I think for about two weeks I thought I was Elvis Costello.

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johnfoyle
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I think for about two weeks I thought I was Elvis Costello.

Postby johnfoyle » Thu Dec 01, 2005 6:03 pm

Image


Uncut , Dec. '05

Great Albums That Have Fallen Of The Critical Radar

IN LATE 1983. an elegant and understated LP slipped quietly onto the racks. Produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, it began with a lush arrangement of swelling horns, while its opening lyrics could have been a manifesto for then-nascent yuppiedom: “Get it, I want it, potentially mine”. If Elvis Costello had released this album, it might just feature in the lower reaches of those lists of all-time greats; but it was called North Of A Miracle and was made by Nick Heyward , a man known principally for tucking his jumper into his trousers.

Few musicians at the time were taken less seriously than Heyward. Although his band, Haircut 100, and their Monkees-meet-Chic groove-pop, was genuinely refreshing when it broke in 1981 (Danny Baker gave their debut album, Pelican West. a rave review in NME on its release in February 1982). a year later there were credibility issues. After enjoying four Top 10 singles. a Top 10 album and some US success, the end, critically and commercially, appeared to be nigh. Tour dates were cancelled and a proposed second album, provisionally entitled A Blue Hat For A Blue Day was scrapped as Heyward announced he was going solo. He felt that, as his group became successful they’d ignored the music and become too concerned with image. Suddenly. the perma-grinning kid in the yellow cagoule had stopped smiling.

So how to make the transition work? One early idea was to have XTC as his backing band. “I met Andy Partridge and Cohn Moulding in AIR Studios and they asked if they could be my band for this record.” says Heyward. talking to Uncut in July 2005.” I was taken aback. I thought. ‘You’re fabulous and. well, I’m not. They’d just stopped touring at that time. I didn’t take them seriously.”

The leap he was to make was huge and brave. Like Scott Walker and Alex Chilton before him. Heyward was gambling guaranteed short-term teen adulation for possible long-term credibility “In the eyes of the country. I’d ‘done remarkably well’, but it was out of alignment with how l felt,” he explains. ‘I wasn’t happy at all. I was trapped in self-pity, melancholy and self-absorption.”

While searching for a suitable producer. Heyward suffered a breakdown. “I should have been light-hearted, embracing the fundamental ‘new romanticism’ of it all. but I was into wearing corduroy jackets. Hush Puppies and ties. trying to keep sane. I wasn’t sleeping. either — I thought if I fell asleep. I’d die. I was that dark. It was the grip of fear”

The record company doctor prescribed anti-depressants:”He started me smoking.” Heyward laughs. “He came with great credentials. I went in thinking. ‘How excellent, this is David Sylvian’s doctor.’ First thing he said was. ‘Fag?’ and offered me one. I was about to say that I didn’t smoke, but then I thought. ‘Why not?’ Next minute I was smoking and talking to a psychiatrist, thinking this is obviously what you do. I’d come from south London - if you were a bit weird, you got beaten up.”

Despite his personal problems. Heyward set out to make an album. Against Arista’s wishes, he sought out Geoff Emerick. who’d just produced Costello’s Imperial Bedroom. “I think for about two weeks I thought I was Elvis Costello.” Heyward admits.” I was convinced. I was even shortsighted like him. I tried to change my star sign by deed poll.”

Heyward also surrounded himself with the best session players. However, ever self-critical, he doesn’t feel he assumed control sufficiently. “These guys were looking to me. They’d been doing it for years and somebody had been put into the top job that didn’t really know what he was doing. It was like someone giving you a fantastic bonsai tree and you’re not watering it.” Sessions took place at London’s AIR studios, using, at times,the equipment left in down time by Paul McCartney who was then recording Pipes Of Peace. As well as the Costello influence (made all the more explicit by Steve Nieve guesting on opener “When It Started To Begin”) there is much on the record that recalls The Beatles — the ‘Penny Lane” trumpets on ‘Two Make It True”, the Maccaesque melodicism of “On A Sunday”. Fabness abounded: “I got to meet to Paul and Ringo” he says. “Linda McCartney brought her dog in. I thought this was what happened all the time.”

With occasionally jarring instrumentation (the jazz intro and outro to “The Kick Of Love”, the extensive use of strings), the album creates its own microclimate: permanently autumn. At least half the tracks refer to the cold, or wind, or rain. “On A Sunday” is an oddly poignant paean to leisure time, while “The Day It Rained Forever” and ”CIub Boy At Sea’ are suffused with an unbearable melancholy sixth-sense.


