Making Dogs In The Traffic

Things didn't seem to get much better for Love and Money with the release of Strange Kind of Love, which is a pity since it was such a solid record. After its release, they toured for months and months, and even played their only tour of the U.S.--to almost no acclaim (On-stage in NewYork, Grant quipped, "This is a very special night for us; there's people in the audience"). The frustrations of the time became an increasingly heavier burden for Grant to bear, and he proceeded to get even more depressed, if such a thing was possible. The result, after a few false starts, was perhaps the band's most beautiful album, Dogs In The Traffic.
(The following short bit of Love and Money history is taken lock, stock and barrel--and without permission, but with much respect and gratitude-from The History of Scottish Rock and Pop by Brian Hogg, Guinness Publishing, 1993; pages 266-267. It's an excellent book, and if you can find it, I strongly recommend that you pick it up, not only for the L&M content, but the hundreds of other bands that he documents within it's pages.)

The dilemmas facing Love And Money during 1990 proved even more acute. Personal relationships had been torn apart in the wake of the previous year's touring circus: Grant's emotive musical reaction, chronicled on The Mother's Boy [the original name for the album that eventually became Dogs In The Traffic], caused corporate apoplexy. "I wanted to change the way the band was perceived," he admitted to Vox, "but I really went overboard. It was nervous breakdown material, I was really getting into a misanthropic swing, and was like (a combination of) Bukowski, Celine and Rimbaud." The resultant tapes were shelved, but having expunged those particular demons, Grant commenced work on what became Dogs In The Traffic. "This time I knew what I was doing," he states. "No dance or funk tracks, we had arguments about that, but I said it was time to make that break.

"The record was personal," he continues, "but the cathartic element wasn't as strong as I would have liked it to be. During the time it was, but the record company were so desirous of a single that they kept putting us in again and again." The concord between group and outlet collapsed to such an extent that the former's wages were stopped to force Grant into the studio--the resultant vitriol spread into the press--but James, in retrospect, is now more sanguine. "We were having a bad relationship but we're not an easy band to A&R. If you're going to be signed to a major record company, you have to take what's going with the territory."

Dogs In The Traffic was issued in 1991 to universal acclaim. Where Strange Kind Of Love was sleek, this is edgy, intense and troubled. Grant's pungent lyrics and meticulous melodies wove an intricate, introspective path, but the final impression, of scarred betrayal, was genuinely moving. "Much of the record is like an open wound," he explains. "People have said it's grim and depressing and I take that as a compliment. I'm glad that's come across. It's the first record I've made that I felt truly represented me and the way I feel. If people want to know who I am they'll find out a lot more from Dogs In The Traffic than they will from the previous albums."

An exhausted Grant refused to tour to promote the album's release, a situation which again caused strife with Phonogram. The gulf appeared irreconcilable yet, to the amazement of several parties, the label picked up its option for a fourth album. A trimmed-down line-up--Grant, Paul McGeehan, Douglas McIntyre and Gordon Wilson--duly began work in the singer's home-based studio, the results of which should confirm James Grant's position of one of rock's most beguiling talents. "Our records are all so different," he states, "and to me that's the most natural thing to do. An album is like a painting--it's complete, it's done, don't paint it again."

So ends the coverage of Love and Money in The History of Scottish Rock and Pop. Of course, that fourth Phonogram album never happened; the band's last album, littledeath, was eventually released by indie labels Iona and Mesa/Bluemoon in the U.K. and U.S. respectively. Given the continuing acrimony between the band and Phonogram, and the poor selection of songs that comprise littledeath, it's easy to imagine a scenario where Grant played demos of those songs to the label and, at wit's end, they just ripped up the recording contract right there.

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