Friday, July 17, 2009


Lord Large starts with two good buddies living in south-east London. One, Large, a confused songwriter/keyboardist has spent the last few years playing indie-rock, whilst secretly listening to Ramsey Lewis and the Meters; the other, Jones, a producer/drummer, who of late has been confined to a bunker in Deptford making music for TV, while gazing longingly at his vast, now dusty, collection of 60's soul vinyl.

Both want an opportunity to fulfill their desires to write and record in the style of music they share a love of, basically the soul and funk of the late 60's and early 70's. This arises when a bass-playing friend of theirs, Steve Walters, mentions his unofficial godfather is Clem Curtis of The Foundations - one of the unofficial godfathers of British 60's soul, and singer of one of Large and Jones's top ten tunes, "Baby, now that I've found you".

With this connection in mind, Large pens the song "Stuck in a wind-up", which fortunately Clem finds something attractive in, enough to make the tortuous journey down the M1 from Curtis Towers near Milton Keynes to record it. The results being rather pleasing, Large and Jones release it on their specially created record label, 2-bit.

After some useful plays on Radio 2 as "Lord Large featuring Clem Curtis", Acid Jazz pick up on the act, and offer to put an album out with not only Clem singing, but potentially other classic singers performing the songs.

And so the mission began: to find some singers, and of course, to write some decent songs.

Although Large has had limited experience as a session player, he nonetheless managed to form some useful connections. One was with a trombonist who sang one of Large and Jones's favourite tracks of the 90's, "Tune in, turn on.." by Freakpower - as well as being a guest speaker on the music business at Jones boyhood school in North London. So Ashley Slater was cajoled into singing a track that incidentally has lyrics written by lauded new Independiente band The Shortwave Set.

It was whilst playing upright piano in a pub that Large had met a certain local drinker by the name Glenn Tilbrook, lead singer and songwriter of classic British band Squeeze. The two then worked together on both of Glenn's solo albums. It was only natural then that with such a talent around the corner Glenn was roped in to not only singing, but writing the lyrics on what now turns out to be the 2nd single, "Don't stick around too long".

Another south-east London singer was next up on the boys list for ideal voices to be on the album. Andrea Britton had been a friend and collaborator with both of them, but had recently found chart success singing in more the dance-music genre. She has the perfect smoky voice for singing the song written specifically for her, "Way to go".

It was whilst on tour with Glenn in the USA, that Large had first discovered Robert Bradley, a blind blues singer that had had both of them transfixed as he sang on a riverbank somewhere in Michigan. Bradley was interested in the project as Large declared his intention of getting this as yet undiscovered remarkable voice heard in the UK, a place he had never visited.

For a long time Large and Jones had been fans of a 60's Hammond trio called The Peddlers, initially through some prized vinyl passed through the Jones family. Because of this, the song "Closer" was written for the album as a direct salute to the sound of this band, in particular the voice and Hammond organ style of the leader Roy Phillips, now living in New Zealand. Strangely coincidentally, Jones had arranged his honeymoon in that same country. On his return Jones was able to tell Large all about a certain new drinking buddy he'd met, bonded with, and secured an amazing vocal performance from.

The last track on the album that needed a singer was a stomping Large/Jones collaboration requiring a female voice full of soul yet able to cope with a stratospherically high vocal range. After some research the ideal singer was found, Linda Lewis. As a singer/songwriter Linda has made many inspirational solo albums since the 70's, but she has also sung with rock luminaries such as David Bowie and Cat Stevens. Fortunately she found time to visit Deptford before jet-setting off to Japan for the start of her next world tour." A bass player friend of Jones's came to the rescue, as the regular bassist for Linda he had the necessary contact details, and by extra good fortune it transpired that her husband is the boss of the agency that books the Tilbrook tours Large plays on.

While Large and Jones are pretty able to cover the keyboard parts, the drums and some guitar parts, a host of musicians were required to cover brass, strings, backing vocals, bass, vibraphone, and the more dexterous guitar parts. All of these were professional musician friends, with all kinds of musical experience. Their names are on the album, but some of the stars they have worked with include Paul McCartney, Jimmy Cliff and Joe Strummer.

Here's the hit single, Left, right and Centre from their album - Lord Large presents The Lords First Eleven, featuring vocals by Dean Parish. Interestingly, this song was penned by a young, teen-aged Paul Weller, well before his days with the Jam, and shows the obvious influence of soul music at a time when you would have thought he was more focused on power-pop bordering on punk. Of course the soul influence would resurface on later Jam albums. The song only existed as a demo, but it eventually ended up in the Lord Large production room via Wigan Casino DJ/founder Russ Winstanley, Acid Jazz’s Eddie Piller, and Ocean Colour Scene/Weller guitarist, Steve Cradock. Cradock is one of several guest musicians on the track, which also includes Corduroy bassist, Richard Searle, and dance anthem singer, Andrea Britton.

The main vocal on this track is by American star Dean Parrish, whose song “I’m on my way” was an early smash on the Northern scene, and went on to become the biggest ever selling Northern Soul 45”.