new CD by Andy Davis is a cause for celebration by fans of
1970s era progressive pop-rock music from England. Davis worked with
John Lennon on Imagine and you can still hear that Lennon influence
on Andys 2016 solo CD release Emergency Love.
The CD marks the official release of Andys famous Stackridge
era track Baby Good For You, first heard on bootlegs.
He does the definitive version here and the rest of the CD follows
suit with first class pop and rock tracks that remind one of Stackridge
and all the great albums theyve made over the past 45 years.
Speaking to mwe3.com about the title track and the shared album title,
Andy states, Its one of a bunch of songs Ive
written with Gus Ferguson. Hes got a great talent for colorful
and imaginative words and phrases, although we do tend to have to
chip away at the songs and we bounce ideas backwards and forwards
till we're happy with the results.
I hope to write a lot more with him in the future. The album Emergency
Love was a collection of songs, some very recent, some a bit older.
Some I started recording a couple of years ago and then put to one
side. And when Leon Hunt suggested we record an album, I went back
to the early sketches and put the whole thing together with him. And
his production I think really helped sort me out there on the songs
and order and titles and arrangements. The ten track CD
is the optimum showcase for Andys guitars, songs and vocals
and hes got a top band with him including guitarist Andy
Latimer, Eddie John (drums) and U.K. pedal steel legend
B.J. Cole, who adds haunting guitar licks on Baby Good
For You. Theres plenty of high quality, well recorded
pop and rock ready to be heard and enjoyed on Emergency Love. www.AngelAir.co.uk
presents an interview with
ANDREW CRESSWELL DAVIS
Do you feel you took Stackridge as far as you could with A Victory
For Common Sense in 2009? Mutter said that album was the zenith
and a good way to close out the band, I guess its a disappointing
fact of life that Stackridge is gone. But we still have the solo albums.
Andy Davis: Yes, I do feel A Victory For Common Sense was
a great achievement for a reformed band from the 1970s. I think it
was a great achievement anyway. Sadly, although it got four star reviews,
mostly in the U.K. it didnt get much airplay beyond that and
that was a shame. I think if you judge it by the albums that bands,
reformed bands from the 70s or 80s release when they get
back together, I think its one of the best. A lot of those albums
by reformed bands tend to be a bit embarrassing. But I think its
a very good album.
mwe3: Its hard to picture a future without Stackridge
in it. What do you tell long time fans who were so influenced by A
Victory For Common Sense?
Andy Davis: Yes, sadly Stackridge came to an end but there
are the solo albums to look forward to. I believe James is recording
one as we speak. Ive got two out. (lol) Mutters got one
and were still waiting for Cruns effort.
mwe3: Tell us about Emergency Love. How did it come
into play, was it after Stackridge broke up? Also tell us about working
with your songwriting partner on Emergency Love Gus Ferguson.
Seems like youve tapped into a rich songwriting excavation.
Davis: Emergency Love, the song and the album
the song started its existence about fifteen years ago. Its
one of the first songs I wrote with Gus Ferguson. And Ive been
playing it solo for quite a while. Sadly, Stackridge didnt think
it was Stackridge material but its one of a bunch of songs Ive
written with Gus Ferguson. Hes got a great talent for colorful
and imaginative words and phrases
although we do tend to have to chip away at the songs and we bounce
ideas backwards and forwards till we're happy with the results. I
hope to write a lot more with him in the future.
The album Emergency Love was a collection of songs, some very
recent, some a bit older. Some I started recording a couple of years
ago and then put to one side. And when Leon Hunt suggested we record
an album, I went back to the early sketches and put the whole thing
together with him. And his production I think really helped sort me
out there, the song and order and titles and arrangements. So yes,
Please rush out and buy it. (lol)
mwe3: How did you put the Emergency Love band together?
Also Andy Latimer plays guitar on a track here. Is that the same Andy
Latimer from Camel? Also on guitar here is Stig Manley, it's a cool
sounding band and the CD sounds great! Looks like you put together
a completely new band for Emergency Love although violinist
Claire Lindley did play with Stackridge towards the end?
Andy Davis: The band for Emergency Love started really
with Eddie John on drums, who Ive been playing along side for
several years now, in Stackridge and other things. So he would always
be my first choice. The bass player was more of a problem. Then we
found Valere Speranza, a great French bass player who now lives in
Bristol in the U.K. I played keyboards, guitar and ukulele and stuff.
