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The Glaswegian candidates! One Dove are: ambient pop heaven, country 'n' techno and the divine Dot..

story by ANDREW PERRY photos by NEIL COOPER

NEXT TIME YOU'RE WATCHING EASTENDERS, keep an eye out for the post-box. While One Dove were waiting to perform 'Breakdown' on Top Of The Pops, their bassist Jim McKinven wandered out of their dressing room and suddenly found himself in Albert Square.
Jim managed to do what you or I would do etch the name of his favourite band on the first available surface - before he was collared and ushered back to the studio meant for pop stars. That post-box should still have "One Dove" written on it. When the Glaswegian trio found out that 'Breakdown' had gone straight in the charts at 24, they necked a bottle of champagne each in their hotel room, before cab bing it over to Victoria for a gig at the SWI club.
For the whole of the set, a young woman stood bang in front of singer Dot Allison, and obsessively gazed up at her. The stage was only a couple of feet high, so Dot felt pretty freaked out. The wacko stuff has started happening to One Dove already.

"WE'RE THE JAP IN THE CAMP!" Giggles Dot. "Pop's got so bland, it just smells like people making money. We're giving 'em something with balls..." There's a defiant air of triumph in the One Dove ranks. No wonder when, for some 18 months, they've been tipped for the top but have had to wait that long for their debut LP to even get released. They're now on course, with the celestially beautiful 'Breakdown' gliding up the charts and that stellar LP, 'Morning Dove White', in the shops, ready to light up the lives of a platinum audience with its languid collision of classic heartbreak pop and post-ambient dub alchemy from producer Andrew Weatherall.
According to Jim, "We're givin' 'em a nice wee pop song and goin', (grinning evilly, he flicks V-signs) Now listen to this! Hopefully, 'Breakdown' will mislead a few 18-year olds into leaving Take That, coming on board with us and getting corrupted."
There's a darkness and a sepia-tinted mystery about One Dove that make them the coolest British group to get the commercial thumbs-up in aeons. Dot confesses that she's still in shock about it. A classically-trained pianist and childhood short story-writer, she moved from her hometown of Edinburgh to study Biochemistry in Glasgow. There she hooked up with Together, the ravers who'd had a hit with the self-explanatory 'Hardcore Uproar'. Dot sang on the intended follow-up.
"But then," she recalls, "the songwriter got run over in Ibiza, the band got dropped and the single never got released. The Dot curse, basically..." Dressed in an eye-catching lace-up top, delicately torn jeans and the kind of old '70s trainers that cost you 50 quid these days, she scampers mischievously around the photo studio between shoots, tossing her strawberry-blonde hair with the magnetic energy of a born mega-babe. And yet she describes herself as a "dubious, melancholic belle dame du nuit" and attributes the forlorn nature of her singing and lyrics to recent family tragedies, and the Dot curse in general.
Due to the latter, she believes, the Scottish airing of their TOTP appearance has been postponed to make way for a tribute to the recently deceased Andy Stewart.
They've also just found out that, after the contractual wrangles over 'Morning Dove White', their label Boy's Own has been jettisoned by its parent, London, who'll still retain the contract with One Dove. Like Sissy Spacek in Carrie, Dot thinks all this is her fault.

DOT AND JIM MET THROUGH THE THIRD MEMBER OF THE trio, Ian Carmichael, who was an engineer at a Glasgow studio, working for all the city's galaxy of top avant garde indie stars - Wet Wet Wet, Gun, Texas, Del Amitri and Billy Connolly. Despite the total rock 'n' roll crushed velvet keks he's sporting, Ian's a contented backroom boy, a reluctant star.


