Frame has left the big record label umbrella and has struggled to make an impact. He is still writing and performing and released his last album, The North Star, in 1998 on an independent label.
AZTEC CAMERA TRIVIA FOOTNOTE
In 1997, Roddy Frame and Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice) did a gig together at the South Bank in London. Reportedly, it was crap.
No surprise there then.