COUNTY DURHAM DREAM with South Shields born singer & songwriter Vinny Edwards

Vincent Edwards.

From his home in Germany, Edwards recently got in touch and talked about his career in the music biz. Earlier posts have featured his 1976 chart hit Right Back Where We Started From and his smash in Europe Love Hit Me.

Vinny was brought up in the seaside town of South Shields where he listened to the ‘60s sounds of Sam Cooke before he joined his first band The Invictors. Then he joined The Answers who recorded two singles and were managed by Tony Stratton Smith.

‘Just after The Answers parted, amicably I might add, United Artists record company signed me and I went into a studio in Tin Pan Alley, London and recorded the track ‘County Durham Dream’, that was 1967. In fact it was the first song I wrote when I left South Shields, it reminds me as a kid every day at Shields beach looking out to sea – still makes me emotional’.

’Recording in the studio on drums we had the great Clem Cattini, on guitar was Big Jim Sullivan who later played with Elvis. Loved that time. You know ‘County Durham Dream’ achieved everything I wanted – it opened lots of doors and most of all let me know where I come from, still does now’.

The choice for the b-side ‘It’s the Same Old Song’ was written by Holland/Dozier/Holland. During the ‘60s they were the masters of Motown who wrote classics recorded by Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas and The Four Tops to name a few.

‘This led me to the next single which was ‘Aquarius’. That record was also on United Artists and I got a contract to open the musical ‘Hair’ at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London’.

Hair is a musical focusing on the long haired hippie culture and sexual revolution of the late ‘60s. The focus is a tribe of politically active hippies living a bohemian lifestyle in New York City fighting against conscription to the US army and the Vietnam war. The show has been staged worldwide with a Broadway revival in 2009, a West End revival in 2010 and in 2019 the production staged a UK tour.

‘That 18 month run was the greatest time of my life. There was Paul Nicholas, Elaine Page, Maxine Nightingale – who sang my hit, ‘Right Back Where We Started From’. Tim Curry was in with Olivier Tobias, Marsha Hunt, Sonja Christina and many more’.

‘I remember the opening night like it was yesterday – I danced with Princess Anne on stage. Yeah ‘Hair’ led to more show biz doors opening as a performer, writer and record producer. It’s still performed around the world today. Check it out on You Tube’.

Link to previous interviews:

RUN TO THE SUN with South Shields born singer & songwriter Vincent Edwards | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

Interview by Gary Alikivi June 2021

SEE YOU IN THE MORNING – with singer & songwriters Emma Wilson & Terry Reid

During the past year Emma ‘Velvet Tones of Teeside’ Wilson has produced her EP ‘Loveheart’ and featured on a compilation album in aid of the NHS, ‘Songs of Isolation’. Other highlights were an interview on American radio and Cerys Mathews BBC Radio 2 Blues show playing her track ‘Wish Her Well’.

Emma & Terry Reid.

Her new project is a double A side single released 10 June 2021, and it features one of her vocal hero’s. ‘I’m a fan of Terry Reid full stop. I just love his tone and style –  it’s a dream come true’ said Emma.

Affectionately known as ‘Superlungs’ Reid has enjoyed a long career in the music biz. He has recorded six albums, featured on film soundtracks and toured with Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac and Cream.

In 2016 I was asked by Malcolm Bruce and Pete Brown to sing in the ‘Evening for Jack Bruce’ house band at Shepherds Bush Empire, London. I jovially said that I’ll only do it if you get Terry Reid. Of course Terry was already on the bill’.

Reid lives in the United States so he flew into the UK for the gig.

‘He turned up at rehearsals straight off the plane looking resplendent in white trench coat and silk scarf. He chatted with everyone and then sat down to talk to Pete Brown. Being a little star struck I walked over and told him we haven’t really met yet, but I did say hello outside the toilets at his gig in The Newcastle Cluny. Pete and Terry both laughed singing my clumsy words back to me saying that would make a great song’.

