Shudder to Think frontman Craig Werden is blessed with one of the most soulful but peculiar voices in rock. His warble is so distinctive that the man is practically a species all on his own. Once heard, he's utterly memorable - which is handy, considering the US trio have seemed very quiet over here for a couple of years. In 1997 their momentum has snowballed, with song contributions to numerous films, soundtracks and TV shows, but last year's silence was because Craig was suffering from Hodgkinson's disease, which is in remission now. "It was like clearing the decks, cleaning the slate, giving me a chance to start over in certain ways," says Craig of his illness. "When I was going through chemotherapy and stuff, I thought, this is going to teach me to be more patient. But now I have my energy back, I have so little patience for things that don't really turn me on. It's a really exciting thing. I follow my beliefs and trust the bigger picture is being taken care of."
His reflections are typical of the philosophical edge in Shudder to Think's music. Their album, 50,000 BC, has real fibre, a depth and passion that's rare in guitar power rock. While older fans of their avant-garde, hardcore earlier days might complain the songs aren't dark and angular enough, the layers of complexity are still there. For instance, the emotional fragility and despair which clouded Craig's life last year is painful on "The Saddest Day of My Life", but that mood is in dramatic contrast to the last two minutes of final, epic track, "Hop on One Foot", the optimism of which Craig describes as "almost gospel, a resurrection". A 20-song soundtrack which Shudder to Think have been working on, using singers from Smashing Pumpkins, The The and The Cardigans, as well as Jeff Buckley, sounds curious, but as with this British tour, the band is just taking everything in its stride. "We have to do our thing. Hopefully it will come together in a beautiful way."
EYE ON THE NEW Wu-Tang Clan, New York's nine-piece kings of the rap frontier, at last return with a new LP, Wu-Tang Forever. Having notched up several huge- selling solo albums, and dragged attention away from West Coast hip-hop almost singlehandedly, the mythology surrounding them may be well deserved, but they have a lot to live up to.
Glasgow Barrowlands (0141-226 4679) 5 Jun; Brixton Academy, London (0171-924 9999) 6 JunReuse content