JUDIE TZUKE

KERRANG! ISSUE 31 DECEMBER 1982

Unlike most rock acts Judie Tzuke isn’t constrained by stylistic limitations and wanders happily from one extreme to the other, from ‘For You’ to ‘Black Furs’, and it’s this brave refusal to be tied down and categorised that is ironically costing her dearly.
The media cringe away from her because they’re not sure how to present her, and the consequently uninformed public (no radio airplay!) remember the frail waif who delivered ‘Stay With Me Till Dawn’ on TOTP clutching the mike-stand as if it was her only friend in the world, and draw the logical conclusions.

But Judie Tzuke snot a wimp – for heaven’s sake. She’s disarmingly frank about her failure to put her true self across, but more than a little willful in her unwillingness to co-operate. She knows what’s gone wrong, but she’s not about to grovel apologetically to those who’ve drawn the wrong conclusions – the ones who haven’t bought her records after all – and bluntly intends to do what she wants. If the mountain wont come to Mohammed then, sod it, there’s always soil erosion. Quick and easy stardom isn’t in this lady’s line of thinking at all.

“Basically I do what I do for me. I don’t do it for anybody else. They’re the ones that are missing out!” she laughs, although thoughtfully adding, “but one day they might hear it. If not they won’t catch on, but I’ll still be doing it..”

“It would be nice to be more successful, it would make things a lot easier. We’re not doing badly – we sell the same number of albums every time – but possibly we’re not going to be huge. The only reason that I would like to be more successful is so that I would have more facilities, be able to take more time over recording albums and so on, just to make them better records.

“Being huge frightens me anyway It’s bad enough now, if I go out and haven’t washed my hair or I  haven’t got make up and somebody recognises me I’m embarrassed because they’ve seen me like that – and if they don’t recognize me l wonder how bad I must look. There’s a certain obligation, if people know who you are, to be the person they think you are, not to be a disappointment.”
Eeeek, the image problem raises its beautifully coiffure head! Remember those wispily romantic posters and photos that have misrepresented her so badly? Judie freely admits that it’s her own fault.

“Now were going to try and base my image on what I’m always like, rather than what I‘m like when I’m at my best. If I’ve got to have an image then I might as well push what I actually am rather than what other people, would like me to be. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do but you go about it in the wrong way. In a photo session you naturally want to look your best – but in doing so you lose a lot of what you are.”

So what is Jude Tzuke? Simply a musician who Ioves music and loves creating it, and detests the straight-jacket that the music business can be. You can only play the business at its own game when you’re part of it, but to Judie it’s nothing more than machinery; she wants to make music, her music, and hopes that people will like it so that she can generate enough finance to keep on making it.

She’s hot crusading, not trying to deliver any great message – it’s pureIy a personal pleasure and she’s not about to manipulate the unaware in order to fuel that personal pleasure.

The simple fact is though that manipulation shouldn’t be necessary – if you listen to Judie Tzuke instead of dismissing her without hearing there would definitely be something there for one and all to savour. And never more so than on the new live album….
Reviews of the album have been universally favourable and tinged with tones of surprise -maybe the media in general are beginning to wake up to her; It’s rough and ready, a warts and all package of excellent material, well delivered, significantly different from the sanitised perfection cynics might have expected.

The mix is emphatically live, booming around the confines of the Hammersmith Odeon where it was recorded over a mere two nights on the current tour, with one track from Hitchin and one from Glastonbury the only additional recordings that were available to choose from (and were used!). No string section, just vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass drums and percussion – you know, a rock band.
“Some of the tracks I really like but some I wish could have been a bit better. To be honest I was going to insist on overdubbing the vocals – I’ve always wanted to do a live album but I’m such a perfectionist with the vocals – but I caught the flu and couldn’t overdub so I had to!

Now I’m glad that we had to leave it as it is – it’s got much more atmosphere, it sounds like I had always hoped that we sound.
Funnily enough vocally I think the best track on it for me is ‘Come Hell Or Waters High’ which we did at Glastonbury, I had a cold then, and I honestly thought I was dreadful that day. My voice was really going – usually when you are singing with a cold it doesn’t physically hurt, but it was really painful that night – and all the way through the show I was thinking ‘I can’t do it, I’ve got to tell them can’t go on.

“But when was about to do it I saw Jackson Browne standing on the side of the stage, and I’ve really liked him for years. That made me really want to do well and thought ‘damn it, no! and went. When I heard the tape I couldn’t believe it we sounded, really good…. considering it was live!”

Ironically the live album comes out at a time when the attractions of life on tour have reached their lowest point ever for Judie – the gruelling three months of dates that led up to the album have left their mark, and Judie and Pax (guitarist Mike Paxman) are now thinking about tracks for the next album, and not live dates to promote ‘Road Noise’.

Not even one or two, because keyboards player Bob Noble is about to tour with Roy Harper, whilst bassist John Edwards is currently… wait for it… a Dexys Midnight Runner!

“After the tour I just felt like giving up completely, not because it was unsuccessful in fact it did really well, but the whole thing wore me out completely and I got fed up and frustrated. I got involved far too much in the business side when I didn’t really want to, and got to a point where I didn’t like the whole thing any more.

