Pop: Sweet and loving man

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Apart from that delicious smile, there is one characteristic Finley Quaye has carried with himself - probably since he was a nipper and that's a sense of restlessness. As a child he grew used to shifting from one relation to another, and as a musician his funkadelic-Marley-pop-hippy cocktail in album Maverick a Strike showed riotous dissatisfaction with the conforms of any stylistic genre.

And in recent times, those itchy feet have been padding to some pretty eclectic awards ceremonies: The Q Awards (a best newcomer nomination); MOBO Awards (Best Reggae Artist Winner); and the Brits (Best Newcomer Winner).

But looking back, it could have all gone wrong. His early CV is cluttered with "dropping out" periods. In Edinburgh, he dropped out of school. In Manchester, he deserted a BTEC course in music and sound engineering. His first record deal proved a non-starter. But what these "failures" pointed to was the kind of defiant individualism that fuelled the music of many dialects on the album which now sits cosy in a quarter of a million record collections, one year after release. He knew deep down he was going to be a star; no certificates required.

Probably Quaye's greatest challenge is keeping his mind unscrambled. Sometimes in interviews he can go off at the wildest tangents and is a law unto himself. The fear of mental jumble has led him to desert London at least once, the capital putting his head in a tail spin. For a man whose thirst for stimulants - dope, alcohol, crazy folk, you name it - can never be quenched, this can be a dangerous thing. But also, perhaps that is the key to what made Maverick a Strike so sexy: you can sense him putting the disparate elements that excite him together, hear the tension between competing musical styles and the need to make the end result articulate and beautiful.

In a roundabout way, perhaps his nephew Tricky was onto something in the stunning documentary about his own life last year, when he said their family was successful because it was full of mixed blood, representing people and associations from all over the world. The rest of us can only marvel that the same family has spawned two such passionate pop idealists.

Maybe it is slightly ironic that two men known for their innovation and collaborations will probably never work with each other, but probably they've decided to keep out of each other's limelight. And Finley Quaye has certainly got enough on his plate with a sell-out tour to take care of, anyway. His rainbow keeps working its magic.

Shepherd's Bush Empire (0181-740 7474) Today, tomorrow, Mon, Tues

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