All these songs were written by tim southern except So Tired by Ray Davies and the Kinks.
All songs were recorded at Shippy's studio in Trowbridge in the '90's.
1. Out of sight: I had a phase of writing in 6/8 time and loved the feel and quality of this song even if the lyrics are a bit trite when I listen now.
2. Give me a break: Originally written and performed live by Most People in a very full on, riotous kind of way this version was great fun to record. I am personally proud of the handclaps which I feel Elbow must've heard for Mexican Standoff...though I guess it's been used in Spanish music for ever.
3. Someone up there: A cheeky challenge to biblical themes. Very enjoyable to play even now though clunky lyrics in my view.
4. Take me higher: I feel this is possibly my most complete song. Dave Shipp and I really enjoyed building vocal layers and used all my stranger instruments; bazouki, penny whistle and all.
5. Fly me away: This is very personal and represents my feelings at a time when work responsibilities were very challenging and I had no support from my managers. It's simple but I still get emotional singing it. I had bought a £20 12 string acoustic guitar off Nick Marchant to use for busking in Bath. It only had 6 strings because the string tension was pulling the bridge from the guitar. I used it for this recording and I still love the sound on this track which also features my old tenor recorder.
6. Your Ithica: I love this but it's a very thin attempt at reflecting how some people drop out of society in the name of art and "expressing themselves" yet actually just get very drunk and live in an unreal world. We'd been on the Greek Island of Alonissos for a summer in 1995 and met some great and talented people some of whom seemed to be living in an unreal world as an escape. I'm not judging them in this song but I'd heard a bit about Odysseus and his never ending quest to get back to the reality of Ithica...there seemed to be some kind of link. It's just a song not a study of Greek mythology or any particular person.
7. Let your children go: I've worked alot with people who have learning disabilities and tried to capture some of my feelings about how hard many families I met in the 80's struggled to see their sons or daughters as adults even though they were and had as much right to try new things, take on new interests as anyone else. It's a little preachy but the sentiment is clear. I enjoyed exploring my inner Pink Floyd on this.
8. No more games: The content of the song is pretty obvious. There are several versions of this song which was a real favourite of mine (and a few other people's) in the 80's, none of the versions quite captured what I wanted and neither does this though we had alot of fun doing it. I have a Wham like version I recorded with Rolando a long time ago which is funny. We just tried to find a way to break through...never did.
9. Mamma: It's not about my mum OK? It's just that kind of soap opera lifestyle I was looking at. Quite like some of my words here (rare for me) and I love the ending where the drums kick in...maybe should've brought them in eariler. I borrowed Steve Hyde's squeeze box to demonstrate my 2 squeeze box chords.
10. Local hero: I had no one in mind writing this song. I'm pretty sure it came out of my most prolific week when I wrote 5 pretty good songs in a few days! It is funny in a way because I can relate to the subject now ie: I'm not pushing down barriers to make any points - I'm famous in my own mind and one or two people know me so: I'm a bit of an under achieving local hero to not many people...I'm fine with that.
11. I will be there: Like many of these songs, where you hear good bass being played it will be Neil Anzani. We were going for a Pino Palladino - where ever I lay my hat kind of sound. I like the rawness of it though it makes me cringe everso slightly. No drums! Like it!
12. Swallow my pride: Now this was a big song in the Most People set which was all about fat, open chords and big choruses. I wrote it around a few themes one of them being my old school friend Sian Davies who sadly died with cancer several years ago. Sian was a great mate in school but I never fancied her because she was completely out of my league and was going to the Pig & Whistle in Cardiff when she was 14 and we were still staying in listening to King Crimson and Chicago. I was always proud of her and she had fantastic spirit. Maybe I should confess that I blamed her to my parents once for not doing my homework or something not realising that my folks new her folks and they had a pop at them...of course Sian got a telling off for it...she forgave me though.
13. So tired: Dave Shipp and I agreed to record a song that he really likes rather than always doing my stuff. This Kinks song is the result and I've always liked it. Ian Clarke put the Enya touches at the end which we all loved at the time but they do date it a little now - that juno-60 again!
14. Purple patch: It's an obvious idea that I liked, just listing ways of saying that things are going OK. I heard the expression Purple Patch alot on sports programmes and even sent it to BBC Wales because they said it so often. Guess what...no reply. Me and Chalky made this our own as a duo and there is a great mime we do on the Bristol cable TV clip on this site.
15. Battle song: Probably one of my most recent songs...still 15 years old (lazy? or uninspired?). Dave put in some great samples from East Enders with Angie Waltts screaming at dirty Den. I quite like it and would sing it more often if it wasn't in a D tuning (lazy!).
16. Not running away: Written in 1982 this started with a country feel before we rocked it up as Most People and Rolando's excellent arrangement which we only recorded roughly in a rehearsal room. Then I recorded it with Ian Clarke and Dave resulting in this track and our very homemade video (see video page). We sent it to Making Music mag who reviewed it. Even in 1892 we were over the hill in their eyes. They called it a little self consious, we were trying too hard, plinky plonk piano led middle aged pop AND we look middle aged too!!! All true of course but…how dare they.
17. Kill my neighbours: Now, for any former, current neighbours reading this...it's not you. We spent the summer of 95 in Greece and a bunch of young people moved in opposite us. This was written at 4am and it came out in one blurt of lyrics as you hear it here. I bashed it out in Shippy's with a guitar and Ian Clarke took it and made it into this cracking version that should really be a worldwide anthem. I wouldn't, obviously, really kill any neighbors - it's just an expression...though I'm guessing many of us can relate to the sentiment.
18. Person not a tribe: I heard an interview with Vanessa Redgrave in the 80's and she was talking about the need for people to be individuals. She used the expression, "you're a person not a tribe" and I liked it. It reminded me of people I knew who found it too easy to get caught up in what everyone else was doing instead of realising what it was about them that was positive. You only get a few minutes of it here so you miss my attempt at Dave Gilmour style (I think) self indulgent guitar noodling...I love DG and enjoyed recording this.
19. The other half of me: It's a straight up - I like you very much - kind of song and I have a real affection for this recording which is very raw (some might say, on the edge of outoftune). I like the energy of it and I wanted it to sound like it was recorded in a garage...which, with no disrespect to Shippy who's studion was my favourite place for many years, it was.