Thursday, 6 December 2012

Desert Island Discs 86 - Surf by Roddy Frame

86 Surf by Roddy Frame 2002

Genius is one of those labels that is bandied about a lot in terms of musicians . Of all the people i like there are 2 may be 3 that I'd happily use that description for . Paddy Mac , David Bowie (and that is more the ability to repeatedly surround himself with the right people at the right time) and Roddy Frame. the fact he was writing the songs he was and playing guitar the way he was at 16/17 is astounding.

However, number 86 comes from a lot later in his career when he had already kissed goodbye to a chart return. Surf is a collection of  break up acoustic songs that features voice and acoustic guitar.

Sonic variation is not what this is about and the whole thing would have faded into blandness if the melodies had not been as strong as they are. Such a stripped down approach lets the songs breathe and brings the lyrics into even sharper focus. The whole thing feels immensely personal , reinforced by the lack of contributors.

My favourite song on the lp is Over You which typifies a more direct approachch to the lyrics on Surf. in this one the bumping into an ex

"Heard you were around sw3
talking about how you were over me"

For some people the narrowness of sound and style won't make this everyone's choice , but for song by song it is the strongest of the three lps he has recorded under his own name

If life was like the songs,
I'd surf across the curved horizon

and forget her and be gone

Surf can go for silly money but there are some reasonably priced second hand copies here


  1. Maybe I didn't give it a proper listen, but I found Surf a little too stripped back and mellow for my tastes. But I definitely have Roddy & AC later on my list!

    #86 - DOVES - The Last Broadcast (2002)

  2. Roddy, Roddy, Roddy. Most heroes inspire us; to at least emulate or copy them.
    I remember listening to the Aztec debut and thinking that I should sell the guitar and be content with being a fan. One of the downsides of being 'in the business' is that it's difficult not to cast a critical eye over everything...
    I'm currently kind of taken with his strangely drum heavy acoustic album (!) 'Western Skies'...
    I wanted to love Doves TT but found them just a bit to 'northern gloomy' for my taste...

  3. Hi Tim - Doves are a bit hit or miss for me however having said that There Goes teh Fear and Kingdom of Rust are a couple of cracking singles

    Hi Trev Western Skies is good you are right on the strangely drum heavy sound. He is back performing with a band having spent most of the last coupl eof years supporting Edwyn Collins and his recovery, so hopefully a new lp next year

  4. This is another album I've placed much higher on my list. I think it shows how strong the songs are when a voice and acoustic guitar can keep you captivated for 45 minutes. Like you say because of the lack of instuments the lyrics are pushed to the forground and great lyrics they are too.
    A new album is expected next year on Edwyn Collins label. I also flew over to London to catch Roddy on the 'Surf' tour and he had the audience eating out of his hand .The man should certainly be in the 'genius' catergary for musicians.
    No. 86 for me is another that's already been mentioned , Eg and Alice - 24 Years of Hunger

  5. One of y favourite gigs was seeing Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame play together. Really gutted I missed him on his recent tour (first with a band for ages)


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