The trouble with reaching this great age is that I sometimes forget about some of the more unusual projects I have been involved in along the way. The big moments like working Elton John, Cliff and Bonnie are hard to forget but every so often something happens out of the blue to bring back a host of strange memories.
Like that time I had a big dance hit record in Italy…
Over the years I have stumble into lots of strange projects. The cartoons like ‘Fireman Sam’ and ‘Superted’ were unusual but relatively straight forward. As I had young children of my own I knew the market and knew what was expected from my voice. ‘Altered State’ was very different.
At the time I was being managed by the Legendary Larry Page. Larry had discovered the Kinks and the Troggs. We had met while I was in between music gigs working as a researcher on a TV Show. We got talking in the Green Room and found that we had a lot of musical friends in common like Elton. He asked if I was still writing, we exchanged contact details and a few weeks later I had left he BBC again and signed a management contract with Page One.
I think it must have been Larry who got me the ‘Altered State’ gig. As an idealistic singer songwriter I was worried that as it wasn’t the genre of music I was trying to break back into it might be bad for my career. Larry convinced me that as the record was for the European Dance Market I had nothing to worry about.
I remember being sent a copy of the record. The first thing I noticed was that they had spelt my name incorrectly. Anyway, there was talk of a tour of Discos around the Rimini Area of Italy. I decided that if I was going to be an Italian popstar it would be a good idea to visit the local library in Morriston and get a ‘Teach Yourself Italian’ book.
If I’m honest I wasn’t completely surprised when the trail went quiet and in my mind I said ‘Arrivederci Roma’ and packed away my gold lame suit.
It was my son Lewis that first alerted me to the fact that ‘Altered State’ had actually become something of an underground dance hit across Europe. He had been out in a London club aimed at European ex pats and thought he recognised the voice on one of the tracks they had played that filled the dance floor. At the end of the night Lewis went to ask the DJ about the song and was surprised to find out it was his dad.
That set Lewis down an internet rabbit hole where he found out that original recordings of the 12 inch were changing hands for over £100 each!! I searched the cupboards in my studio and in a pile of Vinyls I found my unplayed, pristine copy. Well, I thought to myself, that’s something I can sell when times get tough.
It was back in August last year that I got an email from a chap named Nemo from Sound Metaphors Records in Berlin. He and his partner loved the record and were planning to reissue the single with a few remixes too. Now I’m always suspicious of emails out of the blue trying to work out where is the scam but I did my due diligence, organised a zoom chat and soon gave my blessing.
The next step was the artwork. If I’m honest, although I’m not that much over my ‘fighting weight’ from when the song was produced I probably don’t look exactly the way I did back then. Nemo wondered if I had a photographs that they might be able to use.
The reason I have so much memorabilia, cuttings and photographs from the last 50 years is because of my mum. She collected everything and kept they safe and labelled in lots of boxes. If something turned up like a newspaper article or photograph I always popped them over to my mum for safe keeping.
It was a number of years ago that Paul Jeff told me he was going through his photographic collection and had found lots of old negatives and contact sheets from my HTV Wales TV Show. Paul was part of an Avante Garde collective called ‘Klanger and Boink.’
I had seen their unusual work at an Art Exhibition and when I was given my own TV Series I asked Paul ‘Klanger’ and Betsy ‘Boink’ if they would design the set. The set was wonderfully anarchic with cactus plants and a Giant Venus de Milo. They also took it upon themselves to keep a photographic record of the show.
When my mum passed away I had taken custody of the memorabilia boxes so I thought it was worth a deep dive to see if I could find anything appropriate. That’s when I came across the ‘Klanger and Boink’ collection.
Klanger and Boink Contact Sheets.
The trouble was a lot of the best shots were negatives. In this digital age I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I decided to photograph them against a light box on my mobile phone and send them off to Berlin. In my mind it wasn’t going to be too much of a problem to invert the images back to their original state.
On Thursday I was sent a photograph of the new cover. In the end Nemo decided to use the negative picture of me as was and it looks, well…very Berlin I think!!!
The record is now available directly from Sound Metaphors Berlin and also in select Vinyl Record Stores around the world. I have to say I really do love the blurb on the website. I quote…
“Altered State” is a masterpiece amongst enthusiasts and collectors of dancefloor sleaze and downtempo wellness.
The B-side features an 11 minute excursion into a completely new altered state of dubby, delayed trance, for special cosmic holes only.’
Now I don’t expect it’s going to change my life, but I must admit its made me smile quite a lot this week. I wonder if I’ll be invited out for Personal Appearances at some of Europe’s hottest night spots.
I must admit it’s been so cold here this week I could do with a few days in the sun. Now then where did I put that Teach Yourself Italian’ book?