North Of A Miracles artwork features a profile of our hero looking upwards and outwards at the world with a quizzical expression. Meanwhile the names of ex-members of Brand X, Fairport Convention and Third Ear Band abound on the inner sleeve. This was his bid to be regard as a Serious Artist, a sort of New Pop Nick Drake , all minor chords, baroque orchestration and tortured confessionals. Heyward felt unsure about his new direction: “It was a bit like a ship that didn't really have a captain.” he says now. It looked really well put-together, but it didn't know its destination”

Although the album made the UK Top l0 and included several hits (first single “Whistle Down The Wind , “A Blue Hat For A Blue Day’ a typically jaunty “Take That Situation” and‘When It Started To Begin”) Arista decide Heyward's future lay in more conventional settings: within a year he was singing straight upbeat pop like ”Love All Day”. And yet North Of A Miracle endures, echoes of it reverberate though the work of Eric Matthews, The Flaming Lips and the Engineers. Although Heyward today feels later collections From Monday 7 Sunday (1994) or Tangled (1995) are stronger , North Of A Miracle holds a special resonance.

“It’s a very grown-up, studious record,” he reflects. “Geoff was like a teacher at Oxford. I thought it was time to get me a nice bicycle and corduroy jacket and study. That’s how l took mandolins and string quartets and oboes into the charts. It wasn’t in sync with the time. In 1983, it was all Duran and Spandau — it wasn’t really mandolins, was it?”

TOM BYFORD


Label
Arista

Produced by
Geoff Ernerick and Nick Heyward

Released
1983

Musicians
Nick Heyward (vocals, guitar),
Pino Palladino (bass),
Danny Schogger(piano, organ, accordion),
Dave Mattacks (drums),
Chris White (sax),
Stuart Brooks (trumpet,flugelhorn),
Pete Beachill (trombone),
Morris Pert (percussion),
Tony Maronie (percussion, bongos),
Tim Renwick (guitar, mandolin),
Steve Nieve (piano, organ),
Bill Le Sage (piano),
Ian Laws (guitar),
Andrew Powell (string arrangements),
Paul Buckmaster (string arrangements)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASI ... 15-8730838

North of a Miracle
Nick Heyward

Track Listings
1. When It Started To Begin
2. Blue Hat For A Blue Day
3. Two Make It True
4. On A Sunday
5. Club Boy At Sea
6. Whistle Down The Wind
7. Take That Situation
8. Kick Of Love
9. Day It Rained Forever
10. Atlantic Monday

( bonus tracks)

11. Whistle Down The Wind 12" mix
12. Take That Situation 12" mix
13. Cafe Canada
14. Love At The Door
15. Don't Get Me Wrong
16. Stolen Tears
17. Laura
Last edited by johnfoyle on Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

alexv
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Postby alexv » Fri Dec 02, 2005 5:50 pm

So, prior to making the record, instead of enjoying the "New Romanticism" vibe, he was was suffering a "breakdown" and ended up "wearing corduroy jackets. Hush Puppies and ties, trying to keep sane" . Ok, corduroy jackets!! So now he makes this great record, as a kind of therapy (to supplement the corduroy jackets). And what was the upshot?

Well, Nick says that: “It’s a very grown-up, studious record... Geoff was like a teacher at Oxford. I thought it was time to get me a nice bicycle and corduroy jacket and study. That’s how l took mandolins and string quartets and oboes into the charts. It wasn’t in sync with the time. In 1983, it was all Duran and Spandau — it wasn’t really mandolins, was it?”

Again with the corduroy jackets!! Doyou think Nick would have been happier and more professionally successful if he was less concerned with "corduroy"?

The article has a nice title, by the way: Great Albums that Have Fallen OF the Radar. I myself prefer my great albums to fall of the sonar.

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Who Shot Sam?
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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:04 pm

I dated a girl in high school who had a bit of a thing for Nick Heyward. Fortunately it never went as far as her asking me to tuck in my wooly sweater. I do however remember a hideous paisley shirt.
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Jackson Monk
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Postby Jackson Monk » Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:40 pm

Don't laugh cos I'm serious.

I loved North of a Miracle. Tangled was also a great lost album with some real gems.

Heyward always comes across as a genuinely nice guy and he's quite an acomplished guitarist. I saw him support Squeeze at the Oxford Apollo in the early 90s and the audience were well impressed with him.

I'd love to see him make another record, if only for the way he walked away from being a record company puppet.
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Uncomplicated
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North of A Miracle

Postby Uncomplicated » Sat Dec 03, 2005 12:16 pm

Hey Jackson, great to see another fan of this fantastic album!

