As my upcoming debut album is all mixed and ready to be mastered and then released in early 2013, I thought I'd give you a flavour of where these 15 tracks come from and what they mean to me.
“A lyric that dates back over 10 years but the tune & arrangement only got put together just before recording started in February. I think it was originally intended to be a ballad, but I got an idea to go for something more gutsy and Journey-like…and hey presto – a corking opener! Alex (Cooper-producer) takes all the credit for pushing me to play the harmony guitar part where there was only a single solo part to my mind at first. It’s a great introduction to the quality of Lee’s vocals too. That’s me on everything else by the way, as with most of the record.
SHE’S FROM A DIFFERENT SOLAR SYSTEM
“A song that Shotgun Wedding originally recorded back in 1994 at The Bunker studios in the band’s last incarnation just before we split, so this was rarely if ever played live. Always loved the punchy main riff and the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. No guitar solo either – that raised some eyebrows back in the day I can tell you!”
“A feel-good up tempo slice of pop/rock. A few fiddly little riffs here and there like the one that goes into the chorus (I just cannot help myself sometimes-love a riff!) but to me it’s a simple, straightforward & catchy 3-minute song. Lee again sends the song to a different level with the soul in his voice. One of my favourite guitar players is Keith Scott who’s toured with Bryan Adams for many years – my solo is a huge nod to his melodic approach and phrasing”
STRONGER THAN THAT
“This is one of my personal favourites originally written in 1996, with a 1st verse about a girlfriend who worked out quite quickly that she was the subject matter. We didn’t last much longer after she deduced that. We really went to town on the backing vocals here in the chorus to complement Lee’s main vocal, and the song just soars at that point for me.
PROVE YOU WRONG
“One of my 3 attempts at a lead vocal on the album, and a tune that again was originally written as a slow song, despite the angry tone of the lyric. My love for Foo Fighters made me change it up a gear or two. Like Cloud 9, Overflow, Has-Been, Cried Tonight, Brilliant and Soulmate, this song has never been performed live by a band before now.
“The guys in my touring band and others who’ve heard the rough mixes of this project like this tune best of all, whilst it wasn’t quite so to my mind. Still love it, of course. I think the main riff is a bit Love Her All I Can (KISS) mixed with I Can’t Explain (The Who) and a bit of Manics thrown in before the chorus goes all lush and Cheap Trick on you. Again, there’s no guitar solo. It’s the future-revolutionary stuff folks.
STAY IN MY HEART
“The oldest song on the album – dates back to 1987 and the 1st true love song I wrote i.e. one where I was actually in love at the time and knowing deep down that the relationship wouldn’t last. I re-arranged it and updated the lyrics as the originals were well meant but very clunky and 6th form. The nice thing about this version is that Keith Laurent, my best mate who was in the band (Dangerous Games) that originally demoed this in early ’88, plays the guitar solo on this version too – re-creating the same brilliant solo he wrote 25 years ago. He demanded to play on it really, so I had no choice! Lee, again, sings so amazingly here – chills up the spine”
FORGET ABOUT ME
“Something slightly different here – bluesy, funky little number that I wrote for Shotgun Wedding back in early ’91 – demoed twice since then, but never to my satisfaction. But then band demos rarely are satisfying when you try and record 4 songs in one day that you don’t fully know yet. That’s my older brother Phil on equally funky lead guitar, blurring the line between rock and jazz noodlings at one point. I let him off.
I’LL DRAG YOU DOWN
“Think this was the first song we cut on drums. Alex takes all the plaudits for being so patient with every song as I laid down a drum track alone and then built up the song with bass and guitars like here. The lyric is very dark and angry, from a time where I was being physically threatened and not taking too kindly to it. Guitar solo comes courtesy of my friend Gregg Platt Lake who I had the pleasure of playing alongside in Dizzy Lizzy.
I CRIED TONIGHT
“Another sensitive moment. And another great showcase of Lee’s pipes – there’s a wee bit of a Toto feel about this one I’m told – presumably they don’t mean the drumming haha!! My guitar solo this time – always try and play tuneful solos…mainly because I can’t play that fast. Basically, anything I felt I couldn’t do justice to, either as a lead guitarist or lead vocalist I didn’t touch and left it to Lee or other players. Compared to my original demo of this, for example, Lee’s vocal is light years beyond my tuneful but soulless attempt.
I’LL GET AROUND TO IT
“I brought this singalong tune from Shotgun Wedding through to my Sons Of God days in 1994-96. This was the only song I had in my SGW armoury that fitted into the Sons Of God set list. This is based on the refined version with a cracking re-written guitar part under the solo by SOG axeman Nailz– this one had originally been intended for Danny Lee James from Dressed To Kill to play on as it’s such a KISS-like tune, but schedules didn’t line up, more’s the pity, so college buddy Richard Oxland stepped up instead and delivered a fine fine solo…”
WHISKEY IN A WINE GLASS
“A real sleazy/glammy kind of tune from Shotgun days again. This time round, however, I wanted some slide guitar – enter Gary Morris, my old compadre from Musical Exchanges guitar shop in Brum, who put down a fabulous solo in next to no time. Alex made some great changes to the original arrangement prior to recording. He wasn’t shy about telling me what worked and what didn’t in pre-production…and he was on the money with every change suggested.
“Sons Of God did record this track in 1996 but it never got played live and in truth it was only half finished, both in arrangement and lyrics. I set about re-writing the bridge which Nailz had worked on and filling in the lyrical gaps that singer Mikey helped out with at first, before recording a drum part here that was much more hard-hitting than the original…a bit like Supercharger Heaven by White Zombie meets The Wildhearts. The heaviest song on the album by a mile – Richard Oxland plays a suitably manic solo to match the brooding subject matter.
“Another Shotgun Wedding song from the early 90’s that made it to demo stage via Rich Bitch studios, but was nowhere near what we wanted as a band in terms of how it turned out. To say that I’m happier with this power ballad now would be a bit of an understatement! Gregg on lead guitar again there…”
I WANNA BE A HAS-BEEN
“I remember at the old guitar shop one day, Dave Hill from Slade came in to try out some amps. He was quite an exacting customer and was no different on this day. A young lad stood with us at the counter said something like ‘Dave Hill? Isn’t he a bit of a has-been?’ Quick as a flash, Gary Morris retorted ‘Better a has-been than a never was-a…’ Fantastic comeback, and it stuck in my head as I wrote a song about my disappointment over record label rejection after rejection. I wanted Simon Cowell to do the spoken word bit, but he’d have been a tad pricy…and I’d have probably wanted to just put one on him anyway. Another of the 2 tracks where I play and sing the lot, along with Prove You Wrong”