Barefoot and Persuaded

At the beginning of 2014 I started to gather together a collection of songs for the new Groovy Uncle album and it already had a title. “Persuaded” will be our fourth release and once again I’ve tried to make it different from the others. This time the album has a bit of a “cinematic” feel to it as a few of the songs sound like they could be used as title music to a movie and there is a definite nod to John Barry in places (albeit modestly). The title track features both as an instrumental opener and a vocal version finale. One of the problems I encountered along the way was that I had a few songs lined up for Suzi Chunk which she turned down because she felt they didn’t suit her very distinctive vocal style. Although I was initially put out by this curveball, after stepping back to give it some consideration I realized that Suzi was totally right (she usually is!) and I certainly wouldn’t want her to sing anything she wasn’t one hundred per cent sold on. Trouble was I knew the songs were totally right for the album but they HAD to be sung by a female vocalist so the only solution was to find another singer to join us. But who? It had to be someone who was not only capable vocally but would also understand where we’re at and a singer who was in complete contrast to Suzi stylistically. Then I remembered Miss Modus….

Miss Modus – photo by Phil Dillon

Back in 2011 Groovy Uncle made a rare live appearance at The Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden and headlining were the Scottish band Modus featuring Sarah Kennedy (aka Miss Modus) on lead vocals. She is striking both visually and vocally, has sung with a number of bands as well as writing original material and performs mainly these days with Dirty Harry and The Link Quartet. I contacted her, sent a couple of tunes and was delighted when she said she’d love to be involved in the making of the album. Miss Modus sings the title track as well as “Your Weight In Gold”, “I Wont Be Fooled By You” and  duets with me on “What’s Going On” and she has done a fantastic job on them. Recording sessions began early in the year at Ranscombe Studios, Rochester when we recorded the A-side to our forthcoming vinyl single “Barefoot In The Car Park” (out on State Records July 21st!). It’s a belter of a number and Suzi is on top form here. Bruce Brand plays lead guitar and drums on this track, Nick Rice on bass, John Littlefair and Paul Jordanous provide the horn section then me on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. It’s a cracking upbeat number for the summer! Suzi also takes lead vocals on “High Time”- a song that has already been covered a couple of times-and makes it her own. A brilliant version! I take lead vocals on a few tunes too and I’m particularly pleased with a track called “Should Have Been Mine” not least because it features a marvellous piece of harmonica playing courtesy of Jim Riley. There is still a bit of work to do on the album but it’s sounding great so far and we’ve achieved a lot.

Until next time…

THS015

 

 

 

 

Wish Away The Moon

A few years ago I discovered the music of Nick Drake and for a while I listened to little else. I was fascinated by the arrangements of these meandering, melancholic masterpieces and the fact that he never saw commercial success in his tragically short lifetime (he died in 1974 aged 26). I started playing around with the folk guitar tuning of DADGAD (as popularised by Davy Graham) and a chord progression began to surface based initially around Drake’s “Riverman”, a track from his 1969 debut album “Five Leaves Left”. I was fully aware that I could never compose (let alone play) anything as intricate as Drake’s but I love drawing on all my influences no matter how ambitious that may seem in an attempt to come up with something of my own so I started work on what became “Wish Away The Moon”. I began finger picking the chords while developing the vocal melody and it was at this point the song took on a more Harry Nilsson mood with particular inspiration from “Without Her”. I finished the song, recorded a demo and forgot about it for a couple of years. It was some time in 2011 when I remembered the song and offered it to Suzi Chunk for inclusion on her debut album “Girl From The Neck Down”. For some reason I didn’t think she’d like it much but I couldn’t have been more wrong. She loved it and agreed to record her version at the very next recording session. You can compare the two versions here below the lyrics.

Wish Away The Moon

By the time it takes to seize hold of the early morning breeze she’ll rise/A moment come and gone before the setting of the sun is in her eyes

Wish away the moon take a chance and pretty soon you’ll fall

Waiting for the sound of the footsteps on the ground she cries/And while the clock alarm does its rise and shining harm she nearly dies

Wish away the moon, take a chance and pretty soon you’ll fall

She just keeps her eyes on the beautiful horizon/he’ll kiss away her tears but there’s a price to pay and here’s the deal

Just wish away the moon, take a chance and pretty soon you’ll fall

“One Vowel Away From The Truth”-Album Out Now!

