A combination of true grit and grace. I’m sitting under four banana trees, just outside my studio, wondering if I should go in and master some of the tracks for the new album again. I’ve done them 8 times already. One more time wouldn’t do no harm but it’s a bit crazy. It’s not perfectionism, they just ain’t right yet. Banana trees? Album mastering? This isn’t a recording studio in Hollywood or Laurel Canyon. This is Chiswick, West London and this is the tropical garden that surrounds Wonderland Studios West, my studio. Bananas, palms, yuccas, tree ferns. The garden is as crazy as some of the tracks on the album. Frost tolerant to minus five degrees. Maybe I should call the album that. Maybe I should call myself that. I’ve been froze many times. Died and born again. But haven’t we all. I will call it FIVE. I’m on my twelfth career. I have waited on tables, worked in hotel kitchens, washed cars and cleaned windows. I’ve been a sound technician, music engineer, music producer, dubbing mixer, film editor, screenwriter, film director and an undercover agent for the Gambian Secret Police. Am I happy now? Well yeah. Winding back, it’s 1983. I’m aged 23 and I’m standing in line at St Thomas Hospital, London with gangrene in my left hand. It was the end of my music playing career. I’d had a car crash while working as an assistant engineer on an Elton John album at AIR Studios Montserrat. It would be thirty years until I played the guitar again. Thirty eight years later, (the number of wasted years are mind boggling!), I’m in my studio again and decide on take six for most of the tracks but one track is a rough mix I made for a promo that is very dynamic. It’s called ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ and features just drums and a one string guitar. It’s been a six month slog for most of the album but that track I knocked off in about four hours. It’s one of the best on the album. Just goes to show. How could this turnaround be possible? Well an American Motorcycle company changed everything. Yes fifty traffic lights a day for twenty years with a heavy clutch lever on a Harley Davidson brought my hand back to life. Now I am playing catch up on my lost blues rock career. FIVE is the fifth album I’ve recorded, so I should know what I am doing. There’s a big orchestra and the exchanging of a conventional drum kit for clanging bits of metal on tracks like ‘Telling My Troubles To Strangers’ and ‘Don’t Think Twice When Once Will Do’. A bizarre mixture of genres on ‘I Curse The Sun For Coming Up Today’, extreme guitar soloing on ’Yeah I’m Extra Fly’ and Kurt Weill revisited on the track ‘Heroin’. There has to be at least one unashamed lapse into classic rock with ‘That’s The Way It Is’ and an acoustic nod to Robert Johnson on ‘Only The Right Woman Can Do Me Wrong’. And of course me on a one string guitar for Yeah Yeah Yeah. Boy that thing sounds good. I’m having fun. The lyrics are strong. The melodies are too and I’m quietly confident that I’m heading in the right direction. So the album is now all finished. All Good! ! I’ll tell you about being an under cover agent for the Gambian Secret Police another time.