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Click on the track title to listen. Please note: prohibitive costs restrict the tracks to approx 1-minute edits. Anyone interested in obtaining the complete recordings, please email me

WGS Jazz Club - The Cocktail Bar (G Underhill)

GU - piano.

Recorded live at The Annual Jazz Club Concert, Weymouth Grammar School, Weymouth, Dorset, July 1978.

I was raised within a family that had little interest in popular music - something I later realised in some ways a blessing in disguise. Having been found to possess a modicum of ability on the recorder, I was sent for formal piano lessons, but quickly found improvisation and playing-by-ear of far more interest than reading stuffy old classical music. Having spent a while honing a style originally influenced by the blues-based boogie of Status Quo (!), this was my one of my first recorded performances in public, in my last year at school. The Jazz Club was run by teacher “Speedy” Clarke, and apart from giving an annual concert also occasionally performed in school assemblies. The latter were real nerve-wracking affairs – you could almost hear the risible thoughts of the hard-nuts in the (captive) audience. This pseudo-jazz piece didn’t actually have a name at the time – I gave it one 10 years later when Speedy gave me a cassette copy.

4 Year Interference – Misty Lady (S Bates/S Jarman) 

Kathy Lloyd – vocals, Simon Jarman – guitar, Shane McDonnell – guitar, GU – Sielorchestra synth, Mike Jolliffe – bass guitar, Spencer Bates – drums.

Recorded in rehearsal at the Victory Hall, Charlestown, Weymouth, March 1980.

Shortly after leaving school, I entered a competition in “Sounds” music magazine just to get a badge for my collection, and was flabbergasted when I was informed I had won a Yamaha electric piano worth £700 (I had to go to London to collect it, being presented it by Bill Nelson of Be Bop Deluxe fame). My ex-school peer Spence thus got me to join a band he was forming, having just taken up drumming. The problem was that not only were most of us limited technically, but we also had different musical interests so things petered out after two rehearsals. When we recorded this, I had swapped the electric piano for a (comparatively) cheap Italian synth, which although offered more variety was still pretty limited, its one saving grace being an amazing string machine patch which I used (to great effect?) here.

The Instants - The Urban Gypsy (J Morelli)  

Joe Morelli - vocal/guitar, Mark Pentling - guitar, GU - Sielorchestra synth, Phil Millward - bass guitar, Paul Morgan - drums.

Recorded live by John "The Mix" Maggs at the Palace Vaults, Bournemouth, August 1981.  

Sick of dead end Weymouth, I upped sticks to Bournemouth and responded to an ad in the local rag wanting a keyboardist for a “working new-age band” – actually much more influenced by punk and mod styles. We recorded a "live" demo of head honcho Joe’s songs and did a few local gigs, including this one where after several numbers we were asked by the unimpressed bar manager to stop playing and leave (and he wouldn’t pay us either afterwards, although much haggling eventually secured half the gig fee). I still had the somewhat-limited Siel synth at this point, and the bleeping sound on this was a crude effect created by flicking a switch back and forth whilst holding down a key. The band later broke up during the folly of a "European Tour", but that’s another story.

Exist For Tomorrow – Scream (G Underhill)  

GU – Sielorchestra synth/home-made percussion.

Recorded at home, Westbourne, Bournemouth, c. November 1981.  

I had recently acquired a double cassette recorder on which quite by chance I discovered I could overdub onto something I had recorded earlier whilst playing along live. This was my introduction to multi-track home recording on a basic level, and this track is one of the first I experimented with. A borrowed flanger effects pedal acted as the trigger for this particular piece that’s somewhat Kraftwerk-influenced (they were heroes to me at that time). The self-bestowed name for my bedsitland recording activities was short-lived, but over the next 20 years I knocked out dozens of ideas using this trusty machine, Eventually the decks packed up, but I still own it today - it serves as an ideal monitor for a portable CD player.

40% Go – Flying Carpet (G Underhill)  

GU – keyboards, Joe Morelli – percussion, Casiotone VL tone – rhythm.

Recorded at Joe’s place, Winton, Bournemouth, January 1982.  

