The Belgium Connection.

 

I’d not long finished playing with what I believe was the UK’s first tribute to The Blues Brothers. I’d had an amazing time with the band playing gigs around the country and a few in Europe and the Middle-East but I was getting a bit fed up with chugging up and down the M1 (not to Oman obviously!) three or four times a week and as I recall the ‘big time’ was calling me – Yep, I was still chasing the fame game at this point…

I’d just hooked up with a drummer in Derby, where I was now located, and he had a couple of mates that were chasing the dream in London. Well, I say chasing, it’s probably more accurate to say the dream was sneaking upon them. You see they’d just dropped for a management deal and a few record companies were talking to them. It turns out their management team also looked after Rozalla – The Queen Of Rave – who had just had the hit “Everybody’s Free” so any act on their books was clearly fair game and hotter than a hot thing. Pretty soon they’d signed to a record company in Belgium – Private Life Records.

‘Nice for them’, I thought as my drummer buddy was telling me about it while playing their demo on number eleven at silly o’clock on a Summer’s night with the windows and doors wide open – poor neighbours. Ok for him too as it turned out; they’d asked him to go to Brussels with them to play the drums on their debut album. I wasn’t bothered… honest.

After a couple of days where I wasn’t sulking, (I wasn’t!) The Drummer came around to my house (no mob phones back then and even a landline was a luxury I couldn’t afford) and told me the Dynamic Duo in Londinium wanted a bass player to go to Belgium and do the album and he’d recommended me! Whoop, whoop!

The Drummer and I got down to daily rehearsals using The London chap’s demo cassette as a guide and after a few weeks of this, we eventually got the dates through to go do the album. Great! But then a week later we got the news that Rozalla had got the support on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous tour and my two new best mates down The Smoke had been drafted into her band. And yep, the recording had to be put back while they went and played in front of thousands of people and met and got photographed with just about every rock and pop star that ever lived. A hard life, eh! But I wasn’t in the slightest bit envious… Honest!

Not to worry. We eventually got to go to Belgium to record the album. The London Connection was already there with The Producer and laying down the guide tracks and The Drummer and myself were to drive over there in a week to do our bit. So it was left to me to sort transport and go pick up The Drummer, who when in the car proceeded to open and drink can after can of Ireland’s Finest. He did this all the way down to Dover, at the terminal while we waited to board, all the time we were on the ferry and then all the way from Ostend to Brussels. It wouldn’t have been so bad but after the third can he was wanting a ‘pit stop’ every half hour! On top of this, he was no help at all in negotiating the narrow and dimly lit back streets of the Brussels suburbs while trying to locate the well-hidden recording studio. Drummers, eh!

Anyway, we both did our things in the studio but one of my takes was unceremoniously disturbed when The Queen Of Rave made an appearance. Everything had to stop while she held court for an hour. She was nice enough and everything but I seem to recall I got right p*ssed off about it. I mean, I was halfway through a good take of a song, who does she thinks she is, eh? Spoiling my creative flow… Sheesh!

A week later The Drummer and I had finished our recording duties so we left the others to finish their masterpiece and drove back home – without the Guinness!

Now, I bet you’re wondering what happened to that album. Did it chart? Did it outsell every major release of the time? Did we get to make a promo video or appear on Top Of The Pops? Did we get to do a sellout World tour? Nah, the Gruesome Twosome fell out with The Producer and the record company while the album was still being recorded. So that, as they say, was the end of that. Good fun while it lasted though. I just had to chalk it up to experience. The Drummer? Well, he ended up touring Australia with a band, falling in love over there and eventually living there. Alright for some, eh?

I think this whole thing possibly highlights the issue of record deals, record companies and producers; especially when they aren’t all singing from the same hymn-sheet, which I presume is what happened in Brussels. Obviously, as a ‘hired-hand’ I wasn’t party to the inner workings and politics of the record company, producer and artist trilogy – thankfully.

Nowadays, people can often be heard bemoaning the modern music industry claiming it’s just about dead and there’s no good music about. Well, I disagree. With the wonder that is the internet musicians, songwriters and artist no longer need the antiquated record company to release their music. And the added bonus is it can be done singlehandedly so no falling out with anyone unless you’re the type that can fall out with yourself of course!

Talking of which, don’t forget to check out my Shop, if you want too that is!

Thanks for your time.

Andy x

Author: Andy

André is a musician and music producer who creates funky 60's influenced organ instruments. He also teaches creative music production techniques.

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