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Red Hot and Blue

Mouse Zinn

in Interviews

Here’s an old interview conducted a couple of years ago when Mouse released his Vigilante Man album.

 

Well, it’s been a long while since you last been into a studio recording. How does it feel to be back?
Mouse Zinn — Ha, the last time I recorded ANYTHING was back in 1999/2000 for the Space Cadets lp “cadets A-Go-Go”, after that, for no reason I embarked on a 10/11 year ‘silence’. For some reason I had no urge to do a anything creative, and quite honestly needed a break. in the 90s not 1 year passed by without me doing something, Red Hot n Blue ( 4 albums) Space Cadets (3 albums) Kid Rocker (2 albums) and countless other little projects with other bands, producing songs, writing songs, the Chessie Bits, live shows,record hops and so on….it was a mad decade. In the noughties all I did was record hops and shows with the Space Cadets. Then it dawned on me that 10 years had passed and i hadnt recorded a single song,thats a long long time in a musicians life y’know! it feels really good to be doing something again and recording has always been my favorite part of the whole business.

What decided you to make this record?
Mouse Zinn — I decided to go and do a solo project because I just had this desire to do something. I was watching all my old mates put out songs and cds etc..etc…, watching all these new bands recording and putting out stuff and I kind of felt ‘left-out’ i guess. why hadnt i did a recording for such a long time? I really dont know, all I can say is this… in that time I’ve had a lot of great ideas of what I ‘really’ wanted to do, and it didnt involve another band, this was going to be something I wanted to do, My ideas, MY control, MY style and MY desicions on what will and will not be on a new recording. So it had to be a solo project with me at the helm as MOUSE ZINN, with musicians helping me with what I wanted to do.

You’ve always been in a band configuration (Red Hot’n’Blue, Space Cadets, Switchblade). This time it sounds like a real solo album. Does it change something in your approach?
Mouse Zinn — Im now 27 years onwards from my 1st Red Hot n Blue recordings back in 1983. And in that time I’e always been part of a group as such, so now I see myself as an artist who would more prefer to have a solo part to my reportoir, and also do the shows with the Space Cadets. lets see how it pans out, but the future could be very strange on the rockin scene, and who knows, I may even be asked to do my Red Hot n Blue songs 20 years from now when I’m in my mid-60s, you just never know. so at the moment im focusing on this new solo thing and getting my 1st solo album out for xmas/new year.

Can you tell us about the songs we’ll find on the plater? What kind of music, styles, songs etc…
Mouse Zinn — First of all, “vigilante Man” is an album of covers, I didnt want to write songs for this album, its a collection of some of my favorite songs that I’ve put my own stamp on and have wanted to record for a long long time. im almost finished recording it now and its sounding great and, at last, all of them ideas of the last 10 years are coming to fruit, its sounding really really good. its basically a country album with rock-a-billy elements and rockin rhythms inthe 50s style that i like. theres songs of war, death, sorrow, gunfights, vigilante men, its all dark and has a message to say, its a really thought out album which has taken most of this summer to record and plan. its all been recorded at my good friend Ricky Lee Brawns recording service in Luton, Valvemobile Studios (rickys home) all recroded on old microphones, mixing descks and machines. Ive also had 3 different band line ups to give the album a different feel thoughout. weve got fiddles, banjos, accordians, mandolins, drums, bass, electric guitar all sorts of differnt things going on. and…ITS ALL BEEN RECORDED LIVE!!! no drop-inns, no overdubs, nothing. what you will hear on vigilante man is acomplete 15 songs recorded in a room, just the way they used to do it, once the songs over, THATS IT!!,.. its done and nothings added nor taken away, it is a true LIVE album, my first EVER!! if we didnt get the right take , we’d do it again, and agian and so on till we got the right take. Im really happy with the album so far…really happy!!

