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JACKIE LEVEN

STRAIGHT OUTTA CALEDONIA

SCHOOL DAZE


Format: LP (COLOURED)
Cata No: RVSN002X
Barcode: 5060446124093
Format: LP
Cata No: RVSN002
Barcode: 5060446124093
Format: CD
Cata No: RVSN002CD
Barcode: 5060446124109
23rd July Release Date *CLEAR VINYL LTD 300 COPIES*

“I think he is one of the most astonishing lyricists Scotland has ever produced, and in his latter years he was a true
troubadour, a balladeer of sad, unsettling and uplifting songs, songs that blossom and bear fruit as you listen to them.
Here then is Jackie Leven in all his ripe majesty.

— Ian Rankin

Straight Outta Caledonia is the first commercially available “Greatest Hits” of the outsider songwriter Jackie Leven, an artist
who has largely remained in obscurity in his native Scotland despite being one of the greatest wordsmiths – and singers – it ever
produced. A well-travelled musician who began making psychedelic, progressive music in the late 60s before emerging as an
epic storyteller full of pathos, humour and humanity in the 90s, Leven lived and wrote like many of the fragile, gregarious
characters of his songs; large, full of life and empathy. Leven passed away in 2011 after recording 30+ albums under different
guises or with his briefly successful New Wave band Doll by Doll. Straight Outta Caledonia is a compilation collated by Night
School Records on its Archival label School Daze that seeks to introduce Leven’s music to new generations.
In an age of isolation, alienation and loss of visceral experience, Jackie Leven’s music can be massive and welcoming. It feels
connected to some universal humanity and vibrates with vitality. His songs are often full of tragedy and comedy simultaneously,
cutting straight to the heart, often plugging directly into the nervous system of the listener. His lyrics are rich, dense with imagery
that can veer from apocalyptic to the comically banal in a sentence, with a songwriting panache that can be heavy handed to
almost bursting point before skewering the song with a clownish, warm punchline. His productions ranged from Bob Dylan’s
Rolling Thunder Revue style rock band orchestrations with strings and organ as on the epic Ancient Misty Morning or they could
be pared down to the purest form of folk song as on Poortoun: Leven on stage alone with an acoustic guitar, albeit played with a
mastery of the instrument that he often only hinted at. Musically his sound can bend traditional structures or stay completely
confined within them yet still forever push towards an ecstatic release, as on the cinematic Snow In Central Park.
The most exciting, jaw-droppingly effective tool at Leven’s disposal was his voice. A multi-octave instrument that, though
damaged during a savage assault in Fife, he used with flair; he had both a brazen disregard for the rules and a deep humility, all
of which is evidenced with every phrasing. A baritone that could flit up through the register – always touched by his gentle
Kirkcaldy accent – it’s the prime delivery method for his songs. Leven’s voice enabled him to inhabit the characters in his songs to
an uncanny degree, a skill that in turn enables the listener to empathise with them and, subsequently, the singer. It’s most evident
in stand out song The Sexual Loneliness Of Jesus Christ, a breathtaking re-telling of the life of its protagonist, not as a pure,
sinless messiah but as a sexually frustrated, solitary man condemned to an existential loneliness no one else will ever feel. In
many ways the track is the archetypal Jackie Leven song. Produced by Pere Ubu’s David Thomas, what strikes the ear first –
after the samples of unemployed workers in Glasgow following the closing of the Clyde shipyards – is the audacious, rhythmic
tremolo effect Leven employs through the verses before the production opens up to allow Leven’s vocal to lift into a soar, a
freeing glide powered both by the force of the singer’s chutzpah and the inherent, doomed destiny of the protagonist. With any
other singer such subject matter could come across as gauche or worse, pretentiously sonorous, but Jackie Leven’s genius was
such that he could be this cinematic and brazen while touching something elemental and true in the beholder. It’s a skill evident in
every song on Straight Outta Caledonia, the trademark of a songwriter who revelled and excelled in intensity with a lightness of
touch.
In his lifetime, Jackie Leven toured, wrote and recorded at a ferocious rate. He recorded under aliases to avoid record contract
restrictions, played house shows in Europe after or instead of official concerts, events which were often spoken word story telling
masterclasses as well as performances of his often bewilderingly dense songbook. His music has traditionally been catalogued
as “folk” music and has been largely banished to a small, dedicated group of international fans and apostles both private and well
known, like author Ian Rankin or Glenn Matlock. Since his passing in 2011 however, there has been a growing recognition
amongst a newer generation, with artists like James Yorkston or Molly Nilsson publicly stating the influence of the unsung
troubadour on their own craft. Jackie Leven’s fairytales for hard men are often forensic deconstructions of masculinity, sad and
ecstatic, light and shadow, always endlessly rich, a resource as bountiful as Leven himself’s human spirit undoubtedly was.

Tracks:

1. The Sexual Loneliness Of Jesus Christ
2. Straight Outta Caledonia
3. Heartsick Land
4. Irresistible Romance
5. Live Or Die
6. Some Ancient Misty Morning
7. Snow In Central Park
8. Poortoun
9. Dagenham Dream
10. Single Father

Press:

'I think he is one of the most astonishing lyricists Scotland has ever produced...' - Ian Rankin

 

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This title was released on 23 Jul 2021, other titles listed below:


JACKIE LEVEN - STRAIGHT OUTTA CALEDONIA JACKIE LEVEN
STRAIGHT OUTTA CALEDONIA

SCHOOL DAZE