Uriah Heep keyboard player and songwriter Phil Lanzon’s debut solo album is out – and it is highly recommended. Not much in the hard rock style of the classic band he’s in, but a vast array of pop, prog, folk, and rock – which all goes together for a great listen, with different players, singers, choirs, strings…
In this interview with Phil, he answers the questions about this exciting new album and it’s release. A busy fella, currently working on a new Heep album, and preparing for an upcoming tour of the US in the new year! Looking forward to seeing Phil & Heep, as well as getting my hands on the vinyl version of this release – which you can order and support the project at —
You’ve been a member of Uriah Heep and a large writing force in the band for 30 years. How did the solo album idea come about?
As with most writers you tend to write all the time, and I had accumulated a lot of material that was not Heep related. There came a time when my backlog of songs was overloading and some had to give birth or my studio would explode!! So, I utilised the period when Mick and Bernie were off doing rock meets classic and began the recording process.
First off – the album art is quite stunning! How did this come about with artist Michael Cheval? Easy this year I was looking for an album cover and trawled through a thousand or so artworks from all different styles. I then came across a couple of pictures I liked by Michael Cheval. I don’t know anyone from the art world as such so I sent a message to him with my phone contact not expecting to get an answer. That evening the phone rang and it was Michael. By huge coincidence it turned out he is a huge Heep fan and wanted me to use the picture I had selected for my solo album. His original featured a certain famous Beatle but he insisted he put my mug shot in his place. I eventually agreed.
Were these songs All written specifically for this album, or were there any holdovers that perhaps – didn’t suit past Heep projects? Some where, some weren’t.
You sang lead on 2 tracks on the album. why only 2? I don’t consider myself a singer. In fact I don’t really like my voice but I thought I’d better chip in so to speak.
What can you tell me about some of the players, singers, choir, etc.. that you’ve used on this project? Laurence Cottle – the same guy that was on a Black Sabbath album, I presume!? Andy Martin and John Mitchell obviously play a big role on this album. Yes, Laurence did do a Sabbath album. Andy Makin and John Mitchell brought a wonderful flavour to the songs and to be fair I relied solely on my producer Simon and arranger Richard to help with bringing the players and singers together. I simply wanted to write the songs and give them the chance to interpret them. Craig is now with Steven Wilson
How different was the writing process, where as with with a Heep album you usually write with Mick [or collaborate in some way]?
Very different. When you write Heep style there is a very narrow margin that we have to keep within because it’s Uriah Heep.
You’ve done this project without any ‘guest’ appearances from your Heep bandmates. any reason you chose not to use any name guests? I had originally wanted Russ and Dave to get involved but after many conversations with Simon I decided to let him take the lead and organise the entire shebang from his point of view. This is not to say I wouldn’t use them on another future project as they are a great rhythm section.
A lot of your songs are story based. where do you draw ideas from, with reference to specific tracks? There is only one answer – life. It’s all there to be lifted out and written on the page. I write short stories and I’ve written a novel so it’s in the blood – can’t help it.
Can you give me any antidotes into a few of my personal favorites – I Knew I Was Dreaming, I Saw 2 Englands, Lovers Highway, Donna & Joe? I like them all! Donna & Joe is about two 19th century smugglers. They were once lovers, went their separate ways but ended up in the same profession. The story tells how they were clearly blaming each other over some territorial dispute and end up threatening each other. The ending is left up to the listener.
Step Overture is a very heavy, progressive instrumental track, kinda reminds me of old Genesis [Watcher of the Skies]. What inspired that song, and were/ are you into more progressive styled bands [Genesis, ELP, Yes]? I grew up on that stuff yeah. Love the way it mixes into the pure rock genre.
The Bells is probably the closest thing to the Heep sound and feel on this album. I can quite imagine it in the Heep set. what can you tell about how this track came about – in to a great heavy track[?] It was just that – a heavy riff track I had for a long time but never actually played it to the guys. It’s about a guy who turns rain into gold – you can imagine the trouble that caused.
Aside from social media, is there any other promotional plans – possibly any live performances? No live stuff. Too much else going on. I think I’ll carry on recording my songs over time. Maybe an e.p. next year.
You obviously like working with strings, choirs, orchestra… very different approaches to Uriah Heep’s work. Is there anything you’d like to do on your own in the future, perhaps outside of the traditional rock realm? I’d like to get into some hard core comedy rock a la Zappa etc. Have a good old play on lyrics and stuff!
Can you give me a List of some of your current & past favorite recordings [not yours] to listen to? Early Steven Wilson currently. From the past everything from Mozart to Beatles to genesis and a million others. There is so much music out there it’s quite frightening, but hell – let’s have more…….
PHIL LANZON : If You Think I’m Crazy
Phil has been the keyboard player and major songwriter in Uriah Heep for the past 30 years. Joining in 1986, after a brief period in Sweet. He’s a major reason why the band is still going today and releasing solid new albums over the past few decades. It is no wonder (but a nice surprise) that Lanzon has finally released his first solo album. If You Think I’m Crazy is indeed a very nice addition to any Heep fan’s collection.
First off – this cover art by Michael Cheval jumps right out at you. Pretty different, and very colorful. This album is pretty wide ranging in material; not so much Heep sounding, but definitely a fantastic collection of songs written for this project. There’s no Heep connections here as far as cast or crew, with Phil using guitarist John Mitchell, drummer Craig Blundell, (acoustic) guitar player James Graydon, pedal steel & banjo player Sarah Jory, bass player Laurence Cottle (who’s playing credits include The Alan Parsons Project and Black Sabbath), and orchestra arrangements & keys from Richard Cottle. There’s a few different singers here, backing singers, orchestra, choir… all makes for quite a grand production and cross section of songs.
Songs here are largely story based, which leaves some interesting tales. All these songs are enjoyable, but favorites would have to include “I Saw Two Englands”, an acoustic ballad that picks up, and has a catchy chorus, and the pedal steel guitar gives it a bit of country feel. nice vocal from Phil. “Lover’s Highway”, sung by Andy Makin is a pretty cool swinging prog-pop cut; a bit of a 70s feel, great performance with John Mitchell’s guitar sound, and the mid tune drum break that leads into the chorus choir. “Donna & Joe” is my favorite track here, sweet keyboard and string intro leading a tale of revenge – love the chorus. “The Bells” is about the closest to a Heep rock tune here, as I can easily imagine the band doing this one.
The 10 track disc ends with Phil singing the ballad “The Forest”, which is an epic finale to this album. Lots to listen to hear, and I’m sure favorites will change. Looking forward to the vinyl release of this. A great and most welcome release! Here’s hoping next time there’s a gap in Heep albums – Phil Lanzon will fill it with another fine record.
Though recently I’ve had the above Phil Lanzon disc and latest Styx album stuck in my car stereo (where I can peacefully listen and max volume), I’ve gotten a number of new things that I’m getting into. Having recently moved, I’ve had to reorganize my LPs and discs, and set up a new room for stuff. But I got the new Heaven & Earth LP, featuring (guitarist) Stuart Smith, (singer) Joe Retta, and (drummer) Kenny Aronoff.
The band’s previous album “Dig” was a huge step forward for the band, classic hard rock – one of my favorite albums of the past 5 years. The band has made a few more changes, but Smith (band founder) has kept Joe Retta for “Hard To Kill”, and on a first few listens this album sounds great! A bit harder than the previous album, minus the ballads. Love the title track, which kicks ass right at the start of this album, as well as the video single “The Game Has Changed” – pretty different and a bit o funk.
Looking forward to getting more time with this. I wish someone would book these guys up this way (Southern Ontario).
…….I also got Joe Bouchard‘s new disc “Playin History”. Another solid release from founding & former member of Blue Oyster Cult, and the most productive. Joe has released a pile of solo albums that BOC fans will easily enjoy.
His latest album I’ve been taking for a drive as of late, and tracks like “Renaissance Man”, “52 Agents of Fortune”, “Night Owl Nocturne”, and ballad “Diamonds In Blue” will please fans. Ironic that this guy is at his most prolific over the past decade, filling the void left by the current band that don’t record new material.
Brother Albert Bouchard also has a new album out titled “Surrealist”…. I did get the new Alice Cooper a few months back, and though I think is a far better listen than the previous “Welcome 2 My Nightmare “, and it boasts a stellar guest list – the best track for me on “Paranormal” is “Genuine American Girl”, with the original band. A classic AC track, but a damn shame there isn’t a full album from these guys! Opportunity missed, IMO….
Looking forward to putting on the Brown Sabbath album I got. Its from 2014, but if you’re not familiar – this soul band plays Sabbath covers, and they sound amazing – look them up! http://www.brownoutmusic.com
anyway, that’s all lately… looking forward to the new Europe, new Magnum, new Saxon – before year’s end, as well as numerous live albums from Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple.
Styx was one of my earliest favorite bands. The first album i ever purchased was Paradise Theatre, in the summer of 1981, while at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto (yes they had record outlets set up there).
I loved that album at the time – Best Of Times, Snowblind, Rockin The Paradise… neat gatefold and cool etching on one side of the LP. Back at our local Sam The Record Man I picked up almost everything else prior to, save for the first 4 albums – I got ‘The Best Of’ – to cover that era. From those 70s albums – Equinox, The Grand Illusion, and Pieces of Eight (on picture disc) were and still are my favorite Styx albums. Throw in Crystal Ball and Cornerstone and it was quite a period for the band. Kilroy Was Here came out in a huge deal of promotion with the film (which I believe was played at their concerts on that tour!?). That album had a few memorable songs, but in retrospect pretty disappointing for me (I will have to put it on later). I thought the story / concept and packaging was pretty cool though. The subsequent double live album was anti climactic, sounding a bit tired (I think the band’s reunion live set Return To Paradise is far superior), and not to mention that studio track released as a single – “Music Time”, just ridiculous pop stuff – no wonder they split sooner after!
From 1984 to ’88 Tommy Shaw and Dennis DeYoung each released 3 studio albums, while James Young released 2 (one with Jan Hammer). I really liked Desert Moon at the time, but lost interest in the next 2, while Shaw’s Girls With Guns is an absolute classic ’80s album, and the 2 that followed were pretty decent as well. I have JYs album City Slicker, but never got in to it. From this point I moved on to other things, I missed subsequent solo albums from Shaw, Young, and (intentionally) DeYoung’s albums of Broadway hits.
When Styx resumed in 1990, Shaw was gone (joining ‘super-group’ Damn Yankees, followed by a few albums with Night Ranger’s Jack Blades). In his place was Glen Burtnik, a solo artist also on A&M Records. Burtnik was a multi instrumentalist, singer and writer, and seemed a good fit for the band. However, when Edge Of The Century came out I just never got it. It was a bit too mainstream pop and featured another DeYoung ballad as the big hit. I didn’t get the actual album on CD til years later, and see I missed very little. On record Burtnik was good, and contributed to half the songs, and in particular the hit “Love Is The Ritual” and the title track. But I can’t stand the production / sound of this album, and every other track is a ballad! JY is barely on this thing. Sad. And as much as I think Dennis DeYoung was the key figure during the band’s classic era from 75-81, I think he’d sorta lost the plot at this stage. Although “Show Me The Way” was a hit at the time, I think that this and/or perhaps some of the other ballads would’ve been better suited to a solo album.