Post-Instants, Joe Morelli and I never formally worked together again, but over the next few years, as well as remaining friends (until Joe got bitten by the Jehovah’s Witness bug) we also collaborated/dabbled on an ad-hoc basis. As we were both dolies at this point, it seemed a good idea to spend a cold winter afternoon messing about with ideas, pooling all the musical equipment we owned between us (plus Paul’s drumkit which was still stored at Joe’s). Clocking in at 8 minutes, this was actually one of the shortest things we did – other jams were over 10 minutes long. Even though it was good fun, we only did it every now and again - perhaps because I was now involved in the first band that I actually rated…

Khmer Rouge - The Other Side (G Underhill/P Kenton) 

Helen Willis - vocals, Pete Kenton - guitars/vocals, GU - keyboards, Russell Elliott - bass guitar, Mark Bishop - drums.

Recorded at Misty Studios, Bournemouth, April 1982. Produced by Mark Eden and Khmer Rouge.

Russell was the bassist in The Instants when I joined. He wasn’t impressed and soon left, asking me to join him in another project. I did so a few months later when The Instants dissolved, and we put together an original set influenced as much by disco as new wave. The band pushed me into augmenting my setup with a Roland SH09 synth: despite my dire financial situation at the time, I somehow managed to scrape £200 together for it. Of course, as soon as I bought it, Roland bought out a better, cheaper version. This was the first song I wrote complete with lyrics, which reflected my dismal situation living on the dole. Pete rewrote some of the words – the original ones were even more depressing. After recording a demo and playing several well-received local gigs, the band split up over retaining singer Helen, but by then most of us were also in thrall to the Blue Nile project anyway…

MG - Spooky Stuff (G Underhill) 

GU - bass guitar/keyboards, Mark Bishop - drums/guitar.

Recorded at Mark's place, Winton, Bournemouth, c. May 1982.

During my time playing with Khmer Rouge, drummer Bish suggested I come around to his rather grand home and mess about in his "Music Room". He had loads of instruments and some tape recording devices, so I sat behind his drumkit and demonstrated the pattern for an idea of mine I had in my head (probably my first experience of playing drums). He then played that whilst I picked out the lines on bass guitar (probably another debut performance), then we played the other instruments whilst the previously recorded rhythm track accompanied us, recording the whole lot together. It never occurred to me to develop what we did and use it in Khmer Rouge - maybe I didn’t think it would fit with our existing repertoire...or maybe I was just too wary of falling foul of bassist Russell's sneering sarcasm...?

Rhino Jive - The Break Up (P Gosling) 

Peter Goslin - vocals, Adam Crew-Gee - guitar, Guy Snook - bass guitar, James Surridge - drums, GU - Korg polysynth.

Recorded in rehearsal at Guy’s place, Winton, Bournemouth, June 1983.

Whilst involved in Blue Nile (see below), I was asked by manager Mick Harber to help out posh kids Rhino Jive (also on his “roster”) by playing keyboards, freeing up the singer/composer to concentrate on vocal duties. And I was even promised payment of £10 for a gig – my first session fee. So I did a few rehearsals with them before playing on a bill topped by Radio 1 DJ Steve Wright. However, my remuneration was slow in coming, despite repeated requests. When eventually handed over, it was done so reluctantly in a surly manner. It confirmed 2 things: that Mick was a most perfidious individual, and that money is indeed the root of all evil. For the record, after this gig the ill-suited singer reverted to keyboards, and they recruited a more charismatic frontman.

Love On The Dole – This Day (J Morelli) 

Joe Morelli – vocal/guitar, Paul Read – guitar, GU – bass guitar, Nick Waugh – drums.

Recorded in rehearsal at Comix, Bournemouth, Summer 1983.

The bassist in Joe's latest band had suddenly dropped out of a rehearsal at the last minute, so I casually mentioned I was available (despite having very little experience), and to my surprise Joe accepted my offer. The next problem was getting a bass guitar at short notice – the only one we could find had its frets removed and filled in. Talk about going in at the deep end – I'd have had enough problems playing an ordinary bass never mind this one, but despite this (and not knowing Joe's material) I gamely did my best, even if it did sound like Mick Karn after a particularly heavy night on the tiles. Much as I'd enjoyed the challenge of playing bass, I certainly couldn’t afford to own one at that time, and didn’t play the instrument again in a band context until nearly a decade later.

