I had come up with the idea for
'Apples & Oranges' one morning lying in bed, the intro part played on fiddle;
I reached for my guitar and picked out the notes. I'm not sure if there is such
a thing as a recognised method of composing, but for me the tune seemed to have just one
way to go. I played it over and over to commit it to memory in order to play it to Kev.
My second composition was as a result of
being put under pressure from Kev, neither of us were prolific, but the incidence is
memorable to me. I had got the melody in my head but had not properly worked out the
chords on the guitar. With Kev and Yasmin listening, I tried to play the idea to them
but fluffed it. Kev told me to put the guitar down and just sing it; both of them warmed to it immediately and thus
'Four Golden Tongues Talk' was born. I don't know why I've never been acknowledged
for this but, hey - c'est la vie!
is important to stress here that both song ideas were 'bare bones' ideas, simple
melodies and arrangements, no lyrics. Kev had an ability to take this on, embellishing and polishing
it into the finished item. As a side note, Kev was slow in writing lyrics. When we did the showcase at the
Arts Lab our opening number had no lyrics and Kev just sang "baa daa da baa daa
da" all the way through.
no bass, Kev had to fall back on old friends and called Pete Williams who, like Andy, wanted to do his own thing but
agreed to help out temporarily. Pete and I spent time going through the bass lines and were
up and running in no time at all. Having Pete also gave Ian a tremendous boost, finally
being in a rhythm section that had, well.....rhythm!
Back into Outlaw Studios for the second time
- complete with Helen, all went very well and we were pleased with the result. We knew
that Kevin Rowland had asked Helen to try some songs with Dexys and she disappeared
as soon as we finished in the studio. A few weeks later we had to go back to Outlaw to pick up the tapes or something. Phil
Savage told us that he'd just had Dexys in doing a demo with Helen and played us
"Come On Eileen". You can imagine how we felt on hearing this.
After the intro to ‘Eileen’ - the lead into
the verse begins with a piano slide - dragging your thumb from high notes to low notes quickly…. ’strangely'
you will hear exactly the same thing after the intro on ’Somethings Wrong’
on our first demo tape that Kev gave Kevin!
for poor Andy doing this over and over nearly wore his thumb down to the bone, but the
Dexys version sounds louder, sharper, more percussive somehow - prompting Andy to ask Phil Savage
how had they achieved this sound?…. to which Phil replied “It’s easy…. just use a
drumstick instead of your thumb!" After a sharp intake of breath Andy was muttering
half to himself and half to the rest of us “Why the F**K didn’t you tell
US about this nifty trick then!’ For some reason this incident has stayed with me for
all these years.
We continued rehearsing old and new songs in preparation for performing
a showcase concert for Stiff Records - minus violin! With just a week to go before the
gig Kev had to hire a session violinist (can't remember her name) who commuted up
Before we knew it the audience were there,
Stiff Records were there and we performed our hearts out. I'd never felt so good in my entire life as
I did that night when it was over. Guaranteed top five hit was talked about by Stiff,
and yet it all somehow started to feel a little like the shine was being dulled, like
the fire was going out!
I went down to Kev and Yasmin's flat
in Old Hill a few days later. Kev had rejected the offer. I asked Kev "what do we do now?" he replied
"I dunno, I guess that's it - it's all over."
As Yasmin said - that was the last fizzle!
any case Andy had gone, Pete was off to do These Tender Virtues, Helen was basking in fame
with Dexys. After all that hard work for the last eighteen months or so I felt utterly disillusioned and a little sick.
For me, I never tried to be in a group again, I never stopped playing
the guitar - but only for my own amusement. However I have always
treasured my memories of The Blue Ox Babes and always will.
In essence I think that
my story describes a very ordinary journey of a group of young people trying and almost succeeding to create a very extraordinary
and original sound - at a time that was just right to accept it. Forever I will hold the thought that either 'What
Does Anybody Ever Think About' or 'Apples & Oranges' could have been among the biggest selling records of
the eighties - but for a simple twist of fate.