Thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions. You’ll appreciate that we are very much fans and so some of the questions are oriented that way.
First though, why now to resurrect Charlie?
The original idea was to do a solo album as all the various members were spread around the world and settled in other careers. As the album was completed and I had Julian play some keyboards and Martin Smith play some guitar I thought why not call it Charlie.
How do you feel this fits musically with the original Charlie sound?
People who know Charlie will recognise the harmonies/ the lyrical style. I was the main songwriter then and also the singer and the new album reflects the change (if any) in my style.
Who are the musicians on the album?
Drums Steve Alexander - he has played with Jeff Beck Duran Duran amongst others- a very good friend and a fantastic musician.
Bass Charlie Barratt - 2 tracks (**** TV and Cars) ex the Fixx now owns and runs Terminal studios one of the biggest rehearsal complexes in London. Again a good friend.
Janne Jarvis - 2 tracks(Get a Life and Alcohol) Bass player and singer of Hate Gallery whose album I produced.
I played bass on the other songs.
Guitar Andy Bloom - 2 tracks (**** TV Cars) No particular history but a good friend and a great guitarist.
Martin Smith - 1 track (Art of Cool) Ex Charlie runs a studio in Sussex
I played all other guitars
Keyboards Julian Colbeck - 2 tracks (Don't Let Go West Coast Thing) Ex Charlie lives in California. All other keyboards I played.
Are you still in touch with ex band members, or is it a case of “musical differences”?
I'm still in touch with Julian Colbeck, Martin Smith, Steve Gadd, and Eugene Organ. Charlie died naturally before - no falling out.
Would you consider taking a band back out on the road (with original members and especially in the UK) or is this a studio bound project?
The logistics of taking a band on the road are horrific. Added to that everybody has their own careers to get on with. Unless there is an amazing interest I can't see that happening. I also doubt that any original members would be interested.
Do you have plans for more Charlie albums (or solo albums) or is it a case of how successful Kitchens of Distinction is?
I can always write songs especially as now it's not for Major labels who always shackle you for commercial crossover material. It will be prudent to see the response before embarking on something new.
Having asked how the music fits with Charlie why the change in album cover approach - Where is the girl on the cover (would have been nice, a very pretty young lady in an apron (see a bit of bare flesh - rear view), instead of the flowers)? (Steve - My wife likes this cover though)
That was originally an accident. Charlie's 2nd Album (No Second Chance) had a cover done by Polydor UK that was totally tasteless. The US label (Janus) redid the cover using the model Flower. This proved very popular with the US radio stations so we continued the theme on Lines and Fight Dirty. The girl on Fight Dirty was the winner of a national campaign in the US to be the new 'Charlie Cover Girl'
In those days budgets for covers weren't a problem - I always preferred a more subtle approach - perhaps too subtle. However some of Renaissance covers are the most tasteless of all time - Fantasy Girls looks like a rejected catalogue from Ann Summers. No consultation there!
I know there were problems with Renaissance records in the US (I’m pleased to have put Voiceprint in touch with you for this album to be released). Are there any plans for the original albums to be reissued either independently or in the long mooted box set? If so will these be on Voiceprint and when can we expect them?
There is a plan - the main problem is getting good source material to remaster. Renaissance issues are badly mastered. I have no idea if any of the master tapes exist. So we're looking at finding some decent originals we can work with.
Will there be any bonus material from the vaults and if so what can we look forward to?
Unfortunately there never was too much extra stuff. Before we signed we did a load of demos of songs that were never released, but nobody has any copies!
I have long been searching for the BBC sessions (John Peel and OGWT) that you did. Will these be included (along with possibly the newly discovered Supersonic footage and It’s Inevitable promo)?
I didn't know about the Supersonic footage - I remember it well. We've got a video of Killer Cut but that's it. We did do a promo for the song Fantasy Girls but no one has it. Our appearances on OGWT have been despatched to the magnetic graveyard.
You never released a live album. Having seen you before Fantasy Girls was released (as support to the Who), I always felt this to be a missed opportunity. Do you have any live gigs that would be a suitable release?