Who played with you on this sessions?
Mouse Zinn — Playing on the new album is a lot of different musicians that I’ve admired from a distance for a long while and always wanted to record with them in some way, so the solo album gave me this chance to get them together just for the recordings. The first 4 recordings were done with the Union Canal String Band, a local Luton Bluegrass outfit who I heard busking at the Hot Rod Hayride in 2009, since then i wanted to do some bluegrass/country numbers and the guys very niceley agreed to come record at Rickys Valvemobile studio in Luton. so, the first four songs comprise of Jamie Mockbridge-banjo/accordian, Jimbo Alpin-Rhythm Guitar/Harmonica, Dan Robinson-Bass and Jon Rickards-Mandolin /Fiddle.
The 2nd line up I wanted a more rockin approach on so I asked 3 old pal from around the scene to come to Luton to do 6 songs, on this line-up was Paul Gaskin-Lead guitar, Ian ‘Dollar bill’ Bowerman-Drums and Kevin Klump-bass.
In the next 10 days I’ve got 5 more songs to do to finish the album, and my final muicians are going to be some of my fave guys at the moment, some fresh blood and an old man you can say! it will be, Ricky Lee Brawn-drums, Darren Lince from Jack Rabbit Slim on Lead Guitar, Dazza from Slim Slip and the Sliders on Bass, and a final addition will be Daniel Jeanrenauld on lead guitar who will play lead guitar on a track he wrote called “Its Gonna Rain”. The whole album is produced by Ricky Lee Brawn at Valvemobile studio in Luton, England.

Where does the name “Vigilante Man” come from by the way?
Mouse Zinn — Vigilante Man is the title of the album and its an old Woody Guthrie tune I’ve always loved and it just seemed right to call the album Vigilante Man as its a solo album and it fits!

Do you have a label or will you revive Zinn to release it?
Mouse Zinn — At the moment I’m trying to ‘pimp’ the album around to labels to see who’s interested in putting it out, so far I’ve asked Rollin Records U.K, Rhythm Bomb records Germany and El Toro Records in Spain, at the moment nobody has given me a concrete yes as the albums not finished yet so they havent heard the final ‘cut’ and wont do till Oct/Nov this year. Anyhow, if nobody wants it I will do it myself, ive had experience with releasing records and know the market well, so I wont hesitate in putting it out if nobody wants it. I had it before in the early 90s, i tried everybody to ‘pimp’ out the lp “Hey There Man” by Red Hot n Blue, NOBODY wanted it, I had Faith in it and put it out myself and sold 1000s of copies, and I’ll do the same with this if I have too. One way or another, “Vigilante Man” WILL BE OUT by December 2010/January 2011 the latest! Probably on my own ZINN label.

Do you have something to add about it?
Mouse Zinn — Im looking forward to the release of Vigilante Man, looking forward to 2011 and another year of rockin, looking forward to all the all-dayers and weekenders im all-raedy booked at as a DJ (which is very busy)..looking forward to doing shows with the Domestic Bumblebees for a year, looking forward to recording a brand new Space Cadet album next autumn, and then in 2012, looking forward to re-froming the Space Cadets for our first shows in two and a half years. we will have a busy 2012 for sure!!! So, still so much to do and much fun to have, you have to enjoy what you do more than anything. NEVER think its work, its always been fun for me, thats why i keep doing it year in and year out! KEEP IT REAL, KEEP IT FUN!!!

V/A – The Northwood Story

in Contemporary artists/Reviews/VARIOUS
the Northwood Story
the Northwood Story

The Northwood Story

NVCDCOMP 3
Red Hot ‘n’ Blue – Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes / Riverside Trio – Forty Miles Away / Lazy Farm Boys – Jack Rabbit / Sure Shots – Fire Engine Baby / Lone Stars – Lonely Town / Rochee & The Sarnos – Woman Eater / Blue Rhythm Boys – That Don’t Move Me (Alternate Take) / Slingshots – Hay Rig Ride / Fireball XL5 – Walking On The Edge Of Midnight / Red Hot ‘n’ Blue – Caldonia / 4 Blazes – Buck Dance Rhythm / Peter Davenport & the Roof Raisers – Bop A Du Bop A Du Bop / Riverside Trio – Dopey Frutti / Slingshots – That Chick’s Too Young To Fry / Sprites – B-I-Bickey-Bi Bo Bo Bo / Fireball XL5 – Blues Don’t Go / Blue Rhythm Boys – Rollin’ And Tumblin’ / Red Hot ‘n’ Blue – Move Baby Move / Riverside Trio – You Lied All Through The Night / Crawdads – Don’t Let Religion Fool Ya

