Alan Griffiths was a songwriter, guitarist and more, singer, frontman, producer and performer, and one of the most supremely talented musicians Bristol has produced.
His life changed when he saw Television and Blondie at the Colston Hall in 1977. It was both an inspirational ‘light-bulb’ moment, and the start of a life-long obsession with the work of Television, the band, Tom Verlaine and other members.
This led to his forming Apartment with drummer, Emil Joachim, and bassist, Richard White. The track ‘The Alternative’ on the seminal ‘Avon Calling’ compilation of Bristol bands, followed by a single ‘The Car’ / ‘Winter’, both released by Simon Edwards on his Heartbeat label, showed this was a group to be reckoned with. Radio One picked up on them as well, so Alan had already made an impact, barely out of his teens.
Spurred on to get out of his day-job as an electronics technician, Alan took the band into a new epoch in forming The Escape with Emil and new bassist, Neil Action and later Stuart Morgan. More recordings in the bedroom studio – dubbed by friends as the ‘House of Secrets’ – in his parent’s house in suburban Downend took his career to another level.
The band undertook a flurry of gigs all over the country, including the ‘6 Day Nightmare’ week of shows in London, and were getting local and national press and radio exposure, which led to TV appearances on ‘RPM’ locally and the ‘Oxford Road Show’ nationally. Radio One jumped in with the offer of a session on day-time radio, and all this hard work led to a record deal with Phonogram.
Although that deal didn’t work out for the best, it led to The Escape, then Alan as a session player touring with label mates, Tears For Fears, and for him on a more regular basis for many years co-writing, co-producing and working with Roland Orzabal. In the gaps between this activity it gave him the space to pursue a new, more textured project with John Kelly that gave us the music of White Hotel.
Alan had always been interested in production and music for TV and films, inspired by his love of Hitchcock movies, Bernard Herrmann scores and Gerry Anderson animations, and his expanded studio set-up gave him the opportunity to do so. His most regular ‘gig’ was for the ‘CSI’ franchise, while also writing for and contributing to Hollywood productions and adverts.
His had a rich and varied career. But for me his work with The Escape and Apartment – with all releases available via Bristol Archive – shows that his music and songs will always live on. When he ‘listening to the rain’, he was hearing something ‘else’, and ‘waiting’ for the inspiration to come. And it did.
He never ‘waited’ when that moment came. He just got on with it, and the muse and music flowed out. He lived life where he was true to himself. And to quote the first song by The Escape that I ever heard, he didn’t ‘want to steal time that yesterday never bought.’
Available to order now! Stormtrooper Limited Edition (250 copies worldwide, 50 in the UK) on transparent Red Vinyl – ‘Pride Before A Fall’ (The Lost Album)
Super rare, super sexy and signed by the band. High Roller Records, Germany pressing on transparent blood-red vinyl, ltd 250, bonus 7″, 8 page booklet, mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel/ Temple of Disharmony. Beautiful product. To order follow the link: https://bristolarchiverecords.bandcamp.com/album/pride-before-a-fall-the-lost-album
Re-released due to public demand for Record Store Day 22nd April 2017 on LP (Limited Edition 180 gram Green vinyl, 500 copies) via Bristol Archive Records.
Leading lights in the 21st century UK digi dub/roots scene Dubkasm have built themselves a worldwide following for their brand of reggae since launching their own Sufferah’s Choice label in 2003. What many fans may not realise is that even before that first Sufferah’s Choice release, Dubkasm had nearly a decade’s worth of recordings behind them. Unfortunately, other than a track on the 1996 “Dub Out West Volume Two” compilation album, those early recordings were the preserve of leading UK sound systems such as Aba Shanti and Jah Shaka and could only be heard played off dub plates at dances.
