I’m just contemplating how many prescient moments my life has thrown up. When I was house producer at Neat records how could I know that 40 years later Neat 02, Neat 03 and Neat 06 would merge under one recording session? This will happen this coming Tuesday when Jayne Mackenzie(Neat 03) is part of the backup singers for a new recording featuring the singer of Neat 06John Gallagher of Raven and the guitarist of Neat 03Steve Lamb of Tygers of Pan Tang (ok he wasn’t the original guitarist but I later cut two Tygers albums with him) How well I remember lovely Jayne aged 11 coming in to cut her Neat 02 single. Looking forward to the next session. You’ll get to hear it when the new album “The Long Fade” comes out Mid Spring.
The new album to be entitled “The Long Fade” will be ready mid Spring. There are many collaborators contributing to this album and we’re all very chuffed with it.
We’ll be going into our first rehearsal on Monday for our show at The Steel Club Consett on April 11th. Tickets are available from the venue or online at bit.ly/steelclub
On April 12th we will release a single from the album “Like My Father’s Father” C/W “Red Dust Overture”. Ticket holders for the Steel Club gig will get a FREE copy of the single a full day before official release. The two tracks are very much tied to my home town of Consett. And here’s an added bonus: the original singer of my Consett band Bullfrog (formed in 1969) Mick Glancy will contribute to the single. Mick will be going into a radio station near where he lives in Devon to record his part for the “Father’s Father Industrial Choir”
There have been quite a few of these distant collaborations. Steve Lamb (formerly Tygers of Pan Tang) has just turned in some terrific guitar parts for “Behind The Wheel”, a song I originally recorded with Alvin Stardust. The track features John Gallagher of Raven on bass and vocals plus the only core band member on the track Ian Halford on drums. I quickly recorded the track over the Christmas holidays. John had just got in touch to say he was in the UK visiting family and would I like him to guest on the album. With just a week to spare, I went into Green Dragon Studios in Stockton and laid down programmed drums, bass and keyboards. These parts have now been replaced with a power trio. Johns vocals and bass in Customs Space, South Shields, Ians Drums in TSOM in Thornaby and Steve’s guitars in Bournmoor Barn.
So, The Long Fade will feature everything from pop ballad “Hurry Home” to the hard rock of “Behind The Wheel” and everything in between. Expect that sometime in May. Meanwhile, look out for the single on April 12th or get it free the day before by getting tickets to our Steel Club show in Consett.
I’ve been having a ball with old friends and new in various recording studios. They say when you retire you should take a hobby. Painting, gardening, fishing. I’m cutting an album. How rock n roll is that. We’ve been at it since the summer so there’s a lot of pics. There’s also been a lot of music and a lot of laughs.
We had an absolutely wonderful time at Custom Space Studios today. The music and the playing was terrific. I laid down some acoustic guitar and then Steve Dolder played his Beat Boxx on a track. I declared his drumming “beautiful”, an adjective I’ve never used for drums before (Steve said he’d never heard it before either). Then Dave Ditchburn sang Fathers Father like he had his bare feet planted in the soil and was singing for generations of working men. Jim Hornsby played some soaring slide and we then finished off with Dave singing “Guy Walks Into A Bar” like he’d lived the story (and he most probably has) We followed the not trodden path in our music making, it was all organic instinct. But best of all was the conversation and the laughter from start to finish.
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A Boy Band
Dave Ditchburn, Steve Thompson, Steve Dolder, Jim Hornsby
We laughed a lot. We even spent a brief time talking (and laughing) about our respective mortality. Hence the reason for one of the two album title suggestions that came up.
My (unfinished) book concludes with a gig my band did at The Georgian Theatre last March. So much has happened since that I decided to do a series of blogs “after the show”. This is one such blog.
Not long after that show my lawyer Simon Long called me. It was my birthday but that’s not what Simon was calling about. Simon has looked after my affairs since 1982 and has become a great mate. He had been watching the promo’s for my band, activity around my book and general Facebook stuff and was taken with the revitalization my career seemed to be taking. Oddly the catalyst for this communication was none other than singer Chris Farlowe.