And then I wanted to get a few guests in. Ive known Andy Latimer
from Camel since the 1970s really. Weve been in touch. Hes
recently moved back to the U.K. So he came along and played. I hope
to do some more with Andy in some other way in the future. Stig Manley
is a local guitar player from Bristol. Very cool guitar player. B.J.
Cole played on Baby Good For You. The rest of the band
mainly was Claire Lindley on violin and Brian Mullan on cello. Theyre
my long term playing partners in the trio DLM.
mwe3: Track one on Emergency Love is Rain Rain
Rain. Is that a hopeful or negative kind of song? Pretty sobering
lyrics I might add. Is there a cool story behind that track?
Davis: Sadly, theres no cool story behind this really. I
often joke on stage that one of a songwriters standby motifs
is rain. Crops up an awful lot, so I try to keep it out of lyrics
mainly because you can end up using it too often. But we thought it
was a joke to have rain, rain, rain as an adjunct. And that was one
of the songs that just rolled straight out really as soon as Gus had
given me the opening lines and we took it from there.
mwe3: Tell us about your visiting Havana Cuba. What were your
impressions of Cuba and when did you go? I guess the song Nightfishing
has very little Spanish influences! (lol) Cuba is in the news big
time these days.
Andy Davis: Cuba
I went there in 89 I think it
was, with a bunch of cyclists. I think we were probably the first
organized bunch of cyclists that visited the country so we were pioneers
in a way and it was an exceptional trip and great fun. And I thought
Cuba was an absolutely fascinating country, with obviously fantastic
music. And, although Im very keen on a lot of Latin music and
Spanish flavored music
and I have played
a bit in the past, I tried not to stray too much into that area on
the album because I have a tendency to absorb too many influences
sometimes and go off on a bit of a tangent so I consciously tried
to keep the whole album a bit sort of folky and rocky. So we put just
enough influence on that to make it work.
mwe3: Track 3 on Emergency Love, Baby Good For
You is a favorite from the Stackridge years. I remember
hearing it a few years ago on a bootleg and it blew me away. I call
it one of the best parting shot breakup songs of all time. Did Gus
write this one with you several years ago and is this a new version?
Plus how did you get BJ Cole on that song? His sound is so easy to
Davis: Baby Good For You is one of the older songs
and I have recorded it live before and I have been playing it for
a long time. I took that straight from the page of Gus Fergusons
lyric. I find I work much better with Gus when I have the lyrics first
and then set music to it. Yes, its a damn good breakup song.
I dont know if Gus had just broken up at the time. I never actually
asked him. Its one of the evergreen songs that everybody loves
in my repertoire. Leon Hunt, co-producer was in regular contact with
BJ Cole. They kind of swap sessions over the internet cause
Leon, you probably know, is reputed to be the best bluegrass banjo
player in the U.K. and thats no exaggeration. The Jeff Beck
of the banjo, they call him. So for several years now, as soon as
it became technically possible, he swapped sessions over the internet
with a host of American stars. And it just so happened that BJ owed
him a track so we sent it to him by email, he did a couple of solos,
sent them back and we edited it down and added it to the track. Id
love to do some more stuff with BJ. We dont live that far apart
but yknow its not always easy to get everybody in the
same room at the same time.
mwe3: Track 4 Magdelene is another song about avoiding
temptation, this time in Putney. Where is Putney? Is that about more
unrequited love? Is Magdelene a real person or a metaphor? Claire
adds in some beautiful violin.
Andy Davis: Magdalene is another of the songs I
did with Gus that was more or less instant. I find I can write slow,
thoughtful melodies quite easily
my problem is always writing
more uptempo, optimistic songs. But no matter how hard I try I usually
end up with some sort of more downbeat aspects to the song. Putney
is in London. Its a suburb of London thats pretty central
on the river Thames. Its where my ex-wife went to college, so
it has sort of historic interest to me. But in actual fact, Magdalene
was a completely invented character, so theres no actual Magdalene.
You mention Claire and her lovely violin playing on Magdalene.
Yeah, shes a superb player with a fantastic voice as well so
in our trio we do feature her on lead vocals on quite a few tunes.
mwe3: Is the story behind Peacock Of The Universe
really true? I guess religion is getting a bit thorny these days!
Andy Davis: The story behind Peacock Of The Universe
is more or less true. (lol) I dont really have much patience
with people who turn up on unsolicited approaches, especially when
they knock on your and ask if you ever think about Jesus. I tend not
to (lol) appreciate the interruption or the question, so I dont
really have a lot of patience with them, and myself. Im an atheist
although I dont sort of crow about it so all religions annoy
me equally really.
mwe3: Charlies Dead is a real hoot. How did
you write the song with Sarah Menage? How old were you when you had
these memories? Also theres some great guitar work on that track.