Northwood was one the most exciting label of the mid 80’s, aiming at an “authenthic” sound before the term was coined by so-called purists. This collection gathers 20 songs, including 18 never issued before.
Red Hot’n’Blue are featured here with three songs. Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes is a re-cut of their great blues bopper with a different line-up and a fuller sound. Louis Jordan’s Caldonia is a track that didn’t make it on the album and was scheduled for a 7″. They give it a real jazz treatment by merging it with Babs Gonzales/Dizzy Gillespie’s Oop pop a da. Superb solos from every band members. The third song is a live take of Dick Penner’s Move Baby Move.
The Riverside Trio was the other great name of the label and the other band to have a full lp. Included here are two hillbilly boppers (one from their early demo and a studio outtake from their debut album) and a new version of Doppey Frutti, probably recorded to be released as a 7″.
The Blue Rhythm Boys were another great band on Northwood. Too bad there wasn’t more unissued stuff. Rollin’ & Tumblin’ comes from their 7″ and That Don’t Move Me is an alternate take of the Carl Perkins cover also present on their debut 45rpm, though this take is a lot wilder.
The Sprites (featuring Pascal Guimbard who later played with Red Hot’n’Blue) were a French band playing Gene Vincent inspired stuff. They had two songs on Big Noise from Northwood. Their cover of Vincent’s B-I-Bickey-Bi sounds exactly like the Screaming Kids.
Another promising act was the Slingshots, who were also on Big Noise. They played Rockabilly with a strong rural feel, and released their debut album more than ten years later after their debut on wax. The Crawdads who have one song here followed a similar path by releasing their debut album “On A Platter” in the early 90’s.
The Sureshots became very popular on the scene, they were and still are a solid live band and released some great albums too. Their cover of the Jiv-A-Tones‘Fire Engine Baby was released on a French ep with the French band the Jokers. This is an alternate take.
The Lonestars later evolved into Howlin’ Wilf’s Vee jays. They played rockin’ blues with a touch of jazz. With the two songs featured on the James Dean of the Dole Queue sampler Lonely Town is to my knowledge their only release.
The Four Blazes featured Pat Reyford and have one song here, a hillbilly rendition of Slim Gaillard’s Buck Dance Rhythm.
Peter Davenport is famous for his association with the Stargazers. The Roofraisers were his first post Gazers venture and featured Jacko Buddin on vocals. Bop A Du Bop A Du Bop is one of the two songs that first appeared on Big Noise From Northwood. Great Bill Haley/Jodimars inspired stuff.
This compilation also proposes an unissued songs from Rochee & the Sarnos (Woman Eater) and two songs by Fireball XL5.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Red Hot’n’Blue

in Albums/Contemporary artists/R/Reviews
Red Hot'n'Blue - Wait'n'See
Red Hot’n’Blue – Wait’n’See

