January 29 – Many Were Oblivious To Frame’s Talents

Happy 59th birthday to Aztec Camera! Well, actually to Roddy Frame, who for all essential purposes was Aztec Camera and is now sometimes described as “the elder statesman of melodic wistful Scotpop.” The Scot singer/songwriter/guitarist put out six albums with an ever-changing list of backing musicians under the name Aztec Camera and has since put out several well-reviewed but poor-selling albums under his own name, although none since 2014.

Frame taught himself guitar, recalling “I started learning guitar when I was about four…I was just completely crazy about it.” His list of musical influences is long and varied, starting with the Beatles, Stones and Bowie when he was young to Echo & the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes when he was starting to create his own music to Springsteen and Dylan when he moved briefly to the U.S. in the ’80s. His records have traversed quite a range of styles but are always strong on melody. He says he’s most comfortable writing “personal one to one songs” but admires Billy Bragg’s politicism. Allmusic consider their debut album, High Land, Hard Rain a perfect 5-star “must-have” album, something echoed by Creem magazine which said of it “the world ain’t perfect but High Land, Hard Rain comes close.” They started their career off with a bang in Britain, with their first five singles all being Indie top 10 hits, including “Walk Out To Winter” and the great “Oblivious”, which was a #1 on that chart and made it into the overall top 20 there. That success got them signed with Warner Bros. and the 1987 album Love, which went platinum in the UK, largely on the strength of the hit “Somewhere in My Heart.” However, despite the critical adoration and heavy airplay on Toronto’s CFNY (their #17 record of the year) and LA’s KROQ, the band never really took off in North America and have only one top 10 hit or platinum record in the UK to show for their talent.

Frame currently lives with his wife in London.  Although he hasn’t said he’s retired from music, his website hasn’t been updated for five years, leading one to be a bit “oblivious” to expect new material anytime soon from Frame and his Aztec Camera


6 thoughts on “January 29 – Many Were Oblivious To Frame’s Talents

    1. they were a good band from all the reviews and my limited knowledge of their output. Oddly, I seem to always lump them in with China Crisis in my mind, partly at least because I had a very curious CD that was like four songs by each… I’m guessing they had the same label for awhile over here and the company tried to get them both a bit of an inroads in North America.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. True. Funny, how they’re so different in lyrics and even the approach to melodies, but he can recognize the talent Bragg has. But I think Aztec Camera were really quite good at what they did too.

      Liked by 1 person

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