I interviewed musician, songwriter, arranger and producer Eric Matthews for my blog All About Work about creating the 20th anniversary re-release of his amazing album It’s Heavy in Here. You can read the interview here.
Tim Hardin’s song ‘Reason To Believe’ has a remarkably simple structure, but within that simplicity is a universe of emotional complexity. The lyrics are steeped in the pain of betrayal by a lover, worsened by the inability to stop justifying the lover’s deception. Hardin gave very few interviews during his short lifetime, and apparently never spoke specifically about the origins of ‘Reason To Believe’ – but it is one of the Hardin songs that Charlie Gillett characterizes as “achieving the elusive balance between personal miseries and universal suffering”. Continue reading
At the start of 1968, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band were described by their manager/producer Gerry Bron as “a cult band with a huge following, deservedly”. Their live shows were chaotic sets of sardonic original tunes mixed with obscure novelty songs from the ‘20s and ‘30s, all performed amidst “horror masks, weird instruments, explosions, and a life-size rag doll named Alma”. Led by the eccentric charisma of frontman Viv Stanshall, the Bonzos were a popular live act everywhere from the Northern club circuit to premiere London venues such as UFO and The Marquee. The band had also acquired fans of all ages through regular appearances on the ITV children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set.
But the Dadaist anarchy that made the Bonzos such entertaining performers did not translate into chart-friendly records. Their album sales were so poor that Liberty, their UK record company, only pressed 2000 copies of their LP Gorilla. According to singer/guitarist Neil Innes, “The record company was saying, ‘Well, what about a single? What about a single?’ And we couldn’t care less. We were just still being silly art students.”
As it happened, when the band went into the studio in autumn ’68, Innes brought along a catchy ditty he had titled ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’. Continue reading
‘Sunny Goodge Street’ first saw the light of day in 1965, on Donovan’s second album Fairytale. While other songs on the album, such as the Top 5 hit ‘Colours‘, initially drew more attention, ‘Sunny Goodge Street’ is perhaps Fairytale’s most memorable song. The contrast between its gentle waltzing instrumentation and its hard-edged lyrical urban vignettes was intriguing to listeners – especially those who didn’t know there was an actual Goodge Street in London, and thus for whom Goodge Street could have been some mystical place in an imaginative Lewis Carroll story. Continue reading