The Green Door Kids & The Green Door All-Stars

Muzikal Yooth

By Charlie Frame

Music lessons at my school were rubbish. Hour-long sessions of drudgery spent copying out endless streams of quavers and crotchets off the blackboard, the only respite coming from the few occasions we got to don headphones and muck about with the demo settings on the Yamahas for a bit. School even managed to ruin reggae for me – a module delivered with such clinical dispassion that I learned to recoil at the mere mention of the name ‘Aswad’ until at least my early 20’s. In short, music was annexed from my scholastic career before I could reach GCSE, and to this day I still can’t draw a treble-clef without making it look like a lop-sided ‘G’.

For such reasons and many more, Glasgow’s Green Door Studios should be commended for encouraging youngsters to jump feet-first into the musical process without forcing them to learn ‘Oranges & Lemons’ on the recorder. I needn’t go on about the myriad benefits projects like this can bring to a community – suffice to say, every town and city council should be encouraged to offer something similar.

The studio, originated by the cream of the city’s indie crop, runs workshops and courses for young people aged 10-25. As if having members from Michael Dracula and Mother & the Addicts as your mentors isn’t enough to seal your credentials, the studio’s links with Optimo and Kompakt make this an intriguing project to say the least.

So far so hip, but is Muzikal Yooth the sound of things to come, or merely a 21st century update on the old Langley Schools formula? Inevitable parallels will be drawn with the ‘outsider music’ fave, but whereas the 1970s Langley children sang shaky school-choir versions of contemporary pop hits, Green Door perform raggedy garage-style covers of songs by the Stooges, the Monks and the Cramps – perhaps slightly esoteric choices, considering few of these selections are less than 30-years old. One is left to wonder who, for example, decided on covering ‘Moody’ by ESG (here charmingly pronounced ‘mü-dih’). Hard to imagine a bunch of kids coming to a unanimous decision on this, suggesting there was an influence from more mature quarters. Once again I’m transported back to the school music room, made to sing dogged renditions of unfamiliar pop songs from the Cretaceous period such as ‘Sweet Violets’ or ‘Lily the Pink’. Similarly, 1977 must feel like ancient history to these kids, who competently clatter and squall through the motions of ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘Now I Wanna Be Your Dog’, yet leave the impression that they’d be more energised had they been given more recent material to play with.

Much of Langley Schools’ inherent appeal lay in its stark accompaniment and production, allowing wavering voices to shine through, vocal blemishes fully intact. Green Door Studios also apply a back-to-basics approach, incorporating lo-fi analogue techniques which work wonders if you’re recording a Michael Dracula single, but perhaps not so much in this context where muddy production values feel like a smokescreen to cover up nascent technical abilities. It doesn’t help that the chosen covers were pretty ramshackle affairs to start with – did ‘Funhouse’ really need to get any grittier?

This atavistic veil feels unnecessary as it seems there’s plenty of talent to go around among the Green Door Kids. By far the most interesting and accomplished track on Muzikal Yooth is the sole original composition entitled ‘Metaphysical Circus’ – a brooding piano instrumental reminiscent of a no-wave OK Computer. More of this kind of thing would be welcome if future releases are on the cards, yet as a project, the Green Door Kids still win out for sheer altruism in the face of youthful indolence.

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