Chris Thomson vocals, rhythm guitar Neil Cunningham bass Stuart Kerr drums James Grant lead guitar, vocals Paul McGeechan keyboards
Friends Again are bursting with raw charm. They may be a slippery group to define because they assimilate so much style and many styles into their sound they keep you on your toes. Is it the driving homegrown country swing that appeals, or the dramatic harmonies? Whatever sophisticated conclusion you reach, rest and be thankful that there is nothing evasive about their impact. They move, it moves, you move.
They have been writing long enough to stop being a well kept secret but they remain as fresh as this morning's milk. Ask them what they do and you'll get a host of different answers. The flexibility is as integral to their natural development as their lack of a cosy hip sensibility. According to Thompson: "James will say that we are a rock 'n' roll group and he'll know what that means to him." He will. James Grant's hot guitars are the envy of every band in Scotland. He's had more poaching offers than Jack Charlton [An English Football player]. He won't go.
As for the country inflexions, Thompson points out that, yes, they could be there. He won't force the issue anymore than he'll admit to portraying a clean cut pop output. One thing they don't do is jangle, on nerves or on strings. And they aren't a postcard. "There are no songs where you can say that is a certain thing. People hear the songs in various ways. Someone told us it was good driving music, implying a certain American feeling. Well, in that case I think it's just as good to listen to on the highway out of Hamilton or Lancaster..."
Just before their recent British tour (Strathclyde to Southampton), the group completed a debut album called Trapped And Unwrapped--a reference to the teething, or the thought put into practise. They started work with noted producer Bob Sargeant, then they got well mixed by Pat Moran at Rockfield. Due for release later this year, the songs show they won't be typecast.
Thompson is as happy to discuss Joni Mitchell as Bowie, Tim Buckley as the Sex Pistols but Friends Again are happiest being themselves. What this is, doesn't need to be experienced in a video or from the inside of a TV studio. It's more illuminating to experience the group's heart warming lyrical lullabies and intense blood racing melodies face to face.
After all the tired old men and too much tired young synthetic pop their vitality is all the more appealing. Direct emotional response is what they are dealing in.
Friends Again are ... an invitation not to be ignored.
(from a press release for their 1983 tour)
"While many of their compatriots wrote new wave pop songs propelled by jangling guitars, in Glasgow, Scotland's Friends Again distinguished themselves from their peers by combining '60s-influenced rock with funk, R&B, and country. Featuring Chris Thompson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), James Grant (lead guitar, vocals), Neil Cunningham (bass), Paul McGeechan (keyboards), and Stuart Kerr (drums), Friends Again formed in 1982. The band produced three singles, Sunkissed, Honey at the Core, and State of Art on Moonbot Records before signing to Mercury Records. The group released a self-titled EP in 1983 and then recorded their debut album, Trapped and Unwrapped, in 1984. The LP explored the band's various musical influences, veering from '70s-style funk (Lullaby No. 2) to soulful balladry (Old Flame) sung with Thompson's David Bowie-esque croon. However, the LP received mixed reviews, namely for Bob Sargeant's slick production, and it was also a commercial failure. Longing for an outlet for his own songs, Grant left the group in 1984, and Friends Again immediately fell apart. Grant formed Love and Money in 1985, delving deeper in the funk, R&B, and country influences that guided Friends Again. McGeechan, Kerr, and Cunningham followed Grant in Love and Money while Thompson created The Bathers in 1987".(Michael Sutton, All-Music Guide)
A rare live TV appearence of 'Friends Again' on the Channel 4 show 'Switch'. Here they perform 'Lullaby No.2 (love on board), 'Lucky Star' and 'Honey At The Core'.