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Skill was never an issue with Long Fin Killie. Throughout their five-year existence, the Scottish band released three albums that got better as they got shorter and less complex. The only thing they grappled with — aside from the expected lack of commercial exposure — was harnessing their staggering levels of musicianly talent.
Formed in the mid-'90s in Scotland, Long Fin Killie consisted of Colin Greig (bass), David Turner (drums), Philip Cameron (guitar), and Luke Sutherland (guitar, vocals). (Turner exited prior to 1998's Amelia, replaced by Kenny McEwan.) Sutherland was the center of LFK, the band's vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist who could hop from guitar to sax to violin with ease in a live setting. More importantly, Sutherland wrote the lyrics. Almost always provocative, he took on homophobia and racism with a literate touch that was every bit on Morrissey's level, but certainly of his own realm. Sutherland's slithery, gentle voice could switch from pulse-racing eroticism to angered politicism on a dime, which was only reflected by the band's lush, repetitive, Krautrock- and post-punk-informed rhythms. Sounding like no other band of their time, LFK also incorporated bouzouki, mandolin, and hammer dulcimer.
Releasing three records named after tragic heroes (Houdini, Valentino, and Amelia — all on Too Pure), the group gained a small following while touring with the likes of Throwing Muses, Pere Ubu, and Medicine. Buckling under frustrations with their label, the band folded shortly after their last and best effort in 1998. Sutherland, who is also an award-winning author and frequent accessory to Mogwai's live lineup on violin, went on to form the trip hop/drum'n'bass-oriented Bows.