‘Meanwhile Back In Medieval Britain…’, album number 7 from Groovy Uncle, has been sent to the pressing plant and is now in production. It will see a limited release on heavyweight vinyl (including download card and lyric sheet) and CD (digi pack), some time in September. Album art (above) by Darryl Hartley is utterly superb (see picture). Many thanks to him for coming up with a great design! Darryl also wrote the title track, as well as the album’s finale, ‘Astronauts’. His Senior Service bandmate, Jon Barker also came up with two songs for the LP in the form of ‘You Think Too Much Of Me’ and ‘Days Like This’. The latter features the guitar playing of another Senior Service buddy (and former member of Medway legends The Prisoners), Graham Day as well as backing vocals from GU Newcomers Ani Graves and Rachel Lowrie. Bronco Bullfrog drummer, singer/songwriter Andy Morten contributes the wonderful West Coast sounding ‘She’ll Never Be Mine’. Seven of the twelve tracks are written, as usual by Glenn Prangnell who also takes on some of the lead vocal duties. Ani and Rachel share lead vocals on ‘It Wasn’t Me, It Was Yesterday’ while Suzi Chunk takes on the opening track ’20/20 Hindsight’ as well as ‘Lie To You’ and ‘Reading Between The Lines’. Miss Modus makes a welcome return to the fold with a breathtaking performance of ‘Good Child’. Coming soon! I’ll keep you posted!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Closing the album, Miss Modus nails the vocal version of the title track with a big finish.
At the beginning of 2014 I started to gather together a collection of songs for the new Groovy Uncle album and it already had a title. “Persuaded” will be our fourth release and once again I’ve tried to make it different from the others. This time the album has a bit of a “cinematic” feel to it as a few of the songs sound like they could be used as title music to a movie and there is a definite nod to John Barry in places (albeit modestly). The title track features both as an instrumental opener and a vocal version finale. One of the problems I encountered along the way was that I had a few songs lined up for Suzi Chunk which she turned down because she felt they didn’t suit her very distinctive vocal style. Although I was initially put out by this curveball, after stepping back to give it some consideration I realized that Suzi was totally right (she usually is!) and I certainly wouldn’t want her to sing anything she wasn’t one hundred per cent sold on. Trouble was I knew the songs were totally right for the album but they HAD to be sung by a female vocalist so the only solution was to find another singer to join us. But who? It had to be someone who was not only capable vocally but would also understand where we’re at and a singer who was in complete contrast to Suzi stylistically. Then I remembered Miss Modus….
Image: Phil Dillon
Back in 2011 Groovy Uncle made a rare live appearance at The Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden and headlining were the Scottish band Modus featuring Sarah Kennedy (aka Miss Modus) on lead vocals. She is striking both visually and vocally, has sung with a number of bands as well as writing original material and performs mainly these days with Dirty Harry and The Link Quartet. I contacted her, sent a couple of tunes and was delighted when she said she’d love to be involved in the making of the album. Miss Modus sings the title track as well as “Your Weight In Gold”, “I Wont Be Fooled By You” and duets with me on “What’s Going On” and she has done a fantastic job on them. Recording sessions began early in the year at Ranscombe Studios, Rochester when we recorded the A-side to our forthcoming vinyl single “Barefoot In The Car Park” (out on State Records July 21st!). It’s a belter of a number and Suzi is on top form here. Bruce Brand plays lead guitar and drums on this track, Nick Rice on bass, John Littlefair and Paul Jordanous provide the horn section then me on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. It’s a cracking upbeat number for the summer! Suzi also takes lead vocals on “High Time”– a song that has already been covered a couple of times-and makes it her own. A brilliant version! I take lead vocals on a few tunes too and I’m particularly pleased with a track called “Should Have Been Mine” not least because it features a marvellous piece of harmonica playing courtesy of Jim Riley. There is still a bit of work to do on the album but it’s sounding great so far and we’ve achieved a lot.