So today is a big day for me with the release of my first record! I am looking forward to the launch concert tonight at The Bell in Bath where I will be playing songs from the LP with my band mates Joe, Paul, Chris and Helen. I will also be playing some of my favourite songs from my back catalogue.
As I have mentioned before, I began writing songs in 1988. It's taken me thirty years to get a record cut but this is a dream come true and totally worth the wait!
Records were always the thing for me. My first long player was Dog of Two Head by Status Quo - a gatefold. I just loved to hold it and look at it. I've still got it today. It's actually a fantastic record.
The songs for RIDE came out quickly, although a few of them were written beforehand. I already had 'News Corporation Blues', 'Maggie's Dream' and 'First Lane Reel' when I was recording Jubilee and Holy Roller. (Holy Roller was basically comprised of the songs that didn't end up on Jubilee.) I had also written bits of 'Autograph' and 'Rock n Roll Animal' before, but they needed finishing.
'Record Collection' was a co-write with Joel Rocko - a talented lyricist who approached me about writing a song together. He sent me some lyrics, entitled 'Record Collection', and I loved the theme of some music snob judging his new girlfriend (or boyfriend) by their taste in music. I reworked his words to match the music I composed. When this came out well, it spurred me onto writing more songs. Paul came up with the wonderful Strokes-like lead break in the studio.
'Ride', the song, was written in about fifteen minutes after I had been attempting to write another song (now forgotten) for about an hour and a half! This is often the way it goes. I wanted it to sound like Love (the band) or Buffalo Springfield. It was inspired, as I've also mentioned before, by me riding around Corsham on my bike in the spring. My ten year old daughter shot the promo video in the same locations this summer.
'Can't Get Over You' was also originally demoed at the time of Jubilee and Holy Roller but I completely overhauled the arrangement and just kept the lyrics. I will probably record the original version at some point in the future - or perhaps just release the demo.
'Time Passes Quickly' was another quick write. The shuffle section was written later. When I wrote this part, I didn't have a melody or lyrics. Joe and I jammed it together and he came up with the "I remember" part; originally "I remember when this was all fields". We went into the studio with Paul and Chris and got it in about four or five takes. The only ovderubs were the vocals, harmonica and lead guitar break. We've been performing so long together as All You Need Is The Beatles that we can work quickly. (A good job too because studio time is expensive!) Chris hadn't even heard the song before we started playing. We liked The Beatles link in that respect, too.
'Dust' is my tribute to the late, great Danny Kirwan who died earlier this year. See my blog post here. I released 'Dust' as a single two months before Danny passed away.
'Rock n Roll Animal', lyrically, is a tribute to Lou Reed. It started life as a Disco Rock instrumental. The bridge was only added when we were in the recording studio. Joe added some wonderful Abba-esque harmonies to it. It was nice to finally write some music it would be feasible to dance to! We'll find out later.
'Autumn Song' is really another tribute to Danny. My daughter was playing arpeggios on her ukulele but one of the strings wasn't quite in tune. This became the riff to the song. The chords just sounded very Danny to me. Of course, I couldn't play guitar like him in a million years.
'News Corporation Blues' is my thinly-veiled Murdoch rant. Dominic Bailey-Clay, who produced half the record, was an incredible asset because not only is he a gifted producer but he's also a talented musician and played drums, keyboards, percussion and guitar on the album. He plays drums on this track because Chris wasn't available for the session. Not everyone can play a tight shuffle beat but Dom excelled at this, too. It saved me from having to play drums as well!
'Autograph' is about a stalker, I suppose. I had the chorus long before I wrote the verses.
'Calvary' was a song I'd recorded as a demo on my phone but then promptly forgotten about. I came across it when I was looking back through my demos to see what songs I wanted to finish for the album. This one was complete, apart from its title, which was then 'Golgotha'. I wasn't exactly sure how to pronounce this correctly so changed it to the alternative name for the place of the Cross.
'Only Love Can Do That' is about Martin Luther King, one of my heroes. He said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
"Maggie's Dream' is a fantasy about the character from Dylan's 'Maggie's Farm'. My wife and kids join me on the choruses at the end. It was fun to record. 'First Lane Reel' is an instrumental that also comes from the Jubilee/Holy Roller period inspired by a lane near where I used to live.
'The Road To Rishikesh' is just me messing about with loops on Logic. Beatles fans will understand the origin of the song's title.
'A Song For Today' was the last song to be written for the record. I have been listening to a lot of Donovan of late and, although I didn't really succeed, I tried to write something akin to 'Wear Your Love Like Heaven' - one of my favourite songs.
RIDE is available to buy on vinyl, CD or download from Bandcamp. I really hope you enjoy it.