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Andy Leek was the first ex-Dexys member I’d ever met. It was 1998 and I was standing in a hospitality room at the BBC TV Centre in London where Andy had just appeared on comedy music show, “Never Mind The Buzzcocks”. I had been largely unaware of Andy Leek’s involvement in Dexys, having taken the sleeve notes of “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” on face value and believing for many years that Pete Saunders had supplied the keyboards on all of the songs from that era. The first time I saw somebody called Andy Leek credited as having played Hammond organ on “Geno” I was genuinely confused. The fact that he was “air-brushed” out of the early Dexys story would prove to be a sign of things to come for a musician who has chalked up a number of impressive claims to fame without ever becoming a house-hold name. 

Any search for information about Andy Leek on the internet will quickly inform you that, as well as performing with Dexys, his musical compositions have been recorded by major artists such as Tom Jones and Abba’s Frida Lyngstad, he has worked with legendary record producers Tony Visconti and Beatles maestro George Martin - and has had a Number One single in the Lebanon! Having never set foot in the world of the internet back in 1998, I knew none of this as I stood talking to Andy at the after-show party. All I knew was that for the first time in my life I was having a face to face conversation with somebody who had briefly been in one of my all-time favourite bands. During my interrogation of Andy I mentioned in passing that I’d also been a massive fan of Kevin Archer’s subsequent band, “The Blue Ox Babes”. I was absolutely gobsmacked at the time to discover that, not only did Andy know of them, but he’d been one of the founding members of that band. The fact that I now knew the person standing in front of me had been a part of two of my favourite ever bands solidified Andy’s reputation in my eyes so that when he started telling me about some solo recordings he’d made I was naturally intrigued. He promised to send me a tape of an album he’d recorded a decade earlier and a few days later I received a copy of “Say Something” in the post.

As I listened to the tape I was quite surprised by what I heard. It is worth mentioning at this point that Andy Leek’s solo work does not sound like Dexys Midnight Runners or The Blue Ox Babes. There are plenty of brass and string instruments and soulful inflections in the mix but the overall effect makes for a very distinct listening experience. Andy Leek’s vocals are very different from those of Kevin Rowland or Kevin Archer, having more in common with singers like Mick Hucknall or Journey’s Steve 'Don’t Stop Believin' Perry. The musical textures are also quite diverse - from the joyously epic Gospel tones of “Golden Doors” to the plaintive balladry of “Sailor’s Song” which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Beach Boys “Holland”-era recording. The fact that the album was produced by George Martin who (I was later to discover) had believed that several of the tracks had the potential to be Number One singles – and that Andy Leek was one of the greatest talents he’d worked with – make it all the more surprising that the album had not been a bigger commercial success – and that I had not previously been aware of Andy Leek’s solo career. It was always my intention when I got involved in setting up the various Dexys-related web-groups which eventually morphed into this website to create a feature on the career of Andy Leek. It’s taken a lot longer than I ever anticipated to achieve that.

Andy Leek was born in Wolverhampton in 1958. After a brief stint in local band The Wailing Cocks, at the age of 21 he joined Dexys Midnight Runners together with fellow band-member, drummer Andy Growcott, just in time to perform at a gig in Camden at the end of December 1979. Although he is often dismissed as a bit-part player in the Dexys story, the release of the 30th Anniversary Edition of “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” in 2010 would feature no less than 16 recordings (including demos and Radio Sessions) on which Andy Leek performed. Leek’s decision to quit Dexys (allegedly following a physical fight with former band-mate Andy “Stoker” Growcott) just before “Geno” hit Number One - and Dexys hit the big-time - ensured that the recognition of being in a chart-topping band passed him by.

However, by this time he already had a deal with Beggars Banquet to release the old Wailing Cocks recordings “Move On (In Your Maserati)” and “Ruben Decides” as a double-A-sided single. Despite gaining radio play and positive reviews in the music press, the release – credited to “Andde Leek” - was not a big hit and a year later Andy answered a call from former Dexys guitarist Kevin “Al” Archer to help him form a folk-influenced group called The Blue Ox Babes. Andy provided the distinctive barrel-house piano playing on the band’s early demos which, combined with the expert fiddle playing of Helen Bevington, created a fresh and vibrant acoustic sound which famously inspired Kevin Rowland to steer Dexys in a similarly folk-fuelled direction on the smash-hit single “Come On Eileen”. Feeling that The Blue Ox Babes’ sound (and “gypsy-style“ image) had been poached by one of his former band-mates, Andy Leek retreated to Glasgow to lick his wounds and work on some new songs of his own.