Dubkasm have finally decided that the time is right to share the story of those early years and make a selection of those formerly exclusive tracks available for everyone to enjoy. Being proud of their Bristolian roots, Dubkasm found the perfect partner for the project in Bristol Archive Records and the label’s ongoing programme to document and make available Bristol’s reggae heritage. As if a selection of previously unreleased tracks from Dubkasm wasn’t enough, these particular tracks were all played by leading sound system operator Aba Shanti and the versions were all personally mixed by him to achieve the ideal sound balance on his sound system. Once Dubkasm’s Digistep had finished initial mixes of the tracks, he would deliver the multi track master to Aba Shanti who would then mix down his own exclusive versions.
It’s the Aba Shanti connection that inspired the album’s title, for it was at Aba’s legendary sessions at the Brixton Rec that these tracks could be heard to full effect. The album is named in tribute to those great sessions and hopefully the music captures a bit of that magic as well as bringing back some great memories for those who were there, or even those who were only there in spirit through the medium of sound tapes.
Thanks to DJ Stryda’s long standing Sufferah’s Choice radio show Dubkasm are in contact with many of the scene’s leading players and four of the vinyl’s eight tracks are vocals with contributions from Tena Stelin, “The Soul” and “Spiritual Warrior Time”, the deeply missed Lidj Xylon, “The Order” and Bristol’s own, and Dubkasm regular Ras Addis, “Jah Bible.” Each of the vocals is accompanied by its dub counterpart and each track is UK roots of the highest order.
The CD and download version contain three bonus tracks, a melodica cut to “The Soul”, “106.2FM” a track that captures the vibes as Aba Shanti both mixes and sings live and finally “Earth Rocker” which is actually a recording captured in a dance at Brixton Rec; about as authentic as we could get even if the audio quality leaves a little to be desired. Bristol Archive Records take the story of reggae in the city forward into the 1990s with this essential selection. Complete with insert telling the story of Dubkasm’s early years including rare archive photos. “Brixton Rec” is re- released on Limited Edition 180 gram Green Vinyl for Record Store Day 2017
www.bristolachiverecords.com / www.dubkasm.com
TITLE: Brixton Rec
RELEASE DATE: 22nd April 2017 – Record Store Day
LABEL: Bristol Archive Records
FORMAT: LP (Limited Edition 180 gram Green Vinyl)
CAT NO: ARC262V
Recorded in a basement studio, Ghosts is a manifesto of work spanning a five year period.
The band were in no hurry to produce your average throw away sing along but, rather hell bent on making a record that would stand the test of time. The four piece group from Portishead, near Bristol in the UK, definitely contributed to shaping what is now known as the Bristol sound with their domineering live presence and stellar reputation as professionals in their field.
Airbus take you on a vivid dream-like journey through unpredictable, surreal twists and turns to arrive at ultimate clarity and realization.
Yes, guitars, bass and drums tastefully back the velvet vocal tones to create melancholic harmony but, like the chameleon, the band’s multi instrumentation is also ever present as they push and pull the boundaries of contemporary British rock music.
They had cut their teeth in Bristol’s blooming music scene during the early and mid 1990′s and were fortunate to be invited to reconstruct a song by their critically lauded and commercially successful contemporaries, Portishead, for a USA release showcasing the band’s unique style.
Having spent a lifetime’s career, at that point, of playing live shows, Airbus then embarked on what would become a five-year marathon in the studio. They were meticulous about preserving the original ideas for each song written. There were several studio engineers that came and went but, Airbus’ attention to detail resulted in them becoming four very competent recording engineers themselves along with a huge catalog of quality compositions.
Ghosts is a refined and complete album that sits at the top of a mysterious, creativity-crammed volcano, that is active and bound to erupt at any time!
Airbus are : Nicholas Davidge – Vocals & Guitar, James Childs – Guitar & Vocals, Simon Hedges – Bass and Christopher Fielden – Drums
Additional instrumentation : Glockenspiel, Korg micro preset synthesizer, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, upright bass, Roland Space Echo and acoustic guitar.