When the classic Styx resumed in the late ’90s they released a great live album with 3 new songs, most notably “Dear John” – written for John Panozzo (who passed away in ’96). Todd Sucherman filled in on drums here and remains a member of the band today. Bummer this ain’t on vinyl! The band’s subsequent studio album was highly anticipated ( I thought it would be great, at least), but it was a bit disappointing. Tommy Shaw was the major writer on this one, and put in the most memorable songs – “I Will Be Your Witness”, “Everything Is Cool”, and the title track. James Young contributed to 5 tracks, “Heavy Water” being the album’s rockiest tune. DeYoung contributed just 5 songs, 3 of which are ballads! what is disappointing about this album is that it seems to be less of a band effort – too many ballads, too little collaborations, too much filler. With DeYoung’s contributions sounding like he was recording an entirely different album than a Styx album. DeYoung developed health issues at the time and the band took the opportunity to carry on without him. Despite the timing, it was the best thing for everyone involved, I’d say. Don’t get me wrong – I am a fan of DeYoung’s work; he is an amazing writer, singer and keyboard player, I just don’t think his direction suited the band anymore.
The band chose Canadian singer/writer/keyboard player Lawrence Gowan to replace DeYoung. Gowan had a number of hits in the ’80s, particularly in Canada – “Criminal Mind”, “Strange Animal”, “Moonlight Desires”… Gowan is an energetic performer and though there is a group of DeYoung faithfull fans who would disagree – his voice and playing suits the classic Styx era tunes just perfectly.
In 2002 with Gowan in the band, as well as Glen Burtnik back as bass player (Chuck Panozzo being ill and tho still a member, his role is limited) Styx released Cyclorama. By then I’d lost a good bit of interest in the band, but was curious. Cyclorama was a nice surprise, though a bit lengthy. A far better Styx album than any since Paradise Theatre. The band had contributions from everyone, 4 of whom sang lead, and it sounded like a band again – and everyone seemed to enjoy making this album (Almost all tracks are co credited to the entire band). Shaw contributed favorites “Waiting For Our Time” and “Yes I Can”, while James Young sang on (and presumably was lead writer) on “These Are The Times” and “Captain America” – 2 of the best tracks he’s ever done. Gowan’s “Fields Of The Brave” and “More Love For The Money” and Burtnik’s “Killing The Thing That You Love” – all classy stuff.
The band toured and Burtnik eventually left the band, with Ricky Phillips (ex Babies) joining on bass (and Chuck Panozzo coming out on tours for a few songs and appearances). Sadly, (in my opinion) the band missed the opportunity to follow up Cyclorama sooner than later, opting to stay out on tour for years, while releasing a number of live albums, a covers album, and an album of classic Styx tracks re-recorded. I did pick up and liked the latter album titled Regeneration (2011), and the live DVD of the band performing The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight albums in their entirety. But over nearly 14 years of nothing really new – it is easy to grow cynical and lose interest [again].
It was Dennis DeYoung’s live album of a couple years back that got me pulling my Styx albums out again. I thought it was an amazing set, and this guy still sounds so good after all these years! His voice, his keyboard playing – and his band which includes 2 guitarists that resemble Styx’s guitarists from a distance, and one who can sound remarkably like Tommy Shaw performing Shaw’s songs — this was what Styx sounded like to me – But during a certain period. I did pick up DeYoung’s 100 Years From Now in all this, and thought it was pretty decent; definitely rockier than his previous stuff. I would love to hear DeYoung make a new studio album of classic Styx sounding material though.
Having wished for a new DeYoung album sounding like classic Styx would be ideal, but it seems the band has beat him to it with The Mission. A new album, recorded quietly, with no mention of it until it was ready.
After 14 years, what could the band have to offer!? After one solid album in 2003 and a few duds before that, how great could it be!? Well, if the band set out to go back and make it sound like a classic Styx album (Equinox, Grand Illusion), as I’ve heard Tommy Shaw say [check out those youtube interviews!], they succeeded IMO.
Originally conceived by Tommy Shaw and producer Will Evankovich, The Mission is more than one could’ve expected, with the lyrics revolving around a futuristic trip to Mars, and the band pulling off an authentic ’70s sound and feel throughout this album. This is not just another Styx album of rock, pop, and ballads – it is the Best Styx album since Paradise Theatre (or arguably Pieces of Eight)! Certainly a return to the progressive period before that. I have had this album since shortly after it came out, and have not tired of it, there is just so much to hear and follow track to track.
When Gowan’s keyboards kick in during the “Overture” I am instantly reminded of classics like “Light Up” and “The Grand Illusion”, as if this piece could work right up to either one of those tunes. But it is the lead off upbeat track “Gone Gone Gone”, sung by Gowan – it’s short and to the point, which is to catch your attention and kick things off with the line “Light it up – let’s get this show on the road!”. Already sounds like a great show opener! Classic concept and packaging – gatefold LP, with story, cast of characters, lyrics…
The Mission is not simply something you can pick a few favorites out and skip right to them (though i do have a few favorite pieces), but more so – lyrically and musically, it is something that really is worth listening straight through.
Each song is connected in the story and musically, with no fadeouts or big drum endings, but there’s a real musical flow from track to track, and a few shorter pieces that segue and connect. Gowan’s use of older equipment – moogs, synths, etc… give this such a cool ’70s vibe, with not only shades of mid ’70s Styx, but a bit of Pink Floyd at times – see “Locomotive”, which also features a guitar break very reminiscent of David Gilmour. a number of classic tracks here, from more mainstream catchy pop-rock like “Hundred Million Miles From Home” and “Radio Silence”, to “The Greater Good” – which starts as a ballad and picks up with Gowan and Shaw exchanging lines (as per the story), and on to the epic prog piece “Red Storm”.
This album really is more of a progressive album than anything the band’s ever done. James Young only has one lead vocal here, on the somewhat slower funk track “Trouble At The Big Show”. I would say the only thing this album misses is that one JY rocker that usually stands out. That’s not to say this album is soft; musically it’s heavy and pretty upbeat throughout. I don’t just hear traces of ’70s Styx, but other progressive influences. This is a Styx album that is in a class of it’s own.
Angel was a Washington, DC based band in the mid – late 70s, who released 5 studio albums, and one double live set. The band was signed to Casablanca Records [home of Kiss and a lot of crappy disco]. Band members have recalled over the years that is was Gene Simmons who put in the word for Angel to get signed [and signed unseen or heard] but with the premise that the 2 bands would never tour together. Angel came out in all-white outfits, looking very glam, with a classic logo that could be flipped upside down to look the same, and a stage show where the band would simply appear and then disappear [see the pods in Spinal Tap].
The band’s self-titled debut was a much more progressive album, mixing some imaginative and storytelling lyrics with big keyboard intros, lengthy heavy guitar solos, and epic songs. This continued on with the “Helluva Band” album, which was a bit heavier IMO, and their finest release. By the third album – “On Earth As it Is In Heaven”, change had set in as the band was looking for more commercial appeal; gone were the almost all of the epics, and heaviness, replaced with attempts to appeal to the same sort of listeners as perhaps Kiss. My least fave Angel LP! The band’s “White Hot” album featured a few standout rockers, but they were still getting further from their progressive beginnings, and including some cheese and a cover for commercial appeal. The band’s fifth and final studio album – “Sinful”, was further still, but I quite liked this album; ahead of it’s time with 80s type glam rock/metal. Plenty of great songs here, and a shame it wasn’t a hit. Note: It was originally titled [and pulled by the record company] as “Bad Publicity”, dropping the band’s all-white look on the cover.
Following an appearance in the movie “Foxes” [with 2 tracks, one being disco!], a double live album [“Live Without A Net”] would be the end for Angel. The double live release would include Angel’s version of “All The Young Dudes”. Sure, band members [a number of changes] tried to carry on, but with no success in landing a new record deal, and eventually members threw in the towel and name.
One wonders if the band had stuck to their original heavier / prog direction, or toned down those white outfits and make-up, or not been on the same label as Kiss for so long if things could’ve been different. Musically, Angel had some great material, and I will put the first 2 albums ahead of many other 70s American HR releases by bands who went on to have far more success.
Guitarist Punky Meadows passed up opportunities to join Aerosmith, then Kiss due to his loyalty to the Angel brand. Singer Frank Dimino went on to record with Paul Raymond [UFO], and would resurrect Angel in the late 90s with mostly new players. Keyboard player Greg Guiffria went on to form Guiffria, who released a couple of albums and had a hit with “Call to The Heart”, as well as landed opening slot for Deep Purple’s 1984 reunion tour. Guiffria also featured the vocals of David Glen Eisley [who’s released a couple of great solo albums], as well as guitarist Craig Goldy [ex Dio], and bassist chuck Wright [ Quiet Riot]. Bassist Frank Robinson went on to a number of lesser known bands, tho he played on the debut White Lion album, and drummer Barry Brandt would join Dimino in the reformed Angel. Original bass player Mickie Jones passed away in 2009. Meadows, Guiffria, and Robinson would all eventually get out of the music business.
In recent years tho Angel members have been active again. In July of 2015 Frank Dimino released his debut solo album “Old Habits Die Hard”. Dimino’s album is a great mix of straight ahead hard rock, a few ballads, and features a long list of guests, most notably Punky Meadows on the lead off rocker “Never Again” [and featured in the video], Rickey Medlocke [ex Blackfoot, Skynyrd], and Pat Thrall [ex Hughes-Thrall, Asia…]…. Some cool rockers in “Never Again”, “Rockin in The City”, and “Sweet Sensation”, as well as power ballad “Even Now” [this one reminds me of Angel’s classic “Feelings”].
After years of not being heard from, guitarist Punky Meadows put together a solo band to record his first album since leaving Angel – “Fallen Angel” was released in May of 2016, and also features Felix Robinson on bass. A bit heavier than Dimino’s album, with Meadows’ guitar being the draw, and rhythm guitar from Danny Anniello; this has a few choice heavy rockers with “Straight Shooter” and “Loaded Gun”, and a few more cool rockers in “Lost And Lonely” and “The Price You Pay”. The instrumental title track is the highlight for me; closing this album in one lengthy rock jam.
While both albums are strong collections of hard rock, I can’t help but wonder how cool an Angel album would be at this point [!?] Definitely heavier than where the band left off in 1980! The band did get together last May for the Las Vegas Hair Metal Awards, where they were honored, after last being together over 35 years ago!
I also want to mention that long time Angel fan Brian Balich had taken to publishing an Angel fanzine [print] in the late 90s, titled “Bad Publicity”. These are cool informative collectables, and much appreciated at the time. There are also a couple of very in-depth interviews online with Eddie Trunk, who has been very supportive of the band and both Dimino’s and Meadows’ solo projects – well worth checking out.
