Aztec Camera - the Band (CAC Edition)

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East Kilbride's Roddy Frame and his ever-changing band of musicians known as Aztec Camera made their first record in 1981, when Frame was a mere 17 years old. After two releases on the Scottish indie label Postcard, the band signed to Rough Trade, where they released their debut album High Land, Hard Rain and two minor hit singles, Oblivious and Walk Out to Winter.

The success of their full-length debut brought the band to the attention of major label WEA, who re-issued Oblivious in late 1983. The single cracked the UK top twenty second time around, but was followed by almost a year's silence, while Frame recruited a new band and recorded a second album, Knife. The band's ultra-cool indie following was largely unimpressed by the choice of producer, namely Mark Knopfler of the steadfastly unhip Dire Straits, and the album was not a huge success.

Demonstrating the general lack of urgency which would become one of the band's trademarks, Frame kept a low profile for a few years before resurfacing again in late 1987, with another new line-up and another new album, Love. The first single was completely overlooked by the record buying public, and the album seemed to have come and gone by the turn of the year, but the traditional post-Christmas lull in the singles market helped the follow-up single, the beautiful ballad How Men Are, into the top forty. This was an impressive performance relative to their previous few singles, but was soon surpassed by the next release, Somewhere In My Heart, which took up residence in the top ten for most of Spring 1988, eventually peaking at number three. The single remains the band's best known and biggest hit, and propelled the forgotten Love album to number ten. This should have been the turning point, but strangely the album's two subsequent singles both stopped short of the top thirty, and the band fell silent again.

After the success of 1988, the band took on a less commercial sound for the next album, Stray. Released in the summer of 1990, again with almost entirely new personnel, the lead single once more fell short of the top forty, and the album stalled at 22, although the second single Good Morning Britain, with guest vocals by former Clash guitarist Mick Jones, reached number 19.

Since then Roddy and his cohorts have gone into commercial decline. 1993's Dreamland album struggled into the top thirty, while 1995's Frestonia failed to chart at all. With no hits to speak of since 1990, the band subsequently parted company with WEA and have not recorded since, although Frame released a solo album The North Star in 1998, and Warners released a compilation, The Best of Aztec Camera, in 1999.

Recommended listening

  • High Land, Hard Rain (Rough Trade, 1983)
  • Love (WEA, 1987)
  • The Best of Aztec Camera (Warner Music, 1999)

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