Raven’s Croft


JohnPeel276Raven’s Croft. Raven’scroft. Ravenscroft.

It’s the name of the album we’re working on. It’s a make of crystal glassware. It’s also a place, so I’ve discovered, a “deleted” village in Cheshire. And it’s the real surname of the late John Peel, father of indie, Champion the Underdog, hippy, punk, BBC DJ, the Blank Generation’s funny uncle. Eschewing pomp and pretension, he nonetheless affected a Liverpudlian accent in the 60s to wow a beatle-obsessed America. He also turned up for presenting duties on Top Of The Pops but, as far as I know, avoided joining the caravan of rain-sodden fun that was the Radio One Roadshow.

On his nightly radio show, John Peel introduced a lot of people to a lot of music they wouldn’t normally hear. He played an eclectic mix of punk, thrash, dub reggae, electronic beeping. Some of it was hideous. He loved The Fall more than any man should love a pop group, especially one so atonal, but maybe he held back the horrors of the TV talent show. Without him the UK music scene would be a much poorer place and no-one – and I mean no-one! – would have heard “There Goes Concorde Again” by …And The Native Hipsters. I did. I heard it played by John while on holiday in a tent, on a scratchy old transistor radio, and I bought it as soon as I got home. Still got it. Thanks, John.

The other person who introduced me to a huge selection of music was my Dad, who died in 1999. He recorded the Top 20 off the radio for years in the 60s and 70s on a reel to reel (piracy!) and we’d listen to these songs for years afterwards. He always tried to cut off the DJ’s voice at the end of a song so I rarely knew who the artists were but I think that just added to the allure. Later on he got into Prog Rock (he was particularly taken by Hawkwind’s “In The Hall Of The Mountain Grill”) and then soul music.

So this album is dedicated to Dad and Mr Ravenscroft, also to my Mum who died last year (2012) and John Bingham’s Dad who died this year. It’s why so many songs are about loss and the end of things. I don’t want people to see this as a sad album, though. There are some poignant moments, I think, especially on Photographs, a lyric John wrote about his father’s last illness, but I want the message, if there is one, to be that loss and endings can lead to new beginnings. They have to, or we’re all doomed.

As for the music, I’ll update you about that soon. Suffice to say that all of the songs are now written and we’ve started work in a real studio (as opposed to my back bedroom). Back there next weekend – can’t wait!

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