It’s hard for me to stay out of recording studios for too long.
Tom Ross and I have been in creative mood once again, joining forces as The Bluenose Brothers to make an assault on the download charts (and your eardrums) with our new releases; a updated version of “Keep Right On” and a new Danter composition entitled “On Our Way” to commemorate Birmingham City’s upcoming trip to Wembley for the Carling/Milk/Rumbelows/Littlewoods final thingy.
Tom was my boss at BRMB Sport in the early part of the noughties when I was both a football commentator and a drivetime show host for the station, and we first collaborated musically on ‘Singing The Blues’, the old Guy Mitchell hit that Blues fans had been singing on the Tilton & the Kop for a while. Tom & I agreed that there hadn’t been a Blues song released for ages and that this was the perfect time. So I enlisted the help of my good friend Ron Rogers to help put things together.
Ron is best known as the guitarist/songwriter in T’Pau, who achieved massive success on both sides of the Atlantic with the singles ‘Heart & Soul’ and ‘China In Your Hand’ in the 80’s. A quiet, likeable fellow, Ron had taken up residence in Monmouth after the band split, and I’d met him through my association with Sons Of God, the Welsh glamsters with whom I played in the mid 90’s. He’d produced pretty much all the band demos we did (and my ’98 solo stuff too) at his home studio with brilliant results every time. He was the perfect choice.
Tom always claims (and still does) that he’s the ‘Andrew Ridgley’ of the band, but the truth is that his input is critical. He may not be as musical as he’d like to be, but he has an innate understanding about what it takes to put a song together lyrically and what the fans would like to hear sung in terms of emotion and feeling. This was the case with ‘Singing The Blues’ onwards and whilst he perfected the words, I got on with recording all the instruments to the best of my ability. It sounded a bit like Status Quo meets The Wombles meets Chas & Dave in a dark alley - as all our subsequent releases seem to have sounded apparently. Nothing like consistency, I say.
The song turned out fabulously well – better than Tom and I could’ve imagined – and to our delight it sold in the region of 5000 copies in the club shop (this was the pre-download era!) which in turn raised loads for Acorns children’s hospice. It’s still played pre-match at St Andrew’s ten years on, which is a huge thrill for both of us.
Our next effort didn’t quite hit the motherlode – the ‘difficult second single’ if you will. The idea was to rewrite the lyrics to a fast paced samba style song that Rod Stewart had recorded for the Scotland 1978 World Cup squad called ‘Ole Ola’. Best of intentions and all that, but the recording (done at Rich Bitch studios in Brum) wasn’t quite as tidy as the job Ron had done the year before, and I still haven’t bothered to check how many copies it sold – think Tom and I would be happy with double figures! It was our ‘Music From The Elder’ moment to use a KISS analogy.
What Tom & I needed therefore was a ‘Creatures Of the Night’ moment to rediscover our form. We had to wait a while for the opportunity to present itself, but the constant yo-yoing between Premier League & Championship that Blues struggled with during the noughties gave us our next inspiration. After Steve Bruce had successfully taken Blues back to the top flight at the first attempt following relegation the previous year, Tom & I thought a re-working of an ELO song would be perfect. After all, ELO’s Jeff Lynne had written “Mr Blue Sky’ as an apparent ode to the might of Trevor Francis in a Blues shirt.
We didn’t choose that song to copy, though. Too blooming complicated. Instead it was “Don’t Bring Me Down’ that got the Bluenose Brothers treatment, becoming ‘Can’t Keep Us Down’ after a clever lyrical shift. We were back on form, and Top Of the Pops seemed within touching distance.
Then 2 things happened. First, the BBC scrapped TOTP…and then the single’s artwork, featuring Steve Bruce on the cover, was rendered useless following his sacking in late 2007. Oh dear. The club shop were never going to stock it now once Alex McLeish took over not long after, and yet another quality product disappeared under the radar. In my opinion, naturally.
And so to now and our bold bid to record not one but TWO new songs as our beloved boys head for Wembley for the first time in over 50 years in a MAJOR cup final. Yes, we’ve had John Gayle’s overhead kick and Paul Tait’s T-shirt in the 90’s there, but the chance to win and go into the Europa League next year is massive. Thus ‘We’re getting the band back together’…
We recorded this time at Alex Cooper’s excellent Arkham Studios in the centre of Brum – part of the sprawling Madhouse rehearsal studios and Asylum live venue complex run with such dedication by my former bandmate Roy Davis and his wife Jaci. And this time the signs are good. Download rates look healthy and the song will be available in the club shop prior to Wembley. Win the damn thing and the songs may take on a life of their own – ‘On Our Way’ to Thursday nights on Channel 5 for example?? :o))
Just a word to the wise that you can download these 2 new songs all Bluenose Brothers stuff via iTunes. Enter ‘Bluenose Brothers’ in the search engine there and you’ll get the list.
And don’t worry – there’s no plans for Tom & I to tour…!!