Again no gigs ever recorded officially. We played in Madison Wisconsin at a small club who made the mistake of giving us free drinks. I in particular took this as a challenge and got spectacularly pissed. Our sound guy recorded the gig and took great pleasure the next day playing it in the tour bus where my vocal performance reminded everybody of Norman Wisdom shrieking 'Mr Grimsdyke' and my guitar playing seemed to be a different song to every one else. Luckily that tape has gone.
When you toured the US were there any of your gigs broadcast (university gigs?)
Not that I remember.
What was it like to tour with the likes of Yes, Fleetwood Mac and Foreigner? Any stories you can actually tell us!
Julian has the Yes stories – I have a particular memory of touring with Fleetwood Mac which I can’t share, which could have resulted in a potentially nasty accident (for me). I have no real memories touring with Foreigner - very businesslike.
Any one abiding memory stick out?
Touring with the Doobie Brothers was fun - the outstanding memory being playing the encores with the Doobie Brothers in front of 30000 people at the Blossom Music outdoor festival.Playing Long Train Running and Listen to the Music as the crowd went mad - all of the Doobies and all of us on stage – exceptional.
You did not seem to tour the UK much. I did try and see you as support with Liverpool Express, but the gig at the Rainbow was cancelled due to their singer’s ill health (You’d have blown them offstage). Was there any reason for such lack of touring here?
1976- the punk explosion. We were as popular as a fart in a spacesuit. We toured with Focus did quite a lot of our own dates then with Fleetwood Mac. Punk was exploding - our managers were
showing no interest in us and we considered calling it a day. Then we were told that 'Johnny Hold Back ' was all over the radio in the US and we were going to tour there. We didn't even know the record had been released in the US!!
The Magic Mixture album has recently been reissued, and I have to say it’s interesting in a psychedelic way. Why the change in name (would save having to search through old comedy references in Google now!)?
That's a strange one- that album was recorded in 8 hours in Hampstead. I was Jim Thomas because Terry Thomas obviously was the high profile comedian with the gap in his teeth. I had to live with that in my formative years.
I see you have the earliest know recordings of Andy Frazer from Free there, so it’s worth Free fans checking this out. Did you work with him for long?
I never worked with Andy Frazer but was in a band with Simon Kirke for 9 months - this was Maton’s Magic Mixture (don't ask) the precursor to Magic Mixture. The drummer of Magic Mixture
was Jack Collins - real name Jack McCullough and his brother Jimmy would come and play with us on our gigs before going on to 'Thunderclap Newman' and 'Wings'.. Saga records arranged a 'London Tour' where we would play on Park Bandstands and some of the toughest Housing Estates in London.
Did this band lead directly to Charlie or are there other bands material we should be looking out for that you played on?
After the Magic Mixture I joined a band called Ax. The drummer was Nikko Macbraine and the bass player was John Anderson. We became a 3 piece and played around London 1969/1970. We played the Roundhouse when Jeff Dexter was the DJ/host. I then went to live in Portugal for a couple of years.
Charlie’s first single (I’m so happy) was on Decca. Was this a one off for them or licensed?
We were signed to Decca for a 4 single deal. The first A side was 'I need Your Love' - 'I'm So Happy' was the B-side. We recorded another single 'Knocking Down Your Door' with string arrangements by Wilf Gibson of ELO but it was never released.
Will this single be getting a wider audience now as bonus cuts on reissues?
I think I've got a copy - that's a good idea.
Are there any other recordings that we should be looking for that we may have missed in the years between In Pursuit of Romance and Kitchens of Distinction?
No not really.
www.charlie-music.de run by Ralf has done some sterling work in keeping your music alive over the years. It was rumoured that a new “official” site was to be started and this one closed. Would it not be better to revamp an existing site that already has visitors than to start again?
The new site is a reaction to all the companies that have sold our albums without so much as a say so. Julian wanted to take a little control. We do appreciate all the work done by Ralf and I'm sure we can do this side by side.
Good luck with the new album Terry, and thank you very much again for taking the time out to answer our questions.
Steve Freight (Steve Freight) and Peter Ryder (Peter Ryder) have been putting the Questions to Terry Thomas
Its Paul Do you remember me from The ITT STC days. Are you still playing?You can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org