Wilson and Reid got on well, they chatted about music and the London gig. Emma recalls that night at Shepherds Bush.

‘Terry was lead on ‘White Room’ and I was on backing vocals. At first we (backing singers) weren’t initially on the song, I asked Terry if he thought we could be on it with him and he said ‘Let’s ask Mick Taylor’. Terry asked me to sing the part to Mick and he said ‘yeah ok, let’s do it’. We got on well and afterwards Terry and I kept in touch, I’m happy to say we’ve become good pals’.

Over the past year people have found lockdown pretty tough going but by keeping a positive outlook, Emma used the time sharpening her song writing.

‘I had a song ‘See You in the Morning’ and I thought Terry would sound great on it, so I sent it over and he loved it. To my surprise he asked if I had anymore and he liked ‘Nuthin’ which we worked on over facetime as he’s in California and I’m North Yorkshire. He’s totally transformed my demos by adding heart and soul – which is what he does best’.

‘I’ve loved the process of making music with Terry even though it was remotely. I hope people love the feel of the songs they are very different from each other. I think Terry’s influence on the recordings gives them such a cool feel and his vocal and playing are just sublime. I am delighted with how the songs sound’.

The single is available to download from all sites or order your physical copy from:  www.emmawilsonbluesband.bigcartel.com

or www.emmawilson.net

‘See You in the Morning’ (Wilson) Vocals – Emma Wilson & Terry Reid.

Bass, acoustic & electric guitars – Terry Reid.

Keys – Alessandro Brunetta, Drums – Graeme Robinson.

‘Nuthin’ (Wilson) Vocals – Emma Wilson.

Bass, electric guitars, drums, cabassa – Terry Reid.

Keys – Alessandro Brunetta,

Both tracks produced by Terry Reid, mixed by Larry Pederson & mastered by James Arter.

Interview by Gary Alikivi  June 2021

STUDIO WORKS with Martin Trollope, from Harbourmaster Productions

START ME UP

I’ve been involved in music since I was 6 or 7 years old when I demanded piano lessons because I was a classic younger brother, and therefore a bit jealous that my older brother was getting them. A few years later I started playing the drums and performing in bands, which was the first time I’d played with other musicians and in front of audiences.

It’s safe to say I loved it, and it really cemented my love of music, to the point that when I was offered guitar lessons as part of an A Level Music Technology course, I snapped them up and never looked back.

I can pinpoint that particular moment in time as it really changed everything, especially as I became a guitarist and song writer in a band which naturally led us needing to record our music.


We were really lucky in those days that Tyne Dock youth centre in South Shields had a rehearsal space and recording studio inside, and as young people we were able to access their services for the absolute bargain price of 50p each.

When we started recording, it was like a whole new world was opened up to me and I had to learn more, so I persuaded the manager of the centre to teach me how to use the gear and then persuaded him to give me a job. And that was it really. I was hooked.

MUSIC FOR THE MASSES

I spent as much of my time in the studio as possible, and when I wasn’t there I was recording at home trying to hone my skills as much as I could. Alongside this, my core musical values were developing and I was realising how important it is for the arts to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.

I was lucky enough to work with a range of people from experienced professionals to first time hobbyists and realised how important it is to treat everyone equally give everyone the same amount of respect regardless of their background or experiences. Which leads to now.

DOCKED & LOADED

I’ve tried to take all my beliefs, values, knowledge and experiences and bring them all together into my new recording studio which is based in Prospect House, Simonside, South Shields. I offer recording, mixing, mastering, session guitar and bass, all for £15 per hour – which is basically the cheapest price I can manage.

Again, I’m lucky that my overheads are fairly low and only have to pay myself so I’m able to offer high quality services for this affordable fee. I really put as much of myself as I can into every project and very grateful to receive amazing feedback from everyone I work with. Head to my website for more info and just get in touch if you need anything at all.

harbourmasterproductions.co.uk

Interview by Gary Alikivi   June 2021

GUARDIAN RECORDING STUDIO #7 – Battleaxe – Burn this Town

Guardian Sound Studios were based in a small village called Pity Me in County Durham, North East UK. There are various theories on the origin of the unusual name of the village – a desolate area, exposed and difficult to cultivate or a place where monks sang ‘Pity me o God’ as they were chased by the Vikings.