Blue Nile* - Cinderella Liberty (M Harber/A Lockett/V Hamilton) 

Vicky Hamilton - vocals, Alan Lockett - guitar, GU - Roland Juno 60 synth, Russell Elliott - bass guitar, Mark Bishop - drums.

Recorded for radio broadcast at 2CR Studios, Bournemouth, October 1983. Produced by 2CR and Mick Harber.

Mick Harber had caught a Khmer Rouge gig, and we later accepted his offer of management. Whilst he worked with KR, he also invited Russ, Bish, and myself to participate in a new project backing a singer he’d discovered. The original drummer was Pete Evans, who later found a degree of success with 80’s indie act The House Of Love, but (in retrospect wisely) soon ducked out here smelling a rat. The rest of us were too naïve to realise we were being manipulated by would-be Svengali Mick, and went on to play well attended gigs, make 24-track demos, and even appear on a local radio show. But eventually the Machiavellian subterfuge dominated to the point where the project imploded. A shame, as the musical vibe (in the mould of the Grace Jones Compass Point sessions) inspired all concerned.

* not to be confused with the more successful Scottish band of the same name, as the Bournemouth Echo have here!

Sketch - Letter From Home (M Harber/A Lockett/Sketch)

“Sketch” - vocals, Alan Lockett - guitars, GU - keyboards, Mark Bishop - drums. 

Recorded at Misty Studios, Bournemouth, October 1983. Produced by the Dangerous Brothers and Mark Eden.

Whilst managing his coterie of acts, Harber elected to use the Blue Nile musicians as his “house band” in the style of Motown or Stax. The first (and only) spin-off involving myself featured a young lad whose given name escapes me (Lee something?). We rehearsed three songs in the same format as the Blue Nile material (Loco came up with the musical backdrop, Mick the lyrics, and the singer the melody under Mick's supervision) and then took them to the studio. However when this one was recorded, Russell’s bass was discarded in favour of me playing the lines on synth - he was not a happy chappy. What happened after that? This was another of Harber’s schemes that got talked-up big but went nowhere fast. Still, as you can see, 1983 was certainly a busy year for me musically.

Trevor’s Supergroup – Down At Comix (G Underhill) 

GU – Roland Juno 60 synth, Tony Lucas – guitar, Trevor Ricketts – bass guitar, Mark Bishop – drums.

Recorded in rehearsal at Comix, Bournemouth, February 1984.

After the death of the Nile, "Bongo" Bishop and I were invited by Trevor (of other recently-disbanded local faves Play For Today) to get together with him and fellow ex-PFT-er Tony to form some kind of local supergroup. It lasted all of one rehearsal, partially due to “after the Lord Mayor’s show” feelings myself and Bish carried, but also the realisation that Trevor was a limited musician at best – he certainly struggled to cope with the semi-improvised ideas I floated in the rehearsal. He might not have been much cop as a bassist, but he did have a talent for art, and in later years became very successful as a children’s TV animator/cartoonist.

Danze Frakcha - Million Miles Away (N McAvoy) 

Nick McAvoy - lead and backing vocals/drum programming/percussion, GU - keyboards/snare drum/backing vocal, Tony Lucas - guitars/backing vocal, Sally and Colette - backing vocals.

Recorded at Studio 95, Boscombe, Bournemouth, early 1985. Produced by Claudette Evans and Danze Frakcha.

I hooked up with this outfit through Tony Lucas, who joined them shortly after the aborted supergroup project. Originally a full band that rehearsed and gigged our own material, by the time we recorded this track the rhythm section had been elbowed in favour of drum machines and other technology. The female backing vocalists (one was the singer's squeeze) made for good eye candy, but their only familiarity with harmony was the hairspray. Nick's writing style was somewhat simplistic, and I would be asked to wave a magic wand and tart things up – on this, I re-worked the bridge and the extended outro. Studio owner Claudette gave us free recording time in the belief that we would “make it”. However, my heart wasn’t really in it – Bournemouth seemed forever destined as a musical graveyard, so I left for the bright lights of London…

The RDR Band - Just A Dream (P Hession)  

Pete Hession - vocal/guitar, GU - keyboards, "The French Bird" - bass guitar, “Colonel” Seb D’Souza - drums.

