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Cummings Gets It Together

by Simon McKenzie

23 November 1993 - Time Off magazine

Stephen Cummings has for the most part been avoided by commercial success. It's not as though he's tried to avoid IT. He's made some of the finest pop songs of the last two decades, and some of the finest non-pop songs as well. Non-pop is what he's interested in now, but it doesn't seem to be getting him anywhere fast. A good listen to his last album Unguided Tour will tell you that it should be.

Anyway, he hopes to change this balance somewhat with the release of Rollercoaster - The Pop Life of Stephen Cummings, a compilation spanning his years with the Sports (a criminally underrated pop/r&b outfit of the late seventies) to his new single.

"I just decided I didn't want to record, really, so I just thought I'd put out a compilation record and put a new song on it, do it from go to woe," Cummings says. "At the time it seemed like a good idea, I don't know what, I was in a contrary mood and I thought 'let's just do this' and put out all these songs, kind of the pop side of what I've done. And I kind of picked not necessarily my favourites, I kind of just picked things that had been played on the radio and stuff like that. That's how it came about."

Why not your favourites?

"Because it'd be an album of fourteen really slow songs, so it'd be just like putting out a new album!" he laughs. "I had a vague idea that I'd put all these songs on and I'd kind of get to an audience that aren't just my core of fans, or people who have just vaguely heard some of the songs but don't really associate them with me, so they can put a face to the songs. And I put a few other things on that are more what I've been doing in the last few years."

There are plenty of songs on Rollercoaster that are definitely NOT disposable pop, and there's some indication of what he's doing now.

"Yeah, kind of like slow, evocative music is what I'm really interested in myself. I'm going to do another like that probably in January and it'll come out in April or something like that. I'll do another record like that and see how it goes and hopefully I'll be able to widen my audience a bit."

People like Grant McLennan and Robert Forster seem to do well overseas - do you?

"I'd kind of like to, but a lot of those things come out through England, and I'm kind of not interested in England at all. I'd rather go anywhere in Asia, 'cause it's warm and I like places like that where they know how to live. I like their attitude to life - I wouldn't mind going to Spain either! I'd like to sell records everywhere, but I'm just a very disorganised person, and I just never seem to be organised enough to get it together.

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