in conversation with ex Greedsville songwriter & guitarist Clive Jackson.
Clive is a singer/songwriter who released two solo albums, Life Off Line (2015) and Rocket Science in (2019). He is currently working on a new album for release this year.
A veteran of rock bands who were part of the Newcastle music scene in the 1990’s, he was a member of Greedsville who released an album in 1994.
The main thing that motivated me to get a guitar and become a songwriter was when John Lennon died in 1980, they played tons of Beatles songs on T.V and Radio. I was already aware of a lot of it, but when I heard A Day in The Life on ITN news, I was hooked.
I joined various bands in the 80s, one being Twelve Angry Penguins – it was the era of daft band names! Then I was guitarist in a band called Dark Roads, and in 1991 we recorded a demo at Linx Studio with Mond Cowie (ex Angelic Upstarts) engineering. I was really pleased with my vocals, song writing and guitar work on that but unfortunately within six weeks everyone left Newcastle!
The drummer went to be a policeman in Leeds, the other guitarist went to live with his girlfriend in Wakefield and the bassist moved to Scotland to manage a hotel. In the midst of all that I got a phone call from Andy Carpenter who was bassist in Greedsville.
We sort of knew each other because we rehearsed in the same place, the 244 Rock club on Westgate Road here in Newcastle. There was a car repair shop in the back and in front was an old navy club, it was a very underground set up.
I handed Andy the Dark Roads demo and he asked me to join Greedsville as a song writer, that worked out and I became rhythm guitarist. Other bands on the scene were XLR8R, Strange Thing, 2000 and Roswell.
We gigged a lot and played in Newcastle, Hull and Leeds, we went down to London Marquee seven times. I had a full-time job in the Civil Service so ended up using all my annual leave when we had to travel to gigs in London. We couldn’t knock back gigs in the capital.
Sometimes I had to arrange a half day here, and a full day there. For one London gig work wouldn’t give me a half day. I pleaded with them as we had reviewers from Kerrang and NME coming along, it was important, one gig could make all the difference.
So, I decided to get the train from Newcastle to Kings Cross, legged it to the Marquee, did the gig, ran off stage, missed the last train so jumped on the all-night bus from Victoria – still sweating and stinking with my stage clothes on. It was a long night as the bus stopped off everywhere.
Finally got home, showered, then made it to work just in time. But I was knackered, more of this wasn’t doing my health any good.
Around the early 90s we met a London guy called Sean Worrall who reviewed our demo, he ran a fanzine called The Organ and was connected to record companies. He would promote showcase gigs at the Marquee or Camden Monarch where A&R guys would turn up. Sean set up one for us.
There was Geffen records, EMI and MCA hanging at the back of the hall. It wasn’t like a gig more like a jury with them not clapping. Sadly, nothing came of it.
Then London Records saw us play in The Broken Doll, Newcastle and paid for a 4-track demo which we recorded in Hi Level studio. They asked us to ‘grunge’ the sound up.
Then we recorded a rough demo on a four track recorder in the Greedsville rehearsal room. Sean took it to MCA and the first song on it, one I’d written, was more like what they were looking for.
But the rest of the band didn’t want to go in that direction. At the time we were being compared to REM and Roxy Music – quite a wide spectrum.
The Greedsville manager was Sue Wilkinson, who has just retired from the BBC. In the 90s she was running Generator here in the North East, she got us loads of publicity, articles and reviews in the press, plus radio and TV slots on local and national TV.
She got us on Tyne Tees, you can watch it on You Tube, Greedsville – Local ITV News, UK (Tyne Tees Television) 21st June 1993. That’s footage from a showcase gig at Newcastle’s Riverside. Ian Penman (Ravendale, music journalist) is also on who was a really nice guy and supportive of the North East music scene. Sadly, he passed away not long ago.
One time we were on the bill at Camden Monarch with Skunk Anansie. There was a chalk board outside the venue with the bands names on – they were billed as Skunk and Nancy and we were Green Sleeves!
I was staring at the board when their singer Skin, she is beautiful by the way, came up to me and asked if I was in Green Sleeves. I said ‘it’s Greedsville’ we were both laughing at the mistakes. They got a record deal. We didn’t.
Our guy in London, Sean Worrall backed off in the end because he explained to us that he’d met the record companies, they’d sent A&R men, heard the demos, he felt that he’d done all he could. It was an amicable parting, no hard feelings he’d just run out of road for us.
There was still a lot of Newcastle connections around that time, like Kev Ridley, engineer at Linx Studio. There was a band I knew called For Gods Sake with guitarist Steve Wallace, there was Steve Charley the Canadian, he was studio engineer for a while. There were connections to the Music for Nations label with Venom and Skyclad.
Then Greedsville signed to North East independent record label Bleeding Hearts run by Eric Cook and Tony Bray, Eric was manager of Venom and Tony was the drummer.
What happened was Sue Wilkinson got a call from Eric Cook asking would Greedsville be interested in a deal? ‘Great’ we all said. At the time we were recording in Trinity Heights studio run by Fred Purser (ex Penetration and Tygers of Pan Tang).
The singer Pete Turner was involved in all the conversations between Eric Cook and Sue Wilkinson, and the rest of the band, including myself, were all present at meetings when major decisions were made. The contract was for distribution in Europe and Asia, we had it checked out and it was ok. We signed on the dotted line around 1994.
We had originally planned to record an EP with four songs but with the deal happening it turned into an album. We recorded in three studios – Linx, Trinity Heights and a place in Chester le Street with Frankie Gibbon. It was all mixed and mastered at Fred’s Trinity studio.
Eventually we released The Casino Royale Collection. We made 10,000 copies and it was on sale in shops like Our Price and Virgin stores.
We were due to play in Middlesbrough, then onto the Heineken Music Festival in Gateshead Stadium. But a few weeks before that we played in London and on the way back in the van our drummer Doug Hayes said he was leaving.
So, we quickly had to get someone else in, that was Graham Hattam. We were really up against it, but Graham learned quick in a small time frame and the Heineken gig went well. The Stranglers and Jools Holland big band were also on, it was a great time and Sue got us lots of press.
But we started to lose momentum, Britpop had taken over, the band were falling apart. In 1996 it was all over for Greedsville.
Looking back the 90s had loads of different bands playing folk, blues, metal, psychedelia, it wasn’t just one genre. That’s one of the many reasons I think the A&R thing didn’t really happen here.
In one night, they would see a band dressed like they were in a pantomime, others playing Frank Zappa, and in the next pub there would be a full on metal band playing. There just wasn’t a load of bands playing one type of music where they could watch and give a definite yes or no, or maybe sign a band to a development deal.
Back then we sold around 5-6,000 albums but never received a penny. The Greedsville album is still on sale now through outlets like Amazon. If people are getting something out of listening to the songs that’s great – but did I make a living out of the music business? Absolutely not.
In the digital age copyright goes out the window. I do get royalty cheques now and then from my latest solo albums, the last was from Spotify for around $400.
There’s lots more to add to the Clive Jackson story, and that will be added to the blog later, but for more information check the official website:
Clive Jackson | singer-song-writer (clivejackson8.wixsite.com)
Alikivi February 2023.