Recorded live at Highlands Hospital, Winchmore Hill, London, February 1986.

I met the "Colonel" through my new job in The Smoke. My first musical venture there was with him and his old chum Pete – we recruited the bassist (can’t remember her name) via a Melody Maker ad I think. After my experiences in Bournemouth, this was very much back to basics, with me using a cheap tiny Casio synth of the type that were popular at this time (the Roland Juno synth wasn’t mine). We only managed to get two songs together, and performed them both at a party – this was the better one. I thought that I would soon move on to a more fulfilling band project, but it was not to be – the North London music scene was so dire, it made the Bournemouth one look like Merseybeat in comparison.

GU Home Demo – The Endless Game (G Underhill) 

GU – keyboards/programming.

Recorded at home, Enfield, c.1988. Music © G Underhill.

I had purchased a budget synthesiser that had its own programmable drum machine on board. It was a rather basic device, but it gave me more scope to develop some ideas I had been carrying around in my head. At this time I was reading a Cold War spy thriller, which inspired me to expand and flesh out this piece (that I had originally sketched out on piano a decade earlier) as an imaginary theme for this tale, should a film of it ever be made. Strangely enough, when the book was filmed not long afterwards, I watched it and couldn't help but notice that the titles music (by Ennio Morricone) was eerily similar to what I’d done, with comparable 3/4 time arpeggios – was it a case of great minds thinking alike, or just an ability to unwittingly pastiche a long-term hero?

Vicky Hamilton - Save Me (G Underhill) 

Vicky Hamilton - vocals, GU - keyboards, Mick Hutchings - guitars/drum programming.

Recorded at In The Pink Studio, Enfield, Autumn 1989. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU. Music and Lyrics © G Underhill.

I contacted Vicky Hamilton again (now also resident in the city) to record the vocals on a few songs I had written. Mick had just set up his own recording studio, and was drunkenly touting for business in a boozer I happened to be in. The idea was that Mick recorded Vicky singing over my home demos, but he convinced me to re-record the backing tracks in the studio too (a lot more expensive, but in retrospect money well spent). Vicky did a sterling job, but she wasn’t interested in using her connections to promote what we did so it came to nothing. However, I did produce a run of 50 cassettes of this project to give to friends and work colleagues (whether they wanted one or not). Once Mick got his studio gremlins sorted (see below) I often hired his services as a producer over the next few years.

Michelle Warren – Always Be There (G Underhill) 

Michelle Warren – lead vocal, GU – keyboards/backing vocal, Brendan - programming, Mick Hutchings – guitar.

Recorded at Monroe’s Studio, Barnet, c. late 1990. Produced by Brendan and GU. Music and Lyrics © G Underhill.

After Vicky drifted off, I happened across Michelle through a work enquiry. However it soon became apparent that she wasn’t as good as she thought: I once went to a "talent" night that she appeared at, and someone in front of me exclaimed "Oh no, it’s that girl who can't sing again!" However I persisted as I knew a recording studio would cover her deficiencies. At that time Mick’s equipment was unreliable, so in frustration I booked another studio that had decent gear. However they didn't know how to use it properly, so the resulting track was as flat as a pancake - my home demo sounded better. As a last resort I hired Mick to play guitar (live at mixdown!) in an attempt to perk things up a bit. Shortly after this salutary experience Mick invested in some better gear, and as I enjoyed working with him was more than happy to go back to his studio in the future.

Nick Waugh – Freedom  Wings (N Waugh)

Nick Waugh - lead vocal/acoustic guitar/drums, Paul Read - guitar, Chris Burrenger - acoustic bass, GU - piano, Jo Garrett - backing vocal.

Recorded at Arny’s Shack Studio, Poole, c. early 1991. Produced by Pete Dale and Nick Waugh.