Whatever is behind the name it was what happened in two terraced houses over 30 years ago that is the focus of this blog – they were home to a recording studio.

From 1978 some bands who recorded in Guardian were – Neon, Deep Freeze and Mike Mason & the Little People. A year later The Pirahna Brothers recorded a 7”, 1979 saw an E.P from Mythra and releases in 1980 from Hollow Ground, Hellanbach and a compilation album, Roksnax.

From ‘82 to ‘85 bands including Red Alert, Toy Dolls, Prefab Sprout, Satan, Battleaxe and Spartan Warrior made singles or albums. On this blog there is a number of musicians who have memories of recording in Guardian including stories of a ghost of a young girl who was knocked down outside the studio.

Dave King (vocals, Battleaxe): Yeah still remember the story of the Guardian ghost sitting at the piano. Terry would say can’t you see it lads ? No was our answer (laughs). He told us to be quiet and still and then go and sit on the wall outside while the ghost was sat at the piano in the live room playing a silent tune. He would then disappear for half an hour to his other house next door. He was recently married at the time so was a young virile bloke like all of us back then (laughs).

His stories were great, he told us he had been given a guitar from Paul McCartney, and an old flying jacket of John Lennon given to him from the Beatles. Terry liked nowt like taking the piss (laughs).

I found him a really nice guy, very helpful with young and naive bands. But for recording he could never get the drum sound we were asking from him and that was with all the fantastic gear he had in there – although we did have a crap kit at the time. We never stayed overnight as some bands did cos we only lived a few miles away.

We recorded our single Burn This Town and Battleaxe in one long day and Terry took half a day to mix it. Think it cost us around £200, we all chipped in £50 quid each and Terry pressed 500 x 7 inch singles. It was an amazing feeling to have the band’s music published and out on vinyl.

Roger Lewis, a great Heavy Metal DJ pioneer at Radio Tees, was first to let rip Burn this Town over the airwaves. For some unknown reason Alan Robson from Radio Metro never took a shine to us at all, in fact blatantly slagged us off live on his Hot and Heavy Radio show.

However that single and the Burn This Town album got us a BBC Radio One session with Tommy Vance and interest from a host of other radio stations.

Read more Guardian stories here:

Guardian Recording Studio stories #4 Metal on Tyne with Mythra, Saracen & Hollow Ground | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

If anyone has any information about Guardian or recorded in the studios get in touch.

Interview by Gary Alikivi  May 2021.

CHOPPER ATTACK – with Dave King, vocalist from Durham band Battleaxe 

On 28 May 1983 two car loads of hairy teenage metallers left South Shields and travelled down the M1 to see an all-day gig at Leeds. I remember we arrived in the city and the first thing I saw was massive blue posters for the gig. For me Anvil stole the day, and a month later confirmed their metal credentials when the Canadian band supported Motorhead at Newcastle City Hall. Still got my ticket from Leeds.

Also on the bill were Twisted Sister, Girlschool, Anvil & Spider.

One of the bands playing that day were Battleaxe from the North East. Vocalist Dave King remembers the time….

We supported Saxon as special guests on their Crusader tour in 1983/4, and again at the Leeds Queens Hall Festival with Saxon, Twisted Sister, Girlschool, Anvil and more. Good old Noddy Holder from Slade was presenting the show. 

I remember after the show Dee Snyder and Mark Mendoza from Twisted Sister came on board the Battleaxe bus to have a look around and thought it was fantastic. They saw a large cooking pan in the compartment under the stairs and asked what it was for. Brian the bass player told them it was for making vegetable broths in the kitchen on the bus cos we don’t wanna get scurvy on tour – that’s the god damned truth. We really did stop off near farmer’s fields to dig out potatoes, cabbages and carrots to make food on the tour bus – it saved us a fortune (laughs).

