KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – TEXAS “SOUTHSIDE”

My love of all things Scottish rears its tartan head again with Southside, the 1989 debut from Glasgow quartet Texas. It got some exposure on Alternative radio in the US but never became the hit it deserved to be, while in their native U.K. and various parts of Europe it was a huge success. Two less successful albums followed before they reinvented themselves with a healthy dose of blue-eyed soul, resulting in two decades of #1 and Top 10 albums seemingly everywhere but in the US. Sharleen Spiteri’s stunning voice has always been the focal point, and her commanding presence was evident right from the start. Previously included in the 4th part of my Great Out Of The Gate series, see below for the many reasons I still love this album more than 30 years after I first heard it. I’m so glad I saw them in small New York City clubs in support of their first two albums, where they proved to be an exciting & powerful live band.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From GREAT OUT OF THE GATE Part 4:

When I saw an ad for the debut album by new Scottish band Texas in 1989, somehow I knew that I would like them just based on the cover design (which used the same bold white letters on a red background format as Ry Cooder’s moody, slide guitar-heavy soundtrack to the film Paris, Texas). My suspicions were confirmed when I heard their first single, “I Don’t Want A Lover,” shortly thereafter. The rock-steady rhythm laid down by drummer Stuart Kerr & bassist Johnny McElhone was the bedrock for lead singer/rhythm guitarist Sharleen Spiteri’s passionate & powerful vocals and Ally McErlaine’s biting-yet-tasteful lead guitar wizardry. I was convinced that McErlaine was going to be one of his generation’s guitar heroes based on his performances throughout this album, and having seen them live on their first couple of tours I stand by that assertion, even though he never achieved the kind of acclaim I expected. Tim Palmer’s clean production has kept the album from sounding dated, although the big drum sound occasionally date-stamps it to the late-‘80s. Not having played Southside for several years, I was pleased to discover how well it’s aged when I revisited it earlier this week. The album is filled with excellent rock songs like “Tell Me Why,” “Thrill Has Gone,” “Fight The Feeling” and “Everyday Now,” while the strummed acoustic blues of “Prayer For You” and atmospheric ballad “Future Is Promises” are proof that this young band weren’t a one-trick pony. They would go on to global success (outside the US) a decade later when they switched gears to a slicker, more soul-oriented direction, but their debut and the couple of albums that followed are the reason Texas has been an important band to me for more than a quarter century.

 

Who else was listening to Texas at the time? If you discovered them later on, how do you think this album stacks up against their more popular material? And if this is your first exposure to their music, do the clips above make you want to hear more?

20 comments on “Satur-debut – TEXAS “SOUTHSIDE”

  1. Scott Clarkin
    February 22, 2020

    Fascinating. Never heard of them until now. After listening to each of the songs posted, I got an overwhelming comparison to INXS, both with a mainstream feel and with a slight country crossover with some of the guitar rifs/sound. Good stuff overall. Was also trying to hear who her voice sounded like – deep, a little gravely depending on the song, consistent.

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    • Hi Scott. I never made the sonic connection between Texas and INXS but now that you brought it up I can definitely hear it. I’m glad you enjoyed the clips. The whole album is stellar. Thanks your feedback.

      Like

  2. Bill Van Orden
    February 22, 2020

    Never had much exposure to TEXAS until NOW….Watching the videos makes me feel that they were ahead of their time. Releasing this stuff NOW for contemporary Country stations…..they would be HUGE!!! Honestly, the only other time I knew about this band is when someone gave me a bunch of ‘CASSINGLES” ….remember THOSE? —-and two of them were TEXAS……the first, and last videos that you posted. Damn good stuff and would CERTAINLY be played today as FRESH.

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    • I’m glad you’re enjoying their music, Bill. I’m not sure they sounded ahead of their time at the time but they certainly had a unique sound that should have connected with American audiences in a bigger way. It’s amazing how huge they are in other countries and they would barely sell out theaters here. So glad I got to see them in their early years, including their first tour at the Bottom Line in NYC. And yes, of course I remember cassingles. I had no use for them but you couldn’t avoid them for a number of years.

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  3. christiansmusicmusings
    February 22, 2020

    I can confirm that “I Don’t Want a Lover” got lots of radio play in Germany – really dug that tune with that Ry Cooder style slide guitar and still think it sounds pretty cool. I also recall listening to some other Texas songs at the time and liking them. After that, the band completely fell of my radar screen.