I had got to know multi-talented Nick Waugh several years previously (initially via the Love On The Dole session), but this was the first project on which we worked extensively together. He had already recorded this track, but now wanted to remix and asked me to overdub some piano lines. So I turned up at Arny’s Studio (now run by Pete Dale, formerly Peter Goslin of Rhino Jive) and basically laid down some semi-improvised atmospheric noodling (as I’d done to his other material when we once played a gig). Unfortunately I had a big bust up with Nick after he failed to return money I’d lent him to pay studio costs - I'd not paid heed to that old adage “Never a borrower or lender be” to my cost, in more ways than one.

F For Dog - Landlord (G Field/M Phillipps)

Graeme Field - voice, Marc Phillipps - guitars, Sara Phillipps - bass guitar, GU - keyboards, Michael Griffin - harmonica, Mick Hutchings – guitar/programming.

Recorded at In The Pink, Enfield, c. summer 1991. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU.

Graeme and Marc were work colleagues who had formed a band that was more talk than action. I wanted to have a go at producing an outside project, so we agreed to record a track at Mick’s. After the basic tracks were completed, I then got to work, adding atmospheric keyboards and hiring a blues harp player I had recently seen at a gig. The icing on the cake was use of sound effects (from a music mag freebie cassette) to emphasise the squalid nature of the lyrical subject matter. Despite my best efforts to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, my “clients” preferred the original raw mix, but as they say, one man’s meat etc etc. By the way, the band name came from overhearing an inept colleague trying to spell out something on the phone i.e. “A for apple, B for Bertie” etc.

Jo Garrett - Three Way Love (G Underhill/G Palmer)

Jo Garrett - vocals, GU - keyboards, Mick Hutchings - guitars/programming, Sara Matthes - violin.

Recorded at In The Pink, Enfield, c. autumn 1991. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU. Music © G Underhill.

I became acquainted with Graham Palmer a few years previously – he was a poet who gave me some of his work for possible use. This is the one and only time I wrote a complete track around an existing set of lyrics - usually they come last. I recorded the rhythm track, but then had trouble coming up with a melody for the verses. So it remained untouched for months, until one day Mick told me was planning to wipe the tape - after that I finished it off within a week, necessity being the mother of invention and all that. Jo had been recommended to me by Nick Waugh and did an excellent job, but she was only available on a session basis, and after this recording I felt her price was too high - looking back now, a really bad decision to make.

In The Pink Inc – Three Way Dub (G Underhill) 

GU - keyboards, Mick Hutchings - guitars/programming, Jo Garrett - vocals, Sara Matthes - violin. 

Recorded at In The Pink, Enfield, c. mid 1992. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU. Music © G Underhill.

The Jo Garrett "Three Way Love" session was the first project I'd done where all the tracks could be accessed digitally, through the use of either sequencing or sampling. So I decided to make maximum use of such amenities to mess around with things and come up with a “remix” which was becoming the vogue at the time. As it was a new experience, I really didn’t have anything specific prepared, so we just played about with things hoping something would happen. Which didn’t, initially. In fact we were on the point of jacking it in as a waste of time (and my money) when Mick stuck a delay on a vocal sample, and suddenly things started to click.

Ann Gough – Memories Of The Past (G Underhill)

Ann Gough – vocal, GU – keyboards/acoustic guitar/whistling, Mick Hutchings – guitars/programming.

Recorded at the In The Pink, Enfield, c. January 1993. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU. Music and Lyrics © G Underhill.

Still searching for a decent female vocalist for my own songs, I ended up placing an ad in the Melody Maker, eliciting several responses ranging from karaoke Kylie to pretty good but not quite what I wanted. I hired Ann more in hope than expectation, and although she had quite a good voice and was very enthusiastic, unfortunately she was very slow to take instructions on board (and even more unfortunately had a lisp which we didn’t discover until the day of recording). We made the best of the situation and recorded the track, but by then I’d grown tired of trying (and failing) to find (and keep) the perfect female vocalist to front my compositions, and henceforth decided to explore other avenues…

The Head Honchos - Nothing More To Say (G Underhill)

GU - vocals/acoustic guitars/keyboards, Nigel Appleton - percussion.