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The resulting recordings – much like those of The Blue Ox Babes – remained unissued for many years until the release of the retrospective album “Midnight Music” in 2009 which also featured Andy’s subsequent singles from the early-80s, “Soul Darling” and a cover of Abba’s “Dancing Queen” (produced by Tony Visconti) both released on the Fascination label. Andy Leek’s Abba connection was reinforced in 1984 by the decision of singer Frida Lyngstad to record his composition “Twist In The Dark” which featured on her album “Shine” and was also released as a single. Andy's association with the biggest stars of the music scene continued when his musical adaptation of a Dylan Thomas poem was recorded by Tom Jones in 1986 but he still remained relatively unknown as an artist in his own right.

Towards the end of the decade Andy Leek finally got what seemed to be his big break, signing to Atlantic Records and enlisting the services of Beatles producer George Martin to over-see his debut album release “Say Something”. Martin’s public praise of Leek’s abilities and his belief in the chart potential of the music featured on the album seemed to assure the release of being a smash-hit and it appeared as though Andy Leek had finally arrived as an A-league recording artist. However, despite  respectable sales (250,000 copies world-wide) and moderate success with single releases, “Please Please”, “Holding Onto You” and "Say Something" (which topped the charts in the Lebanon) the super-stardom which might have been expected failed to follow and Andy slipped out of the lime-light once more.

Listen to short extract from "Golden Doors":

 Eventually Andy Leek re-emerged in 1997 with the ironically-titled album “Eternity Beckons” – featuring the aptly-named “Forgotten People” – but this album only gained a release in Spain (where "Forgotten People" also featured on a chart-topping compilation album). The intended follow-up album “Sacrifice And Bliss” recorded in 2000 faired even less well, failing to get a release at all – although it was eventually made available in digital form in 2014. The years which followed saw Andy Leek revisit his back-catalogue with increasing regularity with the retrospective release of his early-80s recordings on “Midnight Music” in 2009 being followed by re-issues of his George Martin-produced recordings on “Say Something Revisited” in 2010 and “Say Something – Deluxe Edition” in 2012. During this period Andy also performed live extensively with “Andy Leek & The Blue Angels”, performing a variety of other artist’s material – including occasional Dexys covers – and earning a reputation as one of the best party bands in the business.

The release of new material eventually arrived in 2013 with the release of “Waking Up The World” on Andy’s own Undiscovered Classics label, before further re-issues followed in the shape of “Sacrifice And Bliss” and “Eternity Beckons” in 2014. Also in 2014 Andy Leek found an inventive way of re-using his back-catalogue when he launched “Andy Leek's Star Maker” internet competition and accompanying album, encouraging would-be singers to record versions of his own compositions and post them on YouTube in order to enter an “X-Factor” style contest which would see the winners signed to Leek’s own “&D Leek Music” record label.

Ever the self-publicist and increasingly adept at self-publishing, Andy Leek appears as though he is still trying to find the fame and fortune he might have expected would follow his unquestionable achievements in the music business. Though some have criticised him for living off former glories and of making the most of his brief tenure with Dexys Midnight Runners in his publicity, he is arguably the most successful ex-member of Dexys and was once described by the late great Kirsty McColl as “The best thing to come out of Dexys Midnight Runners”.

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles:

[As "Andde Leek"]:
 
Move On (In Your Maserati) / Ruben Decides
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(Beggars Banquet, [BEG42] 1980)

 
Soul Darling / Neurotic World
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(Fascination, [FAS601] 1983)

 A 12" version was also released [FCM601] featuring "Soul Darling Club Mix".

 

Dancing Queen / Wolfson Hall

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(Fascination, [FAS602] 1984)

 

[As "Andy Leek"]:

Say Something
(Atlantic, [ATL81864] 1988)

 

Please Please / Entangled Hearts

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(Atlantic, [A9054] 1988)
  A 12" version was also released [A9054T] featuring "Please Please (New York MIx)"

Holdin' Onto You / Sailor's Song

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 (Atlantic, [788997] 1988)


All Around the World
(Polydor, [B000091G0G] 1996)
 
Forgotten People / F.A.B. Mix by Virgil
(Gotham, [12GOTH9] 1999)
 
 Whats the Problem? / Say Something / Golden Doors
(Undiscovered Classics [WP1216AL] 2010)

 
Homeground
(Undiscovered Classics 2010)

 
Waking Up The World
(Undiscovered Classics 2013)


Here In Our Youth
(Undiscovered Classics 2013)
 
 
 
 
 

 Albums:

Say Something

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1) Please Please; 2) Holding On To You;  3) All Day Long 4) What's The Problem?; 5) Golden Doors; 6) Say Something; 7) Entangled Hearts; 8) Attitude; 9) Sailors Song; 10) Carry Me Away.