A couple of months earlier I was preparing for the Georgian show. In the set was a song I had written for Chris Farlowe “Looking For Love in a Stranger”. This had never been released so I just wanted a picture of Chris to put on screen as I introduced the song. So I Googled for photos of Chris and guess what?…… I discovered that my song was on at least THREE Chris Farlowe albums.
This gave me an even better story to tell at the show. You see Chris’s backing band on “Looking For Love in a Stranger” was the Jeff Beck group. Except it’s not Jeff on guitar, it’s me! You know me, I’m not one to brag but I was playing guitar with the Jeff Beck group!
I informed my publishers about the three Chris Farlowe albums. To my surprise they weren’t particularly bothered. You see they’re huge and I’m some old dude they signed 15 years ago and forgot about.
And so back to the phone call from my lawyer. Simon said “do you want me to shop around for a new publishing deal?” I said “sure, why not”. Simon said he had in mind a small family run company who would be more likely to give me a personal service and get involved creatively. I said “OK, go for it”. When I got home I Googled Fairwood music and found they looked after David Bowie, Jim Cregan (Rod Stewart), U2, Sarah Brightman and others!
So here I was booking out new shows for the band. The guys were also keen to begin work on an album of the songs we’d been performing. This seemed pretty straight forward but how was I to know ……….. (more follows)
In 2018 I began writing a book as many people had been encouraging me to do. The book is a combination of all the stories I’d told people over the years. It is unfinished but in skeletalform I know it concludes with a show I did with my band at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Tees in March 2018. The show was such a resounding success that it seemed a good place to conclude the story.
The final sentence has been written.
However the story continues. After that successful show, enthusiasms in my band were running high. The energy between the six protagonists was palpable. More shows were booked and we were on our way. Then suddenly the drummer quit. And then like dominoes falling others left too. It was somewhat bewildering. Eventually we were just three. Now that’s not a band but incredibly the three of us, me, bass player John Dawson and Vocalist Jen Normandale believed we were still a band. Incredibly a drummer, Ian Halford, for some weird reason thought it looked like a band too and joined us.
In the Summer of 2018 the four of us went into a recording studio and made some music. Not just any music, there was a reason and a story to what we were doing. Over the coming months more sessions took place in several studios and a new story started to emerge.
I’ve decided to blog these stories in a series I’ll call “after the show”. This is the beginning.
It is surely remarkable how history so often repeats itself. Back in 1994 I had written and produced a “single” for Alvin Stardust called “Taking The Easy Way”. Alvin was, what they call “deal shopping” meaning we were looking for a record company to put it out. One day I got a call from Alvin’s manager saying that he’d secured some interest and that the interest extended to an entire album. The question was, did I have more material suitable for Alvin and would I be happy to produce an album. I’d enjoyed the earlier sessions with Alvin – a true pro and so I said yes. I started sending various songs and I wrote a couple of new ones. After some to-ing and fro-ing we settled on a set of songs. Christmas was approaching so I went into pre-production in the days leading up to Christmas 1994 because Alvin had a window to cut the Album in January 1995 and then he was on tour.
Early in 1995 Alvin stayed with me in my house in Whitley Bay for three weeks whilst we cut the album. I didn’t drive then so every day we’d ride the Metro to the studio in Newcastle. We made the album but unfortunately the deal did not come off and the tracks gathered dust all these years. Alvin did call me a couple of months before he died and we talked about reviving the project. He did not mention his health and so I had no idea he was not long for this world.
Fast forward to 2018 and John Gallagher of the band Raven get’s in touch. He’s spotted that I’m cutting my own album and offered his services to guest on a track or two. Would I be interested? You betcha! I produced an album with John and his band mates around 1981 (Raven: Rock Until You Drop) that is considered a landmark album, inspiring among others Metallica.
John says he’s in the country until Jan 23rd. This rings bells with me and is reminiscent of the Alvin recordings. There was a song I wrote for Alvin’s album that would be ideal for John: Behind The Wheel. So this is to be the track and just 23 years later I go into pre-production once more in the days leading up to Christmas. I’ve been working on the track today with a terrific sense of Deja Vu.