    Listening to the tunes you highlighted now, I have to say the music remains attractive to my ears, which makes me want to revisit this band. Thanks for the reminder!

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    • I wonder if Germany is one of the countries where they’re still huge. When they reinvented themselves with a more soulful sound in the late-’90s it’s amazing how successful they were, even though US radio had no interest in them. I’m glad you’re enjoying hearing them again after all these years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • christiansmusicmusings
        February 22, 2020

        I left Germany in 1993, and while keep going back for visits every other year or so, I have no idea. I don’t recall hearing them on the radio during my returns. In case, ‘more soulful’ sounds intriguing, so I’m definitely going back to check them out.

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      • If you want to check out their more “soulful” sound, their 1997 album White On Blonde is the one to check out. It’s a very strong record and drastically different than anything they released prior to that.

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  4. Alyson
    February 23, 2020

    I’m glad you’re returning to my homeland for another album choice as in the late ’80s we were making better music than just about anyone else in the world (but I would say that wouldn’t I). What a great sound they had and not surprised you were a fan. Sharleen Spiteri was also a TV interviewer’s dream guest back then as she had the Glaswegian “gift of the gab” and was indeed “gallus” as heck. Then again she started out as a hairdresser in Glasgow’s most prestigious salon (Irvine Rusk) where the art of conversation was kind of a requirement. They came to my home town back in 1989 but I sadly didn’t see them – My loss.

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    • I had to look up “gallus” on the Scottish slang tea towel we have hanging on one of the walls near our living room, and that’s an apt description of the lovely & talented Ms. Spiteri. I didn’t know she was a hairdresser prior to becoming a rock star, but it’s clear she had a great sense of style right from the start. Sorry you didn’t get to see them live. They played at my favorite 400-seat venue in New York (sadly no longer there) on the Southside tour and they were a formidable live band.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        February 26, 2020

        I love that you have a tea towel in your North Carolina kitchen listing Scottish words. Here’s another that might be on your tea towel – Dreich. It kind of reflects the weather we get around here in January and February but hopefully dreich days will soon be behind us.

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      • I’m happy to report that “Dreich” does appear on that same tea towel. I wonder if there’s any connection between that and the Yiddish word “drek” which literally means sh*t but can be used in English to describe something that’s less than desirable, i.e. “the weather today is absolute drek.” As a Jewish person who is sure he was Scottish in a previous life, I’ve often described myself as “Skewish.” Well, it makes me laugh at least.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        February 27, 2020

        Gosh – that’s a bit of a coincidence that the word sounds so similar. The Celts travelled all over Europe and I’m pretty sure some of our old Scot’s words come from them. Maybe some Jewish words come from them too.

        Great word Skewish, and who knows, you just might be right!

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      • There’s also the fact that Jews basically made up their own slang language (although I’m sure there’s more to Yiddish than that) and the Scots seem to invent new slang words every day. Our people also have delicious food that many find inedible (gefilte fish, haggis…both of which I love).

        Slang language = slanguage? Did I just invent a word? Probably not.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alyson
        February 27, 2020

        A new portmanteau? Probably.

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  5. J.
    February 27, 2020

    I was never been a fan – I don’t know if that was due to overexposure of the radio friendly stuff that came in the mid to late 90’s. However, I don’t deny that some of those tunes were brilliantly crafted.

    I’ve stumbled on Southside a few times while out and about looking at vinyl and have been tempted to pick it up and, after checking it out and thinking “that’s pretty good” decided I’d grab it next time. Never seen it since (obviously).

    So yeah, I’m kinda digging early Texas enough to pick up the first couple of albums if I see them.

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    • It’s strange for me to hear that Texas’ music was overexposed, as they’ve always been underexposed in the U.S. I hope you come across a pristine copy of Southside on vinyl for a dirt-cheap price soon. I think I saw that Texas is doing a 30th anniversary tour of that album so maybe an expanded remaster will be forthcoming.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        February 27, 2020

        Yeah, they were a regular feature on radio and the likes here.

        I think you’re right about the anniversary shenanigans… pretty sure I also read about a tour and some reissue thing.

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      • Ooh, I’m glad my guess about a reissue could become a reality. I’m not a format snob but I would happily shell out for a nicely remastered & expanded version of Southside. And possibly Mother’s Heaven too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        February 27, 2020

        I’d need to double check, as I didn’t pay an awfy lot of attention to the piece in fairness. However, I’ve seen posters and the likes for their gig later this year and if there’s money to made on an expanded remaster set I’m sure it’ll find its way out there.

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