Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame

Roddy Frame, the only constant in the history of the Scottish post-punk group Aztec

Camera, has dropped the band moniker and is recording independently under his own

name.

Singer/multi-instrumentalist Frame recently issued the LP The North Star in the

U.K., where he is touring to support it with keyboardist Mark Edwards. Frame has been

opening for Sheryl Crow and has a number of dates scheduled in February, including

one in London's Wembley Arena.

Frame was born in East Kilbride, Scotland, 35 years ago today. He began writing songs

at 15 and formed Aztec Camera in his hometown in 1980. The band, including original

bassist Campbell Owens and original drummer Dave Mulholland, signed initially with an

independent Glasgow-based label, but soon switched to the famous English indie,

Rough Trade.

But prior to the release of the band's major label debut, 1983's High Land, Hard

Rain (Sire), Owens and Mulholland quit the group. The LP featured such tracks as

"Walk Out to Winter" and "Oblivious." From that point, until the label dropped Aztec

Camera a few years ago, Frame used a variety of session musicians to record albums

issued under the band name.

Aztec Camera's albums sold better in the U.K. than in America, but Frame was a favorite

of critics on both sides of the Atlantic, for most of the band's run. Knife was issued

in 1984 and was produced by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits' fame. The album was

R&B-influenced, and was warmly embraced by music journalists. Around this time,

Frame refused an offer to replace Johnny Marr in the Smiths.

Love, Aztec Camera's 1987 stab at Philadelphia soul, was their best-selling LP,

but also the most critically panned. The album spawned several U.K. hits, including the

top 10 "Somewhere in My Heart."

Stray (1990) and Dreamland (1993) boasted a more guitar-based pop

approach and sold mostly to Frame's already-sold fanbase. Aztec Camera mounted a

world tour behind the latter, with Edwards again on keyboards.

Frame next played on Ryuichi Sakamoto's Sweet Revenge album. In 1995, Aztec

Camera (also with Edwards) issued Frestonia. The album contained such tracks

as "Sun"

(RealAudio excerpt), "Rainy Season" and "Method of Love."

Their record label -- likely ending Frame's use of the name -- dropped Aztec Camera,

though it is possible Frame will revive it at some point.

The latest single from Frame's recently released solo album will be "Sister Shadow," due

in March. It will be issued with four other tracks: a new Frame song, "Hungry Ghost Eyes";

a take on John Cale's "The Thoughtless Kind"; and live cuts of "The North Star" and

"Reason For Living."

Other birthdays: Tommy Ramone (Ramones), 47; Eddie Jackson (Queensrÿche),

38; Marcus Verre (Living In a Box), 35... David Byron (Uriah Heep), 1947-1985.