In the spring of 2014 I met up with Stuart McRedie after a gig somewhere in Germany, we got discussing the usual things like guitars and gigs.
Stuart asked me when I was doing a new album, I said I didn't know and in fact I have no plans, he suggested I start and he would be happy to help out with production and in his words I should stop "fucking around and go make a killer album" . . . . I had no songs, no ideas . . . . . but it did get me thinking.

As most of you may know I spend the summer months in Spain, I unpacked my clothes at the villa, sorted the sunbeds out and unpacked my acoustic guitar and put it on a stand at the side of the TV.
I enjoyed my first day in the sun, but as soon as the first cloud passed in the afternoon, I made a cup of tea, got the guitar out and started riffing . . . . Da Da Da Da Da Da, daa daa . . . .Da Da Da Da Da Da, dooowww . . . . anyway that's how the riff went in the key of E . . . . . I kept playing it over the next week or so and it stuck; it was good !!!
I added the tag line, "I'm gonna lock you out" and the first song was born.

I was then on the beach somewhere and saw some old guy with a young girl at least 30 years his junior and he was feeling her arse . . . . clearly his little play thing? . . . . I have a line in the song that goes . . . "Run along now my pretty little play thing, come once in a while, but remember, to keep the shape your in"  . . . . the song was born about someone not wanting a relationship but . . . I'll have the odd ride as and when I feel like it. . . . if you don't mind?
The song was the first song to be recorded in the UK and was called "Lock You Out"

Having decided to call the album "Visiting Mr. Johnson" quite prematurely in hindsight . . . . I penned the lyrics to "Visiting Mr J" on a 45 minute flight to Barcelona from Alicante. I tweaked the lyrics several times, but the story is about a dream where I met Robert Johnson . . . .

"I make my way to a mid city diner
where they don't serve gumbo on fine bone china
What you get is what you get, and that's fine by me"
"I sit below a picture of Marylin the mover
On the main wall hangs the great Martin Luther
In the land of the Crossroads and the town of make believe

I had set the scene for my song and the lyrics came in 10 minutes . . . . Music? . . .well B minor is an OK key, throw in a 7th and a 9th chord for good measure and we have tune!!

The famous Jimmy Hendrix chord that we all know so well, reared its head on a track called "Cross The Line" a tune about a middle of the road boring man who never does anything out of the ordinary, doesn't drink too much, doesn't smoke too much etc etc and then one day . . . . he says "fuck it" . . . and he's gonna cross the line.
The lyrics didn't come easy but the chorus was in the can, although I had a feeling that it was always just a mediocre tune . . . . I had to keep working it and by the time I hit the studio, I still wasn't confident that the song was good enough, keep working it, keep working it . . . . I was now bluffing it and flying by the seat of my pants.

With the schedule that Smokie had, I knew that if I was going to make an album, I just had to start the bloody thing, I rang Stuart . . . . "How you fixed for making an album"? . . . . . "How you doing you English numpty" ? . . . . "I'm fine you Scottish asshole" . . . . well that's the jist of the conversation. . . . so I went and booked a studio.

Part 2 coming soon . . . . . . .


1 comment

  • Pete Tidball

    Pete Tidball Sykehouse

    Great to hear how this all came about. Interesting how the songs developed.

    Great to hear how this all came about. Interesting how the songs developed.

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