Original Mirrors

Original Mirrors

1980, TW Studios, Fulham, London

After Bernie left our band to join Ian Gillan in April 1979 I was initially at a loss for what to do. I'd never been the giving up type, I'd been very loyal to Bernie and Mark and was quite hurt when BTB ended. Jet records had just dropped us, Bernie had gone on to instant fame with Gillan and I decided that I needed a drastic change. I had been playing with Mark since he first taught me to play proper guitar chords in 1973 and we'd been a rhythm section since 1974 ... it was time for me to branch out into the business at large and play with some new people. So I did the first and most natural thing I could do and that was look in the Melody Maker at ad's for bands needing bass players and ... would you believe it ... the first ad I answered and got an audition for was for the Original Mirrors!!!

The day after the audition, Steve Allen and Ian Broudie's manager phoned me and said, I remember, I'd been ' ... head and shoulders above the rest of the players' so I was invited to join the band. I'd met Ian Broudie once when Big In Japan (his previous band) had played at Barbarella's in Birmingham on the same bill as the BTB in 1978, so we had a minimal passing acquaintance, that's all. Steve Allen had been the lead singer in Deaf School, the 'Art Rock' band from Liverpool.

This band was an explosive mixture of characters that ultimately imploded for me personally. The fifteen months I was together with them was an amazing helter-skelter ride of ups and downs, highs and lows and high tension creative energy. I'm SO proud to have been a part of this. The first OM album remains testament to the awesome mixture of every member of the bands' blood, sweat, heart, soul and emotions at work ... WHAT A RECORD!!!

When I first started to talk to Steve and Ian, they would talk of the usual, cool and acceptable influences of the times like Bowie and Roxy Music, but also mentioned artists like Donna Summer and disco, soul and Tamla Motown stuff and this for me, coming from very much a 'rock' background was a major musical awakening. I have come to think of OM's as very much a 'rock' band (haha Ian and Steve would be appalled!!!) ... you only have to listen to the drums and bass on this first album, and particularly the sound of them to see where and how it was hitting home feel wise. On top of that were a bunch of great songs which, by the way, were brought to band rehearsals in their most basic form, then 100% arranged by the band. We were usually presented with some chords at rehearsals, a rough format and no more ... all the arrangements and sound of this album is of the five people in the band TOGETHER.

On my part I was encouraged to play and be myself (which was ultimately too much for them!!!) and I was able to mix what I'd already been playing in the rock/punk genre with my new found love of soul, disco plus the basic funk stuff I'd learned in the mid to late 1970's (Average White Band, EWF, The Brothers Johnson, Chic and early Michael Jackson to name a few). The bass playing is half plectrum, half fingers and on top of Pete's drums provides an absolute powerhouse at the foundation of this music. I got my JJBurnel influence in again on 'Chains Of Love' and a straight nick from Donna Summers 'I Feel Love' on 'Could This Be Heaven' (Listen for that 'I Feel Love' bass line again on Kylie's 'Your Disco Needs You in 2000!!! I've always used it where I could get away with it!!!). All played on my BTB 1976 walnut brown Fender Precision which was stolen at the beginning of 1980.

We actually had THREE attempts at recording this album, one with an American MOR artist/producer called Randy Bishop at Mickey Mosts' Rak studios ... that didn't work out. Another with producer/engineer Kit Woolvern at Tony Viscontis studio Good Earth in Soho and finally, the one that made it, recorded at TW studios in Fulham with Alan Winstanley and finished at Martin Rushent's Streatley Studios in Berkshire. The first two attempts didn't capture the feel and intensity of our live performances whereas with Alan, we recorded all the basic tracks as a band and very quickly.

To the best of my knowledge Pete's and my backing tracks are as we played on the day ... untouched, unedited, no drops. There were some overdubs and all the backing vocals done at TW (I specifically remember Ian behind the desk recording the solo to 'Flying' there) and the rest was done and then everything mixed at Streatley, Martin Rushent's studio in Berkshire. Having said all this, by the time we were making the third attempt we had been playing and developing the songs 'live' for six months and I think that's got a lot to do with a) why we couldn't make it happen before and obviously b) why it happened when it did.

I had also now met a good partying partner in Perky (Jonathan Perkins our keyboard player). We readily fed each others addictions and spent most of that year or so (June 1979 - August 1980) merrily speeding and drinking away, smoking masses of pot and discovering the delights of cocaine!!!

After much gigging, building up an audience in various parts of the UK and Europe we got a support slot on Roxy Music's Flesh and Blood tour of Europe in summer 1980. Tensions increased with us all sandwiched into a small van, traveling around Europe with three months luggage and, although every gig was a blistering testament to our reputation as a 'hot' live act, we barely survived intact after this tour ... with ME being asked to leave after the last gig I did with them in The Bullring in Cascais, Portugal. I was too loud, too opinionated, too arrogant, too paranoid, too high (definitely!) and just too much of a pain in the arse I suppose, no matter how good I was.

Again there's much more to tell at a later date but for now I can say it was a great experience, great times, great music and, note for note. song for song and person for person, probably the best REAL band I've ever been in.

Original Mirrors

Album poster

Phil playing live

Playing live

Could this be heaven?