Strawb : A life thru music
It all began in 1965, in the next room to the one I'm writing this in. The Beatles were No. 1 with their 7th No. 1 hit single Ticket To Ride. 7 years later and I buy my first record, later to be smashed to pieces when Punk came around, Jimmy Osmonds' odious Long Haired Lover From Liverpool. Christmas 1973 and I had my first albums by David Bowie, The Sweet and Rod Stewart. I later swapped Rod for more Bowie. Next came Queen in 1975 with Bohemian Rhapsody. My Mum bought that one too. I used to listen to her Hair and Godspell albums. Then a move to Comprehensive school and the arrival of Punk and my greatest and longest love, The Damned. I met my new best friends big brothers' record collection and see The Light! This is what I wanted, coloured vinyls, different shapes and sizes, 10", 12" 5"! All in original sleeves. So began my record collecting in earnest. In come The Psychedelic Furs, Bow Wow Wow, Mr Malcolm Mclaren, Hip Hop, Toyah and thru the N.M.E. C81 cassette I discover Scritti Politti and Robert Wyatt. John Peel gave me Fatal Microbes
Leave school as billy-no-mates, but at least I had my records and I'd started to write songs as I rode home thru the woods, singing away in my head. All my life I have tried and failed to be a musician, so I just stuck with the words and dream of being a singer with my own rock 'n' roll band! Bless. Then Woman enters life. Shows me what happens after dark, out there! Nightclubs and formula drones dancing on alcohol. I wore black and twirled a lot. Enter another woman in my life, this time wanting my record collection for an alternative night she was starting. I accompany my records and in time take over the D.J. controls and I'm up and away. Regular local alternative D.J. All thru the 80's! Frankie came and went, Live Aid introduced the corporate world to Music and then it all got very dull and Crass.
Enter House Music. New friends from London with their original Chicago and Detroit vinyl. Sunrise, Energy, Aciieeed!! I buy big speakers to go with my big van and 12/10's and with many friends we put on Woods parties and Beech parties and more parties. Play out, play London. Get busted. Meet more new friends and business partners and manage to convince the local Rave Organization Royalty that we are their new Gods, come to put on the biggest and best parties. We got away with it, for a while. We Could have been so Glorious if only. Come Castle Morton it all fell apart. Badly. Lost my Lady to my stupidity. Lost it all nearly. Quietly return to D.Jing and build a new crew of friends and freaks, old and new. Meet fellow D.J. Ezeee Lee and his studio and start to make music with him under the name Ocean of Emotion. Write the first lyric I'd written in over 10 years for our first song Love Me. Loose a new friend and write a song for him too called Smile, using any and every guitarist I can find for the chords. We eventually recorded it at the original ORCA studio with Dave Maine at the helm. A mad legendary night of chaos and rock n roll. My vocal debut, quite enthusiastic some were to say, as well as, don't do it again! That was all 1993 and I had begun to make music
learnt from Lee. He had the 4 track studio using 16/4/2 Allen & Heath
mixing desk. 16 seconds of sample time on the FZ1, a drum machine and a
sound box or 2, using a Stienberg ST computer and the old Pro 24 program.
I slowly started to write my own pieces. The first finished one being Angel.
We moved the studio up to here and slowly Lee stopped coming round and went in
search of a wife and a mortgage. His brother Cavey soon took his place,
bringing with him the new Prophecy keyboard and his mate Dave Grier
and their Techno dreams.
Now it all goes a bit mad again. Songs are written and Clive T.V. becomes a right little regular collaborator. I start to write songs for a girl band called Shade around 1996. These songs eventually become part of my project/group Zen Tails. Allegedly being songs that are too good for Strawb to spoil by singing all over them. I had compiled my first unsung instrumental Strawb album by then, on cassette, entitled Universal Plastic Mediator. Plus I had been writing acoustic songs with Mr Jon Cannon, creator of the Searching 4 my Yoko riff.
