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We wll be posting news and the stories behind the songs come back, comment, etc...

By crispyw, Aug 21 2018 10:25AM

Chris writes: I love old gospel music, and 'borrowed' the first line of the chorus from the traditional spiritual 'Swing Down Chariot' – the Old Testament tale of Ezekiels vision of a fiery chariot from the sky. I also grew up with Erik Von Danikens infamous ancient astronaut theories in the ‘Chariots of The Gods’ books where he claimed that Ezekiels actually saw a UFO and went on to try and prove aliens were regularly landing on earth thousands of years ago. For the record, I don’t believe a word of any of it.

The Close Encounters film and Parliament's Mothership Connection were also an influence - the idea of an alien mothership coming to save us. I also love the Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books.

Mix that all up and you get a big heartfelt plea to just hitch a ride and get away from the madness of the world in a massive rant at the general stupidity of the human race, all done through the medium of a big space-age rock gospel show tune. I had the main tune, Dan wrote the middle 8 and Rob did the horn arrangements. Getting Peanut and Dan from JC’s Hopeless Sinners involved was inspired, and some of their entourage and a few other friends made up a hastily improvised gospel choir. Definitely the song with the most personnel involved and was great fun to record.

Johnny Cage writes: There was a bright light way up in the sky. A shattering of shop windows.. A sonic boom.. 'You 'ave been chosen' bellowed the mysterious Cardiff voice of some intergalactic musical minesweeper. 'You 'ave been chosen for your unifying, hope bringing power of the Country Gospel Blues, for lo, though thou art Hopeless Sinners, pub church is in right now, and we 'ave a space bar bra. Step into the light. Gabalpha Centauri awaits you.

Your mission is to heal the world, one Groove at a time. Don't be the one left behind'. And so, with that final word, we boarded the Mothership and cut ourselves a bad ass record with a crew the likes no one has ever seen, & if we don't save humanity from its inhumanity, perhaps we never will again...

Dan writes: A quick word on middle 8s - they work best when they sit outside the narrated song. In a Day in the Life by Lennon and McCartney, The McCartney part is the noise of the central character’s day outside the dreamy meanderings of Lennon’s central piece. We also have two lyricists and realised near to the end of making these songs that getting a second one to chip in a middle 8 had the effect of causing the changed tone, “Wandering into the Twilight” is the other example. The middle 8 discusses what would happen if the Mothership did eventually arrive (monstrous scramble) and what prospects the human race has of survival anyway (slim).

By crispyw, Aug 4 2018 10:58AM

Dan Writes: I was trying to be a punk and was slightly too old to join the first years at secondary school walking robotically round the playground saying “I am your automatic lover, automatic lover” along to Dee D Jackson’s only UK hit, but I always secretly liked it, a bonkers novelty record. Space Disco in the UK charts was all like that, “Spacer”, “Starship Trooper”, “Magic Fly” were a genre closer in my mind to other space records rather than Studio 54, in the wake of Star Wars.

“Flash” by Queen, the work of ELO, “Clouds Across the Moon” by the Rah band, and “No Doubt About it” by Hot Chocolate seemed close relatives as were more obviously were light Euro Disco offerings such as “Lets all Chant” by Michael Zager band and the estimable work of Boney M and Baccara.

Admitting you like this sort of stuff as well as the Clash is part of a journey towards self-realisation and part a return to childhood (see Wandering into the twilight”!) At some point a year or two ago I fell down one of those magic internet rabbit holes and found myself reminding myself of Ms Jackson and finding out more about her insane concept album “Cosmic Curves”.

Her story, in which she was so busy endlessly promoting “Automatic Lover” with her Robot in tow round the discos and TV shows of Europe that she was unable to promote the equally excellent “Meteor Man” (titular pun surely intended?) causing a swift end to her UK career, seemed sad to me.

At the same time Railroad Bill were playing a series of gigs for Count Skylarkin and Itchy Feet that were finishing at 2 am before long drives home and I started to question my own capacity to sing “the same old song” forever. These two trains of thought came together in Spacetouring, a song about diminishing returns set in outer space.

The basic song was written quickly and I knew exactly how it should sound. Of course being a tune and lyric man and completely unskilled at technique I had no idea how to play it. The contributions of Chris, Rob, Charlie, Spencer and Suzi all expanded on my vision massively, transforming it and making it ever more galactic and silvery, until we ended up with the disco juggernaut you hear now. The thinking, analytical side of me is in awe of people who can make a song as detailed as this out of me singing gruffly and saying “it needs sort of swooshes here” and “boo boos” there. The instinctive artist isn’t however which is why instinctive creativity is often allied to bastardry.

Finally Ray had incredible faith in this song, which led to all the Nang and Richard Norris stuff.

Rob Writes: Yes, ‘Suzi definitely wants to sing this in D minor’ I was told. But she didn’t. ‘Well I could do it up there, but it’s not really in me comfort zone’. We settled on C minor after jamming the piece out in the Splott room where ‘Wandering’ was scored out and Charlie Francis’ magic midi buttons and some careful re-recording by Spencer completed the transformation on this.

Charlie Francis writes: 'As a qualified astronaut and world-famous disco dancer I was the obvious choice to produce Space Touring by the Naked Citizens. Assembling a team of world-class musicians we were able to provide the ideal backdrop to the amazing vocal stylings of Suzi Chunk as she brought this perfectly crafted song to life. The icing on the cake was seeing the astonishing video which the band made to accompany the song.'

Suzi Chunk says "I was asked by some people that I know through some other people but had never actually met. The term 'space disco' was bandied about and I was in! Camp cozzy and a big bouffy wig you say? But of course! Song was great - loved the concept, and was just generally chuffed to be involved!"

