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The Hazey Janes

A fine vintage (Matthew Marra on the 'missing' live album)

By • Jan 18th, 2018 • Category: Feature

Looking at the back catalogue of The Hazey Janes it seems they’ve recently been pretty prolific of late, releasing an album pretty much every year.

 

 

However, it seems that the hardworking quartet have something of a hole in their discography, a gap of close to five years between their 2006 debut and its ‘follow-up’ The Winter That was.

Now, the band have put things right. The entry for 2008 should read ‘Hands Around The City’, a ‘lost’ album now finally released – in a sense, in a new live recording of the songs.

As bassist Matthew Marra explains, “John Agnello, who had mixed debut Hotel Radio (and worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to Dinosaur Jr), had given us an invitation of sorts: ‘Any time you kids want to cut a record in the States, give me a call’.”

The band, on their way to play the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, recorded the album, finishing it off on a return trip.

“Spirits were high upon our return,” Matthew recalls.

“Unfortunately, the stars didn’t align for an actual release of the
album,” he continues.

“Rather than wait, we thought it healthier to move on with a new set of songs which would become The Winter That Was” – the band’s
‘actual’ second long-player.

However, that left a whole set of tunes literally sitting on the shelf. So, the band decided to revisit the Hands Around The City material. That Dundee show was recorded in 2011.

“It’s taken five years to get around to mixing and releasing it” , Matthew admits. “But we have been keeping busy with various other projects!”

Indeed. Aside from a third long player release in 2014, there was last year’s collaboration with poet and Makar Liz Lochhead.
And, another famous name graces their back catalogue – an EP with Scottish folk legend MIchael Marra – father to Matthew and the band’s co-vocalist Alice.

However, the Hazey Janes didn’t really play on their connection to Scottish musical royalty. “For a long time we just let each other get on with our own things, “ Matthew recalls.

Michael passed away in late 2012, but fortunately the family were able to eventually work together. “When he got ill, Gordon Maclean of An Tobar in Mull suggested that we do some recording together, and we’re forever grateful that he did. We probably needed that wee push.”

Now, with the new old album finally released, the band may have got a taste for live recordings. “It would be nice to do something with the four of us playing and singing live in the same room,” Matthew says brightly. “We do love layers and studio experiments too though, so it all comes down to what suits the material.

“Either way, we’re looking forward to getting back in the
studio soon.”

Hands Around The City is out now.

This piece originally appeared in the Deeside Piper

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