Red Hot’n’Blue – Wait’n’See

Northwood Records / Be Be’s (reissue) [1985, reissue 1998]
Sure like the look in your eyes – Yes, I’m gonna love you – Clicketty clack – Aw c’mon baby – Long way home – Bad girl – Postman’s blues – Move baby move – Wait ‘n’ see – She got back on that train – Take a walk up the apple tree – It’s my lucky day – So lonely on my own – Hey gringo – Sure like the look in your eyes (live) – She got back on that train (live)
Finally after their apparition on the Big Noise From Northwood compilation, Red Hot’n’Blue released a full album. And what album!
With the addition of Kevin Ellis on sax, the band (Mouse on vocals, Ashley Kingman on guitar, and the twins Andy and Dave Bourne on bass and drums), helped by producer Boz Boorer (Polecats) shows a rare cohesion and maturity for a debut album.
With a majority of self penned tunes (only two covers) they go from boogie blues (Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes) to rockabilly (Clicketty Clack, Move Baby Move) without forgetting jump blues (It’s My Lucky Day, Bad Girl), jazzy ballad (So Lonely On My Own produced by Peter Davenport of Stargazer’s fame), latin instrumental with a Django Reinhardt feel (Hey Gringo) and rockin’ blues in the best Chess Records tradition (Postman Blues with blues harp and the Diddley tinged Take A Walk Up The Apple Tree). All this (and much more) make of Wait’n’See one of the best and most influential album of the 80’s.
The cd version offers two live cuts of Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes and She Got Back On That Train. One can find a very jazzy version of Caldonia from the same session son the now hard to find compilation album “The Northwood Story vol 1”.


Red Hot'n'Blue - Hey There Man - Zinn001
Red Hot’n’Blue – Hey There Man – Zinn001

Red Hot’n’Blue – Hey There Man!

Zinn 001 [1991]
Hey There Man – Jumpin’ Around – You Know I Love You So – If You Think I Don’t Need You – Baby You’ve Been To School – Give Me Back My Wig – Hi Fi Baby – Rock With Me – Big Sandy – Little Girl From Memphis – Can’t Keep Me Waiting – Come Over My House

Shortly after their reformation in the early 90’s Red Hot’n’Blue recorded this 12 track album and released it on their own Zinn label.
They reformed in the original quartet minus sax and decided to drop out all the jump/jive stuff from their set and focus more on the rockabilly/rockin’ blues side of their music. The whole album has a strong Chess/Chuck berry flair in it (at the same time Ashley Kingman was playing with the Blue Rhythm Boys) in the same vein of “Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes”. Some guest appears on harmonica, sax , steel guitar (Lee Jeffriess) and piano (Paul Ansell). Half of the songs are originals and the rest come from Hound Dog Taylor, Bobby Roberts, Teddy McRae, Elvis,). Excellent from start to finish.


Red Hot'n'Blue - Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes
Red Hot’n’Blue – Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes

Red Hot’n’Blue – Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes

Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes b/w Clickaty Clack [1992]
Zinn 002
This 45 is hotter than the girl on the cover. In December 1992, Red Hot’n’Blue were back in studio to recut two songs from their debut album. This new versions are awesome and the song became a hit at every records hops around the world.
Limited edition of 1000.

 


Red Hot'n'Blue - Ain't Gonna Stop
Red Hot’n’Blue – Ain’t Gonna Stop

Red Hot’n’Blue – Ain’t Gonna Stop

Time Bomb TB11 [1993]
Going Away – Funny Kinda Feeling – My Brand Of Blues – Uptown Cat – Blues Stop Knocking – I Wanna Go Back Home – You’re The One – Find Out Whats Happening – One Thing I Ain’t Got – Every Saturday Night – Caroline – Ain’t Gonna Stop – You’re The One #2 – My Babe – Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes

The initial reformation was supposed to last only 6 months, but due to the amazing response from the audiences all over the world Red Hot’n’Blue dedided to carry on.
They recorded Aint Gonna Stop for Time Bomb a Japan label, a land where the band was highly popular. It finds Red Hot’n’Blue returning to a wider variety of styles including rockabilly (Ain’t Gonna Stop, Funny Kinda Feeling, Uptown Cat), rock’n’roll love song (You’re the One), rockin’ blues (a recut of Sure Like the Look in your Eyes that became a dancefloor filler), Chicago blues (Willie Dixon’s My Babe and the Elmore James inspired Caroline) and country-ish numbers like Going Away.
Compared to their previous releases the production is cleaner but also a bit thiner at places, but it remains a very good album with strong songwriting.
Just after the recording, Ashley Kingman left the band to move to the USA and join Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Boys, hence the title, Ain’t Gonna Stop, given by the three remaining members.