Monday 30th September 2013 finally saw the release of the new Groovy Uncle/Suzi Chunk album “One Vowel Away From The Truth”(Trouserphonic ZIP-1-UP) making it the third from the Groovy Uncle project and the first on our own label. “Play Something We Know!” (State Records, 2011) and “Girl From The Neck Down”(State Records, 2012) were always going to be tough acts to follow and I was never going to attempt to rehash either of those fine albums but I did want to keep all the key elements that gave those records their appeal. I decided to go for a 50/50 share of vocal duties between Suzi   and myself so we ended up with a bona fide Unc’n Chunk album. It has all the things I like from a pop record- riffs, humour, melody, vocal harmonies, wit, sarcasm, light and shade.    There are songs on there that will smack you ’round the chops and others that will give you a hug and kiss it better. Suzi’s voice is beautiful as always and everyone involved in the project worked their backsides off to produce what is, I hope you’ll agree, a damn good album! Physical copies (CD only) are available from the official Groovy Uncle Website for  £10.00 (plus postage) or downloadable from iTunes and Amazon and can be heard on   Spotify. Here is a track from the album….

GROOVY UNCLE Featuring SUZI CHUNK Consider It Done                                              (Thanks to Maurizio Melino)

One_Vowel_Front

One Vowel Away From The Truth

Once we’d seen in the New Year my thoughts immediately turned to making a new record. This would be the third Groovy Uncle album project after “Play Something We Know!” and Suzi Chunk’s “Girl From The Neck Down”. Both had been very well received (particularly the latter) though they are very different from each other and this got me thinking it might be interesting to make the new album a mix of the two – a bona fide Unc’n’Chunk record. I already had the songs written and knew which were Suzi’s and which were mine plus a couple to duet and once again I wanted to include one or two instruments and musicians I hadn’t worked with before. On the track “Consider It Done” for example, jazz musician Roan Kearsey-Lawson did some beautiful vibe playing which became the icing on the (already lovely) cake and he did it in one take! It took much longer to dismantle and reassemble the instrument than it did to mic it up and record but was well worth the effort. Roan also brought along a set of late 19th century tubular bells which added a nice touch to “Human Scaffold”.

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A few months ago I demoed a song called “When I Saw Love” (which can be heard on Suzi’s Soundcloud site) and thought it needed handling in a Beatles-esque, “For No-One” style. Jon Barker does some fine harpsichord type keyboard work on it but I knew I had to find a French horn player. Via the magic of Facebook I was put in touch with Neil Mitchell, a classical orchestral player who was more than happy to be involved as this was to be his first solo on a recording. We worked together on the arrangement and his playing is majestic. It gives the song a melancholic yet uplifting quality which no other instrument could have achieved. Joining us once again is John Littlefair providing the horn section on “Must Have” and “It’s Not Like Me”. Always a pleasure to work with Mr L and I love his playing on these tracks. 
A number of songs this time feature the trumpet playing of John Whitaker (he of Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society among others) and I think his contributions really lift songs such as “Neptune Girl”, “Me And My Fair Weather Friend” and “Human Scaffold”. I’m particularly pleased former Singing Loins mandolin player Rob Shepherd agreed to work out a part for “November”. I’ve always been a big fan of the Loins and I like what he does here as it takes the GU sound to another place entirely. Peter White joins us again for some nifty keyboard work on “The Money Shot”.

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Of course Bruce Brand, Nick Rice, Mole, Marty Ratcliffe Suzi Chunk and myself contributed a fair amount to the project too but more about that and other stuff later. The album is called “One Vowel Away From The Truth”  and we’ll be mixing it next month (July). Thanks to all involved.

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A Thank You

After all the tremendous response to the album “Girl From The Neck Down” I thought it about time I composed an open letter to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 12 months and beyond and to all involved in the project. Everyone involved was totally committed to the project from start to finish and there is no way I could have done it without you. My apologies in advance for any glaring ommissions. So, in no particular order….