*Both Punky Meadows and Frank Dimino have upcoming concert dates posted at their sites!
Anyway, here’s my list of Angel classics from the band’s time which started in ’75 and faded out in 1980.
A grand opening, complete with video game sounds in this lead off epic track to the band’s debut album; heavy and progressive; a fan favorite, and a concert opener. Lyrically, Angel had some storytelling and fantasy themes going in early songs. As with most of the band’s songs The Tower was written by Guiffria, Meadows, and Meadows. Also, well known for the promo video footage that has been out there forever.
Classic ballad from the band’s 1975 debut. Grand arrangement from Guiffria on keys and strings, and a fitting vocal from Frank Dimino on this haunting tale.
From Angel’s second album ‘Helluva Band’ in 1976. This is one of the band’s better known tracks. Dramatic intro from Gregg Guiffria, with Frank Dimino’s vocal coming in softly as this song builds up to an epic tale of someone awaiting their fate at the gallows. Lots of light and shade back and forth, acoustic guitar, killer solo…. Never understood why this track was left off of the double live album ‘Live Without A Net’. !?
Just A Dream
The closing track on On Earth As It Is In Heaven. Lengthy proggy intro from Gregg Guiffria sweeps in before the band kicks in… you’d almost think this was ELP for a minute. This one could’ve gone on longer.
Straight forward rocker from the band’s last album ‘Sinful’ in 1979. Cool riff played on the keyboard overtop of guitar. A short, to the point aggressive track, with a great performance from Dimino and nice mix of keys and guitar – that make this the heaviest track on the album.
A classic power ballad. Better Days was issued as a single only, and left off of the album White Hot in favor of the ballad The Winter Song [aka The Christmas Song]. Great vocal, piano, moog, and killer solo from Punky Meadows.
From their debut. This one features a very heavy riff / intro from Punky Meadows, and goes on as sort of a lengthy heavy jam type of track. One of those early Angel songs that makes you wonder that this band could’ve been more Zepp-heavy, with a wee bit less keyboards! Barry Brandt kills this as well.
See Sunday Morning. A guitar frenzied rocker from second album. lots of riffs, hooks, solos, and drum rolls….
I really liked the heavy production on Helluva Band, and this ballad, with piano intro and outro from Guiffria is classic. Starts out soft, but is one heavy song.
The lead off track from On Earth As It Is In Heaven. A pretty strong pop rocker, although I aint crazy about the chorus. What sticks out is the guitar brake, which reminds me so much of Boston [Don’t Look Back?]
Got Love If You Want It
Like the intro from Guiffria, and build up to this rocker, that kicks off side 2. Felix Robinson’s bass kinda drives this one. Must’ve been a cool live song. The album White Hot may have been the bands most straight forward rock album, albeit with one cover tune I never liked [or understood why] and a ballad.
20th Century Foxes [Live]
Originally produced by Georgio Moroeder for the “Foxes” movie soundtrack. This was Angel being slightly more disco than Kiss! The live version rocks a good bit more though. Great song.
In recent months a new series of Uriah Heep remasters began being issued on BMG. The series began with the 2 CD compilation Your Turn To Remember and the band’s 1970 debut Very Eavy..Very Umble. In chronological order, the band’s Salisbury most recently came out, and Look At Yourself is all set to go. Each of the these releases come packaged in a double disc digi-set, with the first disc being a remastered version of the original album release and disc 2 being labeled “an Alternative…”. Producer Rob Corich provides us with some insight into the new round of re-issues, as he’s been involved in the band’s catalogue reissues since the early 90s [going back to vault releases The Lansdowne Tapes and Ken Hensley’s From Time To Time]. Your Turn To Remember is not your standard Uriah Heep ‘best of’ compilation, and aside from the obvious choices the set includes two tracks from each of the band’s albums up to 1985’s Equator, and 1 from Raging Silence [not sure why!? and it’s not the obvious choice one either]. A few odd choices, such as the Japanese edit of fan favorite “July Morning”. The packaging, aside from a cool display of images of picture-sleeve singles and adverts, also features new and lengthy insight and stories from founding members Mick Box and Ken Hensley.
With the studio re-issues – while the first disc is a fine upgrade, it is the second disc that offers something new and interesting. It consists of the rare tracks, and previously unreleased mixes. Corich is adamant there is enough material for two disc sets for the band’s entire catalogue – “To my knowledge, yes. There is certainly enough. Honestly I have more stuff after this lot…one could easily make 3 disc sets or more ..That’ll keep you all talking for a while!” But he adds, it’s up to the record company if the 2 disc sets will remain throughout or if the series will even stay in order or jump to a different era. Fans wondering if this set will offer anything new or interesting to make it worth buying into another set of the band’s albums up to Raging Silence [and hopefully including Different World].
I inquired if these are from the same tapes [as previously released] or if there was things not previously used[?] – “Bits of both, some were from same multi tracks, others from different ones depending on what I was working on at the time or had recently discovered. Honestly I have so many mixes of stuff that I did or tried to do back then… I did go to town on some of the tracks back then… Often recalling what my best mate Warren and I would discuss ‘should’ve been done’ when we were kids… Years later when I had a chance to do just that I sometimes did.. Some I did far more with than others as you’ll see as the catalog continues.” As for the first two alternative discs, fans will definitely hear the difference – especially on tracks like “Born In A Trunk”, “Time To Live”, “Bird Of Prey”, and “Salisbury”. The songs jump out a bit more and the changes bring up vocals, guitar parts, or Hammond previously not heard or heard from a different angle. Salisbury also includes a ‘live’ version of the title track [so, no orchestra], taken from a tape from the era. It also begs the question – if there’ll be more such tracks or why not just issue a few whole shows. “Just remember this.. These were never meant for anyone else to hear apart from my mate (Warren Eady) from childhood (and probably the biggest Heep fan ever) in his last few years.. He was very ill with incurable cancer at the time and subsequently died.. I just did many of these to cheer him up. Who knew they would ever get used, I certainly didn’t, but when I was asked to view the choices the record company had come up with last year I told them no way would people want a re-release of the same old things we did around 2003. I went back to check what else I had in the vault (a lot!) then I remembered these and once we listened to them they actually sounded pretty good. Mick agreed and here we are…”
The topic of unreleased live Heep and previously unreleased Heep material is a hot topic amongst die-hard fans. Just to recap what there is [and not commercially available] – numerous live shows [bootlegged, radio, soundboard…] most notably the 1976 show from Boston [which surfaced in recent years – and I’m sure many of my fellow Heep fans could recommend a few others!?], the last album’s worth of stuff recorded with John Lawton on vocals – which is easily available [in bootleg quality] on youtube, save for the few tracks that were mixed and included on the Time Of Revelation box set in ’94, and the Chapter & Verse box set years later. Corich notes that what is available is not exactly the actual album but tracks from a 3 year period. There was also an album’s worth of material recorded with the John Sloman and Gregg Dechert line up [not heard anywhere], the first recordings for Abominog – which were rejected and redone [a few of these have surfaced].
The Lawton album was prepared for the last batch of remasters over 10 years ago but was never cleared for release. “I worked on this over twenty five years ago but no one was interested in the idea back then. I’ve suggested it a few times since including the remaster batch ten years ago. Frankly it would make an excellent release and probably one of the most interesting historical releases for the band. It would certainly generate pretty serious interest in my opinion. “ There was also a live album from the Sloman era recorded, from which 2 tracks were used years back on “The Best Of Uriah Heep” remaster. Corich also mixed this some 20+ years ago, claiming ‘it sounds really good’ – but it too has never been up for release. “There is after all a full concert that I mixed years ago with John Sloman just before Ken left (his solos are amazing on this) just sitting in the vault unused.” As well, a live recording of the band from Auckland, New Zealand in ’84. The Auckland show was aired on TV, and in an interview leading up the show it is revealed the shows are being recorded for a live album! Corich attended all those New Zealand shows, and sees this as something that could easily be released, if OK’d.
The next two releases are the band’s finest albums from the Byron days [IMO] – Look At Yourself is ready to go in the new year, followed by the band’s biggest album – Demons & Wizards. According to Corich there is an abundance of material for an alternative album option – “there are quite different versions, edits, mixes etc.. Demons & Wizards, for instance runs in at nearly 80 minutes.” As a collector, my only let down is in the packaging. First – the vinyl option! Perhaps someone didn’t think it was warranted, but these would look fantastic with more pics and a huge gate-fold cover, much in the way the latest set of Black Sabbath remasters are being put out. Corich does believe there will be a ‘special’ release for Record Store day coming up though with Live January ’73, and possibly plans for vinyl later in the year.
I’m also wondering why someone couldn’t include any band pics featuring the band-members that played on these albums. Very Eavy…Very Umble includes the centre shot from the album’s gate-fold, but it’d be nice to see original drummer Alex Napier from the day, and it’d be cool to see a band shot with then-drummer Keith Baker, on Salisbury [as opposed to 2 pic-sleeves featuring the classic Thain/Kerslake line-up]. Anyway, they do feature new quotes from founding members Ken Hensley and Mick Box, which make for interesting reads [though it would’ve been nice to perhaps hear from bass player Paul Newton as well!?]. These releases are ‘must haves’ for Uriah Heep fans. If you think it’s just a re-hash or another cash grab, I’d say you’re very wrong! And honestly – as the band and many former members are still active, it’s important to have new reissues when there are many still discovering the band. Here’s looking forward to the obtaining the catalogue…again…and hopefully some surprises thrown in!
British band Magnum has been going for over 40 years. The band generated a big following in their homeland and throughout Europe, but few tours or a big commercial breakthrough in North America has kept the band at a distance; so the band has remained a mystery to many rock fans here. For myself, Magnum was a band I’d heard of but never really heard until I received a copy of 2009’s Into The Valley Of The MoonKing – and I loved that album and have kept up with releases since then (still got plenty of back catalogue to fill in though!). The band consists of original members Bob Catley (vocals), Tony Clarkin (guitars/ songwriting), Harry James (drums) and Al Barrow (bass). The band is currently without a keyboard player as longtime member Mark Stanway recently left the band, and has reformed Grand Slam.
Al Barrow joined the band when Magnum reformed in the early 2000s, and has played on every album since then. Barrow is also a photographer and has played a key roll in the band’s album covers and / or lay outs since their return. The band’s brand new release is a collection of ballads titled “The Valley Of Tears”, which features a fantastic cover shot and designed by Al as well. In this interview Al Barrow gives us details on his joining the band way back, as well as how the band works, some insight into the songwriting of Tony Clarkin, his album designs, and his favorite albums from his youth and his current listening!
What sort of stuff did you grow up on in the late 70s / early 80s? can you give me a few fave bands or players?
