Hue And Cry: Remote: Released – 1988

PAT Kane has a vivid memory of the moment of realisation that his musical aspirations were no longer some kind of crazy pipedream.

The singer – frontman of Hue And Cry – had spent six hard months recording in New York with his brother – and musical partner – Greg.

It had not all been plain sailing... far from it. But the sessions which resulted in the acclaimed 1988 album, Remote, he now regards as the pinnacle of their 35-year-long career.

A key song on the album is Violently, a hit single inspired by his then volatile – and often needlessly destructive – relationship with his younger sibling.

Pat recalled: “We recorded the track at Sigma Sound Studios, which is located above The Ed Sullivan Theatre, where Elvis Presley and The Beatles made their historic appearances on the legendary TV show.

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“So, everything could not have been more mythic. The song is a big, beautiful ballad, and drumming on it was Andy Newmark, who’s played with Sly Stone, Bryan Ferry, and everybody in between.

“We were halfway through a great take when his drums disappeared in the mix.

“I shouted: ‘Has something blown on the desk?’ But we suddenly heard Andy singing the chorus at the top of his voice, and then he said: ‘Man, I love this song’. He stopped playing, just to sing along with the track.

“It was at that point I thought: ‘We are really competing here … we’re NOT just two wee chancers who’ve come over here from Coatbridge. We’ve written songs that people, who are at the very height of their career, think are great’.

“We worked with some ridiculously great musicians like Tito Puente, the Brecker Brothers, Lenny Picket and Ron Carter, who was Miles Davis’ bass player.

“The music community of New York opened up for us. It was a magical time.

“We hit the highest possible benchmark in New York. We got two hit records out of it and also a whole lifetime.

“After Remote we thought: ‘This can go anywhere … we can go even higher’. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

“So, Remote was our peak, but it was a great peak.”

Remote – the duo’s second album – was produced by Greg, with Harvey Jay Goldberg and James Biondolillo, two US music heavyweights whose credits include Frank Sinatra, The Rolling Stones, Sting and The Backstreet Boys.

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They recruited the cream of New York’s jazz, soul and funk musicians for the sessions.

Tracks such as Sweet Invisibility, The Only Thing (More Powerful Than The Boss) and Looking For Linda – which reached No 15 in the charts – are career-high compositions.

Remote was the follow-up to their 1987 debut album, Seduced And Abandoned – also produced by Goldberg and Biondolillo – at CaVa Studios in Glasgow.

It featured the single, Labour Of Love, which peaked at No 6.

So, when Pat and Greg relocated to Sigma Sound – where David Bowie had reinvented himself as a soul singer on his 1975 album, Young Americans – the heat was on.

“For two boys who like their jazz and their Frank Sinatra, to just be there for a short period in 1987 was incredible,” revealed Pat.

“You’d be walking down the street and see some insane punk-funk band battering away on the sidewalk, and getting moved on by the police. It could not have been more exciting.”

It also meant the brothers had to raise their game musically.

Pat said: “Sweet Invisibility – a song about post-industrial Scotland – has THE best Latin horn chart you’ll ever hear in your life.

“It was played by Andy Hernandez, who’d worked with David Byrne of Talking Heads.

“Harvey and Jimmy listened to it and said: ‘Okay, that’s great, but we’ll have to cut it down by 90%’.

“Gregory and me literally threw our bodies over the console and said: ‘Don’t touch a note. It’s perfect’.

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“Two boys from Coatbridge were opening the door for a Latin jazz composer to do what is some of his best ever work.

“The Only Thing (More Powerful Than The Boss) predicts the internet. The lyric is about two people connecting over computer networks and falling in love... and then deciding to subvert capitalism.

“That was the kind of songs I was writing then. But those words sit in with the coolest, sweetest Philadelphia-style soul track.

“At times, it did feel like we were taking coals to Newcastle. But we were cutting it musically and getting complete respect.”

Behind the closed doors, the creative train was hurtling off the tracks, however.

Pat’s obstinacy – and the ever-present undercurrent of sibling rivalry – brought the sessions to a grinding halt.

He said: “So much money was being spent on this record, it was important to get it right. But the constant fighting was wasting a lot of time and cash. It must have been very draining for everybody around us.”

Goldberg and Biondolillo laid down the law. Either Pat goes, or you don’t have a record.

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Greg recalled: “Pat had caused enormous problems. He’d got as far as laying down guide vocals, but the atmosphere was terrible. It just wasn’t working. He was really disruptive and I’m sure there were times when Harvey and Jimmy wanted to pull the plug.