Chris writes: I knocked up a demo from Dan's accapella recording - my version was very electronic, and I'm no disco diva so it was great to hear it transformed into a proper piece of late 70's disco. The making of the video will get a blog all of it's own but Dee D Jackson's Automatic lover was the obvious starting point... I also came up with the tag line 'Somewhere in Space it's always 1978', which I believe to be a 100% scientifically accurate statement. Ask Brian Cox....

Country Mile writes: We get a lot of demos send to Country Mile Records. Most are well played and earnestly recorded but if we are honest, very few really make an impression that makes us want to get involved. The Naked Citizens entered our world via an anonymous email and link to the track “Space Touring”. It’s fair to say that on the first play, we were hooked! We had never had a track that made us play it again & again immediately to try and work out the elements of the track… Great vocal (tick), top drawer drumming (tick), fantastic bass line (tick), choppy “Nile Rodgers” style guitar (tick)…plus a fantastic song and lyrics…FULL HOUSE!

Country Mile Records are no experts in Dance music but this sounded like something that could fit into that world as well as the more mainstream pop music scene. Ray got hold of his old friend Richard Norris (formerly of The Grid) for his opinion. Within an hour, he had a responded saying that he also really liked it and asked if we were interested in getting him to remix it!

We got back to the band to say that we loved the track and did they have any more? The response was yes, but the others are in much more diverse styles…. They duly sent a selection of songs and while they were completely different to “Space Touring”, they were extremely well written and performed songs...

Country Mile Records needed to meet this mysterious band as they obviously had something special and we wanted to release this fantastic music. Chuck and Ray arranged for to meet the anonymous Naked Citizens (we hopefully they would be clothed!) in a pub in Cardiff Bay. As soon as we walked through the door there was a “Hello Chuck and Ray” from two familiar faces, Dan and Chris of Cardiff skiffle legends Railroad Bill who we had released the album “Pigs Might Fly” a few years ago! Sat with Dan and Chris was Rob Smith (of Wonderbrass). It was them all along!

We talked through our proposal to use “Space Touring” as a single before releasing the eclectic and brilliant album later in the year. We couldn’t be happier with how this has gone and we are really looking forwards to the album coming out and the launch gig in October!!

By crispyw, Jul 23 2018 05:07PM

Dan writes: The story behind the genuinely three way effort from Rob, Chris W and I was inspired by the brilliant Ted McDermott, who hit the news as the “Alzheimer’s carpool Karaoke star” singing “Quando, Quando, Quando” and “You Make me feel so young” despite being in the throes of dementia. I was moved and driven to write the verses and chorus lyrics to this song, wondering what my dementia carpool karaoke might be.

Ted McDermott
Ted McDermott

I came up with a Wombles theme. “Wombling into the twilight”. Rob and Chris took it away and came back with, respectively, a lovely 70s Glam rock tune and a heartbreaking middle 8 which threw a new darker light on the rest of the lyrics.

We recorded it and persuaded the legendary Cardiff songsmith Chris Ridgeway to sing it, his voice containing as it does just the correct amount of stubborn spikiness and vulnerable empathy to carry the song off.

Chris Ridgeway
Chris Ridgeway

We liked it, although I was aware that the ground we were on was somewhat dodgy taste wise. Because of this I sent it to Wombles Songwriter Mike Batt, seeking his approval. Sadly he, very politely, hated the flippancy of the song and was appalled by any association with his own Wombling work!

I was saddened and surprised at first but very quickly realised that he was right about the Wombles aspect, Wombles are fun children’s characters, it is not brave and challenging to mix them up with a serious song about dementia, just jarring and in poor taste.

Luckily a solution was at hand, just make the lyrics vaguer and sadder and whilst still referring to the glam music of my childhood and clear out all the rubbish about Wombles!

I Changed the central line to the much more effective “Wandering” into the twilight which fitted with Chris’s middle 8. We all like the Re-recorded lyrics better and are thankful that Mike was polite and understanding.

Dementia is a terrible curse for the elderly but I still don’t think it’s either off limits as a subject for a song or that you can’t find humour amongst the darkness, it was my intention to respect those who suffer from it. But if you are going that way you have to know why. I think “Wandering into the Twilight” has a sombre empathy that “Wombling into Twilight” doesn’t and I’m glad that I didn’t make an enemy of a man who so entertained me in my own childhood. I hope you agree we have dealt with it tastefully.

Great Uncle Bulgaria
Great Uncle Bulgaria

Rob writes : Dan had written the words for this for some time but he didn’t have a tune, so one quiet afternoon between Christmas 2016 and New Year 2017 I sat down with the words and a small sherry and worked out most of the melody on this track. Remember-member-member that at this point the song was tentatively called Wombling into the Twilight so that gave me a clue to what style might work but as I had been a Wombles fan when young, I regarded the tune here as an affectionate tribute. For the record, I did write a middle 8 but it was terrible and thank Great Uncle Bulgaria that Chris came up with this better one!

Chris writes: the middle 8 is a counterpoint mood-wise to the rest of the song, and the line about ‘standing frozen in the doorway’ came from direct experience of a family member who has been diagnosed with dementia. People with Alzheimers sometimes have difficulty crossing thresholds – different textures or types of flooring can cause momentary confusion – very like when you (well, me at least…) walk into a room and immediately forget why you’re there. So that added a bit of medical accuracy as well as underlined the poignancy that’s the intent of the song. I was sad to lose the wombles and never agreed it was in poor taste myself, but I respect Mike Batts opinion and can see how it could be misinterpreted considering it’s a big upbeat glam rocker. I do think now that the change has resulted in a better song though.

Should the song have any income in its own right outside the album we would all like to donate this to a dementia charity.