BILLY SLOAN marks the passing of one of Scotland's most underrated


KEVIN McDermott discovered the delights of Orlando, Florida long

before most shell suited Scots holidaymakers. In 1986, the Glasgow born

rock singer launched his low budget, self financed debut album

Suffocation Blues with an offbeat promotional stunt.

When the record was manufactured, five copies were pressed up with

vocal track deliberately erased. The idea was, that if you were one of

the five lucky fans who bought a vocal-less copy, the bold Kevin would

get a taxi round to your house, and serenade you with the songs from

Suffocation Blues, live in your living room.

All was going well, until the cash strapped McDermott discovered that

one of the five special pressings had been purchased by an American

student on vacation in Glasgow.

She was now back home in Orlando -- and would put the kettle on for

Kevin, any time he fancied.

''What could I do?'' recalled McDermott, ''I scraped the plane fare

togethere, got my guitar, went to Florida and played.''

Now, eight years on, McDermott finds himself on the eve of another

Atlantic crossing.

Tonight at Glasgow Barrowland, his lavishly named outfit The Kevin

McDermott Orchestra play a farewell gig they've billed The Last Supper.

For as long as anybody can remember, McDermott has been hailed locally

as Scotland's must underrated songwriter. Despite overwhelming acclaim,

major success south of the border and further afield has so far eluded


How can the KMO sell 25,000 albums with ease? Yet can't get any hot

shot A & R Men to come up from London to see that all the fuss is about?

It's a Mastermind question many fans have passed on. And McDermott

himself is browned off with the situation. He knows his group are GREAT.

They deserve better.

The KMO have just released their third group album, also called The

Last Supper, on the thriving Scots indie rock label Iona Gold.

It has already shipped enough copies to warrant a Top Ten entry in the

prestigious Indie Chart. The band recently played a sell out tour of

Scotland, and the Barras show is a real hot ticket.

On one hand, McDermott is elated and encouraged at such positive

feedback to his latest batch of songs. On the other, the frustrations of

years as the man most likely to has caused bewilderment.

So now, the game plan is as follows. After tonight's farewell gig,

McDermott will call time out on the group, and evaluate his position.

He's considering a trip to America to see if a change of scenery leads

to a renewed surge of musical creativity.

He told me: ''In terms of the way the KMO stands at the moment,

tonight's show at Barrowland IS the last supper.

''This band has a lot to offer. I LOVE playing with them. But I can't

stand not being taken as seriously as I should be. That's not sour

grapes . . . just the facts as I seem them.

''I feel that to get a fair crack of the whip, I have to go and do

something else for a while. Go to a different country. Maybe work with

different people.

''It's partly to do with the Scottish disease we all suffer from.

Certain people would prefer me to come from Athens, Georgia and be

really TERRIBLE. Than to come from their own back yard, and be capable

of blowing away the best in the world.

''So a wee time out period from that attitude wouldn't do any harm.

I'm not being defeatist. It makes me sad, and causes me a lot of pain

not to be playing with the KMO again.

''But if that is what it takes to drag us to the stage where we at

least get to compete on a level playing field with every other group,

then that's what I need to do.

''We sell records. We sell concert tickets. But for some people, that

just never seem to be enough. I think we're a fabulous group. So I'm not

prepared to sell the band short.''

McDermott formed the KMO more than five years ago -- with Marco Rossi

on guitar, Steph Grier on bass and brother Jim McDermott on drums.

They were quickly snapped up by Island Records, and released their

first group album -- the stunning, accomplished Mother Nature's Kitchen

-- in late 1989.

But the label was in the process of being bought over from founder

Chris Blackwell, and the group bot bogged down in the mess.

Kevin said: ''The company spent money putting ads for our singles in

the music papers, but nobody at the label wanted to speak to us. And we

had plenty to say.''

When fiery singles like Wheels Of Wonder and Healing At The Harbour

failed to set the charts alight, the group were dropped.

Three years on, they scraped up enough cash to release Bedazzled -- a

strong set of songs which showcased Rossi's jagged, metallic guitar and

a new found maturity in McDermott's writing. Through word of mouth, and

with a negligible promo budget, Bedazzled sold a whopping 25,000 copies.

''We were on an extremely limited budget, but we still gained chart

positions and still sold out gigs,'' recalled Kevin.

''So any good accountant could have told you that we should have

merited some kind of backing. It wasn't forthcoming. And that's not

because we're not good enough . . . that's because the music industry is

in such bad shape, they can't see the wood for the trees.''

Whatever means McDermott adopts to reinvent himself and his songs, he

is not planning on an indefinite sabbatical.

He said: ''The frustrations of the last few years have meant that

musically I've been much less productive than I should have. And that

disappoints me.

''I spent so much time fending off bank managers, accountants and tax

men -- who all had nothing to do with music -- I'm surprised I've not

been carted off by guys in white coats.

''But whether the KMO ever play together again is open. But I'm not

prepared to continually sit in rock's bargain basement. Maybe in future,

if the thousands of people who've faithfully bought our records are

still interested in what I'm doing.

''All I can say is that I won't disappoint them.

''Never say never -- that's me. It could be the end of the KMO, but I

reserve the right to change my mind at a later date.''