I grew up in Kidderminster and its environs in the UK and immigrated to Switzerland in the eighties. I started playing guitar as a teenager in the seventies and was inspired then by bands like Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Status Quo, Supertramp and Black Sabbath. I played rhythm guitar for a year with a Swiss band in the early 1990s, called “The Four Windows” who play covers from the Shadows and Elvis Presley.
Retro-Phil is a project started in 2011 to record original songs either inspired from ideas for songs noted down or partly recorded on cassette tapes from my youth or written over the years since then. It took time to get the first song finished because a room had to be rebuilt for mixing and the process of mixing had to be learnt.
"Where do you want to go?" is based on a jam session at a local church hall and is deliberately recorded to sound live (the timing is anything but constant). The original cassette tape dates back to 1978 when I was 18! This was one of the first songs that I wrote.
After releasing that song the local TV did an interview and asked if I was still in contact with the original group members. This led to me getting into contact with Nic Burrows, the original drummer. Now as luck would have it, Nic and his friend Chris are active musicians with their own studio "Raindance Music Ltd”. Coincidentally the first thing Nic asked was "You remember that song, Freedom Fighters?"
"Yes I do”
“Well, I would really like to play drums on it”
Freedom Fighters is the second song that came out in July 2014. It features drums by Nic Burrows (Nic and Chris Smith did the drum production at Raindance Music Ltd, UK). Oliver Poole on vocals.
No One Left to Cry came out in January 2015 and was originally entitled “As the flowers slowly die” and started off life as a pure acoustic version in the late 1980's when the cold war was in full sway and sweeping changes were to come. It was inspired by the thought that we have come close to nuclear war on several occasions (1962 and 1983 are the dates that stick in my mind). I don't think it's a war you can win because there will be no one left to cry. Nevertheless it is not all dark - the phonetic message at the start is "love can save us" and at the end there is a single phonetic word “love”.
I am very fortunate to have had help from Nic and Chris. They are both fine musicians and Nic's drums and Chris' bass are very much appreciated. I must also thank my friend Doris (who is a professional singer in her own right) for doing the backing vocals for No One left to Cry. She told me that if I ever recorded this song she would like to do them and she did! My son Oliver really wanted to sing this song and actually he kicked me into producing it, so thanks Oliver. His voice is certainly better suited to this song than mine.
The Questioner is a rock ballad inspired by a break-up and came out in July 2015. The song started life in 1989 as an acoustic piece. The studio version was created in 2015. The second break in the song has some bars that are 5/4 and I like this effect with the extra beat. The saxophone part was originally a synthesiser but I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Daniel Wacker who kindly played a real saxophone based on the synthesiser part.
Really Crazy in Love also started out life as an acoustic version in 1989. Nic and Chris asked me to do a fun song so this was it. It is inspired by a true story. The crazy dance came later as I recorded the song in 2015. It just popped into being.
I started writing Round and Round in 1991 on an island in Thailand and it lived on as an acoustic version called “Dancing in the Blue Sky” for some years. I started to record it as an acoustic version in 2016.
In 2018 I decided to make a different musical version and it sounded better. In late 2018 I had a dream where I heard a new chorus so at 4am in the morning I ended up humming it to my phone recorder and renamed the song “Round and Round”.
Round and Round was released in 2019 and is a pop song with elements of rock and reggae thrown in. I was fortunate that Doris Ackermann offered to do backing vocals. She remarked that it might sound better with some real brass so I contacted Daniel Wacker and he provided the saxophone. Oliver Poole did a great job on the main vocals as usual. I asked Nic Burrows and Chris Smith from Raindance Music Ltd. to help me with the drums and bass. I like working with Nic and Chris because they aim to get the best result. Benjamin Poole provided the splendid cover artwork.
I am doing this to show despite all distractions, it is possible to live your dream even if it takes more than 30 years to get around to it. It's so much fun to produce songs.
I would like to say a special thank you to my family and friends for their encouragement and help - you know who you all are!
Retro-Phil is based in Muehlehorn, Switzerland