Flying to New York, a couple of months later, we filmed a video
for ‘ Give it All You Got’ with Director Marcel
Anciano on top of a semi-built skyscraper in the middle of Time
Square. The video was cool when it was finished. All we had
to do now was salvage the whole thing by touring the arse off
it. And we did. Playing 70 concerts from London to Hamburg to
LA to New York and back again, we spent most of the year on
Supporting Roy’s and my old heroes Ian Hunter and Mick
Ronson in UK and Europe, The SLeez Beez, Enuff Z Nuff, Badlands
and Gun in the US, I got back to the UK later in the year in
need of a rest. We had covered a lot of shows where the other
singer had suffered with his voice, so we played several shows
in Florida on our own. The concerts in the States had been particularly
well received and the band wanted to return and continue.
But June 19, 1990 at ‘Toads’, in New Haven Connecticut,
was the last gig I played with SHY.
After returning home, I went home to Surrey and rested. I never
heard from the band for 3 months. Wondering why all had gone
quiet, I spoke to one of the guys, who politely informed me
that a fresh batch of songs had been written and that I was
just to come back to Birmingham and sing them. Obviously, I
was not happy. Hell, what were they like ? Who had written what
When I got to UB40’s studio in Birmingham and listened
to the songs, I thought the band had completely lost the plot
and had just written what sounded to me like a poor attempt
to be ‘Poison’. I sang on the demos; after all,
I was still receiving a wage for being a member of this band,
and left the studio.
On November 19, 1990, I called a meeting with the A&R man,
Mark Dean, who had signed the band to MCA and informed him of
my intentions to leave the band and record a solo project. To
my surprise, he said that he didn’t blame me, and promptly
offered to pay me an advance as a solo artist to stay on with
MCA and to commence writing immediately !!!
The next day, I called another meeting with SHY and politely
informed them that I’d had enough and I was calling it
a day. To be honest, no-one really seemed that bothered, so
I had obviously made the right decision.
SHY. This was mainly for two reasons. The first was the simple
fact that we were growing apart, and any camaraderie we ever
had, had long disappeared. The second was my continual complacency
with the style of music. Long before I ever joined Shy (and
the session work I undertook for their prototype ‘Trojan’
) I was involved with far heavier projects such as ‘Overdrive’
, Orion’ , and ‘Enigma’, although my tastes
in music were very diverse. On leaving Shy, there was without
doubt, a desire to return to music that was stronger, more dynamic
and carried a message rather than a commercial overtone. Although
this was my immediate intention, it did not happen automatically.
Bizarrely, MCA offered me a solo contract upon my announcement
to leave the band and promptly paid for some co-writing with
Bob Maxim from Manchester rockers ‘KIXX’. This work
was carried out in a Manchester studio with ‘ TheWHO’
producer, Andy Macpherson’ who proceeded to involve members
of 10CC and Sad Café to carry out the instrumentation
and the backing vocals. These recordings were hawked around
the U.S.; whilst MCA were happy to offer the deal, and after
many companies in the States had showed serious interest, the
manager in his dissatisfaction came back to the U.K. to find
that all offers had dwindled and there was now nothing left
on the table.
So I was left with unreleased recordings, feeling that time
had been wasted. Before long, I was approached by a gentleman
by the name of Nigel Marshall who had previously been a fan,
offering finance to set up and support a personal project of
my own, allowing me to indulge myself and my ideas without any
hang ups. Obviously this was a great surprise and I set about
building a studio at my home in Solihull. I started writing
material that suited my tastes in heavier music. I was now approached
by Darren Horton, former guitarist of B’ham bands ‘Trident’
and ‘Sweet Revenge’. He also played guitar for a
while with ‘Marshall Law’. Darren wanted to co-write
and generally experiment and our aims were mutual.
with the arrival of Chris Ward Evans, formerly of ‘Bajjon’
and ‘Hellion’, stateside rockers. After many months
of writing, we poached a bass player from a Coventry based act,
‘Bang Bang Zombie’. His name was Andy Faulkner.
It was sometime before we decided on a drummer, so in the interim,
we carried on using machines right up to the point of recording
our first album. The name of the project was skirted around
for many months finally landing with
‘Siam Slam’. Eventually, and thankfully, we lost
Siam moved into the
studio in 1993 to record a project that was close to completion
stage, although the drummer situation still had not been resolved.
