THE first time I ever got an inkling of the glamour surrounding Swing Out Sister was during a stint working behind the counter at a record shop in a dour northern steel town. One morning about 25 girls came in and asked for a record called Breakout by Swing Out Sister. None of us had ever heard of them but I liked the band already ..
I liked them even more when I saw the beautifully designed sleeve for Breakout, featuring the group’s singer Corinne Drewery, with a look inspired by equal parts Kibuki theatre, Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box and Tiger from The Double Deckers.
By the time I heard the exuberant brass-heavy electro-funk of the record itself, I was sold. The whole package – the look, the music, even the name – exuded a certain elan, an effortless glamour, easy sophistication, sheer class. All qualities in short supply in Scunthorpe at that time.
HANDS in the pockets of his grey slacks, James Last cuts a figure of studied nonchalance strolling around the vast stage of the MEN Arena as his band wander on, take their seats behind him and begin to tune up.
He exchanges a few words with the hundred or so fans lucky enough to be allowed to sit in on the soundcheck for tonight’s gig, waving his arms around with big, expansive gestures to make up for the gaps in his English.
He glances around the empty stadium, runs his hand through that famously lustrous mane of silver hair, and takes off his tan leather jacket to reveal a crisp powder-blue shirt.
The band seem to take this as their cue and they power through an ass-kicking interpretation of U2’s Vertigo like a finely tuned machine.
The maestro seems satisfied and nods assent that all is well. Easy listening has never seemed more of a misnomer. Continue reading