The star is still the music, says the band Texas on turning 25

The star is still the music, says the band Texas on turning 25

PARIS - Texas, the band behind hit singles such as "I Don't Want a Lover" and "Say What You Want", is celebrating its 25-year career with a soulful album recasting past feats - and declaring its lodestar is still making music, not chasing fame.

Lead singer Sharleen Spiteri said that even now, the secret of Scottish group's longevity is elusive.

"If there is a secret, I'd wish you'd tell us so that we can last another 25 years," she smiled in an interview with AFP as she sipped tea in an elegant Paris hotel.

The band's latest album, "Texas 25", comes out on Monday. It's a greatest hits compilation, though the tunes - including "I Don't Want A Lover", "Say What You Want", "Black Eyed Boy" and "Halo" - are performed in a brassier, less bluesy way than you might remember.

The album was put together in the New York studio run by Truth & Soul, a production team who brought 1970s retro pertinence to modern balladeers such as Amy Winehouse, Adele and Aloe Blacc.

"It's quite a big thing to take songs and redo them because you could have done them and they may not be as good," Spiteri, 47, said. "But we decided, as a band, that we have to remove them far enough away that they have something new in them, but not so far, far away that they won't be unrecognisable."

Certainly the album invites listeners to recall the music that made Texas such a ubiquitous name in Europe in the 1990s, while also showcasing the band's need to keep playing to the times.

"It was important to make the songs relevant in a new time," the singer said.

38 million albums

The Glasgow-formed band - its name taken from the Wim Wenders cult film "Paris, Texas" - first burst onto the charts in 1989 with its guitar-led, thumping "I Don't Want a Lover" sung by Spiteri projecting a brunette tomboy allure with more than a hint of country & western in her voice.

What followed was a pop/rock adventure that sold 38 million albums.

The band members survived the grunge wave that swept the 1990s, and the electro vibe of the 2000s, to stay true to their more acoustic recipe.

But despite the band's musical roots - and name - Texas has struggled to find a foothold in the United States.

Its most successful period was 1997-2000 with the albums "White on Blonde" and "The Hush", which both went to number one on the British charts and into the top 10 in continental Europe.

"Maybe we never really have been the darlings, or THE band," admitted Spiteri, who has often basked in the spotlight while bandmates Johnny McElhone and guitarist Ally McErlaine stayed more in the background.

"We're a very successful band, but we don't get the, like 'Oh my God!' We don't get that kind of stuff... boyfriends, girlfriends, fame, photographs.... We just made music and we liked it, that's what we do. There's not really any other reason for us for to be doing it."

For Spiteri, who joined the band at age 17, Texas is a second family.

"We were young, we experienced things for the first time. You're like pirates in this journey: you arrive in towns and cities, and you go and play concerts and basically take over the town, and then goodnight and you move on," she said.

I guess my fantasy of being a pirate as a young girl came through." The ties really became obvious when the singer took time out to bring out two solo albums in 2008 and 2010. The band reformed on her return to bring out the album "The Conversation" in 2013.

Intimate concerts

For its 25th anniversary, Texas is embarking on a series of small concerts in which it will play three or four songs from its repertoire with the audience up-close and personal.

"It's something different," Spiteri said. The songs will be "stripped down to the bare essentials," and she plans to interact with the public while on stage.

"I love the show being 'Let's see what happens'. That's how it's going to be done: it's going to be very free-form."

Almost all the British "evenings with Texas" dates in April and May have already sold out. The band will segue into a more traditional tour of bigger concerts where music, as always, will be at the heart of what they do.

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