Recorded at The Soundworks, Enfield, Spring 1993. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU. Music and Lyrics © G Underhill.

I’d messed with guitars since my teens, but it took me over a decade to master playing barre chords without screaming in agony after 5 minutes. It happened when I borrowed a chum’s amazing Fender acoustic: after that, a stream of dope-fuelled guitar-based demos followed, one of which I recorded at Mick’s (renamed) studio. Unfortunately most of those ideas have since languished unfinished – I had to return the guitar, and was so dissatisfied with replacements I’ve not played seriously since. This was the first time I had sang the lead in the studio - particularly nerve-racking when you're shut away inside the booth. Percussionist Nigel (a chum of Mick's) had given me a tape of his own recordings that in turn had some influence on my next project...

The Lighthouse Keepers - Streetmarket (G Underhill) 

GU - keyboards/programming. 

Recorded at The Soundworks, Enfield, c. Autumn 1993. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU. Music © G Underhill.

I had climbed the greasy pole to the point where I could afford to rent my own place, and had acquired some half-decent home recording equipment. So I started composing instrumental "mood" music pieces under the LKs banner. The sequenced parts were then taken to Mick's for fine-tuning, using a then state-of-the-art Atari computer. Again, the results were duplicated to tape and given to friends and acquaintances remotely interested. A few years later this submitted piece was used by (Manchester Student) "Channel M" TV Station as background music for one of their programs. However, the annoying fact that I got credited as "Gavin Underwood" suggested that they were incompetent amateurs not worth wasting my efforts on - it almost goes without saying that since then they've evolved from a 2-bit operation into something far more substantial.

The Malarkies - Malarkie Blues (S Blazicyk/S D'Souza/G Underhill/M Mead)

Steve "Banachek" Blazicyk - vocal/guitar, “Colonel” Seb D'Souza - guitar, GU - bass guitar, Matt "Rock steady" Mead - drums.

Recorded in rehearsal at Leo's, Edmonton, London, c. late 1993.

Ex-RDR Band drummer the "Colonel" hankered to play lead guitar, so asked me to play with him and a chum's chum. Bored with keyboards, I instead offered my services on bass guitar. Initial rehearsals were rather painful as it was new territory for all concerned, and we were also handicapped by a succession of inept drummers that were either family or friends. However once we recruited a decent one via the Melody Maker things picked up quickly and we did some gigs and a demo - all tracks were covers with the exception of this "original" tune, which was a quick and easy way to pad out our set list. We split acrimoniously due to differing expectations of the project, although the Colonel and I later made it up and have remained good chums since, and the band (minus drummer Matt) did a low-key reunion gig at a friend’s party in 2005. We also had a full reunion in 2012, playing a couple of songs at the Colonel's 50th birthday party... So we may not have heard the last of the Malarkies yet.

The Faithstealers - Flick The Switch (G Seer)

Gary Seer  - lead vocal/guitar, Sean Flatley - bass guitar/backing vocal, Neil Sayer - drums/backing vocal, GU - keyboards.

Recorded at The Farm Factory, Herts, summer 1994.

Having been spotted playing with One 2 Many (see below) by main-man Gary, I originally "depped" with this oft-gigging covers band on bass, but made the mistake of mentioning I had a synth, after which they insisted I played that instead (often finding I’d have very little to do, as keyboards have rarely been prominent in music by the likes of Oasis and The Jam). This was one of the few original pieces they did (sadly, Gary seemed reluctant to showcase his own tunes, preferring to hide behind Modfather impressions), which we quickly recorded at a local studio along with a load of covers. By the way, I noticed the studio reception had a sign proudly stating they had produced a number 1 hit - when I enquired as to who recorded it, I was rather sheepishly informed "Chesney Hawkes".

One 2 Many - What Good Is Love To You? (D Siggins/G Underhill) 

Dan Siggins - lead and backing vocals/guitar, Tom Hall - guitar, GU - bass guitar, Martin Franklin - drums.

Recorded at Sonic Studios, Ealing, September 1995. Produced by Sonic and One 2 Many.