“I’m sure we will go on tour again, it’s just that after the last one I’m sure that I was very close to a nervous breakdown. I ended up with 52 tea-sets you know! I get nervous during the day before a gig, so to relieve the nerves I suddenly developed this interest in wandering around – antique shops – I’ve been doing it now and then for years, but I suddenly became completely. obsessive about it, with the result that I’ve now got a room full of antique tea sets!

“It killed my nerves completely, instead of going on stage full of nerves I was trying to remember the colour of the teapot I’d bought that day! Afterwards I honestly thought I must have been going mad, but I met someone from the Moody BIues, and apparently he came back from an American tour with about fifty track-suits and twenty five squash rackets… and he doesn’t even play squash!”

TORONTO

 


KERRANG! ISSUE 31 DECEMBER 1982
TORONTO

Sheron Alton and Holly Woods of TORONTO are out to getcha

NO PUBLICITY, however sly, or sneaky or sick could have planned a better opening move. Just ask Toronto!

When this Canadian sextet first on the scene back in 1980, their debut album caused pandemonium both in Canada and the US – or at least the cover did. Depicting a rather ’too knowing’ young girl (no more than ten years old, surely!) standing on a sleazy street corner, under the LP title of ‘Lookin’ For Trouble’, the resultant uproar was deafening in the extreme.

Lead guitarist Sheron Alton recalls those days, with less than complete enthusiasm: “In Canada, they freaked out at the sleeve. We were mentioned on TV programmes about child pornography, for example. And in the States, some women’s groups tried to get the album banned.”
Eventually, when said LP trickled out in England, it was with a drastically altered cover.
“I must admit that I’ve seen worse sleeves than our original one. But, you know, this whole pornography thing wasn’t intentional just to get publicity. We were just so excited about having an album out that we never bothered to check the artwork properly.
“Besides, everything had to be done at great speed, and the idea of a little girl dressed in her mother’s clothes sounded fine at the time – if only we’d known how it was gonna turn out!”

Yet, if the sleeve proved controversial, then the music was hot, hard, and heavy. Indeed, it was undoubtedly one of 1980’s genuine high-spots. Twin guitarists Brian Allen and London-born Ms Alton were efficiently captivating, Scott Kreyer weaved neatly compact keyboard patterns, the rhythm section of bassist Nickie Costello plus Jim Fox (drums) boomed, and Holly Woods gave a vocal performance of teal torch-carrying stature. The Toronto-based outfit (well, where else would you expect them to be from – Aylesbury?) put out the LP on the then newly-formed Solid Gold label in their home territory and on A&M for the remainder of the world.

As Sheron explains “it sold really well in Canada, going gold (about 50,000 sales), and has now done about 160-170,000 copies so far.”

But…. the rest of the globe didn’t exactly get the Toronto message. Maybe part of the problem was the drawing of obvious comparisons (less than complimentary at that) to Heart.

“Yeah, this did affect us badly in the early days and doubtless when we finally come to England and also start touring the States, then we’ll find the problem still exists. But In Canada we’ve now come out of Heart’s shadow.”

In all honesty, there’s a vast gulf between Heart and Toronto – the former are more measured and production-orientated than the latter, who tend to place far more emphasis on dynamics and energy. Yet it has to be said that Toronto didn’t help their crusade for recognition in their own right by releasing last year such a thoroughly disappointing LP in the form of Terry Brown-produced ‘Head On’, on which vinyl disaster Toronto DO sound like a poor person’s Heart.

“I’d agree that ‘Head On’ was a let-down for us,” admits the lovely lead axewoman. “Part of the reason might have been down to internal strife over musical direction between Nickie and Jim on one hand and the rest of us on the other. Consequently, there was little cohesion. We also spent too much time on the production side of things, and didn’t come up with sufficient good material. And l think the public obviously felt the same way as it only sold about 110,000 copies in Canada.”

Well, whatever the excuses for this somewhat numbing vinyl blow, everything in the Toronto garden is a lot rosier now. For, the third installment in this continuing saga, the Steve Smith-produced ‘Get It On Credit’, is in Sheron’s words “more rock and more energy than the second album. It’s much more in line with ‘Lookin’ For Trouble’. We’ve actually left in some of the flaws to give it a rawer, more live feel.’

Clearly the recent departure of Costello and Fox (before ‘Get It……’was cut) has given Toronto (to paraphrase Skynyrd) ‘back their bullets’. New boys Gary Allonde (bass) and Barry Connors (drums) are much more ‘the business’ as are melodic songs like ’Run For Your Life’ and ‘Start Telling The Truth’

‘Get In On Credit’ (an apt phrase for the modem era?) represents Toronto’s first liaison in the US with small label Network.
“We’ve signed with this company ‘cos they aren’t huge and therefore can give us more personal attention than A&M ever could – there are just three acts on the label altogether! Al Coury, who owns the company, actually promoted the Beatles when they first came out to the US, so we couldn’t have a better person behind us!”

In Britain, ‘Credit’ is soon to be released on Epic, and plans ARE afoot in theory for Ms Alton and colleagues to heave themselves over here soon.

“I really wanna come and play. Being English by birth means that I, for one, would dearly love to make it in the UK.”
Perhaps someone, somewhere will follow up Toronto’s obvious interest in a Brit tour, and make sure they get over before the year is out. How about a double-header with the fabbo LA outfit Storm? In the meantime, check out ‘Get It On Credit’ – it certainly shows just why Toronto are, alongside Anvil, the most talked-about new Canuck hard rock band on the scene.
MALCOLM DOME