Thrum

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Glasgow, Scotland band whose debut self-titled EP in May 1993 brought comparisons to the Flying Burrito Brothers, or more accurately, ‘ Sonic Youth meets k.d. lang’. Comprising Johnny Smillie (guitar),…
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Glasgow, Scotland band whose debut self-titled EP in May 1993 brought comparisons to the Flying Burrito Brothers, or more accurately, ‘ Sonic Youth meets k.d. lang’. Comprising Johnny Smillie (guitar), Gary Johnston (drums), Monica Queen (vocals, guitar) and Dave McGowan (bass), the group’s regional location of Bellshill, famed for its production of indie bands the Pastels, Eugenius, Teenage Fanclub, etc., proved no handicap when it came to interpreting the country blues of their favoured American artists. Smillie, heavily influenced by Neil Young, met his future songwriting partner Queen after seeing her singing in a youth theatre production of Godspell. She had been influenced by the great country singers Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Tammy Wynette. A Pentecostal upbringing at first led to her joining a Christian rock band, before her meeting with Smillie ‘corrupted’ her. They were initially going to call themselves Thrush until they heard about Come having to explain their name to their parents. Hailing from strict working-class Catholic roots they decided on something a little less sensational, signing to Fire Records on 1 January 1993. The dictionary definition of thrum is to ‘strum a stringed instrument monotonously’, though they did not learn this until after airing the name on an early gigging schedule, which included an acoustic support to the Jayhawks at Glasgow’s King Tut’s venue. Following two further acclaimed singles, ‘So Glad’ in September 1993 and ‘Here I Am’ in June 1994, the band recorded their debut album in San Francisco at the behest of big fan Grant-Lee Phillips of Grant Lee Buffalo. This proved a heady, stirring collection of guitar-driven country bar rock tunes (the title, Rifferama, proved astutely onomatopoeic), given a legitimacy they might otherwise have lacked via Queen’s confident delivery.