In 1981 the King family from Sunderland were restoring an old empty pub they owned called The Albert Inn, in Shotton Colliery, Durham. A local band called Warrior, not to be confused with the NWOBHM band from Newcastle, used to rehearse in the ground floor room of the pub. A young Dave King was roadie and driver for the band. When Warrior broke up there was a vacancy for a singer, and Dave hoys his hat in the ring – after an audition, he gets the job.

The band changed the name and Battleaxe was born. With help from Dave’s father Derek and promotion manager Rob Stuart, within a year Battleaxe had signed a deal with Roadrunner Records and Music for Nations, plus Tommy Vance invited the band to record a session on Radio One’s Friday Night Rock show.

Dave takes up the story…..

BATTLE BUS

The first gig Battleaxe performed was Heighington Village Hall in Bishop Auckland in 1981, then we played venues like Thirsk Town Hall, Spennymoor Recreation, Country club in Saltburn and Leeds polytechnic. Sunderland Mayfair is probably the best gig we played back then and the only time we ever got paid to cover the costs of the massive show we carried with us.

Back then we used a double decker bus to travel about in. A week before the Radio One session with Tommy Vance we had bought the bus and I remember parking up in BBC Maida Vale studio car park with ten of us on board – and all the p.a. plus backline equipment loaded on because at the time we were doing a UK tour with Madame X (American hard rock band).

The bus had accommodation upstairs with the stage gear down stairs. We carried an 8k rig with loads of lights, pyros, smoke machine, the lot. Plus a four stack Marshall wall and a two stack Trace Elliot bass rig for Hardies and Brian’s backline, with full double drum kit and riser for Ian.

Unbeknown to us the bus was actually a classic from the Ribble coach company on a Leyland chassis. One of the first double decker bus models to have the front cabin built over the engine creating a flat front like all double decker buses are now. We sold it to Leeds Bus Preservation Society and I’ve been told it’s now in a museum somewhere.

‘Burn This Town’ album cover.

BURN THIS TOWN

Our first recording was in Guardian Studios in a village called Pity Me, County Durham. Terry Gavaghan was the producer and owner of the studio. We recorded two tracks – Burn This Town and Battleaxe. We self-released them on a single on the Guardian record label.

500 units were pressed which are now very rare and quite valuable in record collectors guides. The quality of the tracks were very basic but they got us a deal with Roadrunner Records and we recorded an album for them called, Burn This Town.

I remember we were sent the contract to sign at our base in Kensington Hall in Sunderland. The original member’s were me, Brian Smith (bass) Steve Hardy (guitar) and Ian Thompson drums. A year after recording Burn This Town in Guardian studio, Ian was attacked by a thug and obtained a serious injury. He couldn’t carry on so Ian McCormack came in who recorded the next album with us.

SO BAD IT’S GOOD

Cees Wessels, the record company boss, asked us what we wanted for the art work on the album cover. We had a friend and local artist called Arthur Ball who come up with a basic idea of a biker on his motorbike wielding an axe with a town in the back ground burning down – it looked like Sunderland (laughs). We sent that off in the mail to head office at Roadrunner in Holland.

You’ve got to remember there was no internet or social media at that time and things took a bit longer to arrange. We waited weeks and really needed to know from Cees Wessels what his thoughts were on the idea that Arthur had come up with.

Two months later the album was released worldwide, we couldn’t believe they had gone and used the draft cover idea as the finished art work. Since then there has been constant comments in media articles as it being one of the worst Heavy Metal album covers – ever.

Yet even today after 39 years, metal fans and journalists are still talking about it. Personally, it’s worked out as a marketing marvel. Over the years the Burn This Town cover has had a face lift four times and we are very happy with the latest upgrade drawn by Louise Limb. 