“I became the Kofi Annan figure trying to appease everybody. But they stood firm. He had to go.”

Pat was banished and returned home to Scotland for a period of self-inflicted exile.

“For once in my life, I could see what the problem was. And that’s not often the case,” he said, with disarming frankness.

“I was a very different character to the one I am now. I was an arrogant control freak.

“Gregory and me were having Coatbridge lads’ level fights about stuff. Really going at each other hammer and tongs.

“I was sent home for a month. When I returned, they had done 80% of the work on the tracks.

“All I had to do was shuffle the cushions a wee bit, before I sat on the throne to sing the songs.

“It was a life learning moment for me. And the lesson was … trust other people and trust their talents. That included Gregory as well.

“I had to stop being his annoying, arrogant big brother, always telling him what to do.

“I had to let him get on with it and by doing so, it allowed him to make a brilliant record.”

In 2014, Pat and Greg revisited Remote, to mark the 25th anniversary of the album.

They released Major To Minor, which featured updated versions of the songs with new lyrics and musical arrangements.

Now older and certainly wiser, the volatility which blighted – but also fuelled – their relationship has levelled off.

Pat said: “We couldn’t be better pals at the moment. I so prefer it that way. For a period of time, we were trying to make music as a bridge between us.

“Gregory is a smart guy. He’s just as intellectual as I am. But he’s just interested in different things.

“I was up to all manner of schemes, plans, campaigns and the rest of it. No doubt it drove him completely nuts.

“So maybe, as it says in the title track: ‘The tension is all that we’ll ever have/We may as well use it’.

“At the time, music was a way for us to hang together as brothers, which we couldn’t do either psychologically or emotionally.

“Gregory has written with other people. But I’ve never made music with anybody else. I’m his biggest fan and that’s only increased as the years have gone by.

“I don’t know what kind of musician I would be if I didn’t have him. He takes care of my performance.

“It just shows how emotional music is because when I sing my father comes out of my throat. And that points to Gregory … as a son of my father.

“So, there’s also a lot of biology about Hue And Cry.”

And he said finally: “When we made Remote we felt we were every bit as good as anything else we’d heard.

“So we tried to go out and do it rather than have anybody looking over our shoulder saying: ‘You can’t do that … you’re too wee, too poor, too stupid or just not good enough’.

“F*** that! Remote showed us we were always gonna do it.”

* The Billy Sloan Show is on BBC Radio Scotland every Saturday at 10pm.

Looking For Linda

AS it says in the song, Pat Kane was not looking for Linda. The pivotal track on Remote happened by accident.

He wrote the hit single after a chance meeting with a distressed, battered wife who was fleeing from an abusive partner.

Pat recalled: “I was travelling home on the last train from Glasgow Central to Gourock, when a woman sat down next to me.

“She looked a bit like Suzi Quatro or Linda Ronstadt, with a north of England accent.

“She was drunk, talkative, totally reckless, and running away from a very constrained domestic situation.

“Earlier, she’d tried to jump off another moving train, but a passenger had pulled her back.”

Linda poured her heart out to Pat. Inevitably, the lyricist in him kicked in.

“She actually said: ‘I’ll decide if I do or I don’t go’ which became a line in the song. I thought, I’m going to let her talk.

“But she left the train at Gilmour Street. So it was literally in that brief, 15-minute journey that she told me her story.”

Looking For Linda became one of Hue And Cry’s best-loved songs, despite its controversial subject matter.

It’s inconceivable the real Linda has not heard the track. So why has she never come forward?

Pat said: “I do wonder what became of Linda. I can still see her clearly in my head.

“But my theory is that if she survived her grief, I think she would be way too cool to make herself known now. She knows who she is.

“It might well be that she’s blanked out what happened from her mind.”

Over the years, several females have claimed to be “Linda”.

“Everybody assumes her name was a pseudonym, but it wasn’t,” revealed Pat.

“I haven’t yet heard a plausible account from anybody who claims to be her. I’ve had some embarrassing incidents – six or seven women approaching me on train journeys – where people really believe they are the person in the song.

“They never get the detail of our meeting quite right.”

Pat still hasn’t given up hope of meeting Linda again or hearing the conclusion of her story, good or bad.

He said: “Either she is not still around, or I’d prefer to think she wouldn’t be so naff as to claim she was the person in the song.

“She might have been on a death drive or heading for a sticky end in any case.

“But I’d love to know if life worked out for her. I hope she made it.”