(Atlantic, 1988)

Eternity Beckons
[
Spanish Release]

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1) Apples On The Bough; 2) Forgotten People; 3) Natural Beauty; 4) So Blind; 5) Sunshine; 6) Twistin' Turnin'; 7) Natalie; 8) Every Country; 9) Children Of The Sun; 10) All Around The World; 11) With You Tonight; 12) It Must Be Love.   

(Ouver, 1997)

Forgotten People
[Remix album featuring "What's The Problem" and "Forgotten Man". Track-listing unknown.]

(Gotham Records [B00752SEV8], 2004)
Midnight Music

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1) Do It For You; 2) Midnight Music; 3) Insult; 4) What's The Problem?; 5) Why Did I Start To See You?; 6) Twist In The Dark; 7) How About That; 8) Woolfson Hall; 9) One Chance; 10) Soul Darlin'; 11) Waiting; 12) Dancing Queen; 13) Neurotic World; 14) Ruben Decides; 15) Move On In Your Maserati.

(Undiscovered Classics, 2009; recorded 1979–1982)

Say Something Revisited

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1) What's The Problem; 2) Golden Doors; 3) Holding On To You;  4) Attitude; 5) Carry Me Away; 6) Say Something; 7) All Day Long; 8) Please Please; 9) Sailors Song; 10) Interlude; 11) All Around The World; 12) Reprise.

(Undiscovered Classics 2010)
Say Something [Deluxe Edition]

1) What's The Problem; 2) Golden Doors; 3) Holding On To You;  4) Attitude; 5) Say Something; 6) All Day Long; 7) Carry Me Away; 8) Please Please; 9) Sailors Song; 10) Holding Onto You [New Song]; 11) What's The Problem [Remix]; 12) All Around The World [New Song]; 13) Say Something [Instrumental]; 14) Please Please [Instrumental]; 15) Golden Doors [Remix]; 16) So Blind [New Song]; 17) George Martin Interview.

(Matchbox Recordings [MRAND001], 2012)

Waking Up The World

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1) Waking Up The World; 2) Here In Our Youth; 3) She Is A Doorway To Love; 4) Natalie; 5) Here Comes The Night; 6) Love Is Your Soul; 7) Together; 8) Maybe; 9) Forgive Me; 10) Magdelene; 11) Tell Me; 12) St Rayne Therese; 13) Don't ASk; 14) Home Ground; 15) Heart Of Steel; 16) I'm With You Tonight.

(Undiscovered Classics 2013)
Sacrifice And Bliss

1) Child Of God; 2) Sweet Love; 3) Sweet Desire; 4) Nobody Is Listening; 5) Wish You Were Mine; 6) Forgotten People; 7) All Around The World; 8) What I Pray For; 9) Listen; 10) Rely On Me; 11) Laughing In The Face Of The World.

[Unreleased, 2000 - Issued as a digital release in 2014]

Andy Leek's Star Maker

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1) What's The Problem; 2) When Baby Calls; 3) Here In Our Youth; 4) Shooting Star; 5) Forgive Me; 6) Best In Everyone; 7) Sailors Song; 8) Golden Doors; 9) Love Is Your Soul; 10) What's The Problem [Instrumental]; 11) When Baby Calls [Instrumental]; 12) Here In Our Youth [Instrumental]; 13) Shooting Star [Instrumental]; 14) Forgive Me [Instrumental]; 15) Best In Everyone [Instrumental]; 16) Sailors Song [Instrumental]; 17) Golden Doors [Instrumental]; 18) Love Is Your Soul [Instrumental]. 

(&D Leek Music 2014)

 REVIEWS

 

 "Move On (In Your Maserati) / Rubin Decides"

[Single Of The Week, Sounds, August 1980]

Reviewed by Betty Page 

 

 "First solo effort from the man who shunned stardom as a young soul rebel. Did the right thing too: his colours obviously couldn't show through in a pack of eight runners. 'Maserati' is a languidly soulful piece, commencing with doleful, echoing sax and piano, building up with guitars to an old-fashioned climax - a 'real' song as the sleeve says. Andde gives it his all in the vocal dept. crooning a lot more convincingly than his old mate Kevin Rowland. 'Rubin Decides' is a snappier offering, reminiscent of both Steely Dan and Van Morrison. Can't say it hasn't been done before, but the man has style and carries it off well. Which is more than can be said for virtually anyone else in this dire week."

 

[* It is interesting to note that other singles reviewed that week included eventual top-ten hits, "Eighth Day" by Hazel O'Connor and Black Sabbath's "Paranoid"!]

 

"ANDDE LEEK" PRESS RELEASE, 1984:

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