Red Hot'n'Blue - Bo Diddley Medley
Red Hot’n’Blue – Bo Diddley Medley

Red Hot’n’Blue – Bo Diddley Medley

Bo Diddley Medley b/w I’m Moving Away [1994]
Fury 005

Two tracks taken from “Havin’ A Ball”. Limited edition.

 

 


 

Red Hot'n'Blue - Havin' a Ball
Red Hot’n’Blue – Havin’ a Ball

Red Hot’n’Blue – Havin’ A Ball

Fury FCD3033 [1994]
Havin’ a ball – I’ll be long gone – Here in London town – Just for a day – Get back on that train (94) – Let me know – I’m moving away – Only one – Bo Diddley medley – I’ve never seen (such a thing like you before) – Next time I’m gonna do it right – Beggin’ time – Nothing to lose – Laughing and joking – Love me – Little girl from Memphis

Fourth album recorded with Pascal Guimbard (Sprites, Wild Ones) who replaced Ashley. The sound is less bluesy (though you find an excellent Bo Diddley medley) and more Rock’n’roll with a strong inspriration from late 50’s / early 60’s Elvis Presley and Gene Vincent. You’ll also find a bit of country (Beggin’ Time, Just For A Day, Let Me Know) and a dash of Neo-rockabilly.


Red Hot'n'Blue - Still Jumpin' Around
Red Hot’n’Blue – Still Jumpin’ Around

Red Hot’n’Blue – Still Jumpin’ Around

Jappin’ & Rockin’ JRCD34 [1998]
Things Are Gonna Be Different – Who – There’s No Need To Tell Me – Kiss Me Baby – Sinful Woman – Hold On To What You’ve Got – What Did You Say? – Gimme Some Lovin’ – Me And You Are Through – Phone Call – I’m In A Daze – I Had A Real Good Time – Still Jumpin’ Around – Big Sandy (’98)

Fifth and latest album to date from this rock’n’roll quartet. Mark Harman (Restless) has replaced Pascal Guimbard on lead guitar which gives the band a more neo-rockabilly sound with some songs logically sounding like the Space Cadets.
It’s a good album, not as essential as their earliest recordings, especially the ones featuring Kingman, but it features good originals.


Red Hot'n'Blue - Northwood EP
Red Hot’n’Blue – Northwood EP

Red Hot’n’Blue – Northwood EP

Crazy Love [2000]
Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes – I Wanna Tell You That I Love You Baby – Sad In My Heart – It’s My Lucky Day – Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes

The songs of this EP result from a late session recorded in 1986. The twins, Andy and Dave Bourne had left the band. The new line-up was Paul Diffin (doublebass), Ashley (guitar), Stuart Simpson from the Slingshots (drums), Mouse and Kevin Ellis (sax) , a session piano player plus Boz Boorer who played guitar on Sad in my heart.
It’s My Lucky Day dates from the Big Noise From Northwood sessions produced by Peter Davenport (Stargazers).
The songs are good but definitely lack the rockin’ edge that made band so great.


 

Red Hot'n'Blue - Ain't Gonna Stop/Hey There Man
Red Hot’n’Blue – Ain’t Gonna Stop/Hey There Man

Red Hot’n’Blue – Ain’t Gonna Stop/Hey There Man

Rarity records [2003]
Going Away – Funny Kinda Feeling – My Brand Of Blues – Uptown Cat – Blues Stop Knocking – I Wanna Go Back Home – You’re The One – Find Out Whats Happening – One Thing I Ain’t Got – Every Saturday Night – Caroline – Ain’t Gonna Stop – You’re The One #2 – My Babe – Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes
Hey There Man – Jumping Around – You Know I Love You So – If You Think I Don’t Need You – Baby You’ve Been To School – Give Me Back My Wig – Hi-Fi Baby – C’Mon And Rock With Me – Big Sandy – Little Girl From Memphis – Can’t Keep Me Waiting – Move Baby Move – Clicketty Clack – Baby You’ve Been To School #2 – Yes I’m Gonna Love You – Come Over My House