Well the early 70`s I was very young but I was surrounded by my elder siblings who were very much into music at that time. We have quite a musical family. My great-grandfather, I was told was quite well known for playing in the Old Musical Halls around the UK. I must research that more and find out about him. My mother had a fantastic voice and sang in local choirs and shows. So coming into the 80`s my sister and brother had jumped into the rock scene quite heavily and had been in bands and formed their own bands along the way. So you can imagine in our house there was a lot of music played and being listened to.
One thing that does stick out in my mind was one afternoon I asked my brother if I could listen to one of his albums, he was a little reluctant as younger brothers break things. lol
He did let me and that was the start of it. The album was 90125 by Yes released in ’83 I think. Even though this was not out and out rock it had some pop feel to it so it was quite accessible for a new music fan. With Trevor Rabin & Chris Squire I found the mix of technology and rock was interesting to me at that time. It was then a natural progression from there. I would sneak out with my brother record collection and listen to what the world had to offer. The next album I found was to change my life completely – Moving Pictures by Rush. That was it, I was sold. I wanted to be a bass player! This sparked my interest in the progressive side of rock and more so bass players. I spent the next few years locked away learning every album note of note that Rush had to offer. I also found Thin Lizzy, Asia and Genesis at this time.
As I grew older my choices took a bit of a curve. I fell into grunge for some reason. I think I was looking for lyrical content and as I was a young teenager with teenage issues like everyone else, I found it in bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Live. Saying this, whenever I would go to a rock venue I was always gravitating back towards the classic rock material I had grown up with.
Something you may move away from but deep down those classic bands stay with you for life, returning to them from time to time is fun & nostalgic in so many ways.
Can you give a Top 10 list of favorite albums from your youth?
Rush: Moving Pictures, 2112. Grace Under Pressure, Signals, Power Windows, Roll The Bones, Exit Stage Left, Show of Hands & Presto.
Yes: Big Generator, 90215
Journey: Escape, Raised on Radio.
Asia: Asia, Alpha, Aqua.
Genesis: Genesis, Invisible Touch.
Thin Lizzy: Live and Dangerous, Black Rose, Chinatown.
Pearl Jam: Ten, Vitalogy.
Winger: In the Heart Of The Young, Pull.
Mr Big: Lean into It, Mr Big.
Thunder: Back Street Symphony, Laughing On Judgement Day, Behind Closed Doors, The Thrill of It All.
Peter Gabriel: So, Up, Secret World.
Dream Theatre: Images & Words
Tyke: Don’t Come Easy, Strength in Numbers.
You joined Bob and Tony in Hard Rain – How familiar were you with them at that point?
I had never met them. I did however stand behind them on stage once at Greenbelt Festival. My brother was playing in a band called Getsemenane Rose. Magnum had come to line check and I stood behind Mickey and Wally to watch. That was it really.
I was working with a guy name Paul Hodson in a studio in Walsall and he gave me a phone call and asked if I was free to do a short tour with some guys. I said I will meet them and see how it goes. No idea it was Bob and Tony. I walked in the studio met Bob and chatted for five. Then Tony came in and said “Hello lets go to the pub!”. That was it really. We chatted for a bit and had a few drinks and Tony said see you at rehearsals next week. I had to go out and buy all new gear as I had not got anything tour worthy at that time. So I took a gamble and spent a couple of grand on a new bass and amps. I turned up to rehearse and played a few Hard Rain songs. Then we all went to the pub…again. At the end of the day Tony said you can come back if you like tomorrow. I think that was my audition and I am glad it worked out ok. lol
We did a short tour and another album as Hard Rain and then a bit of a break. I went on tour with Bob as he had me do a few solo ideas with him, then I got the call to say we are putting Magnum back together are you up for it, I said “erm ok i suppose”.
Tony writes all the songs in Magnum…. How does he present a song to the band and how does it develop in to what’s on the finished album?
He spends months and months working at home on his basic ideas. He then gets them to a point where he transfers all his files over to the main hard drives at Mad Hat Studios in Wolverhampton. At this point he will get Bob to sing may be a few lines form a chorus just to get the key right. I might do a few guides if Bob is away just so Tony can carry on building the ideas. It then gets to a point that he has basic song structure. Very basic drums and guitars and keys which he has put down. He puts it all down on a CD to give to the rest of us. It is mainly me Bob and Tony along with Sheena the engineer in the studio for the first few months while these ideas come together. Then once the song has a set structure Harry will come down after learning the rough idea of the song to do his drum takes. Tony will ask him to do one pass as he has shown him on the demos so he has real drums but a basic structure. Then he says to Harry do what ever you want to do now. Harry will pretty much nail the entire album in less than a week. Most times doing one pass and nailing it on the first go. But he always does more so we have some variations to work on. The songs will constantly change as they progress. Then I will put the bass down. Same idea, Tony will ask for what he needs which as very basic simple line. Then I get a week or so to do what I want, but to be very honest with you, the simple lines work well with Magnum, it`s the song and the melody that is important in this band not playing all over the shop on the bass just to make me look fancy. Then guitars go down along with keyboards. Same kind of way.
The structure of the songs and feel of the song change so much when the vocals and backing vocals are put down. Here we will spend probably the majority of the time recording. Me and Bob doing vocals together over the next few months as Tony writes the lyrics.It`s not the usual way I am sure and many bands record in a different way but it works for Magnum and us as musicians so long may that continue.
What do you know of Tony’s writing – as in what he writes about or draws ideas from? Is there ever discussion on what particular tracks are about in the studio ? [i.e.: does he present a song and explain any meaning or vision?]
Before any day at the studio starts we spend a good while talking about what we have seen on TV, movies, books and conversations we have had or heard. Tony will talk about what is happening in the world and how he feels and these conversations often lead to discussions and ideas for songs. Tony watches a lot of TV and reads a Hell of a lot. The world around him influences him in so many ways, but the idea of a song can come from the most simple conversation or a very boring situation but something sparks him to write about it. He is very history based in a lot of his ideas. I think he watches a lot of history channel stuff, lol
But he may start one idea and it grows very rapidly into to something else. He usually starts with a hook line or a chorus and then the song develops from there.
You are also in to photography and have done a few album covers. Aside from the Magnum covers, have you done many other band’s album covers?
I have done a few Magnum covers and if not the cover I design the booklets and all the inside of the album also. T-shirts, web site you name it if it has Magnum on it since 2002 it was probably me that designed it I would think. lol.
I usually do a lot of the photography for the band but lately it has been better to bring in some help and we have used a few guys over the past few years that have taken the pressure off me a little.
I also work for other record labels. I have designed many album covers for a lot of bands. I also do designs for their merchandise and branding. Working for big labels is fun as they give you the budget upfront and a good brief. But getting paid by them is another matter. I much prefer to work directly with a band and a smaller label and this give me a little more creative freedom to work with the band members and get closer to the ideas that they want. I love working with unsigned bands as they have very little budget and are very passionate about what they want to achieve. They have strong ideas and this floats my boat more than bigger labels and artists that have little or no say in what the design will be.
I have provided photos for many other bands as well, I like shooting live concerts and have had the pleasure of shooting some of my favorite artists over the past few years.
Regarding the Magnum covers you’ve done, can you tell us a details about each one – Breathe of Life, Brand New Morning [a fantastic shot], and the latest Valley Of Tears – such a stunning pic and atmosphere around it.
Ahhh…Breath of Life. LOL. I can’t even look at that. I was new to photoshop and that album was put together by Tony and me sitting in the pub trying to learn the application and trying ideas. Tony would say, I want this floating eye and some hands painting a picture etc… I would say OK and then have to figure a way of doing it. It was very rough and I said we can make this better in many ways but Tony said he liked how it looked and that was what he wanted to use. I asked, are you sure,? We can do better than this but he liked the mosaic feel to it all. So he is the boss. (lol) But I look at it with a touch of fondness & regret as I recall sitting in the pub for many hours on a borrowed laptop putting ideas together, it was learning curve for both of us.
Brand New Morning… Again Tony gives me a brief. He asked for a weird landscape with junk everywhere. Some scarecrows included and the moon. Ok i thought I can do that.
The photo was taken at a scrap yard in Walsall, not far from where I lived. The silhouette of the scarecrows were actually Bob. We spent a day in the studio making Bob up and dressing him as a scarecrow. It was a lot of fun for us but i don’t think Bob was so amused, lol.
We came away with some very interesting shots of Bob that day. We wanted it to be less obvious that the scarecrows was Bob so we ended up only using his back and the silhouettes of him in the end. The image of him as a robot scarecrow is available on the web somewhere. The crosses and birds were hand drawn in photoshop and added later along with the moon.
The Visitation… as with many album ideas there is weeks and weeks of discussions about ideas that never see the light of day. I work on all the ideas we have but eventually end up going down the road of one final idea. It’s a long process and it can be hard work and a tad frustrating at times but we always come up with a good idea we think works well in the end. This idea of the time piece was completely had drawn in Photoshop to start with. It was a broach that Tony used to wear on his jacket and can be seen in old photos and footage if you look closely. Photoshop had progressed quite a lot by this time and I was getting to grips with filters and layers more so these days. This was a lot of fun to work on as I had complete freedom on this cover. Although the front cover of the jewel case version has Rodney`s artwork Tony really wanted the box set to carry the timepiece design. We both wanted the Magnum logo to be black and only visible as you twist and turn the album but the record label said this would be hard to market and so we returned to the Wings Of Heaven logo for this album. The inside of the box set had some interesting photography work. I had this idea of multiple band members spending time together in a bar, again. I had no real idea how to do this before hand as we wanted to do the shot with an ultra wide panoramic photograph. I learnt a lot around this time from a lot of good people. There are also photographs taken by my wife Rachael on this album. She took the band shot for this album which is still one of my favorites.
I have also worked on a few compilations Magnum had on release – The River Sessions & Evolution. Tony said he wanted something very different for the DVD cover of “Living The Dream” ; One day on tour I had written in the dirt on the side of our tour bus the words “Livin The Dream”. He like the idea and said we should use that for the new cover. That was that really. We were lucky when reproducing the idea later we had a cobweb in the wheel arch which Tony loved and gave it an even more ironic slant on things. It was fairly easy to put the rest of that design together. Escape from The Shadow Garden Live was really quite easy to do. Tony just said show me some ideas. I had some fantastic live photos sent to me by many photographers and this gave me great scope and color range to work with.
The band usually has Rodney Matthews do covers, but the ones you’ve done are quite fitting. I’m curious how its been decided to pick your option or Rodney’s? as well you always have a hand in the design with additional photos, etc…
We all go through a lot of discussions with Bob and Tony. We meet up with Rodney and discuss ideas. There has been times when we have swapped over who does the front and who does the booklet covers , etc. More times than none it will be Rodney’s work on the cover as this is what the fans love to see. Magnum and Rodney do seem to have symbiotic relationship and have done for many years. I am happy to work on the inside and other areas of design. It can be a bit more free and open to change which I like. I love working with Rodney and he is a real nice guy to spend time with.
