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!”