During the writing stage, the intention was to title the album,
‘Soul Destroyer’. This was a concept project, political
in nature, cataloguing the birth of a child destined to be a
prolific political figure, with her eventual downfall waiting
for us at the end of the story. It was realised, many months
into the project, that time and money would not extend to the
requirements of the project, and many cuts were necessary. However,
the original album came out, in it’s closest possible
version of its intended format.
The original title track ‘Soul Destroyer’, has been
sadly lost, as during the writing and recording, I was forced
to move base three times ending up in an eight by six rehearsal
room as a home for six weeks with one green light bulb! This
was a difficult period and having to sleep in between the mixing
desk and the amplifiers, I naturally ended up recording other
bands at their request to earn money. The band members were
very supportive, and I moved into Chris Ward Evans home in Bournville
during the recording, and later rented a house with Darren Horton
and Alex the engineer that was recording the project. For six
weeks we even lived in a caravan on the studio car park !
A drummer was finally chosen, Pano Moularis, although the decision
was made too late, and a session drummer by the name of Rob
Ewins was eventually employed. I had worked with him in Coventry
for a pop act called ‘Series Red’ later renamed
‘Push’ a couple of years previously in 1989.. He
was a fine drummer and recorded the complete album in 48 hours,
quite a feat. In many ways, this helped us, leaving more time
for other production matters. The album, completed eventually,
titled ‘The Language of Menace’, was named after
the phrase describing the propaganda circulated over political
uprisings in the 19th Century. As indeed, ‘Cato St’,
a location in London was also a place of political uprising
recorded in many reports of the same period. Other titles were
indicative of their part in the great scheme of things, and
indeed much was omitted in the end, to the extent that the Japanese
separated the songs and treated them all individually as separate
entities, juggling the running order of the album. The album
was released in Europe through Now and Then Records, the company
pioneered by Mark Asheton.
mixes of the album, which was recorded at Rich Bitch studios
by Mark Bruce, the studio owners, Rob and Linda Bruce offered
to manage the band and help secure a contract, offering rehearsal
facilities and a showcase facility in their dance studio, where
videos were recorded, some of which can be seen on footage included
on the albums eventual subsequent re-release in 2002 by Roy
Davis’ Phoenix Music .The album received mixed reactions,
but a tour with ‘Crown of Thorns’ widened public
awareness of the band.
THE LANGUAGE OF MENACE
THE LANGUAGE OF MENACE
OPEN YOUR EYES MIDNIGHT CONNECTION
IT AINT EASY
THE FIGHTING IS OVER (THE FALL)
SO WILD IS OUR WORLD
NIGHTFLIGHT TO HEAVEN
THE LAST SUNRISE
Now & Then Records.
Many showcases both in Birmingham and London at Nomis Studios.
Many press interviews / reviews ensued, as they do, and then
.....quiet. I was very aware for the need for bigger and better
material to be written and released, but the following year
was lost on showcasing for recording companies, acoustic concerts
and recording several session albums for other bands.
I had to
say goodbye to both Darren Horton and Chris Ward Evans during
1995, but Andy and Pano stayed, and we searched remorselessly
for other guitarists. I literally fell over a remarkable young
guitarist by the name of Ian Richardson, playing covers in the
famous Birmingham rock venue, ‘The Old Railway’.
This is a venue that spawned most of the bands I have ever worked
with, and it is as live today, as it was in 1980 when Overdrive
and Enigma rocked the place. We shook hands and he joined. We
worked together for many months and auditioned many guitarists,
they even came from abroad. Eventually, Marcus Thurston answered
the advert, he was living with his guitar at the YMCA in London.
He quickly moved to Birmingham and rented a flat in Moseley
and was quite a virtuoso.
writing and rehearsing, gave us a body of material that was
enough to move back into Andy’s studio ‘Sable Rose’
and begin recording a new album. Andy booked us in for six weeks.
