HOW AND WHY WE MADE THE RECORD
Having signed my first recording contract in 1973, aged 13, I knew there was a very special anniversary coming up for me in 2023. I wanted to mark it with some very special recordings.
I decided that I would go back to the future. What I had done since I was a kid was sit at a piano and write songs. So that’s what I did. Everyday for weeks I wrote a new song. Then I whittled them down to about 20 on a shortlist.
Mal and Andrew Griffiths on the plane to Prague
I’ve known the arranger Andrew Griffiths since he was a kid. At 17 he came on work experience for a week at my studio. In fact, he never properly left. In the meantime, he went to university, played brass with his brothers ‘The Brass Monkeys’ on my TV series and then developed his own studio and a career writing music for TV and films.
One of my sons gave me Elton John’s biography for Christmas and it reminded me that for his first big album he worked with an orchestral arranger called Paul Buckmaster. So, I sent Andrew my new songs and some tracks from the ‘Elton John’ album and asked him if he could do something similar.
It took a couple of days until the first arrangement came through but when it did I literally started to laugh. It was so big, so over the top and perfect for what I had in mind to be different from everything else around at the moment.
Next we got the boys in. My band the Jacks are so busy with projects, this year has seen them play in venues across Europe including Wembley Stadium, that I had to grab a day here and there with them individually.
First I got Ryan Aston, the drummer in Ystradgynlais,
Then Andrew ‘Wal’ Coughlan the bass player in Garnant.
Tim Hamill did guitars in Llangennech
Finally, Nigel Hopkins emailed his electric piano parts from somewhere near Carmarthen.
The big question came with the orchestra. These days synthesizers and samples are very good and its hard to tell the difference between them and the real thing…but there is a difference.
Andrew had recently been out to Prague to record an orchestra for one of his tv projects. It was so tempting and as anyone who knows me, knows…I can resist anything except temptation.
Then we need to get the look right and that’s when I got in contact with Richie Crossley at www.chicproduction.com.
600 pictures later and we got the album cover and some really classy head shots.