red roses for me

Sometimes a bands failure to become huge can be totally inexplicable, relatively speaking of course. I mean most of the bands written about here are never going to scale the same lofty heights as the Whitney's and Backstreet Boys and I'd be shocked if they ever aspired to. Sometimes though a band appears who look set to have if not the world at least the charts at their feet.

One such band were One Dove a Scottish three piece who had everything going for them. They emerged around 1993 on the Boys Own label which at that time was probably the hippest in the UK. Production duties were being handled by Andrew Weatherall who was currently THE person to have sitting behind your mixing desk after the big hand he'd had in reinventing Primal Scream on "Screamadelica" Throw into the mix the band's songs; drawn out excursions into dub, ambient house & guitars topped off with the rich vocals of singer Dot Allison and you had a band creating come down torch songs for the E generation.

So what went wrong? Timing mainly I think, Boys Own fell apart and One Dove found themselves signed to a major label at a time when it seemed major label's only concept of "dance" music was of novelty hits from Belgium. So while a few years later the likes of Portishead and Massive Attack were given time to almost create an audience One Dove's songs were handed over to producers to rework them with raw edges removed, a radio friendly sheen added and a big chunk of their soul sacrificed. Their one and only album "Morning Dove White" when it eventually appeared was a real jumbled affair, the Weatherall originals alongside the new versions, a few other songs placed in the middle an d by then the band was falling apart anyway. The album still sells fairly well mainly on word of mouth recommendations but sadly the highlights only show how flawed the rest of it is.

Now that might have been it but in early 99 a very limited 7" appeared on Heavenly in the UK announcing in no uncertain terms the return of Dot Allison. "Tomorrow Never Comes" the a-side was a stunning reintroduction, a countrified lament featuring BJ Cole on Pedal Steel some keyboards gently reverberating in the background and Dot's almost whispered vocals drawing you in. Imagine St Etienne discovering alt. country or Beth Orton's best songs on her first album and you're halfway there.

This was followed by some frankly bizarre promotional activity in the UK, two limited CD singles in the shape of "Mo Pop" a timeless slice of soaring choruses and breathy French vocals and then "Message Personal" that has an almost eastern feel courtesy of swathes of guitar from Kevin Shields and a mantra vocal style showing that there weren't going to be any set formulas to her solo career. Then finally a proper single release in "Close Your Eyes" coming over as the James Bond theme that hasn't yet been commissioned and another song that could have come out anytime since the late sixties.

When the album "Afterglow" eventually sneaked out with little fanfare from her label the main thing that struck me was how very personal it all is. Not particularly in terms of soul laid bare lyrics but because despite a host of famous friends being involved including Mani from Primal Scream, Richard Fearless of Death In Vegas and the aforementioned Shields it's very much Dot's album. It doesn't pander to fashion in any way. The presence of a song co-written by Hal David I think pretty much sums up her aim to produce music that is wonderful now but will be equally so in ten years time.

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