Two cd set gathering the second and third album of the band, including four bonus tracks recorded in 1991 during the Hey There Man sessions.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Enregistrer

Red Hot’n’Blue

in Stories

The Red Hot’n’Blue story – part 1

The first half of the eighties was an exciting time for rock’n’roll in Great Britain. Rockin’ music saw a new life in the charts, young bands like The Meteors, The Ricochets and the Deltas were experiencing new sounds, taking good old rockabilly in a whole new direction. The Polecats and Restless were there too, making releases that would later be described as Neo-rockabilly.
Then in the wake of the Stargazers a bunch of new bands prefered a more traditionnal sound (paving the way to the « authentic rockabilly » movement of the late 80’s). Among this bands some of the best were the Riverside Trio (rockabilly-hillbilly-blues), the Krewmen (blues with Carl Sonny Leyland), the Blue Rhythm Boys (rockabilly – rockin’ blues) and the one we’re going to talk about in this article:  Red Hot’n’Blue.

by Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Thanks a million to Kevin Ellis, Ashley Kingman and Mouse for their help.

In the begining

It all started in 1982 when Mouse Zihni’s ex-girlfriend phoned to tell him that her current boyfriend Dave Bourne who played drums was looking for a singer to start a band. She remembered they both used to go to East Croydon Railway Club where Mouse would sing with the local band and that he had a good voice. At the time his favorite singers were Gene Vincent, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury and later Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner.
A meeting was arranged for a rehearsal and Mouse met the rest of the soon-to-be band, Dave’s twin brother Andy on bass and Sam Crabtree on guitar, in a cellar near Emerson Street where Crabtree worked during the day. The rehearsal went well and a few weeks later he was asked to join the band full time.
They worked a lot, playing covers of the club hits. They gradually started to gig in the South London clubs but didn’t really go anywhere. According to Mouse “Sam didnt want to do new songs, he was happy to cover the songs he knew and that was that, so thats what we did, we were a cover band doing songs from the 50s. it was small time fun and got me some much needed money“.

One night Mouse met guitarist Ashley Kingman who was not totally a stranger to the still unnamed quartet: Sam Crabtree sold him his first guitar and Dave and Andy were in the same school though a bit older. “I met Mouse in the toilet of the Castle pub, they used to have a regular monday DJ there. I seen Mouse with Red Hot n Blue, dug the show and told him I played guitar and was looking to join a band.” recalls the guitar player. They already had a good guitar player but after some debating he was asked to join on rhythm”.
Having played with local combos like The Outer Limits (a psychobilly band) and Dr Muscle Brain Valves, a blues trio with drums, guitar and harp/vocals it wasn’t Kingman’s first band. For the story the drummer in both bands was Gary Bonniface, who later went on to form the Vibes.

The newly formed quintet still needed a name. That’s when Mouse came with Red Hot’n’Blue, a tribute to Dewey Phillips’ radio show, the first one to play Elvis Presley records on air.
But not long after that Crabtree left the band to join the Blue Rhythm Boys “They were doing well and he just wanted the fast train out rather than take the slow train with us” remembers Mouse. After his stint with Paul Ansell’s band Crabtree went on to form Cat Talk. Without lead guitarist the band couldn’t go on. They stopped gigging for about six months but didn’t stop working. They were hard at writing original material (including the future club hit “Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes” and Ashley spent this time to move from rhythm to lead. At this time the band rehearsed in the music shop where Ashley worked.