I notice Jim Lea has a part in most Magnum albums. I presume this is the same Jim Lea from Slade? What’s the story behind his appearances?
I have known Jim for a very long time and even did some guide vocals for him back in the day when he was writing some new material. he is a very interesting guy, lots of stories, he literally is the guy who has been there and done that and has the t-shirt to show for it. He is the most amazing musician. Let alone being known for his bass playing and song writing in Slade he is a fantastic string player. He is quite simply a very inspiring man. I worked on some artwork for him as well… that reminds me he still owes me for that, lol.
We use the same studio for many years and often spend time chatting in the kitchen of all manor of subjects. Usually with Jim it always comes back the Beatles lol, he is obsessed with them. He is still writing and producing music at the studio. Tony often asks him to do some strings on the album when he feels real strings are needed.
Jim also appears stood in front of the moon on one of the Magnum booklets.
Of the band’s older catalogue [pre reformation] – what are your favorites to perform and do you have any favorite songs you’d like to perform some day?
I have said how lucky I feel to be able to play some great music from a great back catalogue. I would love to play a lot of older songs but Tony and Bob are for ever wanting to move forward. You have to think they have been there and done that already. To me it would be like a new song to play live but they have played them on tour already. Tony says he still has a lot more to say and the music we record now & perform live and record reflect that. Moving forward all the time.
Not to say they don’t reflect on what they have done in the past, but really don’t want to be seen as a nostalgic band resting on their laurels and just playing the shows doing older hits. I would love to play “Back in Your Arms” live and may be the full album version of “The Spirit”. You never know what may come in the future.
In my little knowledge of the band’s history, I was under the assumption On A Storytellers Night was one of the band’s best known tracks, but I don’t see it in the live set [or on latter-day live albums]!? As a fan of that song and album – when was it last included and why isn’t it a mandatory standard?
I really can’t answer that for sure. I would say the last time I remember playing it was in 2005 as it was the anniversary tour of that album. Those shows were recorded and released as “Living the Dream” So I think 2005. May be it might make a comeback soon, who knows.
There have been so many great songs since the band reformed. Wondering if you could share any insight to some of your favorites? [a few of mine would be Cry To Yourself, When We Were Younger, Brand New Morning, The Moon King, All The Dreamers, Live Til You Die, unwritten Sacrifice, The Art of Compromise, Sacred Blood, Gypsy Queen, Afraid of the Night, Forgotten conversation…. Geez…I should just do a list for another article]…
I have to say I love playing Black Tattoo live. It has a great riff and is heavy as hell and really gives me opportunity to just sit in the groove and supply the big rumble.
The past tours we have played a lot of new songs on the tours along with some of the classics. I love to play the classics, Vigilante, All England`s , etc. A couple of songs I really enjoy right now are “Unwritten Sacrifice” “Twelve Men” & “Your Dreams”. All great songs. They are all simple songs to play live so this really allows me to get my harmonies on point and then just sit back and sit in the groove again and almost watch the rest of the band enjoy the song as well. “Sacred Blood” & “Crazy Old Mothers” go down so well, I enjoy seeing the crowd loving hearing those songs played live.
“Gypsy Queen” was one of my favorite Magnum songs and really wanted to play it live, but it just didn’t work as well live, so it never got to be played on stage to an audience. It’s great song though.
When a Magnum album is recorded , is there much in the way of any leftover tracks or alternate takes that aren’t too bad?
Anything that does not make it to the final album literally does go right in the trash, never to see the light of day again. There is a reason it did not make it that far and if it was not good enough then it was probably not good enough later on. That’s the general rule but the odd idea of the song may remain and get reworked to point it is very different but as far as complete songs being kept and used later is very unlikely. Out takes are only sent out to other band members to take the piss and that’s as far as they go. Thank goodness.
Where did the idea for Valley Of Tears come from? And how did you guys go about selecting tracks?
The idea of the album was from a conversation Tony and his daughter had. She was saying to Tony – Magnum have so many great ballads you should do an album of them all. This was told to SPV as they had been asking for a book. Tony said he did not really like the idea of a book so would this ‘ballads’ release be ok instead. Everyone thought it was a great idea and it turned out to be well received.
It was going to be a simple idea to execute but it turned out to be a monster all of it’s own. It took a lot of back and forth, long hours and blood sweat and tears. With everything Magnum try to do, average will never be good enough, we have to go to to the extreme in everything we do to give the fans the best we can offer. It has sold very well and charted high on suppliers sites such as Amazon, etc
Have all the tracks been remixed or any new studio recordings?
All the tracks got a lot of treatment. Some being recorded again some having total remastering and all of them got remixed. Some had new guitar parts and new vocals , etc.
Is there any discussion on perhaps promoting the new CD in a mini-tour or something?
Right now we will be going back in to the studio to start to record the next studio album. Tony and Bob will be going on tour with Rock Meets Classic and then back to the studio for more recording. We have a few live shows planned for later in the year but it will be mostly time spent recording. There are no plans to do a ballads tour to support this album.
Mark Stanway recently left the band. Without getting into too much – was Mark’s departure a surprise and moving forward [as there is plans for a new album] – will the band be seeking a permanent replacement or carry on with guest players? [any names or suggestions put forward?]
It was quite out the blue indeed. It was mid tour. We had just played a show and Mark chose to follow another path. It was a surprise to the rest of us. We respect his decision and wish him all the very best in whatever he does in the future. It was his choice and he posted this on his social pages. We had a to put the remaining shows of that tour together pretty much over night. Due to us having some amazing crew and studio engineers we were able to play the shows we had remaining on the short tour. We also had Rick Benton, a keyboard player learn the show in two days and sit in with us at Wolverhampton and Edinburgh and he did a fantastic job. Even though we used a computer to play the Irelands show I was happy with the results and the fans seemed to have a great night.
Now we look forward to a new year and new songs. We don’t have plans set in stone just yet for what we will do as far as keys on the album and future live shows. Watch this space as they say.
The band has quite a following in the UK and Europe. Where are some of your strongest followings?
We always do very well in Germany and Scandinavia. UK does well and slowly but surely the ticket sales increase with each tour. We have noticed now that we almost have three generations of fans coming to the shows. Even the youngest fans know all the words of the songs and it is quite fantastic to look out some nights and see the entire family rocking out to Magnum tunes. Not many bands can say that.
I don’t think Magnum has toured in North America since the mid 80s [!?]. Is Canada and the US still on the band’s radar, and what would it take [logistics, etc…] for the band to play over here?
I now live in USA and I will be receiving some CDs so I can try and get in touch with local radio stations and promoters over hear to see if we can get any interest in Magnum going. I live in Tennessee so it`s quite “country” but we can educate them I am sure. I have met a lot of Americans that have not heard of us of course but I have spread the word and I think we are gaining a small but passionate fan base. It`s early days but Rome was not built in a day.
What are some of your current favorite releases? Listen to a lot of music outside of the band?
Now if I told you what I have on my iTunes right now it would have many rock fans of the band running for them there hills, quite literally.
My wife and I spent a lot of time over the past years spending a lot of money travelling to this part of USA. We really like the new country rock music scene that this part of the country live and breath. I could list all of the bands and artists I follow now but it would not be recognised by many of the people reading this interview.
Then again, last tour we did had my iShuffle playing before the show and I got a few messages from fans saying how much they like how I had sneaked in some country rock and they were fans also, so may be I am not alone in this. I always go for a good production, a good singer and great lyrics and I find a lot of this in country rock. I do listen to some of the great Country names but I lean more towards the more modern, which I know is growing in popularity over in the UK also. So here are just a few then…
Tim McGraw, Hunter Hayes, Blake Shelton, Zac Brown Band, Justin Moore, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley…the list goes on.
What other projects [musically or photography] have you got on the go outside of Magnum?
I have been keeping myself busy with looking after the social media side of things with the Ballads launch. I have a few photographic things going on in USA but now I am looking forward to getting back in the studio with Bob, Tony and Harry soon. I am slowly trying to get a small recording set up here at home to start putting some ideas down. I have no idea what I am going to do or how that will pan out. Nothing written in stone or any rules to follow, so it really is an open book. After emigrating this time last year has opened my life up in so many ways. I have to be honest – it has taken some adjustments. This makes for some great ideas for some songs. You never really know what life will throw at you so you really have to grab it by the horns and go with it at times. it can be scary and exciting but never boring (LOL)
I would like to thank you for taking the time today to ask me some questions and I hope I have not bored you and the readers too much. Also a big thank you goes out to my wife Rachael for putting up with me. I hope it gives an insight in to Magnum and the people in the band. Also the plans we have & the passion we still feel for making new music.
We thank you all for continued support. Last but not least, we are looking forward to seeing y’all on tour some time really soon I hope.
A massive thank you to my Magnum, family-band & crew.
Licence To Rock is the name of the new album from British musicians Chris Rainbow and Paul Newton. Chris has been around for years, recording albums and performing; Paul Newton should be known to classic rock fans as the original bass player in Uriah Heep. Paul played on the first 3 albums, as well as contributed writing to a handful of songs on the first 2. Paul was also in The Gods and Spice – both pre-Heep bands, and it’s more than likely that without him – Uriah Heep would not have happened. In recent years Paul has returned to the Heep circle via Heep fan conventions and Heep Legends shows. But Licence To Rock sees Paul Newton return to recording – along with singer/guitarist and songwriter Chris Rainbow. The album is a fine mix of rockers, pop, blues, and a bit of country, as well as including a couple of Heep covers from Paul’s early days. [see review elsewhere on this site]. Here Paul & Chris give the details on the album and the making of. *thanks to Paul Newton for being a champ in responding so quickly [and well typed]! Enjoy the read!
How did this project come about, and how did it evolve into a full album?
I met Chris at one of his solo shows about three years ago and during the evening we talked music and found that we had a lot of common ground regarding bands, songs etc. I saw him again a few months later and he asked me if I would be interested in playing bass on a few of his originals. This commonly happens with musicians I meet, but, to be honest, I am always a bit wary as usually these guys have songs that are just awful things that they think are wonderful but are really just a waste of time. However, I agreed to have a listen and a few weeks later Chris came to my home with his guitar & a few demos which were surprisingly good so I agreed to play on a couple and in due course we had a day at Arena-sound studios and knocked out three songs which we were both pleased with. It became evident to me that Chris was a REALLY talented musician & songwriter. At that time there was no real plan to make a full length cd as Chris was just going to add these songs to the stuff he sells at his own gigs. Over the next few months we did a few gigs together and Chris regularly sent more songs to me and so the project just rolled along from there….he would send me demos and I wrote the bass lines & then added them to Chris’s recordings……simple !!. We originally made a CD of just four songs but as time passed we formulated a plan for a full length CD…which is what we now have.
Paul – What can you tell us about Chris Rainbow – what you knew of him before you got together and recording together? Chris – can you give me some insight into your own musical influences and style?