AUTUMN ATTACK

Now we are really looking forward to getting out on tour and the Halloween date in Newcastle, but more so the release of our fourth album Rezonator. We have a great new set of songs for the upcoming October dates including many from our back catalogue. It shouldn’t be too long now before the new material gets to be heard as tasters before the big release.

We really hope some of the metal followers and Battleaxe fans reading this can get out and see us play in October, we are looking forward to seeing some of your there.

Battleaxe are: Dave King (vocals) Brian Smith (bass) Mick Percy (guitar) & session drummer from Colombia Mauricio Chamucero (drums).

Interview by Gary Alikivi  May 2021

BIRDWATCHING with singer & songwriter Amateur Ornithologist

On the same dial as Wire, Teardrop Explodes and Belle and Sebastian, singer & songwriter Amateur Ornithologist is releasing a ten track debut album Birdwatching on 16 June 2021. During this past troubled year, the man behind the mask North East artist Daniel J Clifford, found solace watching birds from his window while writing songs.

I’ve had the name Amateur Ornithologist for about five or six years. I used to make comic books and did one that featured lots of bird-influenced superheroes. That meant I had to do loads of research and, at the time knew loads about different birds. Most of that knowledge has gone now but I still find solace in hearing birdsong and seeing the almost-animatronic movements of birds. So it fit.

I also like the combination of words that mean someone studious and a bit unprofessional. Because I think that sums me up very nicely – rough around the edges.

I started writing songs when looking out onto a telephone wire that birds would sit on. They nested in the eaves of the house so would fly back and forth all day. I couldn’t help but watch them really. And magpies often seem to approach me. I’m sure they do with everyone but I like to think I have a connection with them. One jumped on the windowsill and we locked eyes for a few seconds. I love things like that.

BIRDS FLY OVER ME

My first single Birds Fly Over Me is like a mission statement. It’s a sunny pop song about love, hope and confidence. But doesn’t shy away from all the doubts, fear and self-reflection that you have to go through to get there. I come up with titles first a lot of the time. I had that one a little while until the tune and lyrics for the chorus came. It’s a positive phrase and that’s where it all started, but I can’t help being aware of everything else.

I think it would fit perfectly on a BBC radio 6 music show, one that Andrew Collins would be hosting about 15 years ago. You’d have a paper review with Richard Herring first and then The Wedding Present blaring out afterwards.

BIRDWATCHING

I started writing Birdwatching around June 2020 and finished in January or February this year, it was recorded in a few places. My oldest friend, Harbourmaster, produced the album so we recorded all lead vocals, and he recorded bass, guitar and handclap parts at his recording studio in Simonside, South Shields.

Matt Hardy recorded drums and percussion at his London studio before moving to Bristol where he recorded a couple of tracks at J&J Studio which is owned by Portishead’s bass player. Brass was recorded by Lee Morris at Harbourmaster’s studio too. This was the last thing we recorded – I got a job and the budget went up on the album. But Lee works so brilliantly and quickly that it didn’t end up costing much anyway.

A lot of backing vocals were recorded at home, with a few bits done at my girlfriend’s house. I wanted to limit the amount of time I was there to be as safe as possible. Luckily Harbourmaster is doing things right – hand sanitiser, wipes, masks, fogging machines and distanced at all times.

Cover art photography by Jenny Rohde, design by Kylie Ann Ford.

CHORDS & MELODIES

Most of the songs came fairly quickly – but those were the ones that worked. There were a fair few that I started and realised weren’t going anywhere. Even when the chords and melodies were written, some of the lyrics took a long time.

A song like Dead Man Begged went through lots of drafts and directions with the words. Then it clicked. Bird imagery always gave me something to cling to and work with.

Then there’s Simple Things. The melody, chords and words came quite quickly. But the arrangement took a long time. At one point it was going to just be synths and drum machines. But as I made it simpler and simpler, it got better. Which is apt for a song called Simple Things.

