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Del Amitri's Justin Currie flies solo


As he was writing songs for his first solo album, Justin Currie was totally against releasing it under his own name, which he describes as “annoying and very uncool.”

“I thought about Justin James, then JK Wood — my mother’s maiden name is Kirkwood — until I realized how dishonest and utterly twat-like that would be and, to be frank, I’d have been handicapping myself from the start commercially,” the singer/songwriter says.

Even if Currie had released What Is Love For (Rykodisc) under a different billing, chances are savvy listeners would have recognized it as the work of the Del Amitri veteran by his distinct voice, knack for melody and songwriting chops.

Working as a solo artist has its privileges, according to Currie.

“It frees you up to follow an idea to an ultimate conclusion without compromise,” he explains. “In the process, you lose the self-editing and critical facility that collaboration provides. It’s not an ego thing — it’s just that some songs shouldn’t be [messed] with by anyone other than their author, while others hardly exist at all without the arrangement skills and performances only a band can bring.

“[This time around], I had a bunch of tunes to which the former seemed to apply.”

But What Is Love For isn’t a one-man show: Among those lending a hand are former Del Amitri band mates Iain Harvie and Andy Alston. As for them being used in supporting roles, Currie says “they were both fine [with it], and look — we’re friends at the end of the day. I’d do anything they asked of me. Well, except a jazz gig — or baby sit.”

At no point did Currie ever consider releasing the album on his own.

“My plan was that if I couldn’t find a commercial label at all, then the damn thing wasn’t worth releasing,” he says. “Believe me, I’d make much more money outside of a conventional deal, but I’m more than happy giving Ryko a big share of potential royalties to be in the bosom of an organization whose whole purpose is to make money from exploiting my work. That’s the way it always was and the way it will always be.

“The Internet route of independently selling and marketing one’s own albums is for two types of artists — amateurs and rank capitalists.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Justin Currie on tour (schedule subject to change):

* April 15: Schubas Tavern — Chicago
* April 17: Fine Line Music Cafe — Minneapolis
* April 18: Shank Hall — Milwaukee
* April 20: Hotel Cafe — Hollywood, Calif.
* April 21: Cafe du Nord — San Francisco
* April 24: Jammin’ Java — Vienna, Va.
* April 25: House of Blues — Atlantic City, N.J.
* April 26: Joe’s Pub — New York
* April 27: World Cafe Live — Philadelphia
* May 7: Toad Tavern — Littleton, Colo.