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Don't Let Your Son Grow Up to Be a Cowboy


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Alison Gourlay (vocals); Ian Burgoyne (guitar); Colin Auld (drums).
  • Liner Note Authors: Dave McCullough; Kristy McNeill; Douglas MacIntyre; Glenn Gibson; Steve Sutherland.
  • Photographers: Steve Rapport; Harry Papadopoulos; Robert Sharp; Alastair McKay; John Dingwall; Tom Sheehan.
  • The early career of Scottish indie pop band the Jazzateers was star-crossed to say the least. Originally signed to the legendary Postcard Records, they got there just in time for the label to fold. Their big chance at a hit single, a cover of the Giorgio Moroder track "Wasted" (which was produced by Moroder's partner Pete Bellotte), never saw the light of day. And worst of all, their original vocalist Alison Gourlay left the band before they could officially release any records, either singles or albums. Though they regrouped and later pieced together an album with a different lineup, their initial promise was never fully reached. The 2014 collection Don't Let Your Son Grow Up to Be a Cowboy seeks to examine the band's nascent stage by rounding up unreleased demos, singles that never came out, and songs from 1983's Lee, the album that never was. The band's sound was an amalgam of Orange Juice's loose-limbed guitar jangle, Aztec Camera's tricky chord changes, the relaxed rhythms of the bossa nova, and Gourlay's (then later Louise and Diedre Rutkowski's) warm and tender vocals. The songs are mostly quite lovely, with writers Ian Burgoyne and Keith Band proving to be quite adept at penning songs that were sophisticated but honest at the same time. It helped that they had Gourlay to sell them, and the songs she sang worked out better than those featured on the Lee sessions. In fact, that album is a much slicker and '80s-sounding production that feels like the work of a different, less interesting band. It's still decent enough, but really the only true find here for fans of the Postcard ethos and aesthetic are the first 11 songs, which sound raw and real (and sometimes very lo-fi on the songs where it sounds like the master tapes had been buried in Alan Horne's back garden for 30 years). The Edwyn Collins-produced version of "Wasted" is a highlight, so is the Burgoyne-sung indie pop confection "I'm No Tarzan" and the epic-length "Natural Progression, (Pt. 1.)," which shows the band skillfully blending indie pop guitar noise with jazz-influenced nuances. The collection is a welcome look back at one of the lost bands of the '80s, not a "great" lost band to be sure, but most certainly one worth checking out if you have any affinity for the Postcard Records style. ~ Tim Sendra
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