RCA Recordings and Comments
Listed here are the products of my time with RCA Records from 1997 till 1980.
I signed as a solo articte to RCA in 1977 following the release of Earth Birth on my Indie label – Phoenix Future. It was totally out of step with the current music at the time which was definately Punk . In fact, people said it was crazy to launch a solo instrumental works for acoustic 12 string guitar. I have never been one to follow trends and it seemed the right thing to do at the time. With the help of Michael Tickner and Lawrence Brough of Dawes Press in Fulham and the brilliant illustrator Ralph Steadman of Fear & Loathing fame, who designed the LP cover and produced the LP, I recorded and released in a limited edition of 1000 copies – Earth Birth. We were staggered at the response from the Press. Fantastic reviews, even in the Pop and Rock Magazines and the Dailys were over the top with enthusiasm. Subsequently, RCA called us and we made a production contract for all my recordings, which meant we made and leased the records to RCA and they released them World Wide for the duration of the deal. We re-recorded Earth Birth and it was released in 1977.
Interlife was the second LP RCA released and it is arguably the most popular. I engaged Tom Newman who produced the mega LP Tubular Bells for Mike Oldfield, to produce the album. Whilst keeping the instrumental theme throughout, we hired in some brilliant session musicians including DeLilse Harper (bass gtr and brass arrangements, ex Stealers Wheel) – Rod Coombes ( Drums , now with The Strawbs), Derek Austin (Keyboards – ex Genesis), Mel Collins & Steve Gregory ( Rolling Stones brass section ). The front cover design of the “split cabbage world “was done by Dave Griffiths who i previously played with in the Bradley’s set up with Mike Piggott and the LP was released in 1978, again to World Wide press acclaim. Also on the back cover was my lovely Chow, Tommy Dogs, when he was a puppy. It was also a first for Capital Radio in London as we recorded it there for commercial release. I have to thank Senior Music Producer Paul Blencoe for his help. It was enginnered by Capital Engineers at the time, Dave Stevens and Mike Sykes in 16 track format. The American cover was entirely different as illustrated in the photos above. The live premier of Interlife was at The Royal Festival Hall included in the premier of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Variations” played by his brother, the brilliant cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber. Captial also recorded and broadcast the live performance from this venue.
1979 saw the third LP released. Again different to the other two. Instead of long pieces, I opted for shorter ones, but more tracks. Produced by Tom Newman and myself with arrangements by Rob Young. I changed the musicians with one exception, from those that played on Interlife to equally great ones including Tom Nicol (drums), Dave Olney and Dave Williams ( bass gtrs. ), Steve Gregory and Ray Warleigh ( brass ), Alan Todd ( rythym guitar ) and my old mate Johnnny Joyce (acoustic 12 string guitar ). Rob Young played keyboards & recorder. The track that got the most airplay was Johnny’s and my version of Dave Brubeck’s classic instrumental Take Five, which we had long played together as part of our acoustic duo act for a long time. It was recorded and enginnered at T.W.Studios by Alan Winstanley (Stranglers) in Fulham. Cover artwork was by Sandra Goode.
The final LP for RCA was Guitar Trek, released in 1980. RCA didn’t bother with promoting this because I had signed a new deal with TV Marketing Company K-Tel to record a Romantic Guitar LP for them. Sad really, because Guitar Trek was in my opinion, a really good LP. George Clinton, the editor of Guitar Magazine told John Joyce that it was one of the best LP’s he had heard and he couldn’t understand why RCA hadn’t promoted it. Different from the others and again recorded with some new faces. Tom Nicol was still on drums Alan Todd guested on electric guitar on Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds track Forever Autumn, the brilliant Richard Harvey came in on keyboards and recorders, Paul Townsend played bass gtr. and John Joyce featured more heavily throughout. Basically, we recorded lots of acoustic based songs from our duo act including a version of Gershwin’s classic Summertime. No Tom Newman on this one as I produced entirely. Guy Bidmead engineered it at T.W. Studios , Fulham. The sleeve was produced by RCA’s own artwork dept.
RCA released quite a few singles from these LP’s but I was never really into the singles thing althought some got quite a bit of airplay. I would say overall, judging by the amount of these LP’s that were released and sold throughout the world, that if honesty in sales figures prevailed from major record companies…..which it doesn’t….. then my time at RCA was very successful, both creatively and commercially.