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Sunday 18 September 2016

Music Talk: New Music Industry Bible From The Pen Of Chris Wade

The writer, musician and entrepreneur, Chris Wade, first came to our attention when he penned an insightful and in-depth account of one time Stranglers' frontman Hugh Cornwell's 2008 solo album, Hoover Dam.

It seemed an obtuse project to tackle in book form. Hugh has admitted that at best his solo albums only shift a few thousand copies, yet Wade saw fit to dig deep into the mindset and creative process of the man famous for such hits as Golden Brown, Always The Sun and Strange Little Girl.

Wade has an eclectic eye. He's tackled the mainstream via books on Madonna and actor Malcolm McDowell, as well as his left field series of books The Music Of ….

Now with twenty-six non-fiction books under his belt, Wade's compiled Music Talk: An Interview Anthology, that delves deep into his own back catalogue.

Alongside an illuminating chat with the aforementioned Hugh Cornwell, there are thirty-six representatives from across the  broad spectrum of the music business.

There's a recent publication, Isle Of Noises: Conversations With Great British Songwriters, which asked respected writers from the world of popular music for their insights into the writing process. 

It has become something of an industry bible. Wrong! Chris Wade's new book is wheretrue insights and little known revelations of the dark and murky world known as the music business are uncovered and catalogued for posterity.

Music Talks' opening interview is with Nic Turner (ex-Hawkwind) who quotes the truism'everyone has ideas you can borrow or steal.'

Hugh Cornwell enthuses about how, as a solo artist, he's getting to make regular trips to America: something he regrets the Stranglers never did.: 

'Something I always regretted actually, sustaining an effort to go to America.' 

After the rows and internal tensions of The Stranglers he keeps his current band together by: 'I show them that they're appreciated and they respond with commitment"

Cornwell's brief is simple: 'I like to write good songs and that's it. Just an idea or bass line or a hook isn't enough. 

"I want it to be a rounded thing with meaningful lyrics that means something to me and maybe means something to someone else and some music that's memorable.' 

Then there are interviews with artists I hadn't even heard of ..

Bruce Gaitsch (songwriter), worked with Madonna at her peak in the 1980s. Surprisingly he concludes that Madonrna was the easiest person to work with. 

He says she's a throwback to the days when you 'had to be able to sing, dance and act and write to be a star. She does it all with no apparent effort; she is my hero.' 

Neil Young's half-sister, Astrid Young, is an acclaimed singer and songwriter, who has worked with Neil both in the studio and on stage: 

'I have always looked up to him, not just regarding the music, but his ethics and reasoning.'   ... 'He's a force of nature, there is no other way to describe it.'

A rarity is a lovely interview with a latter day Bob Dylan associate, guitarist Denny Freeman. 

His insights into life as part of Dylan's 'never ending tour' are a revelation. 

Freeman admits playing with Dylan was 'strange. No instructions, just started playing.' 

The Dylan band played around 100 gigs a year and Freeman found it hard to tell the difference from one night to the next: 

"Another sound check, another dressing room. And the stage was set up exactly the same, every night .. "

Captain Beefheart drummer, Robert Williams gives an alternative insight into working with Hugh Cornwell. 

They worked together on Nosferatu, an album Don Van Vliet (Beefhart) didn't' want Williams to make: 

"Hugh never had dinner or any significant amount of time spent with Don. Don despised him."

Original Beatles drummer, Pete Best, was, he says, closest to 'John (Lennon). We shared our inner thoughts.' 

Best says'A real reason has never been given (for him being dismissed from the Beatles).'

Wilko Johnson describes himself as 'a fairly morose person", and "I spend most of my time wallowing around feeling sorry for myself.' 

When asked if he's looking forward to touring he says: 'Oh yeah, yeah/ From the depths of my misery.'

Donovan says he's always been viewed as ' .. an outsider. But those that knew, knew what I was doing."

As a Stranglers fan it was nice to see the inclusion of an interview with the late Martin Rushent. 

He produced the band's seminal debut, Rattus Norvegicus, and its follow-up, No More Heroes (both albums recorded in one ten day session).

He also believes that after those two albums 'it was a bit of a downhill run.' In fact he was at the helm for their third release Black and White. 

Following its release he told the band: I'm not doing it anymore, I think you've gone off the boil.' He did stay around to capture their fourth album, a live set, X-Cert.

Chris Difford lists his influences as Ray Davies, Lou Reed and David Bowie (what, no Beatles!). 

And he declares that being back as Squeeze 'is a strange old book. The ending is never predictable, let alone the next chapter."

So the reformed Squeeze are much like Wade's book. Music Talk .. both eclectic and unpredictable to the hilt. 

Built on a foundation without barriers. It's probably the most informative book on the market .. because it's the truth. told by those who were on its frontline .. those who remember it for what it was. 

Music Talk: An Interview Anthology by Chris Wade is available by CLICKING HERE. For more info on all Chris Wade's activities CLICK HERE.

by: Mike Cobley




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Pic by John Morgan

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Pic by Phil Nicholls www.philnicholls.co.uk

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