FAR BE IT from anyone to laugh at a label which drops the Chemicals and Andrew Weatherall, and keeps Scotland’s answer to St Etienne instead, but when Dot Allison says she was glad to escape from the Boys Own label, following its absorption into a big bad major, that’s one of the reasons why.
As an indie, the label had seen her band One Dove grow into one of the most convincing potential dance machines of the decade. As a subsidiary, the whole thing sang into miasmic lethargy, and after almost three years of inactivity, Allison quit One Dove for a solo career. Which she promptly abandoned after a car crash left her in a wheelchair for four months. Robert Wyatt, she ain’t.
“After the One Dove album, I did stay for two years that I could have spent doing something else… but you continue to learn, it’s not an empty experience. But I left mid-96, and because I didn’t take any equipment when I left, I didn’t even take my microphone, I had to start from scratch setting up, then there was a wait getting into the studio, then there was the crash. So it’s taken two years to get this thing up and running.”
“This thing,” of course, is Afterglow, a delightful slab of doomy pop dance which has earned comparisons with anything from Nico to Dusty Springfield, usually at the same time. “I knew what I wanted to do,” Allison reflects, “which was a melodic tripped out psychedelic pop record, but only in a non-specific way. And once we started, I had loads of notes, ideas I wanted to try, people I wanted to work with.”
The album is packed with guests – vintage songwriter Hal David (of Burt Bacharach and… fame), My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, the Beta Band’s Chris Allison and Primal Scream’s Mani were all hauled in, while Allison’s boyfriend Richard Fearless, of Death In Vegas, joined Weatherall and Allison as co-producer.
“I met Richard years ago, through the Heavenly Social. He was a fan of One Dove, so we knew each other, and I liked his DJ-ing sets, I thought he was quite enquiring, diverse… Death In Vegas hadn’t released any albums at the time, but we started making music, we got on really well…” and now, as one might say, they’re sitting in a tree. But still making great records – Allison also turns up on the new DIV, with a song which could have been an offshoot of Afterglow, but was actually recorded some time later. “Ah, it’s that signature sound,” she laughs. “Or maybe all my stuff sounds the same after a while.”
She’s lying – it’s a great record, diverse and courageous as well. Which Allison agrees with. After six years in One Dove, “making a solo album WAS a daunting step. But the fear of looking back and wondering why I never did it was greater. My aunt said, you want to be lying on your deathbed regretting all the things you did, not the things you didn’t. And she’s right.”
© Dave Thompson, Alternative Press, 1999