Big Screen

The song that triggered the concept of the Suzi Chunk album “Girl From The Neck Down” was one that seemed to come out of nowhere. “Big Screen” matches a melancholy tune with downcast lyrics that evoke a bleak night out in Everytown where boys will be boys and girls “reserve their right to sup”. Every bar in Everytown has a big screen that spikes the alcohol with high definition tragedy, schadenfreude and football to a relentless 120 bpm. All are having fun on the dark side of the rainbow. Well, I hope they are…

Big Screen

Tomorrow may not be the day
You’ll hear me say let’s fly away
But I hope it is

A better life is far behind
These narrow streets and cobbled minds
Well I hope it is

Why does this self defense seem like attack?
How many paces forward take me back- again?
I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life
While they’re looking at the Big Screen every night
I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life
I’ve been looking at the Big Screen.

Tomorrow night the boys go out
To large it up and lark about
Like they always do

The girls reserve their right to sup
Like men they pale then throw it up
Cos they wanted to

Many’s the time I’ve watched this play unfold
Many’s the time I’ve thought they should be told- again

I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life
While they’re looking at the Big Screen every night  
I’ve been looking at the Big Screen all my life
I’ve been looking at the Big Screen.

Words and music by Glenn Prangnell (Copyright Control 2012)
From the album “Girl From The Neck Down” by Suzi Chunk

 

Play Something We Know!

If the concept behind the Suzi Chunk album “Girl From The Neck Down” was “to make the kind of record they don’t make anymore”, then the first Groovy Uncle LP certainly had its own agenda. It’s noticeable these days how obsessed with nostalgia people have become, particularly with regard to music- tribute bands, karaoke, X-Factor cover versions, ill advised reunions- and just about anyone who has ever written and performed their own original compositions will at some point have heard the the tiresome, drunken cry from the back of the room – “Play something we know!” I’ve always found this request both irritating and baffling. Why would anyone NOT want to hear something new? Surely there are only a limited number of times a man (or woman) can tolerate yet another rendition of “Mustang Sally” or “Wonderful Tonight” before the urge becomes too great and he (or she) gauges his (or her) own eyeballs out?

I’ve often thought that one of the key factors behind the massive popularity of Mancunian magpies Oasis rests in Noel Gallagher’s ability to write brand new tunes their audience already knows. Make ’em big, bold, strident,catchy but most of all familiar-something we can all identify with and sing along. So when it came to putting together a debut album for Groovy Uncle (the first on the State Records label) I knew what I wanted to achieve and didn’t have to think too long about the title – “Play Something We Know!”.

The opening track is a song I’d written back in the 90’s and had already recorded a demo of it with the band I was in at the time, Johnny and The Bandits (who later morphed into Goodchilde). The track was never released and remained on a cassette tape gathering dust but I’d always been rather fond of the song and knew it would sit nicely on PSWK. Inspired by the Tony Hatch song “Call Me” (with a nod to  “Never Ever” by The Action), “Count On Me” is a straight ahead, reassuring feel good song that sets the tone for the rest of the album. The line-up for this track: Ben Jones, Paul Moss, Mole, Glenn Prangnell.

 

Girl From The Neck Down – Part 3

In 1967 George Harrison attended a lecture on Transcendental Meditation given by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Hilton Hotel, London. Backstage the two met for the first time and with a typical display of ice breaking irreverence, the Beatle asked the giggling guru: “Got Any Mantras?” 

That always sounded like a song title to me…

The original version appeared on the Groovy Uncle album “Play Something We Know!” where it poked gentle fun at would- be hippies: “you wanna be a flower child/the smell of that incense drives you wild”. I thought Suzi could do a wicked, funkier version of the song. I was right.

“I Can’t Stop The Rain” is an appropriately titled track for what has been a very soggy 2012. A relentless downpour on the soul served up in a late night, bar room jazz stylee with a distinctly Dusty vibe. Fine piano from Peter White on this one.

Another song borne out of troubled, convoluted times “It’s Not Your Heartbreak” was a conscious effort to write for Suzi a black soul influenced balled along the lines of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Well, that was my starting point and that influence is most prominent in the line “I wish for a day/you could feel the same way/as I do” when the backing vocal harmonies kick in. The original take included a horn section but my well intentioned arrangement made it sound too cheery so we took it out and replaced it with a guitar part courtesy of Bruce Brand which gives the song just the right amount of melancholy.

To top off the album I decided we needed a “goodbye”song- a lump-in-the-throat ballad full of yearning written with the sole intent of breaking hearts. Yeah, one of those. The backing track was recorded at the end of a long session when we were beginning to wind down and this gave it a nice, laid back feel which is exactly what I wanted. A week or so later Suzi and I layered some lush vocal harmonies together after she’d completed the lead vocal. If I’d had access to a grand piano and orchestra I’d have used them on this track. This’ll more than do for me though. It’s a lovely finale.

The making of this album has been a complete labour of love for me. I had never written songs for someone else before and it’s been a most enjoyable challenge.  Hearing Suzi   interpreting my words and music has made me listen to my own songs in a different way. I’d like to thank everyone involved in the making of this record for their hard work and support not least Marty and Mole at State Records. Most of all I’d like to thank Suzi Chunk for giving me a much needed metaphorical kick up the arse!

“Girl From The Neck Down”-Suzi Chunk out September 2012 on State Records (THSLP 003)  She’ll learn ya!