Chris lives in the coastal town of Clevedon which is just south of the city of Bristol…about one hour from my home in Ledbury. He has been a professional entertainer & musician all his life and has an interesting profile, having previously worked in a circus and with bands as well as his solo work. He lived and worked in California for some years where was married to an American lady for a while. His musical influences come from his general love of rock music and especially from his time in the States where he got into all the great southern USA bands.
Chris- Southern Rock and west coast American music is probably what l’m most familiar with from a songwriting and playing perspective. As regards to my musical taste, l am a fan of everything from Rockabilly jazz right through to Hard Rock and Metal.
Paul – How did the idea of re-recording the 2 Heep tracks come about? Your suggestion? What was the feeling revisiting those tracks 45 years later? Chris – Were you familiar with Paul or Heep and either of the Heep tracks before this project?
The idea to do the Heep covers came from Chris. He has a vast collection of rock albums from way back…all sorts of stuff he has accumulated over the years, including much of the Heep catalogue, and he was keen to include a couple of Heep songs as well as his original material. I was not so keen to begin with as I am not someone who lives in the past and the interest for me was to record new material, not rehash old stuff that could not really be improved on. Chris thought that the Heep covers would provide a link from the past to the new stuff and provide a bit of extra interest and so that is how we ended up doing the two songs that appear on the CD. The decision to do a cover of “Baby Please Don’t Go” was easy as it is a great song that we both love! Re-visiting the two Heep songs was really down to “how do we arrange them” and we decided to pretty much leave them as they were…just play them with Chris’s interpretation. To totally re-arrange them would have been pointless and with no actual gain…they are just two fairly simple songs and should be played that way. The original Chris Rainbow songs are a selection of his material…some already written and recorded & the rest written during the recording schedule. Ex-Heep drummer Keith Baker was due to play on some tracks but had to pull out due to personal problems so we used my mate Gary Harper on some tracks.
Chris- l was, prior to meeting Paul very familiar with Uriah Heep’s music. l grew up listening to all the Byron era aside from the first three LPs featuring Paul. Particular favorites of mine were Wonderworld, Sweet Freedom and Return To Fantasy. Also Firefly featuring John Lawton on vocals was a favorite – The Hanging Tree in particular.
Memories of doing the two Heep tracks are Paul doing the bass parts; the years just rolled away and he locked into the groove as if we were back in 1970 pure magic.
The album really is a good listen throughout and has a wide range of songs from hard rock to pop, to blues, and even country. …Do you have any personal favorites – either as songs or your performance?
As regards my personal favorites on the album I have to say that I am pleased with all the tracks…we only put down stuff that we really liked. “Watching My Last Chance” & “This Lonely Road” are probably top for me. As for my playing….well..I can only play as I play but I always try to find bass lines that work for a particular song and not overcomplicate things so I am quite pleased with what I have contributed here. Of course, as often happens listening back to stuff after the event you always tend to think that maybe something could be improved or played differently.. but you could go on forever….
Chris- Regarding the songs on the new CD the only song l had before meeting Paul was ‘All’s Not Lost ‘, which was originally intended as an acoustic number. The other songs were all written especially for this project.
The song ‘Watching My Last Chance Fade Away’, l always saw it as a west coast country rock type of thing the lyrics dealing with a relationship breakup and the person feeling that it is not the last chance gone with that person but possibly his/her last chance with love together. The other songs are generally about the benefits of keeping going despite the obvious difficulties that life can throw at you. ‘Satans Claw’ was inspired by the film ‘City Of The Dead’, starring Christopher Lee and the other Black Lion, Hammer and Amicus films. The short instrumental piece The Mage was part of a trilogy of short instrumentals dealing with Aleister Crowley. l thought it made a suitable prelude for Satan’s Claw.
My own personal favorites on the CD are ‘This Lonely Road’, Baby Please Don’t Go and Let The Dice Keep Rolling for no real reason other than they remind me of the fun we had doing this CD.
This CD was recorded on a very tight budget and is a very low key release in the big scheme of things. It would have been nice perhaps to have added another guitar player to do a bit of shredding, as my style is more riffs and rhythm… on the other hand some of the charm would have been lost, l think. The biggest thing for me on a personal level was when Paul rang me to say how pleased he was with the finished album.
Paul – you’ve really been embraced by the Heep faithful over the past decade via facebook and the Heep Legends shows. How fun has it been after being out of the spotlight for so many years, since you’d left the band in ’71?
Being “embraced” by Heep fans over the last few years has been a great & unexpected honour for me. Having only been a part of the band at the very beginning and then moving on to many other things during my life meant that I rarely gaveHeep a thought until 1999-2000 when John Lawton asked me to do Heepvention2000 in London….I had to dig out the old songs and re-learn them! Subsequent HeepVentions & related events over the years have been enjoyable and great fun and the continuing interest & support of the Mick Box Uriah Heep & related things have totally amazed me (and continue to do so). Sadly it is unlikely that there will be any more “Legends” shows or reunions but we have enjoyed what we have been able to do in recent years….good memories to have.
Paul – Overall, how was the recording experience compared to 45 years ago? How long had it been since you’d been in a recording studio last?
The recording process was spread over about 18 months…we were both busy with other work and so slotted in studio time when we were both available. There was no particular time scale discussed as we were doing this for ourselves and it was only ever going to be a very low-key project….but we have had a lot of fun during that time, which was our main intention. We will never be rich & famous….!!
I have spent a fair amount of time in studios since the Heep days…(did a few tracks recently for US band “Twisted Tapestry”)….. not so much the last few years but after leaving Heep I regularly did session work as well as gigging until synthesisers & computers took a lot of work away. Nowadays studio work is vastly quicker & easier due to modern technology & far more cost effective for guys like us.
What can you tell me about working with Twisted Tapestry? And of all the session work you did way back – is there anything of notoriety?
I got invited to play on the Twisted Tapestry album by their drummer, Merrick Crittenden who I have known for some years through Heepventions. They were playing with us in Belgium 2015 which is when the offer came up. They are a sort of eclectic band featuring a harp…bit different to what I am used to. As for sessions I did…I just put the bass down and got paid..! I sometimes hear things that sound familiar but cannot really name anything in particular so not much help really.[ed: I should have known this!]
Do you guys have regular gigs lined up? And is there any plans to record again in the future?
Chris & I will, no doubt continue the project with new material as and when we both have time…..we will see. “Licence To Rock” has been an enjoyable project for both of us and something we simply wanted to do for ourselves at this time in our lives. If a few others enjoy it with us then that is a bonus. I will continue with my own band “The Business”… another low-key but enjoyable gig & occasional gigs with Chris. In the UK nowadays it is tough getting gigs due to the lack of interest in live music…people just sit at home watching crap reality TV shows…!
Chris- Looking ahead, l have started writing with the possibility of doing some more recordings with Paul – new track ‘Face at the Window’ being nearly finished.
So, finally sat down and dug in to some new [and newer] releases…2016 was pretty good for new releases and vault releases — new Glenn Hughes, new BBC releases from Queen and Zeppelin, 2 disc reissues from Sabbath and Heep, and plenty more to come in 2017…. So here is the last of the latest.
Going to work on my faves of 2016 ….
Graham Bonnet – The Book [Frontiers]
Graham Bonnet was best known for fronting Rainbow after Ronnie James Dio, but sadly only lasted one album! I really liked Down To Earth, Bonnet having a unique voice and style [singing and stage], and it was a shame there wasn’t a follow up. He then formed Alcatrazz with Malmsteen and members of US band – New England; in fact they still perform [minus Malmsteen]. The Book does a good job in getting Bonnet back to that heavier rock sound and energy of his old bands. The songs are great and this is an easily likeable rocking album – tracks like Into The Night, Welcome To My Home, Dead Man Walking, and the title track are all memorable rockers . All 11 tracks make for a thoroughly good album of new tracks, with The Dance being the favorite. Bonnet’s band also features Jimmy Waldo [New England, Alcatrazz] on keyboards and guitarist Conrado Pesinato [from South America].
Disc 2 of The Book is 16 tracks from Bonnet’s past, re-recorded by Bonnet and his current band. I guess it’s a nice reminder and update that this guy was more than just another Rainbow singer, lots of classic rockers here.
Hardline – Human Nature [Frontiers]
I remember when the first Hardline album came out, and it something of a super-group with guys from Journey and this great new singer, and a fine cover of a Streetheart classic! Now Hardline is still fronted by the same guy [Johnny Gioeli], who also fronts Axel Rudi Pell’s band. The band here wanting to go back to a heavier sound. Not sure on the previous Hardline albums that came before, but if you like that 80s styled HR – heavy guitars, heavy riffs, big solos, big vocal choruses, a mix of rockers and power ballads… Solid performances and decent songs; but a bit predictable. May sound cooler in the car.
Jack Russell’s Great White – He Saw it Comin’ [Frontiers]
Without getting into the whole past of Great White, I must first confess I really enjoyed this band in my teen years – bought those early albums in the day. I thought these guys were ahead of the of usual 80s ‘metal’ bands, mainly ‘cause GW wasn’t a metal band, but a blues rock outfit with a great singer. However, at a certain point I didn’t feel I could listen to the band or follow any of the related news in good conscience – Great White just didn’t exist to me for many years. But over the past year or so I got curious and pulled those old albums out and picked up a Greatest hits CD. There is another version of Great White, but it lacks that distinctive voice. I will simply say – if you enjoyed GW back in the early days – you will enjoy this. Aided by a very good band, including former GW member Tony Montana, Jack Russell’s Great White has come out with a solid album of rock, blues, ballads – maybe a little lighter overall, but musically a very good set of songs; lots of variety and fine productions, and the vocals are as good as Jack’s ever sounded. Fave tracks- My Addiction, She Moves Me, Spy vs Spy , Don’t Let Me Go.
Newton/Rainbow Project – License To Rock [NRP]
Chris Rainbow is a British singer/songwriter/guitarist and Paul Newton was the original bass player in Uriah Heep. A guy who never gets enough credit for his early contributions to the band, having been the link that made the Heep happen in the beginning, and having played on the first 3 albums. Chris Rainbow has recorded a number of albums since the 80s, in various styles – country, rock, acoustic.. [plenty of listening at his website]. Not knowing what to expect, but as a Heep fan I wanted to check out this album with Paul, as well as the 2 Heep tracks they’ve re-done here. The Heep remakes being “Walking In your Shadow” [which leads off the disc] and “Real Turned On” – both from the 1970 debut with Paul in the writing credits. Chris has a good rock voice, and writes some memorable tunes, like the scary rock of “Satans Claw”, the anthem “Last Man Standing”, pop rocker “This Lonely Road”, and the country ballad “Watching My Last Chance Fade Away”. There’s also a worthy cover of the Big Joe Williams classic “Baby Please Don’t Go”. Check out more on Chris Rainbow and this project at Chris’ site:
Jorn Lande is one of the finest and in demand metal singers out there. He’s released a number of covers albums, most notably his Dio album – which was by far the best Dio tribute out there. On his latest, Jorn has chosen a big variety of rock, metal, and pop songs – from Frida to the Eagles to Foreigner, to Sabbath to Maiden, to Journey, Deep Purple, Queen,… it all sounds good – and Heavy! And that’s great if you like Jorn doing his Dio style, only thing is it’s ALL heavy. Big metal guitar sound, heavy bashing drums, and Jorn’s darker presentation – makes for a strange listen on a few tracks, but his versions of Paul Stanley’s “Live To Win”, Maiden’s “The Final Frontier”, and Purple’s “Stormbringer” all suit him well and sound fantastic.
