20:20 Portrait – Bruce

Drums, guitar, keyboard, album design/layout, Bruce Brand is a Jack-of-all-trades and master of all! It’s Bruce’s astonishing, ‘Beatles-in-Hamburg’ guitar sound that permeates the Suzi Chunk debut single ‘Look Back And Laugh’/’Tripwire’ and features heavily on her debut album ‘Girl From The Neck Down’. He also designed the sleeves for both releases. On the 2014 album ‘Persuaded’, Bruce plays drums and lead guitar on the title track as well as the surf-style Suzi single, ‘Barefoot In The Car Park’, which was cited by Stevie Van Zandt as his ‘Song of the Summer’ that year. He designed that album sleeve, too. Bruce is an annoyingly talented man!

Lost In A Moment – ‘Persuaded’ by Groovy Uncle

In January 2014 Groovy Uncle began work on their 4th album, “Persuaded”. Apart from two songs-“Wet Weekend” and “You Look Good To Me”– all were recorded at Ranscombe Studios, produced by Jim Riley and engineered by Brendan Esmonde. The album features Suzi Chunk and Miss Modus and was released on 6th October 2014 on Groovy Uncle’s own label Trouserphonic (ZIP2-UP). It is available on vinyl, cd and as a download. All songs written by Glenn Prangnell. The intent was to put together an album with a “cinematic” feel. It was great fun to make and it is an album of which I am very proud. I hope you like it too.

 

1-Persuaded (Instrumental)

Written in 2007, this John Barry inspired piece was already ear marked for the instrumental talents of my good friend and garage legend Bruce Brand. He mainly works as a drummer these days-in fact he thumps the tubs on this track -but I knew he was the man for the guitar work here and he totally “gets it”. A tribute, nod, homage, pastiche (take yer pick) to those tv detective shows of the 1960’s and ’70’s, this tune kicks off the album with the bass playing of Nick Rice setting the mood perfectly. Conjuring up images of shadowy backstreets and uneasy liaisons, the brass section-provided by John Littlefair and Paul Jordanous– adds to the dynamic and creeping sense of menace.

2-Barefoot In The Car Park

The irresistable vocals of Suzi Chunk giving it her all on the tune Stevie Van Zandt named his Song Of The Summer 2014. Catchy, singalong melody and lyrics plus surf guitar and drums courtesy of Mr Brand. Throw in a swinging horn section and a driving bass line and you have a completely unsitdownable single! State Records put it out as a limited edition acetate style vinyl 45 last summer and it has proved to be one the most popular Unc’n’Chunk collaborations so far. “Shindig!” magazine awarded it Single Of The Year 2014.

3-Should Have Been Mine

Producer Jim Riley features on this laid back summer ballad playing a marvellously melodic harmonica part. Glenn takes the lead vocal and guitar work and this time Mole Lambert is behind the drum kit. Miss Modus and Suzi provide backing vocals. This track was inspired by Georgie Fame‘s version of the Billy Stewart song “Sitting In The Park”. I really enjoyed laying down the vocals for this one and love the end result.

4-Your Weight In Gold

Making her lead vocal debut for Groovy Uncle, Miss Modus delivers a stunning vocal performance of this “Bond theme” inspired nugget and there’s no mistaking where we’re at. Reverb heavy, Vic Flick style guitar, the mariachi trumpet of Paul Jordanous and even a tasteful mandolin part from former Singing Loin Rob Shepherd, all contributing to the “cinematic” quality. “You only live once but they told me twice”. Nuff said.

5-No Idea

For a long time I had wanted to use a string quartet and having got to know and work with jazz maestro Roan Kearsey-Lawson over the the past couple of years, I asked him if he would write a score for this track. He was more than happy to do so and knew the right musicians to assemble a quartet, two of whom have played with the Royal Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra. I knew this was going to be an enjoyable experience and I wasn’t disappointed. Tastefully scored and beautifully played.

6- I Won’t Be Fooled By You

I wanted to write a tune specifically for Miss Modus with a Sandie Shaw feel to it. Something upbeat in the vein of “It’s Not Unusual” would be good (the Tom Jones hit was originally written with Shaw in mind) so I used that as my starting point when I sat down to write something. Punctuated once again by the trumpet playing skills of Mr Jordanous, it is a real high point of the album and a favourite of mine.

7-High Time

This one dates back to the late 1980’s when I was in a band called The Kravin’ A’s. It originally surfaced on the band’s one and only album “Krave On!” (released on Billy Childish‘s Hangman label, 1991) with Jon Barker on lead vocals and in 1994 the song was covered by Holly Golightly on her “Jiggy Jiggy” e.p. I fancied another crack at it because I thought it would suit Suzi’s vocal style and sit nicely on the album. She really belts it out brilliantly and it is up there with the best of her Unc’n’Chunk performances. Jim Riley plays the wailing harmonica.

