Round up of 2011
2011 was a blur. January through April was spent completing Peter Grant’s fabulous new album. It was a long period of development gathering songs, trying new styles, going down a few blind alleys and hitting some moments of inspiration. Finally the album was upon us and we set about completing our endeavours. The resulting album ‘Too Close’ is something that both Gavin, Peter and I can be proud of along with the many musicians, friends and collaborators that helped us.
I continued to work with Andreas Vollenweider and began the year by flying to Zurich to write the last few pieces before embarking on the production. It was a great privilege not only to work with Andreas, but also with the musicians that he assembled. Most of the record was made in Zurich but we recorded drums, percussion, Orchestra and Brass in the fabulous Abbey Road studio 2, home to most of the Beatles recordings and still probably the finest recording studio in the world. Finally to mix with Gav in Sphere (my studio ‘home’). I think this is one of my favourite albums, one to sit and relax to and let the imagination go where it will.
As the spring came to an end so did my work on those 2 albums. Next up I was to embark on Mick Hucknall’s solo album. Having shed the 25 year old Simply Red moniker, Mick has been freed to come up with a new style and a musical ‘makeover’. A brave move in this day and age, particularly when you consider that most bands that started in the 80’s are currently re-forming in order to capitalise on peoples interest in seeing them perform again. As we are currently in the middle of this I can’t say much more than to say that progress is good and we should have something ready by the spring.
A highlight for me in July was performing at the Montreux Jazz festival with Andreas Vollenweider. I bought my long time collaborator Roachie in to feature on a song on Andreas’ album. The resulting song, ‘Long way away from Peace’ got it’s first airing at the festival with me performing on bass and Roachie singing of course.
In September we began producing Readings finest new band ‘White Sunday’. Signed to Revolver management, I got the call from Chris Hughes and met with the band. We have currently recorded four songs and have had a greatreaction from companies looking to sign the band. Later in the month I performed twice more with Roachie as ‘The Fire House Red’ and twice as pianist for Diana Yukawa. The second of these gigs for both artists was Oxjam Chorleywood organised by Sally Freeman of ‘Love Live Music’. Peter Grant also performed along with Pete White and Steve Austin who I recorded an album with back in 2006. The whole evening was a huge success both for the charity and a real talking point in my home village of Chorleywood.Amongst our successes this year we had a top 10 album with Imelda May earlier on in the year and have continued working with her during the summer on 6 new tracks 3 of which were added to Mayhem to complete the deluxe version (including the single Roadrunner). We also mixed Imelda’s song ‘Make a Wish’ for the charity of the same name, and completed the production of her cover of ‘On my Radio’ for the John Lewis store album raising money for Save the Children.
September/ October saw three of my records on the Radio 2 B-list, (Peter Grant ‘Too Close’, Scarlette Fever ‘Elated’ and Imelda with ‘Roadrunner), and December saw my Christmas record with Mick achieve ‘Record of the Week’ on Radio 2 as well as three weeks on the A-list. I finished the year working with a new Russian star called Anna who has been singled out by none other than Putin himself as the future of music in Russia.
SO, all in all a great year, loads of releases coming up in 2012 and hopefully accompanying successes along the way.