Night Ranger – 35 Years & A Night In Chicago [Frontiers]
Night Ranger were a great band [may still be], with a couple of fine singers, Brad Gillis on guitar, and plenty of memorable melodies. For the most part they still sound great here, as they play out all the classic hits like “Sentimental Street”, “Four In The Morning”, “Sister Christian”…..and more. And I will likely pick this up. My only beef with such live albums is the reminiscing between songs and the crowd sing-a-longs! I don’t need to hear what the biggest movie of the year was before each song or hear the crowd sing the songs I want to hear. But, oh well. Again, just my own issues. Looking forward to putting this on more…but flipping through the chatter…
I did this interview with Glenn in late 2001 upon release of the Building The Machine album, one of my favorite GH records.
Always look forward to new stuff from Glenn, as he always has something new and exciting on the go! I saw Glenn perform in a club in Buffalo, NY a few years back, and it was an amazing show! A great energetic set of classics spanning his lengthy career, one of the best club shows I’ve ever seen! In 2011 Glenn released his autobiography as well. He is currently on tour in the US with The Dead Daisies (https://thedeaddaisies.com)
Anyway, enjoy the old read – as posted in December of ’01. In reading through this, I see that I must’ve done another interview with Glenn prior to this, which I will have to dig out. For more on Glenn check out: http://www.glennhughes.com
“Often cited as one of the Greatest singers in rock n roll for the past 25 years, Glenn Hughes’ career has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, personal tragedies and triumphs, and a musical class above most of his contemporaries. His story reads like a book, from a young guy in Wolverhampton, England fronting the funk-rock band Trapeze, who reached moderate success before he was spotted and brought in to Deep Purple, one of the biggest bands at the time in 1974, and then after DP broke up years of different yet unique and usually classic projects such as Hughes/Thrall, a short stint in Black Sabbath, numerous solo albums, and guest appearances, and up until a decade ago, a career often riddled with substance abuse and addictions. But in recent years, clean, sober, and in charge of what he’s doing, Glenn Hughes has become THE voice of rock. Check out guest appearances like Stuart Smith’s “Heaven & Earth” debut, or the various tribute albums he’s contributed to, and most notably his latest string of albums –“Crystal Karma“, “Voodoo Hill“ [a classic hard rock album with Italian guitarist Dario Mollo], and his best work to date –“Building The Machine“; my favorite album release of 2001.”
What can you tell me about the new album, as far as making it different from the last one? Any new influences or ideas …?
I wanted to continue in a way I used to write for Trapeze, in a very acoustic formula such as guitar, bass and drums. I wanted it to sound simple; I don’t want a lot of over-produced things. Songs are more important to me than flash and grandiosity of it. So, I wanted to I wanted to back to a more commercial, ya know 3 or 4 chord things. And for me, it worked quite well.
It’s probably more of a mainstream Hard-rock album compared to most of the other stuff you’ve done…
It’s difficult in a way for me, and it should be easy, but I make things difficult because there’s so many different fans. I have fans that like the Hard rock Glenn, fans that like the bluesy Glenn, fans that like the extremely funky Glenn, and the soulful fans, the jazzy fans, … and if I do all of those on one album – in different forms, it confuses a lot of people. It really does, and I found this out to be fact, so what I tried to do on this particular album was I tried to give them a mix of them in all the songs, such as a song with heavy funk overtones, with very heavy, and very soulful; and also having acoustic moments like “Big Sky”. As I said before, … I didn’t want it to sound like ’70s retro, but it’s a lot more near to that form to sound the way it should.
The acoustic stuff is really good, like “I Will Follow” and “Big Sky”. Big Sky was written about Bill Eskridge
Bill was my best friend 10 years ago when I was in treatment for alcoholism, and he became my best friend over the years, and spiritual guide, and he passed away last December [a year tomorrow] of liver failure and kidney failure, even though he’d been sober a long time. He was a very dear friend to me. I wrote the song for him as a ‘good-bye’. Songwriters do that, we write about personal things, and this was one of those times I had to do that.
Do you get a lot of other personal stuff on the album?
Yeah, I do write about what’s going on with me. Obviously “I Will Follow You” is about my wife, and moments like “Can’t Stop The Flood” which is about my creativity and my aggression towards myself,…. I write, Christ I continuously write songs all year ‘round, and it occurred to me is ‘I’ve got an onslaught of songs, which should I write?’ … Other songs like “Don’t Let It Slip” can mean anything; it can mean your life, your spirituality, your emotions, and to me, it’s all of the above. “Out Of Me” is about 2 brothers fighting. A lot of stuff on there is autobiographical. There’s also stuff in there that’s subliminally written for those people that are having things going on in their life, that they can catch too and obviously understand.
“Can’t Stop The Flood” and “Inside” are probably my favorite 2, aside from “Big Sky”. It’s a hard-hitting intro.
When I wrote with my guitar player, and said to him ‘OK, now we’re going to write the opening cut’. Every album I’ve ever done in the last few years, I always go out and go ‘I know exactly what I’m going to write for the opening cut’ And when I wrote this opening, I was ‘Oh – this is going to be an amazing cut!’ And when the chorus comes in with those big harmonies that we haven’t heard from Glenn in a while, I just thought – ‘here ya go! Let’s make an album that is very hard to make, but let’s get those big harmonies back’.
You also do a couple of covers on here, like the one with Pat Travers. How did that come about?
He came here last year, and we were looking at putting together some songs, just having fun, and I said ‘I really wanna cover this old song by Rare Earth!’ It’s about 30 years old, and I always liked that cut, and we recorded it. And when I came to compiling songs for Building The Machine I asked Pat if I could use this particular cut and he said ‘Go ahead!’. But I do particularly like this version.
You also do another Deep Purple tune!
That was initially done for a Japanese bonus track, but when I finished it, my engineer and co-producer Mike Scott said ‘That’s too damn good to be used Just for Japan, you should put it on… It’s a great version of the song, you sing great on it, it’s got a great vibe, and it sits on the album.’ So, another old Purple song, but I think it shows what a good song it was and is.
That’s about the 2nd time you’ve done an old Deep Purple song.
I’ve done about 3 now.
I got the Voodoo Hill album you did last year, about a week after we spoke then, and you did ‘Gypsy” on there, and it’s excellent!
You know Dario Mollo, he wanted to do a Zeppelin song, and I declined. I don’t want to do Zeppelin covers. It’s not right for me to do that. And I said ‘I’d much prefer it if we did an old Purple cover.’ , and then he gave me a couple of suggestions, and I said ‘let’s do Gypsy!’
That’s a great song! It sounds good there.
You got a number of guests on this [new] album too!?
We got Pat Travers, who’s a dear friend of mine for years; also one of my dear close friends – Bobby Kimball from Toto. He actually asked me to write him a part to sing, because he’s always to sing on a record with me. I love Bobby very much, he’s got such a distinctive voice, so I wrote the part for him on “Don’t Let It Slip”. Brett Ellis plays acoustic guitar on “Big Sky”, and John Beasley, famous keyboard player plays on “I Will Follow You”; plays the Hammond. He’s just an amazing keyboard player, and Vince DiCola is my new Hammond player on the album.
I notice a good bit of Hammond. The Hammond is a bit more prominent with the heavy guitar and that.
I wanted that. I thought my previously couple of albums were lacking in real Hammond playing by real Hammond players. It’s like, Hammond organ is an instrument that has to be played with the right guy playing it, and with Vince DiCola, he plays it better than Jon Lord or Keith Emerson – To Me. I mean, on this particular album, he plays it devastatingly brilliant. And I knew when I heard him play that I had to get him to play on this record.
Where did he come from?
He’s a guy from LA. He’s a session guy.
“Beyond The Numb”…
Who’s it for, JW ?
OK, a friend of mine – Pete Way from UFO, his wife passed away. She was a friend of mine, and I was really really upset when I heard the news. And I wrote that song about that incident. Because, let me just say that I was close to them in a spiritual way, but I couldn’t get too close because I don’t use drugs, so I was hoping that my recovery would rub off on them, or her, and unfortunately she had to be another statistic to drugs. And I’m not being negative or anything like that, because she was a very very nice person; it just really hurt me when she passed away, and I was a bit angry about that. And this track deals with that subject.
How’s the response been as far the main stream media and reviews and that..?
This is the truth, this album, Building The Machine has got the greatest response from critics, and I think from fans as well, in the last 10 years. I’ve read reviews, like Q Magazine, and more cross-over ones that would review Sting or Madonna have been reviewing this record, so it’s getting a wider span of reviews and a wider recognition from the man on the street. People who haven’t heard Glenn Hughes before are hearing and going ‘this is great, who is this?’ What’s it given me is it’s given me the ammunition to write rock music in the form, which I think, is appropriate for me. As I’ve said before I’m my worst enemy in a way that I’ve been very gifted in that I can write and sing and play in 4 or 5 forms of music. Most, let’s call them ‘heavy metalists’ from ’70s, can play Hard rock well, but they don’t play jazz or R&B, or soul as well, but with me I can paint in all those pictures and I like to do that. And I think on this album I’ve done something that no one else has done yet. I’d like to continue that.
Can I ask you about the artwork for the album? Where is that taken?
It was taken in my wife’s office, in Venice Beach, California. I just wanted you and everyone to perceive that I was walking this stairway that’s never going to end, really. What Building The Machine means, ‘Building The Soul Machine’, Building The character which one has been given or one is working on, and mine is blood boiling all the time. I’m a flyer that continues to grow rapidly, so I’m always working on something, musically, and I’m this is the machine that I continue to build. I’m on my way to building that machine on the cover.
It’s a unique picture….
If you look at it, it’s not meant to be G-Q; I’m not really that sort of person. It’s basically an artistic cover; it really isn’t anything other than….it’s almost a stark photograph, I’m standing still, but I’m moving. It’s a good fit.
You do a lot of photo-shoots for the albums, and obviously a lot of different outfits and stuff…Are you in to the fashion stuff?
Yeah, I do have a lot of … materials [ha ha]
What else do you going as far as promotion goes? I know you did some touring, but nothing up here…
Well, what I’m going to do in North America, is promote via radio and maybe some TV promotion. As far as the live work, more will reveal as we see the sales. As you well know it’s difficult to tour in North America, unless you’ve got massive tour support from a record company. And that would mean having to be in a band, like a younger band where big companies get behind, like Universal Records or Interscope, someone that signs younger bands. So, for older artists like myself, who don’t have the promotional campaign and marketing campaign that younger artists have these days – it’s difficult to tour. So, the chance of seeing Glenn Hughes in a live situation is kind of difficult. My desire is to tour extensively around the world, but I only get to do that outside of North America where I have tour support. But, we’ll see…
Regarding Voodoo Hill, how did you come across Dario Mollo?