Even when we thought some songs were finished, I would have new ideas. The song Matters I Know Matter To No One was done and then I had this idea for an outro guitar that Harbourmaster made really sing. Then there were other songs that he would suggest a new harmony vocal for too.

FRAME OF MIND

I’ve probably gone about this the wrong way, coming right out of the gates with an album, so I’m not expecting to set the world alight or anything. At the same time, I’m very proud of the album and think it captures my frame of mind. I’ve achieved what I was going for musically too.

I just hope people enjoy Birdwatching and it’s a good starting point for me to build on. I’m definitely going to focus on some singles and EPs before doing a second album. In terms of gigs, I want to put together a band and play live when it’s safe – although I need to find the right people first.


Check out Amateur Ornothologist and pre-order Birdwatching on bandcamp at:  https://amateurornithologist.bandcamp.com

Interview by Gary Alikivi  May 2021.

TV DINNERS – with Nev Atkinson from Punishment of Luxury

It’s over a year since Nev featured on this blog where he told great stories about signing record deals, Radio One sessions, London, Amsterdam, Berlin gigs, and playing Leeds with Joy Division and Public Image Limited – all with Newcastle based post punk band Punishment of Luxury.

Later there is news of new creative adventures from Punilux, but first, Nev invites us to tune in….

The first Punilux album The Laughing Academy, will be unfolded during a SKY Arts programme on Friday 14th May at 9pm courtesy of musician Matt Deighton (Mother Earth, Paul Weller). The programme is dedicated to Matt’s exceptional creative journey, and once again he shows his support and love of the band, by mentioning Punishment of Luxury in a short excerpt of his musical inspirations.

Matt Deighton.

BABY DON’T JUMP

I first communicated with Matt a couple of years ago on the Punishment of Luxury Fans Facebook page when I responded to his question about lyrics to ‘Baby Don’t Jump’. It was an interesting question and it was then that I discovered Matt is a gifted writer, musician and performer with a notable history with his band Mother Earth, along with collaborations with Oasis and Paul Weller.  

He asked me if the band would like to release all of their material in a compilation, so after a band chat we all decided it was a great idea, so he arranged a meeting with Cherry Red, hence the Puppet Life box set so a big thank you Matt.

In time Matt shared his work, CDs and vinyl’s with me which in turn encouraged me to look again at some of my own approaches to music resulting in the revisiting of guitar tunings and to the creation of a new collection of acoustic excursions. This inspired period also prompted me to return to work and develop some of my contemporary musical and media writing, embodied within stories, some of which I aim to complete and reveal this year.

The debut Punishment of Luxury album, Laughing Academy.

DIGITAL DECAY

During all of this creative inferno I received an unpleasant dose of digital decay which resulted in the loss of a large part of that music which I planned to share with the band in hope of contributing to the release of a new album.

Thankfully I am an old school practitioner and print off all my words and practice almost every day so I can recall much of the work. Brian Bond (vocals/keys) and Jimmy Giro (bass) have been busy too and shared some of their songs, and I have applied the Brain Bomb methodology to one of them. Fortunately I captured this on my phone but lost all of the other additions.

One song about A message and an Alien – territorial rather than terrestrial, survived, and as Brian and I used to share lead vocal on songs such as All White Jack and Metropolis, this one I envisage could help revisit our strength with new vitality and topical relevance.

NEW ENERGY

However, we have all been separated for a while now, and I think the band always work best while meeting face to face and sharing ideas, where the best songs can be tested, rehearsed and then gigged, because for me, this is where the fun and energy lives.

There is much to do, ponder and hope for in the near future and we will share and keep you updated on the band web and Facebook pages.

Matt Deighton – Overshadowed on Sky Arts is on Friday 14th May 9pm.

Check out previous Punishment of Luxury interviews:

FUNK OFF – The Punishment of Luxury & further tales of musical adventures. | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

FROM NEWCASTLE WITH LOVE part 3/4 with actor & musician Brian Rapkin | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Gary Alikivi  May 2021.