Six months later, having missed the summer of 1996 completely,
as the studio was underground, we walked back up the stairs
to the outside world clutching a final DAT master of the new
album ‘Prayer’. I considered, and still do, that
it was without doubt the finest material I have ever written
and recorded. Weeks and weeks of fine tuning and re-recording
instruments in different ways, hi-jacking flute players from
the sub ways of Coventry, to enhance moods in songs, sending
rough mixes to Zero records in Japan and getting responses like
‘this is weird, it does not sound like Shy ! Tony’s
fans will not understand it!!!’
In the end, I was very happy with the result. But although I
considered this project to be a major achievement, it never
escalated beyond the realms of an underground album, released
by independent labels in Japan and Germany. The availability
of appropriate tours for the band were nil, and I never had
the desire to pay to play in small venues. Some acoustic shows
were performed, and a live album recorded at the Rock Café
in Birmingham although the record company concerned never released
the tapes to us, and it lies unheard and unmixed somewhere on
a shelf in the north of England.
As it all dwindled away in the late nineties, I couldn’t
help but think of the bands potential had it had more finance
behind it and better managerial guidance.
A PASSAGE TO GOD
THE QUEEN OF SWORDS
NEW AGE WARNING
ACOUSTIC VERSION – THE LANGUAGE OF MENACE
through Zero Corporation in Japan.
second album ‘Prayer’ had received its reviews and
its handful of shows to support it (mainly acoustic unplugged
shows around the Birmingham area) it dwindled into obscurity.
I was under pressure from various members of the band just to
play low key gigs, which I did not want to do, so I didn’t.
There’s nothing worse than paying to play. After you’ve
hired PA and lights and people to operate them, without a large
audience, you soon find yourself out of pocket. A large audience,
more often than not comes with having decent marketing campaigns
and heavy bouts of airplay. Both of these things can cost money
and in my experience are impossible to get a hold of without
a major record contract to finance them. Having showcased to
no end of major labels, and having no deal at the end of it
all, I would rather have let ‘Prayer’ die without
trying to kid myself for a year or two afterward, that a major
should sign it. The album had received an underground acclaim
and had received releases in both Europe and Japan and I felt
that was enough.
As there was no money
to support SIAM as such, the band followed the fate of their
last album, as most bands do, and starved to death from lack
I decided to give
up the music scene more than once, but no more than I did at
this time, as I really felt proud of ‘Prayer’ and
considered it my finest hour.
A lot of
the credit for SIAM was deserved by Andy Faulkner, who, as a
bassist and a sound engineer, had a fine ear for sonics, all
be it moreso when he was stoned. I admired that. We always had
a great laugh working with Andy and every session ended up with
a master tape that I was always very satisfied with. In fact,
any work that I was asked to do, I would only record with Andy.
Or any musician who asked for recommendations for recording
studios or engineers, I always suggested Andy first.
time, there was talk in the press of me auditioning for ‘Judas
Priest’. I had been approached by the band although I
presume they did not really want any names mentioned in the
press, as all went quiet after a well known British Rock magazine
had let the cat out of the bag.
Having been an avid
Priest fan through the eighties, the initial challenge of this
seemed quite attractive, but to be honest, I could never see
myself singing ‘Grinder’ with a serious expression
on my face. I was always more of a fan of albums like ‘Sad
Wings of Destiny’. In my view, Priest had become a parody
of themselves in later years and I wasn’t really that
concerned in the end, when nothing came of it all.
I had been
approached some years before, by John Sykes, to sing for his
band ‘Blue Murder’. To be honest, I always thought
he had a great voice and had no need to find a singer for his
band at all. Cozy Powell had also stressed an interest in me
singing for his band, but sadly, he died pretty much around
the same time.
In and around
other activities through the mid nineties, I wrote and worked
with Simon Harrison, guitarist of ‘Atlantic’ fame,
who’s vocalist Phil Bates went on to become frontman for
The Electric Light Orchestra’. Simon had also worked with
Michael Bolton in the States and we found we had a lot in common.
A production deal with his company Pylon Productions in Evesham,
bought many session musicians to his studios, including Micky
Barker from Magnum and UB40’s saxophonist.
Birmingham drummer Ian Danter also worked with Simon and myself
as did various guitarists including Steve Harris and some fine
backing vocalists and keyboard players. The union lasted around
twelve months until low resources pushed the project into decline.
