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Bob

CHARLIE HARCOURT REPLIES TO YOUR QUESTIONS

Charlie has been a busy lad lately, so he's writing up his replies to your questions as and when he can.  Here is the first installment of his replies.  Many thanks Charlie!

As to how well I knew the guys in Lindisfarne before joining Mk2... goes way back to singing Buddy Holly songs with Hully outside a local West End of Newcastle fish & chip shop, we were both crazy on those guys.. Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, those times were great as we were finding our way on guitars at the same time, so Buddy Holly’s tunes were great for learning the chords, still are!  Maybe Baby was one we figured out together, remembering of course hardly any guitar teachers, no Internet, we were just ‘Bairns, hardly teenagers, getting knocked for six with this fantastic music.

I knew the lads from Brethren mainly from kicking around the same gigs and local haunts in Newcastle playing with the Juncos, I remember being at the gig outside St James’s Park when Si had his hair cut off!  We met up later when I went into Jackson Heights through Charisma records and Tony Stratton Smith and my then manager Joe Robertson worked something oot!  There was Lindisfarne and the rest as they say is history.

Kenny and I when we were around, ended up doing a few guests with the lads at various venues, getting rat-arsed and generally having a good knees up.

It was a tight music scene up north and everybody knew each other, mainly through the music that was around, I remember being very gratefull to Happy Magazine (messrs Craddock, Gibson, Kirtley etc) letting the Junco’s crash at their digs in London, whilst doing one of those crazy drives to friggin’ London to try to impress some record company or other.

Musical Influences: Here goes, but not in any chronological order!
Ray Charles, Lonnie Donegan, Beatles, Steve Cropper, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the boss Chuck Berry.  What a player and story teller in his songs, those intro’s still do it for me all these years later, no fancy effects just grit blues and soul.  Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Richard Thompson, Show of Hands, there’s just so many influences out there, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, this could go on forever.  I think I’ve picked up, cribbed, copied and hopefully end up sounding something like myself.  Influences being not just from players but also writers, certain performances, collaborations etc.

So until the next instalment, cheers..... Charlie.




Watch this space for further installments.
passingghost

Great Stuff

Interesting read, and I look forward to reading more about Charlie in future.There are some artists in his choice that I like too.He has fine taste.
Many thanks to Charlie, and Bob.
Bob

More from Charlie......

This one’s for Barry USA......Catmother & the All Night Newsboys were recorded by Jimi Hendrix , before I actually joined them, their stories would fill pages on their own, suffice to say quite a different fella when not ‘on stage’ quite quiet by all accounts, apart from: on the way to a session at Electric Lady the traffic being so bad he just stopped the car he was driving left the keys in and buggered off!  The music being more important than the vehicle, I did record at Electric Lady and to a lad from the North it really was something else, spaceship control room etc, not to mention the goings on in other areas of the studio.  

Catmother came about from being hired as a guitarist for Jimmy & Vella Cameron who were a Mike Jeffries act from Chatanooga, a black brother and sister vocal duo who were tremendous she played organ like Jimmy Smith and sang like Aretha, he played guitar and sang like a dream also, this particular tour went all over Europe and Scandinavia so I would do my spot with the duo then jam with Catmother, consequently back to the UK then an invite to go to California with Catmother came about.  First to Texas then Mendocino then San Francisco (and what a time it was-censored chapters later) and then back across ‘the pond’ to Hully’s place in Barnet complete with Pat’s best bacon sarnies!  For the anoraks, the bass player from Catmother also played in the Au GoGo Singers in Greenwich Village alongside Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman and someone else who I can’t remember, but this developed into Buffalo Springfield.


More to follow............
Bob

More from Charlie Harcourt!

I think the Mk2 bands intentions were to enhance what was already established and take it a  stage further with different instrumentation’, the harmonic quality was different within the voices, I remember some inspiring early rehearsals, it was a good sound if different to the original line up.  

The music business is mainly ‘bollocks’ to me, the real bit is the music, the musicians and the people who shell out hard earned cash to come and listen! so the question as to should we have kept the name or changed it came down to basically finance I think.   There are some who would argue Jacka and Hully emerged the sound of Lindisfarne, I disagree in that what everyone transmitted from the stage to an audience was a joy to behold, everyone played a big part in that, I came over from San Francisco and just went along with what was taking place, all a bit of a whirlwind as I remember.

Roll on Ruby / Still Skint  make ya own minds up, Ruby Stillskintzky (well known ficticious groupie!) it was me in that ridiculous shot with the Sheriffs hat on, probably pissed at the time, were we having another go at ‘the business’ Wye Aye Man.