SHINE A LIGHT – Snapshot of Stockton born singer & songwriter Lesley Duncan (1943-2010)

Previous Snapshot posts have featured North East musicians linked to international artists. South Shields born Kathy Stobbart on a festival bill with Radiohead, also from Shields, Jack Brymer, and his day in the studio with The Beatles recording A Day in the Life, plus Newcastle born Animal bassist Chas Chandler, who managed Jimi Hendrix and Slade.

This post focuses on another North East musician linked to three of the biggest names in music today – Elton John, David Bowie and Pink Floyd.

Lesley Duncan was born 12 August 1943, by her teenage years she had travelled down to London with her brother Jimmy to work in the music business. Jimmy went on to achieve production and song writing credits including recording South Shields band The Answer who feature in the previous post with Vincent Edwards.

In 1964 Jimmy wrote Rosalyn, the first Pretty Things single, reaching #41 in the UK charts. The track was covered by David Bowie, appearing on his 1973 album Pin Ups.

The first London stop for Lesley was working in a cafe, then taking her songs to record companies – EMI recognised potential and gave her a contract. She wrote songs for a number of performers including The Walker brothers.

Her big break came with her track, Love Song. Elton John picked it up for his album Tumbleweed Connection in 1970 and Duncan provided backing vocals on the record produced by Gus Dudgeon. The song went on to live a new life being covered by many artists including David Bowie, Barry White and Olivia Newton-John.

Through the ‘70s she released singles in the UK and USA with a number of record companies notably CBS, Mercury and Parlophone. On some of her records backing vocals were provided by Dusty Springfield – in return for featuring on her records.

Lesley was still in great demand as a session singer and provided backing vocals for Pink Floyd on their 1973 multi-million selling album Dark Side of the Moon.

Worth checking out is Lesley’s 1971 appearance on the BBC Old Grey Whistle Test, singer & songwriters playing Chain of Love.

Summer ’73  she was in America opening for Daryl Hall & John Oates at the Roxy in California, and featured on the Reading Festival weekend bill including Rory Gallagher, The Faces, Steve Harley, Status Quo and from the North East – Lindisfarne and Beckett. Lesley played on the Sunday with headliners Genesis.

Duncan also released several critically acclaimed albums, despite radio play failed to break through to any commercial success, and suffered from low sales. She continued providing backing vocal for a number of British artists including Donovan, Kiki Dee and Ringo Starr. She can even be heard in the chorus on the Jesus Christ Superstar album.

In 1976 Lesley signed to MCA in America and played a short tour there releasing the album Moon Bathing, which again featured Elton John on piano.

Duncan appeared on a 1979 album by the Alan Parsons Project where she sang If I Could Change Your Mind. Parsons being the engineer on the earlier mentioned Pink Floyds album Dark Side of the Moon, Lesley added her voice to Time, Eclipse and Brain Damage.

By the ‘80s Lesley had retired from the music business and was content living a more private life, she moved to Cornwall then finally the Isle of Mull in Scotland. As for her albums, the original masters were lost in a fire, but copies have been found and re-releases are now available.

Sadly after a long illness Lesley Duncan died on 12 March 2010.

Links to previous Snapshots:

BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND – snapshot of musician & teacher Jack Brymer (1915–2003) | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

ALL THAT JAZZ – snapshot from the life of professional musician Kathy Stobart (1925 – 2014). | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

HOME NEWCASTLE – snapshot from the life of musician, manager and record producer Chas Chandler 1938-96. | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Gary Alikivi  May 2021.

SOUL TRAIN – with South Shields born singer & songwriter Vincent Edwards

From his home in Germany, singer &  songwriter Vincent Edwards has been looking back at his 1970’s chart pop singles. Recent posts have featured stories behind Right Back Where We Started From, Love Hit Me and Run for the Sun. European audiences have been kind to Edwards with many re-releases of his records in Belgium, Italy and Germany.