8-Wet Weekend

At the tail end of the “Play Something We Know!” sessions in 2011 we recorded a couple of extra tunes-“Wet Weekend” and “You Look Good To Me”- which didn’t make it on to that record and remained in the vaults until we started work on the “Persuaded” album. Both were recorded at State Records and produced by Mole Lambert. “Wet Weekend” also became the B-side of the “Barefoot In The Car Park” single. It’s a big sounding track that was actually recorded on cassette tape (yes, honestly!). I’m particularly proud of my melodica solo on this which adds to the misty eyed melancholia. Mole plays incredible drums and bass. Ben Jones is on lead guitar.

9-Pocket Of Concern

A straight ahead, melodic, in-yer-face power pop song. Guitars through a Leslie, what’s not to like!?

10-What’s Going On

A cool little duet featuring me and Miss Modus.

11-You Look Good To Me

The second “leftover” from the PSWK sessions is a nice, compact slice of sunshine pop. Ben Jones on keys, Mole on bass, drums and vocal harmonies with me.

12-Persuaded (Vocal)

Closing the album, Miss Modus nails the vocal version of the title track with a big finish.

23

 

One Vowel Away From The Truth

Once we’d seen in the New Year my thoughts immediately turned to making a new record. This would be the third Groovy Uncle album project after “Play Something We Know!”and Suzi Chunk’s “Girl From The Neck Down”. Both had been very well received (particularly the latter) though they are very different from each other and this got me thinking it might be interesting to make the new album a mix of the two – a bona fide Unc’n’Chunk record. I already had the songs written and knew which were Suzi’s and which were mine plus a couple to duet and once again I wanted to include one or two instruments and musicians I hadn’t worked with before. On the track “Consider It Done”for example, jazz musician Roan Kearsey-Lawson did some beautiful vibe playing which became the icing on the (already lovely) cake and he did it in one take! It took much longer to dismantle and reassemble the instrument than it did to mic it up and record but was well worth the effort. Roan also brought along a set of late 19th century tubular bells which added a nice touch to “Human Scaffold”.

A few months ago I demoed a song called “When I Saw Love” (which can be heard on Suzi’s Soundcloud site) and thought it needed handling in a Beatles-esque, “For No-One” style. Jon Barker does some fine harpsichord type keyboard work on it but I knew I had to find a French horn player. Via the magic of Facebook I was put in touch with Neil Mitchell, a classical orchestral player who was more than happy to be involved as this was to be his first solo on a recording. We worked together on the arrangement and his playing is majestic. It gives the song a melancholic yet uplifting quality which no other instrument could have achieved. Joining us once again is John Littlefair providing the horn section on “Must Have” and “It’s Not Like Me”. Always a pleasure to work with Mr L and I love his playing on these tracks. 
A number of songs this time feature the trumpet playing of John Whitaker (he of Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society among others) and I think his contributions really lift songs such as “Neptune Girl”, “Me And My Fair Weather Friend” and “Human Scaffold”. I’m particularly pleased former Singing Loins mandolin player Rob Shepherd agreed to work out a part for “November”. I’ve always been a big fan of the Loins and I like what he does here as it takes the GU sound to another place entirely. Peter White joins us again for some nifty keyboard work on “The Money Shot”.

,Of course Bruce Brand, Nick Rice, Mole, Marty Ratcliffe, Suzi Chunk and myself contributed a fair amount to the project too but more about that and other stuff later. The album is called “One Vowel Away From The Truth”  and we’ll be mixing it next month (July). Thanks to all involved.

A Thank You

After all the tremendous response to the album “Girl From The Neck Down” I thought it about time I composed an open letter to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past 12 months and beyond and to all involved in the project. Everyone involved was totally committed to the project from start to finish and there is no way I could have done it without you. My apologies in advance for any glaring ommissions. So, in no particular order….

Suzi Chunk, Bruce Brand, Marty Ratcliffe, Mole Lambert, Nick Rice, Allan Crockford, Ben Jones, Jon Barker, Phil Brown, Peter White, John Littlefair, Paul Moss, Ian Snowball, Jon Abnett, Peter Salmon, Paddy Faulkner, Lois Tozer, Jane Prangnell, Arthole Retrographics, Graham Seamark, Graham Sage, Mike Murray, Bill Kelly, Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie, Lizzie Hoskin, SiriusXM, Stevie Van Zandt, Andrew Loog Oldham, Drew Carey, Kid Leo, Mighty Manfred, Genya Ravan, Jenna Antonacci, “Shindig!” magazine, Medway Eyes, Fizzer’s Radio Show, WOW Medway, Medway Broadside, Jennie and Colin Baillie, David Bash, Phil Moore, “Record Collector” magazine, Terry Lane @ Buzzin’ Media, Hard Rock Memorabilia, Rosemary Edwards, Jason Charles Rogers, Phil Dillon, James Crowther, Kev Wright @ The Sound Of Confusion, Andy Morten, State Records.

To everyone who has bought, downloaded, voted, championed and generally said nice things WE THANK YOU! Have a wonderful, happy, positive 2013. We intend to bring you much more in the coming year!  

Glenn