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Jackie Leven
 
 
 
     
  Website: www.cookingvinyl.com  
   
 
JACKIE LEVEN
Acclaimed Scottish Artist Announces Two Rare Irish Shows
Sun 5th October - Crawdaddy, Dublin - 8pm
Mon 6th October - Crane Lane Theatre, Cork - Midnight show

"Lovers At The Gun Club" Out Now on COOKING VINYL
www.jackieleven.com / www.myspace.com/thejackieleven / www.cookingvinyl.com

'WHAT'S THAT TAPPING UNDERGROUND?
IT'S THE WISE OLD JAZZ OF TYPEWRITER SOUND
THE KEYS THAT TAPPED OUT THE STORIES OF YORE
I FEEL THE BLACK RIBBON SOBBING OUT OF EVERY PORE'

Jackie Leven: Lovers at the Gun Club - The Sunday Times review **** - Stewart Lee

A big man in thick socks, Jackie Leven is a classic cult artist, with an obscure 1970s band, a drug problem and a stack of stylistically varied solo albums behind him. Lovers at the Gun Club’s fretless bass and sophisticated lead guitar breaks teeter on the edge of stifling good taste, but the quality of the musicianship, Leven’s archly ambivalent lyrics and a voice so softly persuasive it sometimes sounds threatening tip the scales. The album’s eponymous opening track, on which the turkey-faced American songwriter Johnny Dowd declaims superbly, sets the bar too high too early, perhaps, but this beautifully sequenced album defies the iPod shuffle, and listening to it is a cinematically satisfying experience.

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Born in 1950 into a Romany (Roma) family, Jackie Leven spent his childhood and teenage years clearly marked out as an outsider in the clannish, insular world that was Fife, Scotland at that time. Although Scottish himself, neither of his parents were from the area - his father was an Irish Cockney, his mother was from a large Northumberland (Geordie) family, and adapting to existing cultural norms was a hard, if not formidable task for such incomers.

This seems to have formed the start of an independence of mind in the young Leven, hopelessly wayward at school (although outstanding at English and essay writing), with few friends, and those mostly considered 'oddball'. His attendance at school was woeful, but those truanting times spent alone in glens and hills and by rivers still form the basis of his songs' imagery to this day.

Things started to change in his early teens. His mother, unusually for the time and the place, was a lover of American black blues music, and although Jackie was used to coming in the door from school to the strains of 'I got the blues in the bottle, but the stopcork in my hand' by Lightnin' Hopkins, it was a source of fascination to school friends whose own homes resonated to the sound of Wooden Heart by Elvis Presley.

Soon he was playing in local bands - the first real electric scene at this time in this part of the world, but also playing his own blues songs in local folk clubs, such as the Elbow Room in Kirkcaldy, where he was encouraged by stalwarts of the scene like Archie Fisher and Hamish Imlach, and passing singers like Doris Henderson, with whom he played a few shows as guitarist.

However, such activity also brought him to the attention of local gangs, one in particular starting a baseless vendetta against him, and he was duly obliged to leave Fife, and indeed Scotland.

This precipitated years of rootless wandering, sleeping rough, living hand to mouth, including a four month stint living in corners of the South Bank Centre, London, where he busked for a living. This was during the late sixties when there was much less of the (relatively) ready acceptance of street musicians that now exists in the capital. He also lived variously in County Kerry, Ireland, Berlin and Madrid, where he had a record released, “Control” (1971) By John St Field (his stage name of the time) - now considered to be a psychedelic underground classic. He started to live in squatted accommodation in different locations in the UK where he began to encounter people with real and sometimes serious mental illness and psychic disorder. He often quotes the American poet Theodore Roethke's great line - 'for what is madness but nobility of soul at odds with circumstance?'.

These experiences began to inform his songwriting, and this can be clearly seen in the often disturbing imagery in the songs which make up the first two albums by his daunting rock band Doll By Doll, whose other members - Joe Shaw, David MacIntosh and Robin Spreafico he met in this environment.

Doll By Doll (1978 - 1982), a controversial live act at odds with the cartoon violence of punk, made five critically acclaimed (or loathed) albums (one unreleased, all not available on WEA) before accepting they just weren't meant for those times, and regretfully going their separate ways.

After a late night recording session for a solo album due for release by Charisma/Virgin (1983) Jackie was the subject of an unprovoked street attack during which he, along with other injuries, was nearly murdered by strangulation. Unable to speak or sing, he lost his record deal, friends and way, entering his own period of psychic disorder, taking heroin (the classic drug of despair) and living in isolation for nearly a year.

He re-joined the world in 1985 after a successful course of traditional Chinese five-element acupuncture and psychic healing, and co-founded The CORE trust - 'an holistic approach to addiction'. To this day the Trust operates a centre in central London, working with people with all forms of addiction. Jackie has been their manager, chair of trustees, and is presently the patron, having at one time enjoyed a good working relationship with the late Princess Of Wales, who took a strong interest in the Trust. During one encounter with HRH, she said to him "I understand you used to be a singer".
"I AM a singer" was his bristling reply.
"Well, sing something now" she suggested.
That something was the traditional Scottish air 'The Bonnie Earl Of Moray' which had formed the basis of his celebrated Doll By Doll song 'Main Travelled Roads'.

Shortly after this Jackie went to live in Oban on the west coast of Scotland. He spent the nights in bars with fishermen and forester friends, and the days writing the songs that became the basis of his return to music with the acclaimed Cooking Vinyl release “The Mystery Of Love Is Greater Than The Mystery Of Death”.

‘Lovers At The Gun Club’ is the latest in a line of superb albums for Cooking Vinyl. It features Jackie’s new comrade-in- twilight, America’s toughest singer, Johnny Dowd.

JACKIE LEVEN
‘LOVERS AT THE GUN CLUB’
Irish Release on Friday 15th August
Produced by JACKIE LEVEN and DAVID WRENCH.
Recorded at Bryn Derwen Studio, Snowdonia, Wales, UK


ARTISTS ON THE ALBUM :

JACKIE LEVEN – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, hand percussion
JOHNNY DOWD – lead vocal/track one, vocal counterpoint/track four
DAVID CHILDERS – vocals, guitar on HEART IN MY SOUL
GIGI DOVER- harmony vocal on HEART IN MY SOUL
DAVID BROWNE – second lead vocal ‘HEAD FULL OF WAR’
MICHAEL COSGRAVE – piano, keyboards, flugel horn French horn, tenor
horn, pocket trumpet, muted trumpet, trumpet, vocals, accordion, whistles
DAVID WRENCH – engineering, percussion programming, synthesizers
KEVIN FOSTER – Fretted and fretless basses, acoustic bass
GENTLEMAN JAMIE MATTHEWS – harmonicas, jaw’s harp, ukulele
LEON HUNT – banjo
DEBORAH GREENWOOD – all woman vocals
TIM ROBINSON – snares, darbouka
DOUGIE BAMPOT M.B.E.- partick whistle
HENRY PRIESTMAN – Manx tailless pipes
LAURIE GANE – creative ambience
PORN BEAN BAG – ‘oh yeah baby’ etc on track one

 
 
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© Joe Dilworth
© Joe Dilworth
© Joe Dilworth
© Joe Dilworth
     
 
 
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