Edwards was born and brought up in the seaside town of South Shields in the North East of England. After hearing Sam Cooke on the radio he knew what he wanted to do with his life and went for an audition at a youth club to be a singer.

I was in a band called The Invictors, who were a Shields band, and they evolved into The Answers where I played drums and was singer. We played a lot of soul and blues, our lead guitarist Tony Hill wrote the songs. We learnt our trade working on American military bases in France, that was around ’63 to ’66. We played a lot around the UK including London and getting over to Paris, plus Shields of course.

We were living in London and recorded two records for Columbia records in the UK. Just a Fear was recorded at Central Studios in London, it was heavily played on the pirate stations in 1966. The second single That’s What You’re Doing to Me, was recorded in a studio in Putney, South London. It’s a bit softer than the first and again it was played a lot on pirate radio. We recorded both in three hours including the b sides. Our record producer was Jimmy Duncan, the brother of late singer Leslie Duncan.

Stockton born Leslie Duncan’s most notable work was during the 1970’s when she performed backing vocals or wrote songs for musicians including Elton John, Dusty Springfield, Scott Walker and Pink Floyd. The next post will look at the music career of Duncan more closely.

At the time we were managed by Tony Stratton-Smith who was also looking after The Kubers and Creation. As for promotion I can’t remember any TV then, that came later.

A former sports journalist, Tony Stratton-Smith is best known as founder of independent label Charisma Records in 1969. He released records by The Nice, Lindisfarne, Genesis, and Monty Python’s comedy albums.

Vincent Edwards.

Eventually we drifted apart but stayed good friends. Tony is living in south London playing in a band called Friction. Our bass player Bob Calder who became sound engineer for the musical Hair, sadly he’s passed away. I’ve lost touch with Ron our second guitarist. I’m still writing and a track I wrote, Soul Train, you never know somebody might record it.

‘Just a Fear’  (link below) has been called a ‘bona fide freakbeat classic with incisive, driving raga-like fretwork from Tony Hill, it’s a dance floor stomper, pounding drums and frenetic finish with soulful vocals from Vincent Edwards’.

The Answers – It’s Just A Fear – 1966 45rpm – YouTube

Interview from August 2020: BACK WHERE HE STARTED FROM with singer & songwriter Vinny Edwards | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Interview by Gary Alikivi  May 2021.

LOVE HIT ME – with South Shields born singer & songwriter Vincent Edwards

Over a steaming hot curry Vincent Edwards recalls his days back in South Shields nipping along Ocean Road to get fish and chips at Colmans.

Yes I really miss them, I was brought up nearby in Shortridge Street and used to play in the Marine Park and the beach.

Edwards featured in August 2020 talking about his music career and living in Germany. In the last post he added another story about his European chart single Run to the Sun. In this post he talks about another European chart hit – Love Hit Me, and it’s extra life with British soul singer Maxine Nightingale.

I wrote the song in 1975 in London for my beautiful late wife Angel Uschi when we lived there. It was recorded and produced at Pye Studios in London. Later I sent it over to Maxine Nightingale who I shared a stage with in the musical Hair, she also sang my top UK hit Right Back Where We Started From, and done a great job. Again she recorded a great version of Love Hit Me for release in America.

It was out in ’76 and charted all over Europe. There was a load of promo slots on TV shows in the UK and around Europe where I had hits in most countries as did darling Maxine.

In 1977, with a Top of the Pops appearance, Maxine took the song to #11 in the UK charts. It was also released in Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The video (link below) of the live TV appearance was a few years ago in Ostend, Belgium, I think it was number one at the time. Paul Young was also on the show, we had a few beers after.

You Tube link to TV show:

LOVE HIT ME – J. VINCENT EDWARDS – YouTube

Interview from August 2020: BACK WHERE HE STARTED FROM with singer & songwriter Vinny Edwards | ALIKIVI (garyalikivi.com)

Chart information from Discogs.

Interview by Gary Alikivi  May 2021.