My office in Germany, sometimes we get like 5 or 6 artists a year that want me to sing on their albums – at least 5 or 6! And I normally decline them all because 1 – they’re not brilliant, and 2 – I can’t have that much more work going on. But when Dario Mollo sent me these 10 or 11 cuts without vocals, I heard them. And I thought, this is obviously Hard rock, not funky, soulful stuff, it’s more hard rock, which I did with Tony Iommi almost, and I said ‘this would be a chance for my classic rock fans to get in to this type of album’, and I did it for that reason, and also because Dario’s a really gifted writer and guitar player. It was a lot of fun working with him; I went to Italy and did the thing. They’re probably be another one coming soon; we’ll probably do another one next year.
It’s a great album. I really like “Sensitive” and “Disconnected”…
Thank you, I like it too!
A lot of people liked it, but I think it slipped by a lot of people because it’s under another name.
Yeah, I don’t know what’s going to happen next time around, but I think you might know it’s me next time because Voodoo will represent me as well, you’ll know. People should keep their eyes open in the next 6 months or so.
I also got the new Nazareth tribute that you are on…
Those guys are good friends of mine. The producer [Lea] sent me the rough backing track, and to be honest with you, at the time, there was no background vocals, and it was very raw guitar, bass, drums, and it was more retro and edgy than the finished product. The finished product to me sounds to me sort of generic. It didn’t turn out as good as I wanted it to. The performance was OK, but the production was a bit too ‘white’.
I want to touch a bit on Trapeze and related… Have you ever heard of a guy named John Lawton? He used to be in Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep in the ’70s. I got a CD of his and he does a version of “You Kill Me” on it.
Lawton!!? Yeah, he’s a nice guy. I haven’t seen him for years! Actually he’s a good singer.
[RIP John, 2021]
Do you recall back after your Trapeze days they carried on and made a couple more albums? What did you think of those albums?
I loved those albums. I think Hot Wired is f**king tremendous! I wish I could’ve been on that album; really – I mean that sincerely! I think when I left the band Mel Galley really strengthened himself as a writer. The songs on Hot Wired were amazing! And the album Running, which I actually helped write a couple of songs and never got credit for, I thought was brilliant.
“Running” and another song “Don’t Break My Heart”. And then the Trapeze record that I sang a couple of cuts on when I left and I was in Purple. Trapeze was my baby, that was the band I formed when I was very young, and anything to do with that now always comes back to Glenn Hughes. I sometimes get people who mention Trapeze before they mention Deep Purple, which tells me they’re a big fan of Trapeze.
Do you recall seeing them away back at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton? (I’m talking about the late ’70s when the new line-up came out)
I’d already moved to America in the late ’70s, but I used to go home at Christmas, and I saw them a couple of times back then, yeah.
What did you think of the singer they had, Peter Goalby?
Good singer! A different sort of singer to me, but I recall him more of a pop-rock singer. He was a great interpreter. He wasn’t a bluesy singer, but he was a great rock singer in that genre, very much so. And a nice guy!
What else have you got on the go?
I’ve just done a new record with Joe Lynn Turner, and it’s called ‘H.T.P.’ [Hughes-Turner-Project]. It comes out in the spring and it’s f**king great! I will say this; it’s a classic rock masterpiece. For me it’s a very strong vocal-rock record. For anybody who likes the Deep Purple – Rainbow, and the modern rock stuff, they will love this album. It features 2 big voices, and I think it’s going to creep up on people.
Does it have a lot of guests on it?
My band, the same guys as the Building The Machine record, and as guests and solos we’ve got John Sykes, Paul Gilbert, and there’s others that you’ll probably know of.
The last time I touched base with you, you mentioned being a ‘fan of Ken Hensley’s writing’. Can you give me any songs or anything?
Well, what it is about Uriah Heep stuff for me is it’s “Gypsy”,.. It’s the way those guys wrote very, and I say this very loosely, those very simple melodic rock tracks like “Gypsy” and “July Morning” – all these sweet classic songs. And I don’t know if Ken knows this, or the guys in Uriah Heep, but I thought they were very good! World’s apart from what I do or what I listen to normally, I have to say that I thought Uriah Heep, in the early years were very much overlooked. They were always looked upon like a ‘2nd rate Deep Purple’ – that’s what people thought of them, but I thought they had a place in rock, and I want to wish all the guys in Uriah Heep and Ken Hensley all the best because they’re good guys.
Anything else you wish to add?
Just to say ‘Hi’ to all my fans and tell them to look out for ‘Big Daddy’, he’s coming to get you!
One of Canada’s longest running and most successful hard rock bands originally hailed from the Maritimes, and then relocated to Montreal for the start a very busy and brilliant 14 year run.
If you lived in Canada throughout the 70s and 80s, you likely heard plenty of April Wine songs on the radio. The band had a huge string of hits right from their debut album in 1971 with “Fast Train”. Their second album saw 2 more hits, including a cover of “You Could’ve Been A Lady”, which made the US charts. But the band never played south of the border and would continue to be a Canadian only phenomenon for a number of years with a few line up changes, more hit singles, and massive tours across Canada. That changed in 1978 though with the addition of guitarist Brian Greenway to beef up the line up of founding member and main singer and writer Myles Goodwyn, guitarist Gary Moffet, bass player Steve Lang, and legendary Canadian drummer Jerry Mercer. The band’s album “First Glance” would include their breakthrough US hit “Roller”, and for the next several years and albums it was large arena and stadium tours and huge selling albums throughout North America, as well as a UK tour.
When the band split in 1984 following the “Animal Grace” album and farewell tour, it was a shock and a shame to fans, and very little reason [or dirt] was given. Band members went on to various projects – Moffet went in to music production, and playing on other albums, Mercer joined the Buzz Band, Lang got out of music, Greenway released an underrated solo album [with a large cast of guests], and Goodwyn would release 1 more contractual April Wine album [with session players and Greenway], and a solo album. He’d also relocated to the Bahamas. Goodwyn reformed the band [with a slightly different line up in the early 90s and the band has been performing since then, with a few further changes and a few albums during that period. Over the past year or so the band has scaled back tour dates, and both Goodwyn and Greenway have started up new projects.
And that all brings us to this – Myles Goodwyn “Just Between You And Me”: A Memoir. I don’t think Myles has ever been a huge fan of doing interviews or airing band issues in the press. In his memoir though Goodwyn opens up about a lot of his own issues – band and personal, as well as conflicts and changes in the band over the years that were never discussed in the press. Give him credit for discussing his divorces, his issues with past band members, his alcohol abuse, and numerous other topics. He sets the record straight [from his perspective] about former AW members Jim Clench [RIP], Gary Moffet, David, Jim and Richie Henman, Jerry Mercer and Carl Dixon [Carl has slightly different tale in his own book..]. To his credit he also takes responsibility for his own troubles within the band. The book also includes quotes from other band members [via new quote or from old press], which helps to add to the details, so it’s not all just Myles’ point of view on some touchy subjects. Despite everything though Goodwyn was/is the driving force of April Wine’s success and contributed greatly to Canadian music. Very few bands or musicians have had such success and longetivity.
Just Between You And Me may not be an end-all history of one of Canada’s greatest bands, but is close. A good run through of April Wine’s history and a fascinating read in to the man’s early years and upbringing. Highly recommended for any fan. I read through most of this in a day, having been a huge fan and familiar with the band’s history I was eager to read on and fill in things I didn’t know. Now I’m going back and reading more thoroughly [380 pages!]. Plenty of old pics of Myles early life, family, and private band pics. Check it out via Amazon or at any book store.
*I was going to add on a list of favorite April Wine songs, but frankly that would take too long and change too much before I could finish it. I view the band’s output up until 1977 differently to the band that struck it big from 1978-84. So, I will give you a short list of my favorite LPs – highly recommended.
Electric Jewels (1973) – this album saw a mix of songs contributed by Myles Goodwyn and bass player Jim Clench. The 2 also shared vocals on a number of songs. It also includes the Richie and David Henman, as they left during the making of the album and replaced by Gary Moffet and Jerry Mercer. Richie Henman told me years ago that on the title track the original band fades out during a change up in the song and the new AW kicks in. besides that epic track, this album also boasts the hits Weeping Widow, Lady Run Lady Hide, and a number of classics like Come On Along, Cat’s Claw, and The Band Has Just Begun
Stand Back (1974) – with Myles Goodwyn now the main writer and singer [Clench contributed just 3 tracks here], the band has a more direct hard rock sound, and a fine production. Again, lots of hits and classics, most notably Oowatanite [by Clench], 2 ballads Cum Hear The Band and Tonite Is A Wonderful Time, as well as a number of guitar rockers in Victim Of Your Love, Don’t Push Me Around, and Highway Hard Run [originally to be titled Highway Hard On!]
The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy (1975) – Jim Clench had left, thus leaving Goodwyn as the band’s only writer and singer And producer. A great album though, includes rockers Gimmie Love, So Bad (featuring Frank Marino),as well as the ballads Wings of Love and Like A Lover Like A Song.
First Glance (1978)- the first to feature 3rd guitarist Brian Greenway, who contributed the track Right Down To It [and sang it]. Included the band’s big US breakthrough hit Roller, as well as hits Rock n Roll Is A Vicious Game and Coming Right Down On Top Of Me. More so though it featured a new found energy and more hard rock with tracks like Get Ready For Love, Hot On The Wheels Of Love, and the darker Silver Dollar. First and my favorite of the new era.
Harder …Faster (1979) – a great follow up and more success with hits Say Hello and I Like To Rock. Also included my favorite Brian Greenway tune Before The Dawn. Greenway sang that, as well as the band’s 3 guitar masterpiece cover of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man.
Nature Of The Beast (1981) – the band peaked with this album, so many classics and hits, so much radio air play … Sign Of The Gypsy Queen, Just Between You And Me, Wanna Rock, All Over Town, Big City Girls, Future Tense….fantastic production from Myles Goodwyn and Mike Stone.
The follow up albums, albeit had their moments were definitely not as hot.
Attitude (1993) – the band’s comeback album. back to being a huge rock album, lots of radio play and hits, a few videos, Jim Clench was back in the band, and [guitarist] Steve Segal added a lot to the more hard rockin approach. Givin It Takin It, That’s Love, Here’s Looking At You Kid, Strange Kind of Love – all first rate ‘Wine rockers, plus hit ballads in If You Believe In Me and Voice In My Heart. Fantastic disc beginning to end. Sadly the band struggled to follow it up well, and then fewer albums would happen down the road.
Here’s hoping there’s more to come – new music, archival releases, nice re-issues, etc…