Groovy Uncle is the brainchild of Medway based songwriter Glenn Prangnell. The project began around the dawning of the new millennium when Glenn found himself at a loose end, creatively. His previous band, Goodchilde had recently disbanded after five or so years of gigging and recording and while the other members were busy working with a number of projects, Glenn had an empty diary. Songwriting had always been his top priority so he carried on doing exactly that for the next few years until, in the mid Noughties, the world hit the My Space age and with this in mind he uploaded some of his home recordings of brand new songs to the site with no plan to record or release anything ‘properly’. But fate had other plans…
A number of encouraging comments regarding the new material were gratefully received, not least from drummer and author Ian Snowball who gave Glenn the tip off about the existence of a small recording studio/label called State Records, based in Sandgate on the south coast. Insisting “they’d love your stuff”, Ian suggested a trip to the seaside would be a good idea. So, sometime during the latter half of 2009, Glenn and Ian met up with Marty Ratcliffe and Mole Lambert at the studio and a recording date was set to record what would prove to be the very first Groovy Uncle release- the vinyl only 45rpm Monkey Trousers / Now Your Pain Is Over . Glenn got together his first line-up of buddies, pals and to play on the session- Paul Moss on bass, Ian Snowball on drums and Ben Jones on lead guitar while Glenn played rhythm guitar (oh, and kazoo!). The session took place in October 2009 and was released in March the following year on the State Records label and effectively kick started Glenn’s ‘comeback’. This was a pleasant but definitely unexpected return.
Having enjoyed the analogue recording experience by the sea, Glenn wanted to go back to record some more songs and Mole suggested recording an album which State Records would be happy to release. The original line up was used for some of the tracks, though Mole (drums), Marty (guitar/sitar) and former Prisoner Allan Crockford (bass) also contribute to what was not only the first GU album but also the first LP to be released on the State Records label. Play Something We Know! saw the light of day in March 2011 and kick started Glenn’s ‘comeback’.
Having enjoyed the experience of making records with a ‘hand picked’ line up that was never going to be a ‘set in stone’ band (everyone had a too many other commitments), Glenn decided to crack right on to the second album. Not exactly sure how it would pan out, Glenn was adamant about one thing- the follow up was not going to be “more of the same” – “I really didn’t want it to be Play Something We Know! Part 2 “ he said. There were a couple of songs in particular that didn’t make it on to the first album because they were deemed more suitable for a female vocalist but were too good to lose so that’s when Glenn decided to ask Cardiff based funk/soul ’singist’ Suzi Chunk if she’d like to record them as well as some backing vocals on the rest of the tracks. Glenn had met Suzi via My Space and by the time work had started on the second album, they’d already known each other for four years. Suzi agreed to travel to Kent to record lead vocals on 4 songs initially (No Stone Unturned, Probably Normal, I Can’t Stop the Rain and Big Screen ) but it soon became obvious to all that the whole album should feature Suzi on lead vox. So the 2nd Groovy Uncle album was Suzi’s debut solo LP – thus killing two birds with one stone unturned! A single was also put out- Look Back And Laugh
with the exclusive, non album B-side Tripwire. Both cuts are covers of two Prangnell compositions from his days with Medway Garage band The Kravin’ A’s. The single featured the blinding guitar work of Bruce Brand was released in 2012 on red vinyl. The single was well received by BBC6 Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie. The album, Girl From The Neck Down was released in September 2012 on vinyl.
Since then, the Groovy Uncle Project has gone from strength to strength with many fine and dedicated musicians contributing to the recordings but always featuring Glenn and Suzi (or Unc’n’Chunk as they’re affectionately known). Album number 3, One Vowel Away From The Truth (2013) was the first to be released on their own label Trouserphonic Records (CD only). The cover artwork by Darryl Hartley and Bruce Brand captures the band in caricature form. As Glenn says, “There has never been a set in stone band and we rarely gig. There’s no live act. I’ve always seen us as a cartoon band like The Archies, so a cartoon album sleeve was perfect!”
In 2014 another single on the State Records label was released. Barefoot In The Car Park (‘from the forthcoming album Persuaded’) became a favourite of Little Steven’s Underground Garage and was billed on the station as Steven Van Zandt’s ’Song Of The Summer’. October that year saw the release of the “imaginary film soundtrack” album Persuaded which introduced the glamorous and mysterious Miss Modus on vocals. Both album and single were recorded at Ranscombe Studios after a serious flooding at State put paid to any chance of recording there. Released in October on Trouserphonic.
Next up, Life’s A Gift. Back to Jim Riley’s Ranscomebe Studios for this one and Darryl Hartley’s updated cartoon artwork for this CD only release
Got Up And Gone/Find The Morning was the only release this year and the first single to appear on the Trouserphonic label. Suzi on lead vocals. Orange vinyl only.
An interview with Glenn Prangnell, the brains behind Groovy Uncle. Thanks to the Pausenbrot Cafe, Rochester, for agreeing (at incredibly short notice) to us filming there.
Part two of my interview with the grooviest of uncles, Glenn Prangnell. Press play to learn more about collaborations with Suzi Chunk, Miss Modus, Bruce Brand and many others.
At time of writing, Groovy Uncle are about to launch their 6th album, A Clip Round The Ear on green vinyl and CD. Watch out for updates!