This was a must have record for any Elvis fan back when this came out because of the presence of Steve Nieve. That piano on "When It Started To Begin" was unmistakably Steve, and it was very cool. Looking at the track list now, the only song I don't remember playing all of the time is "Day It Rained Forever." This album was a staple at party's and get togethers with my friends for quite some time. Most of the people I hung around with at the time had this record. I think there are some similarities with Imperial Bedroom, definitely, Geoff Emerick had another great album on his hands! My favourite songs are probably "On A Sunday," and "Whistle Down The Wind," But really every song sounds like it comes from "catchy'sville."

Now I must go locate my cassette of this and sit myself down into a cold, windy bliss..........
It's in your eyes..... It's in your eyes.....

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verbal gymnastics
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Postby verbal gymnastics » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:11 am

Nick Heyward was born in our local hospital.

alexv - to my knowledge our village was not obsessed with corduroy so he must have picked up this obsession elsewhere. I don't think anyone in our village has heard of corduroy. Even me.
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alexv
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Postby alexv » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:53 pm

VG, I think with Nick and a lot of these pop bands (particularly English 80s "bands") style was confused with substance, and it carried to their entire lives. Nick's quote is consistent with that: he seems to think that if he wore corduroy, and thick glasses that somehow would make him "intellectual" and all serious. Sort of makes dealing with Oxford's demands easy, when you think about it. By the way, my comments are strictly based on the amusing article posted by John. I managed to make it through the 80s without being exposed to Nick. I gravitated to the less style-obsessed music of Culture Club, Duran, Simply Red and Paul Young (I was going to append a "smiley" thingy here but can't do it; anyone know the trick?).

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Re: North of A Miracle

Postby bobster » Mon Dec 05, 2005 11:30 pm

Uncomplicated wrote:This was a must have record for any Elvis fan back when this came out because of the presence of Steve Nieve.


Then how did I miss it?

Probably just as well. Nick Heyward was pretty much rockstar non grata with most of my friends of that era. Buying it probably would have earned me massive derision from the punky group (for El Vez and KissyMonster's sake, I'll omit any mention of the school I was attending, except to say they just got the pants beat off them...again. Good thing I wasn't watching!)

I'll have to check this out at some point, in any case...
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johnfoyle
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Re: I think for about two weeks I thought I was Elvis Costello.

Postby johnfoyle » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:33 pm

If Spandau Ballet can do it -

http://www.cadoganhall.com/showpage.php?pid=1006

Friday 18 December, 2009
7.30pm

Nick Heyward and Haircut 100 live in concert
An evening of Christmas Presence

Nick Heyward
Haircut 100

Programme:

Nick Heyward and his band Haircut One Hundred were one of the most innovative bands of the Eighties. Their sunshine Pop fused with funk led a whole legion of fans to jump on their funfilled band wagon to experience the delights of a world filled with Lemon Firebrigades, Favourite Shirts and the delicious possibility of Boy Meets Girl. Their album 'Pelican West' is a gem of innocent Pop wonder and much loved treasure of many a forty something teenager. Fine memories of HC100 tours are to some the equivalent of the Charlie and the Chocolate factory golden ticket.


Pop Troubadour Heyward went on to a fine solo career starting with the breezy 'North of a Miracle' (1983) album that spawned four hit singles including 'Blue Hat For A Blue Day' through to other solo projects 'Postcards from Home' (1986) and 'I Love you Avenue (1988). The Nineties for Nick included 'From Monday to Sunday' (1993) and 'Tangled' (1995) both through Sony and 'The Applebed' (1998) on Creation.

Nick continues writing and will soon release an album of new material. 'Favourite Songs : The Best of Nick Heyward and Haircut One Hundred' is currently available. Nick and Haircut 100 will reunite for this concert in the intimate setting of Cadogan Hall - a Christmas treat.

http://nickheyward.com/appearances/

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Re: I think for about two weeks I thought I was Elvis Costello.

Postby sheeptotheslaughter » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:08 pm

On Vh 1 a while back they had that programme 'Bands Reunited' & Haircut 100 were one of those featured. And they were one where they did reunite and from waht I remember sounded fantastic. The above could be worth seeing if your local.

I nearly saw them just before 'favourite shirts' came out in London's West End but I think it got cancelled due to a terrorist attack

johnfoyle
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Re: I think for about two weeks I thought I was Elvis Costel

Postby johnfoyle » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:29 pm

I just got the new 2 cd edition of this ; lots of goodies making their digital debut and sounding better than ever -

http://www.cherryred.co.uk/cherryred/ar ... eyward.php


http://www.amazon.co.uk/North-Miracle-N ... 740&sr=8-1

johnfoyle
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Re: I think for about two weeks I thought I was Elvis Costello.

Postby johnfoyle » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:31 am



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