 

Red Hot’n’Blue - First publicity photo - Summer 1984 - Dave, Ashley, Andy & Mouse
Red Hot’n’Blue – first publicity photo – Summer 1984 – Dave, Ashley, Andy & Mouse

Introducing Ray Frensham and Northwood Records

When they felt ready they started gigging again and from this moment things moved quickly. Red Hot’n’Blue appeared at the weekender on the Isle of White and that lead to more shows in Europe and up and down the UK and gained the attention of Ray Frensham of Northwood record. He had the project of a compilation album and asked the band to record some songs for it. They agreed and, wanting to expend their sound, asked saxman Kevin Ellis to guest on the recording. Ellis was a well trained musicians being a member of Clive Osborne and the Clearnotes for two years.
So on November 3rd, 1984 Red Hot’n’Blue headed to University of East Anglia for their first recording session produced by Peter Davenport of Stargazers fame. Three songs were cut that day. “Get Back on that Train” written by Andy, “I wanna tell you that I love you baby” and “So Lonely On My Own” both from the pen of the team Kingman/Zihni. Two of them (“Get Back…” and “I Wanna tell you…” ) were released in June 1985 on the compilation album ”Big Noise From Northwood”. The other bands featured on that comp were the Sprites (French rockabilly band influenced by Gene Vincent), The Slingshots, Peter Davenport in full Bill Haley/Jodimars mode with the Roof Raisers and the Riverside Trio. The remaining third track “So Lonely On My Own” would later appear on the band’s debut album. Years later an early version of “It’s My Lucky Day” surfaced and have probably been recorded during the same session as it clearly shows Davenport’s influence.

Big Noise From Northwood” (Northwood NWLP 1002) received good reviews and Ray Frensham started to consider the possibility of recording a long player with Red Hot’n’Blue. With Kevin now a full time member (since December 1984) the young rockabilly band that played cover has mutated into a tight rockin’- rockabilly – jump blues outfit and was in high demand and appeared in all-dayers in UK and Europe, appearing on stage with the likes of The Jets, Red Hot, the Blue Rhythm Boys, the Keytones,the Riverside Trio, Rochee & the Sarnos and Johnny Powers whom they backed.

The Northwood Years

Red Hot’n’Blue , the classic line-up.
Red Hot’n’Blue , the classic line-up.

By 1985 Red Hot’n’Blue was getting more and more attention. More gigs were pouring in and with its popularity rising it was soon obvious that a full length album was the next step. “Ray frensham thought there was a buck to make out of us he signed us up for a album” jokes Ashley.
The summer of 1985 was spent gigging and rehearsing new material for the planned album and in August (19th -21th ) the band went to Alaska studios (just under Waterloo station) with Boz Boorer in the producer seat to record what would be “Wait’n’See”. Cut in three days it’s an extraordinary solid work for a debut album.

It features a majority of self penned songs – mostly by the pair Kingman-Zihni, but Andy co-wrote three songs and producer Boz Boorer contributed the title track – and only three covers (Yes I’m Gonna Love You, Dick Penner’s Move Baby Move and Myron Lee’s Aw C’mon Baby).
It covers a wide range of style : from boogie blues in a Slim Harpo style (Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes) to rockabilly (Clicketty Clack, Move Baby Move) a bit of jump blues (It’s My Lucky Day, Bad Girl), a jazzy ballad (So Lonely On My Own), a latin instrumental with a Django Reinhardt feel in the middle (Hey Gringo) and rockin’ blues in the best Chess Records tradition (Postman Blues with harp played by Little Paul (from the Blubberry Hellbellies) and the Diddley tinged Take A Walk Up The Apple Tree).

Wait'n'See - Northwood - 1986
Wait’n’See – Northwood – 1986

It was mostly recorded live with very few overdubs ( the guide vocals part were often kept).
Wait’n’See remains a good memory for all involved : “Most of it was cut live, then we took bits away and added different shit in its place. Amazing but kind of tedious and time consuming. Boz somehow pulled it into shape. I still think its a good record.” says Ashley. “It was good fun and I learnt a lot from it” remembers Kevin and Mouse adds “it was a happy affair and we did a cool job on it”. 15 songs in all were recorded, 13 ended on the album (the 14th track of the record, “So Lonely On My Own”, comes from the sessions made with Peter Davenport the previous November). The remaining two songs were “Without You” and a cover of Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia”. When you listen to it, it’s very close to “Wait’n’See” so it’s probably the reason why it didn’t end on the album. It finally got released on the compilation album “The Northwood Story” on NV Records in 1991.

