I was chatting to a young, tech savvy, musician friend this week about what I was currently working on.  He follows me on social media, so he knew I had a new song out on streaming services, and he had seen the video we had made to help promote the song on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.  I said it was going to be a busy week because I was going to release the album on CD. 

I realised that we were from slightly different generations when he said ‘CD, is that still a thing?’.

It’s interesting because this young musician has only recently started building up his collection of vinyl records which I’m now reliably informed ‘IS A THING’ even though for many years it wasn’t a thing at all.

Of course I’ve been involved in making ‘records’ for over half a century so I have seen many changes in how we deliver music to the market.  Before we go any further I need to confirm that I didn’t ever release music on wax cylinders or those heavy duty noisy 78’s. Having said that when my first records were released in 1974, 45 Singles and 33 1/3rd LPS it were still relatively new technology.

For the following 20 years I had a vinyl record addiction.  I couldn’t pass a shop or market stall without flicking through their collections.  The trouble with vinyl was that it could get scratched and your record could jump or click loudly over the damaged sections.  It also affected the way you remembered music.  I had a scratched Van Morrison LP which jumped at the start of Brown Eyed Girl.  I got so used to it that it sounded wrong when the radio played the unscratched version.


It was thought cassettes would be the new ‘THING’ as you could tape over them again and again.  In fact in 1976 I bought a large selection of my school fiend Kevin Eynon’s LP collection because he had taped them all. 

In the early 1980s there came a format that would revolutionise the music industry forever…or so we thought. 

The CD or compact disc could have 74 minutes of digital sound and you could spill coffee or scratch the CD and it would still play…well that’s what they said.   The CD would be the end of vinyl recordings forever.  They weren’t cheap.  First you needed a CD Player and the CDs cost was around £12.99 which is about £45 in today’s money!

In the early days of Compact Discs I was recording with a band called ‘After The Fire’ who were signed to Sony CBS.  The album cost a fortune to record, but everyone was terribly excited that we were going to be the first UK CD release on the new format which would guarantee it’s success and a great return on the investment..  Sadly, just before release the record executives lost their jobs, the band was dropped, and the album never saw the light of day in any format.

When I started my own Record Company, MPH Records, in 1990 I had the same dilemma…what format should I go for.  I actually started working on a vinyl LP and even got to the test pressing stage before I was persuaded by the band that we should go straight to CD.  This was helped by the fact that one of the only UK based CD manufacturers was based in Wales. 

I can still remember driving to Wyastone Leys Mansion near Monmouth to deliver my ‘tape’.  I then had to wait about 6 weeks before the delivered the final CDS.

Over the next decade or so I would release my music on 2 different formats.  CD and Cassette.  Years later I realised that the boxes of cassettes my parents had stored for me in their garage where never going to sell so I took them all to the Swansea Recycling Centre. 

I told the man in the high viz jacket I had some cassettes I didn’t need any more.  He opened the box and took out the first cassette.  It had a picture of me on the cover.  He looked at the cassette and then he looked at me.  He then took another, and another, all the same of course, and we had the same exchange of looks.  Finally he said, ‘dump them over there in general waste!’.

In recent years the music business has changed and now we all give away our music for free to streaming sites.  For the price we paid for one CD in 1985 you can pay for a monthly streaming subscription for every record ever recorded.

They do occasionally send us some money but its not very much.  The model has changed.  We used to do concerts to sell our records, now we give our music away in the hope you’ll buy a ticket or T-Shirt.

Or maybe not…

Sometimes it is nice to physically hold your music. That was so much part of the joy of the old LP.  You would hold them, read them, organise them on your shelves.  The music itself might invisible sound waves moving in the air but with an LP you could see it and touch your music too.

So I have made a new CD and its out now.  ‘Dream Out Loud’ is a collection of songs old and new.  It was the chance to pull together lots of songs, some already released on streaming and download, and put them into an order that made sense as a whole.


It took days of working the various permutations.  Getting the balance between fast, slow and mid-tempo songs. A ballad followed by something lively.  I must admit I quite enjoyed the puzzle of trying to make 16 different songs sound like one complete coherent project.

The oldest song had originally been recorded at Abbey Road in 1977 with Elton John as my producer.  ‘A Child’s Prayer’ was a song of a child’s simple faith.  When Eton returned the song last year it gave me the chance to look again at what I had written then, how I had changed in the meantime, but also how I could still see the boy inside the man.

‘Letting You Down’ was recorded at the legendary AIR Studios’ in 1979 with me playing the Paul McCartney ‘Live and Let Die’ Grand Piano and supported by a full orchestra. I replaced my voice with my new old voice, added my band the Jacks and it actually went top 20 in the Heritage Charts earlier this year.

The other songs feature my ‘good ole boys’ the Jacks and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

I’ve got a couple of boxes full of CDs and I suppose over the next few months I’ll find out if the gamble of turning my songs in plastic will pay off.  Who knows maybe I should have gone straight to vinyl first.

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