You mention Elvis and Bobby Vee, so Im thinking 1961!
Davis: Yes, it was the early 60s. Most of that is true,
cause I was about 13 years old I think. My family had one of
the only portable record players. I think it was a Dansette Major,
one of the only ones in the village I lived in. And so I used to ride
a bicycle to this girlfriends house with the Dansette Major
on the handlebars. She wouldnt come to my house for some reason
perhaps she was just scared there was always too many people there.
So I had to go to hers and we used to practice jiving. And the trouble
was on the weekends, she used to go off with much older boys who had
motorbikes, hence the black shadow reference. In essence,
the whole song is true. She was just sort of rehearsing some moves
with me and as soon as I put on a slow song like Take Good Care
Of My Baby, suddenly she wouldnt be so keen but thats
just the stuff of 13 year olds and boys and girls just sort of discovering
what attracts them to each other, so there you go.
mwe3: No instrumentals on Emergency Love. Do you still
have some inclination towards writing more instrumentals in the future?
And I mean rock instrumentals mainly although I still am a fan of
Clevedon Pier, which was your New Age / World Music album from
Andy Davis: Yes, I do like instrumentals. Ive got a few
sort of Celtic sounding ones simmering and we do include a couple
when I play live with Davis, Lindley and Mullen. Theres one
in particular Im working on which is quite an uptempo sort of
guitar-based one in DADGAD with very sort of Irish / Scottish music
influences. Its not really finished yet but it will make an
appearance soon I hope.
mwe3: The title track Emergency Love reminds me
of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Its that good. Were
you trying write a soulful, kind of gospel track ala Bridge?
Its kind of unusual for you and its kind of unusual to
make it the title track.
Andy Davis: I always feel thats one of our best songs
and its certainly very popular live. I intend to record an acoustic
version of it with just a cello and violin and guitar cause
thats an interesting interpretation as well. I had no thoughts
about Bridge Over Trouble Water when we were writing it
but one of my favorite styles is sort of gospel-y / country music
and the sort of chord sequences they use and the simplicity about
the way theyre constructed. So, I tend to use that
as a template these days really and try and keep the chords pretty
simple but interesting. I dont mind if a melody is a touch predictable
in some ways because most melodies are predictable in a way if you
are sort of a historian of music, like I am, I think. So I think,
songwriting that structures songs often moves in circles and some
people manage to keep a very traditional writing style but still write
fantastically advanced songs. Im thinking Stevie Wonder in particular,
which I think is why a lot of his material ends up in the jazz standard
repertoires. He writes in a style very reminiscent of writers in the
1940s and the Great American Songbook and to an extent those kind
of chord sequences can be a little predictable, not always. Its
kind of a nice
its sort of resolution in songwriting that
I always look for. Its like coming home to the final chords
or the final key after a modulation. All that is fairly traditional
songwriting stuff. But again, that song took root pretty quickly with
Guss lyrics. I love that style of lyric writing with clever
word play. I just wish we could write a few more of them.
Tell us about Downtown Lights. Was that a Blue Nile song?
It is a little Chinese music sounding. I guess the song is a favorite
of yours from the past. When did you first hear it? Funny in the CD
liner notes you wrote ask Paul for any more info on the
Andy Davis: Downtown Lights Ive been playing
for years. Whenever theres a session in one of my favorite haunts
and everybody gets the guitars out, its one Ive always
loved. I cant remember when I first heard it. Its obviously
from the Blue Nile album. I love Paul Buchanans songwriting
and voice. Its one of the few albums I can listen to over and
over again. I find the early Blue Nile albums very good driving music
and I particularly admire the way he takes elements and production
and makes them work when on paper they shouldnt. If you describe
what he does, which is taking a very soulful voice, a really soulful
voice, some fairly downbeat, depressing subject matter lyrically and
then put it against entirely electronic music, a lot of it which is
at slower tempos. So, its slow electronic music with fairly
depressing lyrics and a soul voice over it. It shouldnt work
but it works magnificently well. Its got a sort of architectural
texture to it, which is rare. You can almost stare across the rooftops
and see the music as its sort of rolling out of the speakers.
A wonderful talent.
mwe3: By the way, any news on guitars from you? What was your
go-to guitar on Emergency Love?
Andy Davis: Well Ive got quite a selection. Ive
got some good electric guitars. Well, my main one is a Gibson Les
Paul but my acoustic guitars are a bit old really. Theyve been
with me for years but none of them were what you would call high-end
guitars. So recording the album, Emergency Love I borrowed
a guitar from Ed Boyd who you probably heard of I hope. Ed played
in Fluke and amongst other bands. Hes a sensational guitar player.
