Friends Again

Love and Money sprang from the remains of an earlier group, Friends Again, which only released one album, Trapped And Unwrapped. The record was released to little notice apparently, and although the band solidered on for a few more years, they eventually called it quits. It was re-released in 1988 around the time of Strange Kind of Love in hopes of snagging some sales off the back of that album, but again, it came and went unnoticed. The tie between the bands wasn't small, though--in fact, the inital version of Love and Money was merely Friends Again minus that group's leader, Chris Thompson.
Information on that group is pretty hard to come by in the U.S., so the following short history of the band 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 256-258. 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.

Punk may have caused a temporary limbo but rock and soul continued to offer havens for those to whom the rattle of guitars or self-immolation proved alien. If the newfound freedom new-wave pioneers engendered was generally welcome, many found its overall trappings unacceptable. The importance of a cultural movement is equally gauged by those who rally against it, as well as embracing its possibilities. The upsurge of soul in Glasgow during the '80s was clearly due to the former, as James Grant, leader of Love And Money suggests. "There was a reaction to the Postcard and post-Postcard 'jingle-jangle'. We thought, 'Let's turn it around and do something upfront and proud.'"

Grant's comments, however, are not borne of malice, and instead acknowledge how the era helped shape his musical path. In the late '70s, he was playing guitar in bands popular at the Doune Castle or Dial Inn. "We were called Stage initially, and then we went through another phase as Kashmir. We used to do some of our own stuff, as well as 'Hey Joe,' 'All Along The Watchtower' or 'The Wind Cries Mary.' It sounds good in retrospect, but because this was during punk, I suppose we thought we were going against the grain."

Grant subsequently joined a theatre company at Glasgow Art Centre as part of a YOP scheme. "Their ad said 'Young people wanted to play guitar and act.' I thought 'Fuck the acting part. Wouldn't it be amazing to get a job playing guitar?"' James duly wrote music for two plays - and secured his equity card - while the artistic environment also left an indelible impression. "It was a very good year," Grant explains, "I was encouraged to be ambitious and creative, and it was here I met Harry Travers, who became a strong influence. He played me Orange Juice and Echo And The Bunnymen, before that I was a 17-year-old Led Zeppelin fan, and he knew the people from Friends Again."

Friends Again - Chris Thompson (vocals/guitar), Paul McGeehan (keyboards), Neil Cunningham (bass) and Stuart Kerr (drums) - was an aspiring Glasgow act which revolved around the first named's insular compositions. They required a lead guitarist, a position which appealed to Grant who had already seen the group live. "I arrived at the audition and Chris and Paul were playing something like 'Sweet Jane.' I joined in for a while, then they turned to me and said, 'That's fine. Do you want to go to the shop?' I suppose that was me in the band. They never actually said anything but then, they were never good at expressing themselves in a normal, colloquial way. "Chris was truly inspirational," James continues. "He is the closest thing to an enigma I've come across. He thinks and acts differently from other people, but not in a pretentious, calculated way."

The quartet hung around the periphery of the Postcard milieu, but were never adjudged to be part of it. "It was a bitchy time," the guitarist recounts. "It was great fun but nobody had a good word to say about anyone else. Pub bands were looked upon as the darts' players of rock." Grant's new group did appear live more frequently than their more feted counterparts, and such sorties helped finance the demo which brought the group a publishing deal. "We recorded two songs, 'Sunkissed' and 'Honey At The Core,'" he explains, "which Dave Scott, the ENTS convenor at Strathclyde University, took to CBS." Their recording debut followed soon afterwards, but the release of Trapped And Unwrapped failed to mark the divisions already appearing within the ranks. Bob Sargent's bouffant production gave the songs an airy, almost winsome sound which undermined Thompson and Grant's often brittle perspectives.

"I was writing more and more," explains Grant, "and it seemed unfair to use Friends Again as the platform for this. I was edging into the limelight - it sounds so obnoxious and loathsome - and Chris and I weren't getting along terribly well at the time. As the rest of the band and I socialised as well, he was increasingly left as the outsider." Grant left Friends Again in 1984, after which the group suddenly imploded. Thompson subsequently formed the Bathers which, like Roddy Frame's Aztec Camera, is a group in name only and serves as an outlet for the founder's vision. Unusual Places To Die (1987), which features support from Grant, best captures Thompson's unique brand of existentialist introspection.

Rather than concentrate on his own new project, Grant was initially involved in helping shape Hipsway, which evolved from the fallout of Altered Images. "On the same morning that we split up," Johnny McElhone recalls, "the White Savages did the same." The latter act, which had supported the Images on tour, included Grant's early mentor Harry Travers and vocalist Graham "Skins" Skinner, another refugee from the original Jazzateers. "By the afternoon," McElhone continues, "We'd formed Hipsway." Guitarist Tony McDaid completed the founding line-up, but when he opted to drop out, Grant stepped in to assist. "James played guitar in the band's early stages," says McElhone, "and might even have joined had he not had his own songs, and his own idea of what he wanted to do."

Click here to read the press release for Friends Again's Trapped And Unwrapped
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