Mixed in September and October by Boorer and Kingman, it was released in January 1986 and received rave reviews “When it came out it got a four out of five star rating in Record Mirror and other magazines of the day, even INXS only got a 3 star rating, how things changed!”. Red Hot’n’Blue toured to support the release and it sold very well though it seems that the band didn’t see a lot of money from that (same old story).

Red Hot’n’Blue in the streets of Bristol, 1986
Red Hot’n’Blue in the streets of Bristol, 1986

Even when they were headlining the all dayers, Red Hot’n’Blue kept busking a lot to earn some extra cash. One day while they were playing in the street of Camden, a man approached them, gave his card and told them to call him as he liked the band. The man was Trevor Horne from The Buggles who scored several hits as a producer with Grace Jones, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art Of Noise… It was a big chance for the band to get a wider audience than the rock’n’roll circuit but it never happened. Mouse : “Ash told Ray Frensham and Ray was over the top and too pushy and Trevor backed off the situation. This was one of the stupid things that Ray did, and the first of many as far as I’m concerned, he could be a real wanker at times…” . For Kevin it was “very sad really because we were onto big things”.

From that moment, things started to decline “[We had] a good ride for about a year and then we kind of all started pulling against each other. We let Ray get wedges in between us and me and Mouse split from the twins.” recalls Ash. Ray didn’t want Dave and Andy in the band any longer and by April 1986 the twins were gone (“not a thing I enjoyed at all, I went along with it, but that was all” says Mouse). They were replaced by Stuart Simpson from the Slingshots on drums and Paul Diffen (Sugar Ray Ford and later Blue Cats) on double bass. Pat Reyford (Sugar Ray Ford too) also joined on alto sax. For Mouse “Ray was trying to run us and mould us into a jump jive sort of blues thing”.

Soon after the twins were gone, Red Hot’n’Blue entered in studio with the new line-up and a session piano player called Sir James (it seems that neither Ray Frensham nor Mouse remember his name). Boz Boorer was also present and added a second guitar on some recordings. The songs made were a reworking of “Sure Like the Look In Your Eyes”, “I Wanna Tell You That I Love You”, “Without You” and “Sad In My Heart”. The latter being a cover of The Man Upstairs that had it released on single on Sideline Records in 1985. The sound was definitely fuller but didn’t really fit Red Hot’n’Blue. Somewhere they had lost what made their specificity, their rocking edge, and Boz’s production this time was more “radio friendly”. This said the version of “Sure Like the Look In Your Eyes” recorded this day still stands well today. It was envisaged as a “cross over” single, backed with “Caldonia”, but it never materialized. This sides were reissued years later on Crazy Love record.

The new direction taken by the band didn’t really please them “It wasn’t what I wanted to do, I wanted to do rock n roll and blues not big band stuff, I liked it but didn’t really want to be in a big jump band” recalls the singer. It was also very hard, and costly, to take such a large band on the road and the twins weren’t too happy with the band using the name Red Hot’n’Blue. At the same time Mouse started to become a popular DJ on the London scene and slowly the excitement of the beginning started to fade away. For Ashley “it wasnt the same after the twins were gone.”. The relation with Ray Frensham weren’t that good too. There was money problems and it wasn’t long before the band and the label parted ways. The line-up changed again with Terry Clancy (Cat Talk / Scat Cat) joining on bass and John Day on second guitar but in the own word of Mouse “the band just ran out of steam and it came to a very quick final shortly after the weekender up in Southport at the end of 86.”.

To be continued

 

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