"In '90 and '91," he shudders, quietly, "it was still all mid-Atlantic rock in Glasgow. "There were only about ten people willing to try anything different, and we were three of them. It was inevitable we'd work together."
Jim's Travis Bickle mohican, electric blue brothel-creepers and black rhinestone shirt would give him a overbearing presence, if he weren't the nicest large Glaswegian yob you ever met. Trooperesque terminology like "experimentation", "honesty "songs", "purity" and "emotion" pepper the trio's conversation, and you sense it all stems from 31-year-old Jim's hard-earnt wisdom.
When he was 19, Jim was in Altered Images. He's done the fame bit before. He was sacked from the crumbling Images in '83. These days, he only sees Clare Grogan on the telly. "We did some cack," he concedes, "but it was about 50-50."
He kept trying to rekindle the magic spark in fruitless ventures like the one with the Images' drummer Tich, which was inspired by Afrika Bambaataa's 'Planet Rock'. He can smile about it now because, in Summer '91, he found the like minds he'd been searching for.

DOT, JIM AND IAN COLLAPSE LAUGHING AS THEY remember the insane hedonism of their first meeting with Andy Weatherall in Rimini three months later. They'd pressed up a thousand white-label copies of their first single, 'Fallen', with the help of local house collective Slam, who suggested they fly out to the Italian resort to meet the rising Lord Sabre.


"We ended up with him at this amazing club," says Dot. "The sun was coming up, and they played 'Fallen', last track of the night. Everyone was outside, and you could hear it wafting out of these huge windows. It was beautiful. A life-doesn't-get-any-better feeling."
Later that morning, Weatherall dragged them on to an Adriatic boat party he was DJing at.
"We did that sad thing of carrying the DJ's boxes," Jim cringes. "Dot almost ended up as someone's wife. You read literature about orgies and think, No, that never happens. But it does..."
The next day, they all listened to the demos of 'Screamadelica' on the beach and discovered their shared vision of pop. Weatherall gave the Doves his number, offering to remix 'Fallen' gratis for Boy's Own. He wasn't given time to change his mind.
"We ended up remixing it with him," says Ian, "and we were shite-ing ourselves. He later informed me he was just as nervous. He didn't go anywhere near the mixing desk. He just sat at the back rolling joints and telling us what to do."
Weatherall got their contract for the single extended into a six-album deal with Boy's Own/London. They'd only written three songs 'Fallen', 'Why Don't You Take Me?' and 'Breakdown'. Jim describes the following months as "extremely haphazard", as they wrote and recorded the rest of the LP in Glasgow through the Winter, and took the tapes backwards and forwards to London.
"He'd just need to hear the bones of the track," explains an awe-struck Dot. "You could see him going tck-tck-tck-tck, registering exactly what he was going to do to it almost instantaneously. He couldn't even say quick enough what he wanted to keep up with the ideas pouring out."
"Andy was like a fourth member," Jim concludes. "He sprinkled the fairy dust."

AFTER THE SABRESONIC LEG-UP, ONE DOVE ARE blossoming in their own right as an ambitious live band. They're bursting to move on but must wait until "Why Don't You Take Me?', their Phil-Spector-in-the-2Ist-century ballad, has had the scarf-waving treatment on The Pops. Unlike the previous four singles ('Transient Truth' and 'White Love' were the others), it won't come with remixes, but three new tracks, hopefully recorded again with Weatherall. One candidate is their masterly "country and techno" cover of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'.
The band attribute 'Morning Dove White"s blissfully elegiac ambience to their love of C&W and its maudlin deluge of emotion. It's not just a women's thing, because Ian writes some of the lyrics (including, amazingly, 'Breakdown'). Their delivery by that compelling femme fatale is enough to bring on a cease-fire in the battle of the sexes.
"For me," asserts Dot, "emotions are the only inspiration, it's the only way I can write. Basically, there's no gender to emotion."
"People are so scared of the emotional side of their life," adds Jim, who is, as they say, well in touch with his feminine side.
"At some time you're gonna feel down. We're saying, Wallow in self-pity and you might get to fee] up again. Without that emotion, you ain't gonna have any kind of life at all."


Originally appeared in Select magazine December 1993 Copyright © Select

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