Some Other Sucker's Parade

Del Amitri

A & M Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Since briefly tasting success with the popularity of their single "Roll To Me," the Scottish band Del Amitri has been trying to distance themselves from the slower, acoustic-tinged numbers of gloom, doom and depression they have become known for.

Their fifth album, Some Other Sucker's Parade, is more in the pop vein that is meant to win them more precious radio airplay. A friend of mine who has connections to the band warned me, "You're probably not gonna like this album, seeing how you loved Change Everything." (Apparently she also related to the band that, when I was listening to their debut album, I commented I was going into insulin shock. Now the band won't return my phone calls - proving it's costly to speak your mind.)

I hate being told what I'm going to think. Worse, I hate to admit that she was partially right.

Lead singer/bassist Justin Currie still is one of rock's lovable mopes - he puts into words the feelings of fear of rejection and commitment that most men feel. The lead single, "Not Where It's At," captures that feeling to a "T" - our hero finds himself attracted to a woman who is just not interested in him. This song is not getting near enough airplay that it deserves - maybe the poor performance recently on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" scared some radio execs off.

The comparison between the television performance and the studio version also brings up an interesting dilemma: Some Other Sucker's Parade features quite a bit of vocal overdubbing. How Del Amitri intend on pulling this off live will be interesting - or could be disastrous.

"Through All That Nothing" is a track which continues to grow in power on each listen. The tempo is much slower than I would like from Del Amitri, but the musicianship on this one, combined with one of Currie's best vocal performances, carries the track. Another one of the excellent cuts on this album is "Medicine," a number about someone trying to destroy their true identity as a means of escape - though we are given no clues why this escape is necessary. I find this song disturbing - only because a friend of mine went through something almost exactly like this, and the subject matter hits home. Currie is correct in his declaration that the cure - here, assuming a new persona - is often worse than whatever you were running from. Also noteworthy is the BoDeans feel of "Life Is Full," a raucous little number that shows off the Dels in their most creative and enjoyable.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With the change of focus comes an addition of a tinge of funk to the songwriting - both "High Times" and "Cruel Light Of Day" get a groove slapped onto them. On the latter track, Currie starts getting daring on the bass. Three words: It's about time! Currie's bass lines have recently tended to either be one-note thumps or progressions up the neck of the instrument. It's interesting to hear the fingers and strings fly here.

From all I've said so far, one would think that Some Other Sucker's Parade is their best album. Unfortunately, it isn't. While "No Family Man" features some of the band's crispest acoustic work I've ever heard, the lyrics grow stale real quick. The lyrics also take a hit on "High Times," where they occasionally border on inane - sample: "Don't crash my spiritual plane." Say what?

"Won't Make It Better" has a style that I've heard in other bands - though I can't think of one name to save my life right now. I did enjoy the falsetto harmonies, but I wish there have been more lyrical development. The title track also suffers in the lyric department. And if the drum beat sounds familiar, one needs only to listen to early efforts of Rod Stewart. Two words: "Maggie May." 'Nuff said. Also falling below par are "Funny Way To Win" and "Make It Always Be Too Late." On the latter song, you know Del Amitri means heavy business by the use of a minor key - and I hate it when they want to talk heavy business.

On this album, Currie does sound like he's the happiest he's been in some time - "Through All That Nothing" proves that. But for every "Not Where It's At" and "Mother Nature's Writing," there's a "What I Think She Sees" waiting to knock the band off its pedestal. Iain Harvie's guitar work is good, but like Currie and his bass lines, I wish he would just cut loose and put his six-string through a workout.

Some Other Sucker's Parade is easily Del Amitri's most challenging album to listen to - even more difficult than Twisted. To be honest, I didn't like that album until I had listened to it about a dozen times. I've tried plowing through this one several times, and it's just too difficult to complete in one sitting. (Ask me in a year what I think, and there's a good chance my opinion of this album will be higher.) And while I fully expect to get flamed for some of my thoughts, it's not like I didn't give the album a fair shake. I listened to the whole disc twice just before publishing this, and my opinion still hadn't changed.

Nouveau fans may be disappointed there's not another track similar to "Roll To Me" on Some Other Sucker's Parade - thank God. And in retrospect, it is another decent effort by the band. But I'd be hard-pressed to say it beats their early wonders Waking Hours and Change Everything. If anything, this may be a warning sign that the brooding martyr act is starting to wear thin - and that Currie and crew shouldn't be trying to force themselves to become pop stars. Fact is, they were closer than they ever realized until this one came along.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M Records, and is used for informational purposes only.