Aztec Camera

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Aztec Camera

Aztec Camera: Are you “Oblivious”?(!) Somewhere in our hearts, there is a star that shines for them!

Aztec Camera were a collaboration of TWENTY TWO different musicians who came and went across a fifteen year period but most recognisable for its front and main man, Roddy Frame (born in Scotland in 1964). Frame co-founded the group in 1980 aged just sixteen and after playing the clubs, released their first single “Just Like Gold” the following year through an independent label Postcard Records, founded by singer Edwin Collins. The single, unsurprisingly, didn’t meet with public approval, neither did the follow up “Mattress Of Wire” but what it did do was bring them to the attention of Sire Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, who signed them up.

In November 1982, Aztec Camera released their first single proper “Pillar To Post” which again just missed the charts although it would be the early months of 1983 with a second single “Oblivious”, that would change. “Oblivious” was the precursor to the groups debut album “High Land, Hard Rain” released in April. The album would eventually peak at No.22 in the UK and even make a small dent in the US charts when it reached No.129. The album’s mild success would lead to a re-issue of “Oblivious” (which had made No.47 at the beginning of 1983), this time breaking the UK top twenty at the end of the year.

Frame and an ever changing line up would already be in the studio recording its follow up “Knife”, released in the Autumn of 1984. The album would feature the singles “All I Need Is Everything” (No.36) and “Still On Fire” (No.83) and found a much more appreciative audience when it reached No.14 in the UK, gaining a Silver certification and hitting the charts in The Netherlands and Sweden. It was less so in America where it could only get to No.175. The group would separate at the beginning of 1985 with Frame retaining the name Aztec Camera and gaining a new recording contract with WEA. After two years out of the spotlight and employing just a number of session musicians he returned in 1987 with a third album, “Love”.

The album was preceded by the single “Deep And Wide And Tall”, which failed to reach the top 75 in October 1987. The album would be released the following month and at first did nothing. This all changed in 1988 with the second single “How Men Are” (UK No.25) and a third, “Somewhere In My Heart”, in the Spring of ’88. “Somewhere In My Heart” would go on to become the band’s signature and most recognised song, reaching No.3 on the UK singles chart as well as being a sizeable hit across Europe. The took “Love” back up the charts to eventually reach No.10 in the UK and win a Platinum certification for sales of over 300,000 copies. Strangely, it did the opposite Stateside, where it just managed to edge in at No.193 on the Billboard 200.

“Working In A Goldmine” was released that Summer making No.31 in the UK and that was followed by a re-release of “Deep And Wide And Tall” which this time reached No.55. After a well earned break, Frame was back in 1990 celebrating ten years of Aztec Camera with a new album “Stray” and the single “The Crying Scene” which stalled at No.70 in the UK. Far more successful was the album’s second single “Good Morning Britain”, which returned Frame to the UK top twenty and, along with “The Crying Scene”, gave him two straight hits on the US Alternative Songs chart. The album would make No.22 in the UK gaining a Silver certification, although it would not make an appearance on the US album chart, the first time so far that this would happen.

Frame released the albums “Dreamland” in 1993 (UK No.21) and “Frestonia” in 1995 (UK No.100) before ‘winding’ Aztec Camera up at the end of that year and going it solo under his own name. A “Best Of” was released in 1999 selling 60,000 copies in the UK. The previous year he had released his ‘debut’ solo album “The North Star” which reached No.51 in the UK. He released the albums “Surf” (2002) and “Western Skies” (2006) on another independent label formed by Edwin Collins, Redemption. He played at Ronnie Scott’s famous jazz club that year and released a “Live At” album shortly after. After playing live sets at Glastonbury in 2008 and a 30th anniversary tour of “High Land, Hard Rain” in 2013, he released his fourth studio album “Seven Dials” in 2014, which returned him to the UK album chart for the first time in sixteen years. He toured the album extensively across the UK and Europe into 2015.

Roddy Frame 2019

Stay in touch with Roddy through his WEBSITE and celebrate the music of Aztec Camera at the fan FACEBOOK page

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!
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