‘Let Love Rain Down’ was one of the songs that came
from this session. The song is listed in error on the reverse
of ‘Cruiser’ , but will feature in my second solo
project. Over twenty other compositions remain unheard by the
outside world and they will probably remain that way. The project
was entitled ‘Dakota Joe’. Various issues forced
this union to diminish, not least finance.
Other sessions during
this period , were a full album of backing vocals and stand
in rehearsal for ‘Dave Hill’s Slade’ at Rich
Bitch in Birmingham – and I never got paid !! Two albums
as featured backing vocalist with ‘Dante Fox’, and
another with ‘The Shock’ through ‘Now and
I had a
crack at management in the mid ‘90’s too, with a
remarkable artist by the name of Simon Bishop. He plays guitar
and carries lead vocals real well too, in a powerful act called
‘Seven Cycles’. Check them out if you ever get a
chance. Two of his songs ‘Love is Red’ and ‘Soma’
are awesome. He still plays around the Midlands.
was also something I had a go at, looking after three bands
that were handled by my previous manager Barry Keen.‘Tanktop’
were a Suede meets Oasis type act that unfortunately came to
little, though the sound engineering by Simon Bishop at the
‘Old Smithy’ in Worcester was stunning and they
proved most energetic in a live situation. ‘Gigantic’
were a far more electric sounding three piece with a lady behind
the kit whose fortune also seemed short lived. ‘Cariad’
were somewhat more of a traditional acoustic/pop band with loads
of attitude, there greatest song being ‘Paris’.
Showcases for all of these bands in both London and Birmingham,
brought them nothing and they faded away. After lack of success
with these projects, we had a meeting with Bob Halford’s
son Nigel, and his band, with a view to management. but nothing
became of this and Barry retired to the south coast.
As these pastimes
seemed to be doing me no favours at all, I gave in to the urge
to sing once more.
In 1997, I joined
a RUSH tribute band by the name of ‘YYZ’. I toured
around the U.K. doing two hour shows of RUSH’s material
dating from the late 70’s, to the early 90’s. I
had always been an avid fan of RUSH, and admired all three musicians
believing them to be the finest rock musicians in the world.
There cannot be many people into rock who would disagree.
Playing in tribute
bands, seems to be something that a lot of people do these days
for the money. For me, it was the love of the RUSH themselves.
I did not expect to become so tired of doing impressions of
Geddy Lee as soon as I did though. The pure lack of creativity
in emulating someone else bored me to tears. There was no challenge
in it. It was all too predictable. The best part of a year had
gone by, and I had had enough.
I avoided any real work in the music business for the next year
or so, having become totally disillusioned with it. People kept
urging me to sing and write another album and play live again,
but I couldn’t find any enthusiasm whatsoever.
Something has to
be said here, though. Once the music business is in your blood,
you never shake it off. One way or another, it will always come
knocking on your door again, and you will open it and let it
The contact of Mark
Alger at Z Records, had once again revitalized me.
Roy Davis was someone I never really lost contact with, and
by now he had his own company ‘Phoenix Music’ up
and running and was releasing old catalogue of Midlands bands
for people to purchase on the Internet.
I thought then, that
Roy really had his shit together and I was right. Roy had several
dealings with Mark Alger and talk had come up of a reforming
as you can imagine, I was very dubious of this. All the old
problems rearing their ugly heads etc, etc.,
But the ball was
really in my court here. I could either take it or leave it.
As my old colleague Alan Kelly had moved a million miles away,
he would not be involved. I doubt whether we could have worked
together again anyway. I certainly would have preferred not
to. Everything else seemed to be the same as it was, only the
need to find a drummer.
Roy had spent some
time managing a band called ‘The Wild Family’ from
Wales. The drummer was a guy called Bob Richards and seemed
to be shit hot. A drum teacher, in fact.
of meetings down the line with Steve Harris and Roy Davis saw
us discussing a contract with Z Records and possible recording
studios to work in. Well, Andy Faulkner at Sable Rose studios
in Coventry would be my obvious choice and so I suggested this.
In 1999, I agreed to sign a deal with Z Records to record a
new album with SHY. We signed the deal in 2000 and moved into
the studio in November of that year. Z Records were expecting
the project to take four months max. Little did they realize,
the album would not see the light of day, for another year and