In 1997 I compiled my first Zen Tails album, Rising. Mastered from mono 4 track demos at White House Studios. Soon came The Castilia Suite on 16 track. Aided greatly by the new Yamaha sampler with minutes not seconds of sampling time. Then the studio partnership kinda explodes and I go it alone. More songs, more friends and collaborations and projects and dreams. More Zen Tails albums. Not forgetting the book I wrote and printed up in 1995 called I & I Must Be Alone. A collection of short stories, songs, rants and raves and babbling. Discover Taoism. Study Tai Chi Chaun. And always every day, getting up to earn money as a self employed painter & decorator, playing my C.D's and being left alone to get on with it! Walking my hills alone. Falling in love and then watching it all go wrong again and again. Married to my music. Girls, Music, money, Friends, Dreams, Songs, chaos. Into 21st century madness and I'm getting on a bit now. So tired. So weary. Damn poet. Cannee take no more Captain. So my Doctor says don't! Take this. 200 Valium and 2 years later and I could breathe easily and my body didn't hurt coz I hadn't worked in dust and paint odors. I'd ridden my bike a lot and gone to college where they gave me a load of distinctions for Music. They told us to form a band the first month we were there. I'd told them all that I was a singer and heck, they believed me. So we formed and I fronted Crash Landing. I sang live in public for the first time ever and I loved it. I felt so at home in front of the microphone and an audience. Heaven! With a kick ass rock band behind me playing along to a beats and bleeps backing track we'd recorded in my studio. After that I took Strawb out a few times to face the public alone with my backing tapes. Got away with it every time and got good feed back. Some even seemed to like what they heard. I had a wonderful 2 years under the Flowers Hill protection, but they sent me back to the paint and dust. But by then I'd recorded my 21st Century Fable, Rosebud, Dear God, and on leaving college I formed the band AKOO STIK with Henry Orna on guitar. We played many pubs around Somerset and never failed to raise an eyebrow and a cheer every time. Oh, the nerves and the belly pain and stage fright beforehand. And yet the relief and joy every time I took that microphone.
And so we come to Ascension. I was to be 40, on Ascension day. And I hadn't released a record yet! Panic. I had been D.J.ing again, mainly with new old Reggae vinyl and so I had use of a P.A. and if I didn't put on a big party for my 40th birthday, no one else would. So I booked a venue. Sent out a load of press releases to announce my long dreamed of "Happening" A night of me D.J.ing Reggae and Rave records, singing an AKOO STIK set, support band Flat Afro Wig, more D.J.ing and end on Strawb live performing his new album Songs of Ascension, available for sale at the bar on limited edition tactile black vinyl C.D. (I've sold 6 in all so far!) We did the show. About 26 friends came and 2 members of the public. It was fun but not the "live debut" I'd dreamed of for Strawb. But probably a lot better than most! I spent the next week driving to distant record shops and asking them to sell my album for me in their local artists section. Onward I go. Writing new songs and realizing that a new and far more appropriate album of my recent songs, was there for the releasing. If only I hadn't blown all my money on Ascension. Enter the album God Knows I'm Good. Enter the fridge magnet and the sticker of the first official public face of Strawb. The one that answers the eternal question of "What kind of music do you do?" I still can't answer that. But the sticker can I sound like this!!
2005 was mad and hell personally and globally. It is now gone. But I have this album for sale in various record shops. And it's the wrong album for people to discover Strawb with. They should listen to God Knows I'm Good so I'm printing up copies myself to give away free with the Ascension C.D.s (Ascension of course being songs/stories I wrote and recorded to 4 track 10 years ago) (and it does go on a bit too long but hey, value for money innit!) The promotional posters are allegedly ready for me to pick up and so now I can return to all those record shops and start again.
that is precisely what I intend to do now. Start again. Make the album I always
wanted to make but it's only now after all these years of practice and realization
that I have the talent, understanding, ability, and more importantly, the musicians
and friends to help me realize and record it, in a studio that knows no sample
time restrictions. I can now record all those great songs that I wrote 13 years
ago but didn't have the resources to do. That doesn't diminish Any of the songs
that have helped me along the way. I couldn't be without any of them. Or the people
and events that led me here
Part two begins with the recording of the song Sundays Child. Recorded back in 1994 to 4 track and sung for me back then by Donna. She did the fabulous backing vocals on the original Smile. It's just a love song. A love song to let go of everything that has been and say it's O.K. And this time I'm going to sing it. With the help of fine friends to play the real instruments for me. Once done we'll begin on the real work of recording an album worthy of vinyl release, entitled :
See what happens eh!