Another guy who lives in Bath and he lent me a Martin, a D-28, I think,
for the album. Since then, Ive gotten myself a Taylor, a 314ce
and recently I got a guitar built by a luthier from Bristol in the
U.K., a few miles away, called John Kincaid, which Ive only
just had about a month actually. Its a superb guitar and you
cant part me from it now so thats the one Ill be
using in the future. And Ive also got an LR Baggs Anthem
pickup installed which is the best Ive used. So if Mr. Baggs
is reading this and he wants to sponsor somebody please let it be
Track nine on Emergency Love, Loving You Too Long
gets a sole songwriting credit from you. Its one of the best
songs on the CD with driving crescendo-like dynamics. Its another
unrequited love song? Seems to be your specialty these past ten years!
Andy Davis: No, its not a love song. This is a really
depressing subject. It concerns suicide although in a sort of abstract
way. The song refers to the
when you stand on a cliff top, thats
the best example, on a high bridge, its the little voice that
tempts you that you can fly, and that says lets jump,
you can fly. (lol) Im not saying I hear this voice any stronger
than anybody else but its just something that prompts me to
just sort of idly dwell on that when Im on a high point. And
I thought that subject was worth writing a song about in as much as
Ive been listening to this voice for so long. Thats kind
of what I meant although it didnt all fall together too cleverly.
I hasten to add that Ive never for one moment contemplated taking
this step, but still it does fascinate me. I think its probably
Im just thinking hey wouldnt it be fantastic if you could
fly? I think thats at the bottom of it. And theres references
in the song to Marloes Beach in Pembrokeshire. Theres
one such place
a beautiful beach. Pembrokeshire is in West Wales
in the U.K. and its somewhere I go a lot. And the other place
is up in Shetland, which is a collection of islands north of the U.K.
- part of Britain which you may not be familiar with but well worth
looking up on an atlas. And Shetland is where my family come from
so I go back there quite often. Its a wonderful place, quite
unique in a lot of ways.
And one of the most remote islands is called Foula and its an
extraordinary place. Its barely a mile wide. Its at sea
level on one side and it more or less goes up straight to about nearly
1400 feet, I think, on the opposite side of the island. Its
more or less a sheer cliff. Its called The Kame and it feels
like the edge of the world. Its a magical place, not least because
it being on the far west of Shetland, theres no land mass between
there and northern Canada so the sea is phenomenal there. The wind,
its really an elemental place. I visited there
once. Its not easy to get there because of the sea. Its
about twenty miles off the Shetland Islands. The sea is very unpredictable
there and the wind, the fog that comes down and envelopes the island.
But I did manage to get there once and I went inside to the top of
the second highest cliff in Britain
The Kame. I think thats
when this song first came to me because I was thinking
looking down at all the sea birds, small specks down at the bottom
of the cliff, thinking wouldnt it be fantastic to just fly off
now. I resisted the temptation anyway thats what the song is
The Emergency Love CD closes with The Ghost Of Love.
Man talk about an eerie love song! Did you want to end the album on
a kind of depressing note? Lol
Andy Davis: The Ghost Of Love is a lyric that my
friend and long time collaborator Pete Brandt sent me a few years
ago. Pete Brandt is an exceptionally talented musician and writer
from Bristol in the U.K. And its well worth checking out one
of his solo albums. One was called Love Minus Zero. I guess
you could google Pete Brandt and find all you need to know soon. Anyway,
he sent me the lyric and I put the music to it and it immediately
grabbed me. But its not such a depressing song. What probably
isnt apparent from listening to the song is theres quite
a lot of humor in there.
Its meant to be slightly overblown language but more to the
point, theres three sections. And the character in the song
this is why I admire Petes work so much, because hes
such a clever writer. The character in the song, in the first verse,
he sober. Hes just walked in, hes having a drink and hes
musing about his broken love affair. The second verse, hes had
a few and hes getting maudlin and hes getting very colorful
in his language and a bit boring really to anybody whos around
him. And in the third verse hes drunk as a skunk and just letting
it all go. So its a shame the humor in the song isnt more
apparent but it does work pretty well. I think if you look at it the
other way, its a pretty gut-wrenching love song as well. So
yes, The Ghost Of Love. I just wondered if youd
heard my other album, Desire Lines, which is on my web site
Thats an acoustic album. Itd be great if you could give
that a listen. You can listen free on the web site. So there you go!