It was quite a reunion meeting up with Alan Kenny Jacka Tommy and Paul after playing gigs out in California , if memory serves me right I think we more or less set off on an Australian tour.  We’d been booked on a bloody immigrant flight which took 36 hours with everyone of us sick as dogs and expected to attend a press conference, needless to say Geordie Vernacular exploded!
Bob

More from Charlie Harcourt

Do you see your time in Lindisfarne as a positive experience, and one which perhaps deserved more time, or with hindsight, was it more a case of something that filled a couple of years and was good while it lasted?

Answer: I definitely saw my time as positive. Whether or not it should have been given more time is difficult to answer, I think members were getting fed up with touring and forever being in some legal bollocks and it kind of coloured views towards everything as a whole, if your not selling units, being toured here there and everywhere, the costs to this quite often don’t’ match up! (what an understatement) and people just get pissed off!  We did have some hilarious times though and I still regard all the lads as close buddies, as I do the original lads.

I think Harcourt’s Heroes was a good band that was set up as a vehicle to perform songs that Ray and I began composing after Mk 2’s folded. There was a kind of soulfull edge to it, even with varied line-ups.  It always amazed me what a great voice Jacka has, Stratton Smith I believe once said Jacka should sing songs ‘of the people’ meaning his ability to move around different styles, listen to In the Night I really enjoyed doing that album.  An example of this .... we had a tune that nearly was taken up by The Chi-Lites who were a massive light soul set up, Jacka’s vocals could be as light as this then change into Lou Rawls, it’s a great gift for the studio work environment.

Fantasy rock band eh?  That’s really hard Michael, as you have asked in
the ‘singular’ .... always enjoyed the gospel sounds of piano and Hammond b3 together, also kit and percussionist, not to mention vocalists.  I remember doing a gig at Sunderland with Three Dog Night, they had I think 4 vocalists at the time who were pretty formidable as I remember, so this aint easy mate, Mamma told me not tooooooooooooo! Ah well here goes, I don’t always think the best players make the best bands!  Vocals: Ray Charles or Aretha.  Kit: Steve Gadd.  Piano: Richard Tee.  Bass:Leyland Skaar.  Guitar: Cornell Dupree or Buster B Jones.  I’ve found this really hard to come up with, it could change daily!

I think my favourite song collaboration with Ray is ‘Waiting for the time’, as this came quite effortlessly, Warm Feeling has a funny twist to it, written originally as a Norther Gas advert in freezing flat in Tynemouth in the winter.  There are some old tapes kicking about with some decent stuff on from Ray and myself, as well as some Harcourts heroes stuff, don’t know about the quality of the recordings though, Ray and I will have to wade through them someday, Ray handled most of the lyrical content and I ‘hoyed’ the chords around till we came up with something.

I’ll write this while the wife is oot! Guitars:
1963 Strat (with telecaster neck).
1957 Les Paul Junior.
Standard American Telecaster.
Gretsch Synchromatic Archtop.
Ralph Bown 00 acoustic.
Seagull 12 string.
Hiroshi Tamura classical.
1946 Gibson J200 (belonged to Harry Belafonte at one stage)
Ernie McMillan Jumbo.
Unknown Tiple (50p from car boot sale)
3 Windsor banjo’s.
Old German Ukelele.

I actually work with adults with Cerebral Palsy in a studio at North Shields as part of The Percy Hedley Foundation, I use an incredible invention called ‘Soundbeam’ it allows conversion of movement into sound, (go to the Soundbeam website if ya want to know more) I use it in conjunction with music computers, synths, and record all the projects we work on. Dave Jackson from Van Der Graaf Generator does some great work with Soundbeam.  I could ‘rabbit’ on for hours on this , however those that are interested could look on the web for information.
passingghost

Soundbeam

http://www.soundbeam.co.uk/

I think this is the right link, correct me if I'm wrong Bob/Charlie.And thanks for answering my question Charlie.Interesting stuff.
Mr Inbetween

Thanks, Charlie. Revealing. I'm particularly interested to find that Harcourt's Heroes was established as a vehicle for the songs you were writing, rather than you writing songs for a band you had established (if you see what I mean).

Your comments about Jacka's voice makes it even more of a tragedy that EMI sat on their assets and didn't capitalise on the 'voice for the people'. Thank goodness they have a good person working there now (cheers, Jim).

And who would have imagined the Chi-Lites singing a Jackson/Harcourt song. Can you hear it, tell me, can you hear it?
Derek

Thanks for the interesting answers Charlie.  Do you remember which tune was nearly taken up by the Chi-Lites ?

Also, was "Winning The Game" an old song by the time it appeared on "Sleepless Nights" or was it a late collaboration please ?

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