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Ruby Blue

Formed in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1986 by gorgeous Massachusetts-born drama student Rebecca Pidgeon (raised from five years old in Edinburgh) – on vocals – and guitarist Roger Fife. Completing the duo with George Jeffrey (drums), Alec Kane and Martin Pavey (additional guitarists), the group released their debut album, GLANCES ASKANCES (1987) {*6} on Dave Kitson’s Red Flame imprint.
A fresh, spontaneous combination of pop, folk and jazz, the record showcased Pidgeon’s high, purist-folk vocals (shades of ANNE BRIGGS and SANDY DENNY) which brought a traditional feel to the proceedings. With radio support from the likes of DJs Andy Kershaw and Nicky Campbell, the band soon became the subject of major label interest and subsequently signed to Fontana at the turn of the decade. By this point they’d bolstered their sound with drums, while attracting attention for support slots for the likes of JOHN MARTYN, VAN MORRISON and MARTIN STEPHENSON. In the meantime, the pairing added Anthony Coote (in 1988) and Erika Woods (ne Spotswood), a little later, having guested on the `Bloomsbury Blue’ single.
Yet despite all the media attention, the band’s major label set DOWN FROM ABOVE (1990) {*4} failed to spawn a hit single, although tracks such as `Epitaph’ (about the Marchioness disaster with lyrics by David Mamet) were thought-provoking taking account that both Erika and Roger survived the Thames River collision which took the lives of over 50 party-goers and attendees.
Rebecca’s final recording with the band came at the end of the year in the shape of the `Can It Be’ single (she was fast becoming a top actress starring opposite Anthony Hopkins in the movie The Dawning). Also included on the CD single was a glacial folk cover of CYRIL TAWNEY’s `Sally Free And Easy’ and `The Raven’, the latter a haunting track co-written with her new husband, the aforementioned playwright David Mamet. Rebecca subsequently released a number of solo sets, her only excursion into “Celtic-folk” music was the traditionally-rich `Four Marys’ (1998), which featured Scottish musician JOHNNY CUNNINGHAM and Uillean piper Jerry O’Sullivan.
Post-Pidgeon, the band carried on with Erika as lead vocalist, re-signing to Red Flame and releasing a couple of early 90s albums: PARADISE (1992) {*3} and ALMOST NAKED (1993) {*3}, before finally splitting.
© MC Strong 1999-2011/GI&AD-GFD2 // rev-up MCS Oct2015

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