The one thing that’s understood
Is that you can’t buy time
But you can sell your soul
And the closest thing to heaven is to rock and roll…
So sang East Kilbride’s finest Roddy Frame on Somewhere In My Heart. Rock’n’roll? Yeah baby!! In the promotional clip for the song, Frame looked every inch the American idol with his torn blue jeans and black leather jacket and gelled hair; hell, he even smashed up his guitar at the end of the shoot! He was a long way from his former Scottish home of Westwood and some fans wondered if he had indeed ‘sold his soul’ to major label WEA, having apparently abandoned both Aztec Camera’s guitar-pop musical heritage and its credible indie-band roots (two singles on the darling of Glaswegian independent labels, Postcard, and one album for the prestigious Rough Trade). Somewhere In My Heart’s parent album, Love, was a slick, polished affair recorded in the US with largely American musicians and producers; Michael Jonzun and family were heavily involved with this single in particular. “It might have been easier for me to play away with the fringed jacket and try to become the British John Cougar Mellencamp by keeping working and touring, but that’s not what I’m like,” Frame said in his defence, alluding also to the three-year gap between this and his previous album. “I used to listen to The Velvet Underground all the time. I now listen to Anita Baker and I think that is reflected in Love.” 1
Interviews he gave from 1987-1988 were littered with references to American soul singers such as Baker, and Frame was correct that their influence was easily identifiable on the album. If it was a deliberate attempt to break America, it didn’t work (it sold no better than any other Aztec Camera album there, and failed to provide him with a charting single), but over here the public were more receptive: Love and its attendant singles were the peak of Frame’s commercial success. Any concerns that he had done a commercial ‘sell out’ were easily quashed by a listen to the lyrics; the old sensitive singer-songwriter was still very much in business. The music press described the track How Men Are as a kind of feminist anthem: “I’m not sure about opening myself up like this, but I’m trying to look inside and find out why men are so screwed up,” 2 he said. “I have heard so many women recently saying just how awful men can be and you have to agree. I was just pointing it out. I mean, I don’t want to get into the real intricacies of the war of the sexes or anything.” 3
At this stage, Frame was the sole permanent member of Aztec Camera; indeed, he was the only person to perform on all nine songs on Love. Nevertheless, he would continue to issue his recordings under that name for a further three albums.
1 O’Toole, Lesleee. “Roddy Frame’s Game”, Record Mirror, United Newspapers, 7 November 1987.
2 Mathur, Paul. “A Fine Romance”, Melody Maker, IPC, 13 February 1988.
3 Rom, Ron. “Camera Shy”, Sounds, United Newspapers, 16 January 1988.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Apr. 11
AZTEC CAMERA (Roddy Frame) Somewhere In My Heart (WEA YZ181)
George MICHAEL One More Try (Epic EMU5)
The HOUSEMARTINS There Is Always Something There To Remind Me (Go! Discs GOD22)
The MISSION (Wayne Hussey) Beyond The Pale (Mercury MYTH6)