PROJECTS

The Island Book of Records (#IBoR) project documents the analog age of the coolest label on the planet.

It comprises of 12 volumes – each 12”x12” (vinyl-sized) hardback edition detailing (approx.) 100 LPs, all sequentially presented by catalogue number – that means (as just an example) Vol 3 will start with ILPS 9200 the first Roxy Music album and close with ILPS 9299 which was Swamp Dogg‘s one and only Island LP called Have You Heard This Story?

Each LP is fully illustrated with scans of every front and back cover, inside sleeve, labels, inner bag or other inserts plus, where relevant cover variations (and there were a few of those).

Within each volume, the LP adverts play an essential illustrative role – in many instances, these LP ads are long-forgotten pieces of art in their own right. Included are all the full page + teaser / ¼ page / ½ page / double-page ads from Melody Maker, NME, Sounds, ZigZag, International Times, The Face, Q Magazine, Black Echoes, Blues & Soul and UK editions of Rolling Stone etc together with trade adverts from Music Week and Record Retailer as well as relevant shop display posters particular to an album’s release. We’re also including all of the relevant gig and tour ads (many at venues which no longer exist), posters, concert tickets and other ephemera.

The text is edited by Paul Rees – a former editor of Q Magazine whose work has also appeared in The Sunday Times Magazine, The Telegraph and The Independent as well as Classic Rock. He is the author of the acclaimed Robert Plant biography published by HarperCollins in 2014.

The text comprises of the stories behind the albums told by those who were actually involved in the making of them – be they the artists themselves / graphic designers / photographers / producers / musicians / engineers or record company personnel of the time.

When complete, the individual volumes will represent the entire compendium of the analog age of Island Records (or, put another way, from when it began issuing albums in 1959 to when Chris Blackwell sold to what is now Universal).

In background development since 2010, currently Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 11 are well advanced. To outline the scale – Volume 1 is currently at 400+ pages while Volume 2 is presently running at over 770 pages while Volume 3 is over 500 pages.

IF this archive isn’t collated as it should be and IF the recollections of those who were at the coalface at the time aren’t collected now, they probably never will be and a crucial span of music history will not be preserved for future generations. As time passes, there really is only a relatively narrow window for this to be done.

For the first time ever, accurate in-store dates will be appended to all releases. Where known, LPs that were scheduled yet, for one reason or another weren’t issued, are also included.

No end is in sight – this project will run… and run… and only be finished when it is complete.

age+geography charts the on-off, three-decade, stop-start career of Manchester’s The Distractions. Rare photos, exclusive candid interviews – as well as never-before-heard music (live and studio recordings) – together with the band’s only Island LP Nobodys Perfect issued on CD for the first time. age+geography is due soon.

Work began on The Distractions retrospective more years ago than those of us at HM HQ like to remember. Start. Stop. Pause a bit. Start. Stop again. Lengthy pause. Start over.

Too tedious to detail the delays and what lay behind them – suffice to say, we’re up and running. Properly.

First things first – with all of The Distractions key masters located, we’ve completed the digitisation process of all found. However, using the same methodology as for any HiddenMasters project, the complete audio-database also includes live recordings; demos, outtakes, different mixes and radio sessions – some of which only now exist on DAT, cassette or virgin vinyl.

So, at long last, we will shortly be embarking on the song selection process in collaboration with Mike Finney, Steve Perrin and Nick Halliwell.

For a long period, the set ran under the (working) title of Parabolically Yours. It worked but… it didn’t quite. Its changed.

Its now called Age+Geography.

As with all HiddenMasters releases, Age+Geography will be issued as a 12″ casebound, hardback book-set. The re-design is at an advanced level – we’re at considerably over 100 pages, while the text – with a handful of interviews still to be completed – is being drawn from exclusive interviews with members of the band along with contemporaries and others associated with the group. The set will also include a wealth of previously unseen images.

The music will be contained on either 3 or 4 CDs (final track listing yet to be decided).

Age+Geography will be issued late 2017 as a limited 1st edition of just 1,000 copies worldwide.

Details for pre-ordering – which will be exclusive to PledgeMusic – will be announced very shortly.

Harlequin – a journey through Head Hands & Feet all too brief musical life. In development and due for release in 2018, the set will include rare photos, exclusive interviews and a good deal of music never before heard as well, of course, as their first two albums issued on CD for the first time.

Heads Hands & Feet began before they began.

The six who comprised the (original) line-up had a collective pedigree that dated to before the Beatles era of rock ‘n roll.

* Albert Lee (guitar / vocals) – was barely 16 when he toured Scotland as part of the backing bands for early Brit rockers such as Duffy Power and Dickie Pride. He became a mainstay of the house-band at the Two Is coffee bar in Soho, moved to Hamburg and then joined Neil Christian’s Crusaders before moving on to Chris Farlowe’s Thunderbirds (who he left in 1968) and then briefly hooking up with Steve Gibbons’ band…

* Chas Hodges (bass / violin / banjo / vocals) – in 1960 he joined Joe Meek’s studio band, The Outlaws (with whom Ritchie Blackmore also cut his musical teeth), before moving on to Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers…

*Pete Gavin (drums / vocals) – spent the 60s with groups such as The Shades, The Shevelles, The Soul Pushers before joining Long John Baldry’s regular band Bluesology (alongside Reg Dwight before he was known as Elton John), Neil Hubbard, Elton Dean and, for a while, Marsha Hunt before joining Jody Grind with whom he recorded the Far Canal album…

*Mike O’Neill (keyboards) – who can forget Nero and The Gladiators, kings of the twang-bar… Mike was also a member of The John Barry Seven during 1964 when the group was led by Alan Bown. When Barry disbanded the group, The Alan Bown was formed with Jeff Bannister replacing O’Neill…

*Ray Smith (guitar / vocals) – already a highly respected session-player had been working with Tony Colton for a number of years co-composing as well as being central to Tony Colton and The Big Boss Band as well as The Crawdaddies.

*Tony Colton (vocals) – brief solo outings with Pye and Columbia came to little but songwriting and then production (initially with The Shevelles) paid dividends. Behind the glass for Georgie Fame led to Rory Gallagher’s Taste and Yes. From Shirley Bassey to Frankie Valli to Wilson Pickett. Delaney & Bonnie, Richard Harris and Jerry Lee Lewis. And many others.

Throughout, TC was using a band he’d put together with Ray Smith from the Crawdaddy All-Nighter community… Albert Lee… Mike O’Neill… Pete Gavin… Pat Donaldson… and… Jerry Donahue. In studio downtime, they began recording their own LP as Poet & The One Man Band.

Donahue and Donaldson left to join Sandy Denny’s new group Fotheringay (which featured Albert Lee for a few, early, rehearsals). Chas Hodges was brought into the fold as replacement and… using a name picked by Pete Gavin – Heads, Hands & Feet – was born.

The new group were the subject of a major label bidding war and eventually signed to Island for the UK and Rest Of The World and Capitol (US) in 1971.

Three albums followed – Heads, Hands & Feet (1971 – a double album in the US but a single album in the UK); Tracks (1972) although, by the release of 1973’s Old Soldiers Never Die friction had set in; Albert Lee had already left and the band had effectively broken up leaving behind a legacy of extraordinary songs and a history of live gigs best summed up by Colton himself when he says: “You didn’t want to follow Head Hands and Feet, I don’t care who you were. Live, it was an awesome thing to behold.”