Lost In A Moment- “Persuaded” by Groovy Uncle

In January 2014 Groovy Uncle began work on their 4th album, “Persuaded”. Apart from  two songs-“Wet Weekend” and “You Look Good To Me”– all were recorded at Ranscombe Studios, produced by Jim Riley and engineered by Brendan Esmonde. The album features Suzi Chunk and Miss Modus and was released on 6th October 2014 on Groovy Uncle’s own label Trouserphonic (ZIP2-UP). It is available on vinyl, cd and as a download. All songs written by Glenn Prangnell. The intent was to put together an album with a “cinematic” feel. It was great fun to make and it is an album of which I am very proud. I hope you like it too. Continue reading

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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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

  

Play Something We Know!

If the concept behind the Suzi Chunk album “Girl From The Neck Down” was “to make the kind of record they don’t make anymore”, then the first Groovy Uncle LP certainly had its own agenda. It’s noticeable these days how obsessed with nostalgia people have become, particularly with regard to music- tribute bands, karaoke, X-Factor cover versions, ill advised reunions- and just about anyone who has ever written and performed their own original compositions will at some point have heard the the tiresome, drunken cry from the back of the room – “Play something we know!” I’ve always found this request both irritating and baffling. Why would anyone NOT want to hear something new? Surely there are only a limited number of times a man (or woman) can tolerate yet another rendition of “Mustang Sally” or “Wonderful Tonight” before the urge becomes too great and he (or she) gauges his (or her) own eyeballs out?

I’ve often thought that one of the key factors behind the massive popularity of Mancunian magpies Oasis rests in Noel Gallagher’s ability to write brand new tunes their audience already knows. Make ’em big, bold, strident,catchy but most of all familiar-something we can all identify with and sing along. So when it came to putting together a debut album for Groovy Uncle (the first on the State Records label) I knew what I wanted to achieve and didn’t have to think too long about the title – “Play Something We Know!”.                                                                                    

The opening track is a song I’d written back in the 90’s and had already recorded a demo of it with the band I was in at the time, Johnny and The Bandits (who later morphed into Goodchilde). The track was never released and remained on a cassette tape gathering dust but I’d always been rather fond of the song and knew it would sit nicely on PSWK. Inspired by the Tony Hatch song “Call Me” (with a nod to  “Never Ever” by The Action), “Count On Me” is a straight ahead, reassuring feel good song that sets the tone for the rest of the album. The line-up for this track: Ben Jones, Paul Moss, Mole, Glenn Prangnell.

Girl From The Neck Down-Part 3

In 1967 George Harrison attended a lecture on Transcendental Meditation given by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Hilton Hotel, London. Backstage the two met for the first time and with a typical display of ice breaking irreverence, the Beatle asked the giggling guru: “Got Any Mantras?” 

That always sounded like a song title to me…

The original version appeared on the Groovy Uncle album “Play Something We Know!” where it poked gentle fun at would- be hippies: “you wanna be a flower child/the smell of that incense drives you wild”. I thought Suzi could do a wicked, funkier version of the song. I was right.

“I Can’t Stop The Rain” is an appropriately titled track for what has been a very soggy 2012. A relentless downpour on the soul served up in a late night, bar room jazz stylee with a distinctly Dusty vibe. Fine piano from Peter White on this one.

Another song borne out of troubled, convoluted times “It’s Not Your Heartbreak” was a conscious effort to write for Suzi a black soul influenced balled along the lines of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Well, that was my starting point and that influence is most prominent in the line “I wish for a day/you could feel the same way/as I do” when the backing vocal harmonies kick in. The original take included a horn section but my well intentioned arrangement made it sound too cheery so we took it out and replaced it with a guitar part courtesy of Bruce Brand which gives the song just the right amount of melancholy.

To top off the album I decided we needed a “goodbye”song- a lump-in-the-throat ballad full of yearning written with the sole intent of breaking hearts. Yeah, one of those. The backing track was recorded at the end of a long session when we were beginning to wind down and this gave it a nice, laid back feel which is exactly what I wanted. A week or so later Suzi and I layered some lush vocal harmonies together after she’d completed the lead vocal. If I’d had access to a grand piano and orchestra I’d have used them on this track. This’ll more than do for me though. It’s a lovely finale.

The making of this album has been a complete labour of love for me. I had never written songs for someone else before and it’s been a most enjoyable challenge.  Hearing Suzi   interpreting my words and music has made me listen to my own songs in a different way. I’d like to thank everyone involved in the making of this record for their hard work and support not least Marty and Mole at State Records. Most of all I’d like to thank Suzi Chunk for giving me a much needed metaphorical kick up the arse!

“Girl From The Neck Down”-Suzi Chunk out September 2012 on State Records (THSLP 003)  She’ll learn ya!