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Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain (Sire, 1983)

Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain
Released April 1983
Genre Indie pop, New Wave
Length 45:25
Label Sire Records
Producer John Brand, Bernie Clarke

A stunning debut album from Roddy Frame and company!

High Land, Hard Rain was the debut album by Scots indie pop band Aztec Camera, released in 1983.

The band’s first UK 7″ single had been released by Glasgow-based indie label Postcard Records in March 1981, and contained the songs “Just Like Gold” and “We Could Send Letters”. An acoustic version of the latter song appeared on the influential C81 compilation cassette, released by NME in early 1981.

A second single, “Mattress Of Wire”, was also the last Postcard Records release before the group signed for fellow independent record label, Rough Trade. US releases were on Sire Records.

Aztec Camera’s debut album, High Land, Hard Rain, was released in April 1983. The album was successful, gathering significant critical acclaim for its well-crafted, multi-layered pop.

Three tracks from the album had originally appeared on the Oblivious EP which reached number 18 on the UK Singles Chart in November 1983.

The album itself reached number 22 on the UK Albums Chart.

The band went on to release a total of six albums, although most of these were essentially written and played by Frame. The albums included Knife (1984), Love (1987), Stray (1990), Dreamland (1993) and Frestonia (1995).

Some performers never make a bigger splash than with their first record, a situation which the Ramones and De La Soul know all too well. If that’s the case, though, said musicians had better make sure that debut is a doozy. Aztec Camera, or more specifically, Roddy Frame, falls squarely into this scenario, because while he has doggedly plugged away ever since with a series of what are, at times, not bad releases, High Land, Hard Rain remains the lovely touchstone of Frame’s career.

Very much the contemporaries of such well-scrubbed Scottish guitar-pop confectionaries as Orange Juice, but with the best gumption and star quality of them all, Aztec Camera led off the album with “Oblivious,” a mini-masterpiece of acoustic guitar hooks, lightly funky rhythms, and swooning backing vocals.

If nothing tops that on High Land, Hard Rain, most of the remaining songs come very close, while they also carefully avoid coming across like a series of general soundalikes. Frame’s wry way around words of love (as well as his slightly nasal singing) drew comparisons to Elvis Costello, but Frame sounds far less burdened by expectations and more freely fun. References from Keats to Joe Strummer crop up (not to mention an inspired steal from Iggy’s “Lust for Life” on “Queen’s Tattoos”), but never overwhelm Frame’s ruminations on romance, which are both sweet and sour. Musically, his capable band backs him with gusto, from the solo-into-full-band showstopper “The Bugle Sounds Again” to the heartstopping guitar work on “Lost Outside the Tunnel.” Whether listeners want to investigate further from here is up to them, but High Land, Hard Rain itself is a flat-out must-have.

[From allmusic]


1. “Oblivious”
2. “The Boy Wonders”
3. “Walk Out to Winter”
4. “The Bugle Sounds Again”
5. “We Could Send Letters”
6. “Pillar to Post”
7. “Release”
8. “Lost Outside the Tunnel”
9. “Back on Board”
10. “Down the Dip”
11. “Haywire”
12. “Orchid Girl”
13. “Queen’s Tattoos”


* Roddy Frame – vocals, guitar, harmonica
* Bernie Clark – piano, organ
* Campbell Owens – bass
* Dave Ruffy – drums, percussion

Here she be:

Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain (1983)

Big thanks to takethepills

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October 1, 2008 Posted by | Aztec Camera, Music_Alternative, Music_Pop, Music_PostPunk, Roddy Frame, _MUSIC | Leave a comment