The Story behind (the songs)
Dance Your Life Away
... they have just added a permanent new member to the band, sax-man
and multi-instrumentalist Marty Craggs who apperas on the new single and album and will
appear on stage during the tour. Alan Hull discusses the band's new album 'Dance
Your Life Away'.
- Shine On I had the chorus about four years ago. I was
just tinkering around on a high-string guitar. It's something that Si invented a few years
ago. What you do is to take off all the strings below G and replace them with light gauge
strings, so in effect the low E is an octave higher. It's like a 12-string without the
bottom strings on it, so you get a very high tinkley sound. I had it in the house and I
was just playing around with it. - The little run down chorus for it came to
me, so I wrote some verses, but they were a bit dowdy. The band liked the song but they
didn't like the verses much and we nearly recorded it for the last album, but we didn't.
Then Ray Jackson said why don't you rewrite the verses, a happier tune, more fitting to
the chorus actually. Then, lo and behold, when we were recording it I couldn't think of
any words, you know. I was really stuck. I had one verse and the chorus and I had a mental
block, which sometimes happens. We were running out of time in the studio and were
scheduled to put their vocals on the next day, so I gave it to Steve Daggett, who
co-produced the album and said, look, take it away and finish it 'cos I can't. He came
back the next day with al these very nice universal lyrics.
- Love On The Run Rod wrote that and we demo'd it a year
ago with Steve and it sounded good then. Rod doesn't write a lot of songs but occasionally
comes up with a gem. I thinki he's done it again this time.
- Heroes I wanted to write a song
about the strike, the great strike of 1984/85 but I was loath to do it while the strike
was on in ease it was temptng fate. But when the strike ended and there was no decision
really, there was no defeat for the miners, the song just came straight out. It's
dedicated to the National Union of Mineworkers. I love them all, I fought for them during
the strike and actually recorded it on an album called 'Heroes' which also includes tracks
by Billy Bragg, The Flying Pickets and others. Billy had a track on the album called 'Part
Of The Union' which is now on his new album. I put 'Heroes' on our new album and I've been
performing it on stage. It's been getting a tremendous reception. Although it doesn't
actually mention the miners, it could be about any kind of people who struggle for their
rights, the cause that they believe in whether they don't have a result. That's what the
song is really about, it's in support of people who will fight for what they believe in to
be right against all the odds, like the miners did. They had the forces of evil lined up
against them but they still fought because they believed and still believe that their
struggle was correct. It turned out to be a fine rock and roll song and it's great to do
on stage. - All the songs on the album actually are very do-able on stage,
which is great. On this tour we're going to do the whole lot. We set out when me and Steve
produced it, we were given a brief by the band to try and create an album which could be
very easily transferred to stage and as far as I see we've succeeded.
- All In The Same Boat It's just a nice sort of summery
kind of song, quite a contrast to the track before. It's nice and easy and it passes the
message of optimism over that although things aren't as they should be - we're living in a
troubled world here - we're in it together, so let's try and work together.
- Dance Your Life Away Another
quirky song that I had for a while with a chorus that the band liked - but nobody liked
the bits in between. Me and Steve had laid the backing tracks down with drum machines and
sequencer and I came home and wrote the words in about ten minutes. It's about the yound
unemployed in Britain and the message is: don't belive it, you don't have to take this
crap. They try to tell you what to do: do it like this, do it like that, do it like the
Master does it, do it like Miss - but don't believe it. That's the message. It's a checky
song, but again it's a message of optimism. You don't have to take it, you can change
things, you don't have to ask for a Social state, you can make one. But it's also a bit of
fun and it's got a great wailin' sax by Marty Craggs.
- Beautiful Day It's a love song.
It's pretty rare for me to write a love song. I wrote it just after 'Heroes'. I was so
drained by that I just thought I'd better write a love song. I'm really looking forward to
doing it on stage because it's abit of a rocker, it's in the mould of what Bruce
Springsteen does so well.
- Broken Doll I got the idea for that because there's a
pub in Newcastle called 'Broken Doll' and it sells particularly good beer and I've
frequented it myself on the odd occasion. In the pub there are lots of original paintings
of dolls which have been misused - children's dolls with arms falling off, or an eye out.
The idea came to me sometimes, I do and I'm sure everybody else does, feel a bit just like
that. You've tried to do something and you've got it wrong or somebody stopped you from
doing it, or you've had a broken love affair or whatever. That was the idea for the song
and sometimes I feel like a broken doll. Simon Cowe played on a synthesiser, a Roland JX,
but it's the sound of an accordion. To get the effect to play it like an accordion player
I turned the synthesiser keyboard laterally, so it was standing on the floor with the
keyboard facing the ceiling, so you could get the feel of how an accordion player would
play it - and it worked. It really does sound like a drunken French accordion player in
- 100 Miles To Liverpool Was
inspired by a couple of great fans, girl fans from the South who on occasion, which is
about every month, write me a huge letter. They're called Sue and Annie and I got a letter
one morning and that's how the first line of the song is: 'Sue and Annie wrote me, they're
coming down to quote me, know every word of every song' and that just started off the
train of thought about being on the road, because I was thinking of the next tour. Being
on the road is different kinds of emotions: it's a mixture of boredom, great happiness and
joy on the stage, nostalgia for the places you've been to and what they used to be. It
developed as a song of being on the road and I chose Liverpool as a focal point because
Liverpool had a sort of romantic life of its own in everybody's mind because of John and
Paul. I'm really looking forward to doing this on tour in Liverpool because I love the
place, it's very similar to Tyneside.
- Take Your Time Just a
straightforward sort of mid-tempo rock song. Again it's an optimistic message. It was
inspired by thinking of my daughter Berenice who's now a teenager. She's going through the
adolescent pains that everyone does. I remember when I was an adolescent - the actual
period - I hated it. But I came out at the other end, luckily enough. This is a sort of
message to her and her friends. A lot of things look odd and weird and you think that
people don't like you and you come to hate the things you really love. If you take the
time you come out all right at the other end.
- Song For A Stranger It's hard to pin down; it's hard to
define, it's a bit mystical and it's a little bit of a nod in the spirit of the direction
of where we came from really, which was a folk-based kind of band.