 

Suzi Chunk, Bruce Brand, Marty Ratcliffe, Mole Lambert, Nick Rice, Allan Crockford, Ben Jones, Jon Barker, Phil Brown, Peter White, John Littlefair, Paul Moss, Ian Snowball, Jon Abnett, Peter Salmon, Paddy Faulkner, Lois Tozer, Jane Prangnell, Arthole Retrographics, Graham Seamark, Graham Sage, Mike Murray, Bill Kelly, Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie, Lizzie Hoskin, SiriusXM, Stevie Van Zandt, Andrew Loog Oldham, Drew Carey, Kid Leo, Mighty Manfred, Genya Ravan, Jenna Antonacci, “Shindig!” magazine, Medway Eyes, Fizzer’s Radio Show, WOW Medway, Medway Broadside, Jennie and Colin Baillie, David Bash, Phil Moore, “Record Collector” magazine, Terry Lane @ Buzzin’ Media, Hard Rock Memorabilia, Rosemary Edwards, Jason Charles Rogers, Phil Dillon, James Crowther, Kev Wright @ The Sound Of Confusion, Andy Morten, State Records.

 

To everyone who has bought, downloaded, voted, championed and generally said nice things WE THANK YOU! Have a wonderful, happy, positive 2013. We intend to bring you much more in the coming year!  

Glenn suzi shindig review

 

 

 

Got My Eyes On The Prize

Somebody once asked me if I had to record a cover version with Suzi what would I choose. “Love Is A Losing Game” was my immediate response. Suzi is a big fan of Amy Winehouse and I’m sure she’d do a fine job. This got me thinking. I needed a track which would end the album-a “goodbye song” that would leave the listener wanting more. I sat down with my guitar and began playing around with the chords to “Love Is A Losing Game” just to get into that kind of mood and ended up writing “Got My Eyes On The Prize” around similar chords. I recorded a demo complete with backing vocal harmonies and sent it to Suzi. She loved it, worked out the phrasing and came up with some suggestions for the arrangement. It has become one of the best loved tracks on the album.

Got my eyes on the prize and it’s you

Got my eyes on the prize and it’s you

 

How do I begin to say how I feel

Now we have to kiss goodbye?

Staring at the road ahead is unreal

I’ll be low while you get high

 

How do I pretend that I’ll be alright

Knowing that I never will 

Make this living end my only respite

From the loneliness I feel 

 

Since you went away and caught your freedom flight

And I’ve been left alone at night

All I got to do is say

 

I’ll die before I find another you

I’ll die before I find another you

I’ll die before I find another you

But in the meantime….

 

Got my eyes on the prize and it’s you

Got my eyes on the prize and it’s you

 

When do all the good times come back again?

I just cant believe they’re dead

Looking out for signs, the where and the when

Blame it on the things I said

 

Tell me that you don’t have any regrets

Tell me that you’re not unsure

Tell me you don’t find it hard to forget

I’m not the one you’re living for

 

Since you went away and caught your freedom flight

And I’ve been left alone at night

All I got to do is say

 

I’ll die before I find another you

I’ll die before I find another you

I’ll die before I find another you

But in the meantime…. 

Words and music by Glenn Prangnell (Copyright Control 2012)
From the album “Girl From The Neck Down” by Suzi Chunk
 

Big Screen

The song that triggered the concept of the Suzi Chunk album “Girl From The Neck Down” was one that seemed to come out of nowhere. “Big Screen” matches a melancholy tune with downcast lyrics that evoke a bleak night out in Everytown where boys will be boys and girls “reserve their right to sup”. Every bar in Everytown has a big screen that spikes the alcohol with high definition tragedy, schadenfreude and football to a relentless 120 bpm. All are having fun on the dark side of the rainbow. Well, I hope they are…

                                                        Big Screen

 

Tomorrow may not be the day

You’ll hear me say let’s fly away

But I hope it is

 

A better life is far behind

These narrow streets and cobbled minds

Well I hope it is

 

Why does this self defense seem like attack?

How many paces forward take me back- again?

 

I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life

While they’re looking at the Big Screen every night

I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life

I’ve been looking at the Big Screen.

 

Tomorrow night the boys go out

To large it up and lark about

Like they always do

 

The girls reserve their right to sup

Like men they pale then throw it up

Cos they wanted to

 

Many’s the time I’ve watched this play unfold

Many’s the time I’ve thought they should be told- again

 

I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life

While they’re looking at the Big Screen every night  

I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life

I’ve been looking at the Big Screen.

 

Words and music by Glenn Prangnell (Copyright Control 2012)

From the album “Girl From The Neck Down” by Suzi Chunk