I met Tom via him being a contractor at my workplace. He virtually bribed me to play in this band (where he could indulge himself as a Clappo-alike) by buying me a fancy synthesiser that proved useful with my Lighthouse Keepers project. We did several gigs in the Herts area playing a mixture of bar-room covers and original material, mainly written by lead singer Dan. However on this song I initially came up with a guitar riff then showed it to Dan, who added melody, lyrics, and a couple of extra bits to it. Yet when it came to songwriting credits, he insisted it was all his own work, even though everything he did was dictated by said riff. In a way it was fortunate that this project soon dissipated: in the unlikely event of the song becoming commercially successful, I certainly wouldn’t have let it go without claiming rightful co-credit of it… as I have here.

Dan Siggins – What Am I Meant To Do? (G Underhill/D Siggins) 

Dan Siggins – lead and backing vocals, GU – keyboards/programming/acoustic guitar/backing vocal, Mick Hutchings – guitars/additional programming.

Recorded at The Soundworks, Enfield, late 1995. Produced by Mick Hutchings and GU. Music © G Underhill.

I might have had an issue with Dan regarding the songwriting credits for One 2 Many, but I was always impressed with his singing so I thought it would be a good idea to knock out another of my compositions featuring him on vocals. All the musical composition, arrangement, and pre-production was done by myself – Dan just had to add lyrics to my melody and sing it, for which he did a good job. I suppose compared to my other stuff this is a pretty conventional rock track, but the elongated coda was where Mick and myself could really indulge ourselves – we just kept adding and overlaying instruments and effects to the point where there are at least a dozen different things going on, but it still sounds pretty minimal, which is most pleasing to my ears if no-one else’s.

Wine Dark Sea - Life (M Lynch) 

Martin Lynch - vocals/programming, Chris Moore - guitar, Peter Childs - saxophone, GU - bass guitar, Pizza Delivery Boy - drums.

Recorded live at The Bull And Gate, Kentish Town, London, March 1996.

At this point I was in emotional freefall (among other things, it was clear I would soon be “clearing my desk” at work), so I responded to an ad in Melody Maker for this venture, just as a way of keeping some kind of focus. This was the first “originals only” band I had played in for nearly a decade – leader Martin was clearly influenced by David Sylvian of Japan with his brooding compositions and androgynous stage persona. However despite this, he spurned some kind of deal he was offered in order not to be lumped in with the music press’ short-lived “RoMo” hype. This project gave me space to be creative and experimental, but by now I'd resolved to stop working for the “man”, and had made plans to bail out of the Big City…

Mellodog - Mellodog (D Pavey)

Deano Pavey - lead vocal/acoustic guitar, Brett Green - guitar, Al Palmer - bass guitar/backing vocal, GU - drums/backing vocal.

Recorded in rehearsal at Knighton Heath, Poole, June 1997

After a summer doing casual work, I returned to Bournemouth and enrolled on a local College BTEC music course with the idea of eventually becoming a full-time musician. We had to form a band for live performance assessment, and as we were short of drummers I volunteered to have a go, even though my previous experience was very limited. Playing drums was most enjoyable, but somewhat hazardous – I suffered tinnitus and tennis elbow whilst bashing the skins for this covers outfit (Deano’s eponymous tune was the sole original contribution), so I wasn’t too disappointed when Al and myself were invited to help form a Bowie tribute project, for which I reverted back to keyboards. Now called the Bowiexperience, this is still going today (sans moi).

p.s. I also recently came across this site where I recognised a Bowiexperience showreel as a medley mainly of some demos I played on back in 1998...!

Tony Corona - Four Track Recording Assignment (G Underhill) 

GU - vocal/acoustic guitar/Fender Rhodes piano/synths/bass guitar/drums.

Recorded on 4-track at Knighton Heath, Poole, December 1997. Produced by GU. Music and Lyrics © G Underhill.

Having now sung and played keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums on various things, the next logical step was to do the whole lot together (but not at the same time, obviously). The opportunity came with a college assignment to produce a 4-track demo. Setting myself the task of playing all instruments in real time (including a genuine Rhodes), I chose to develop a lyric-less piece I’d drafted several years earlier, but when my would-be wordsmith dropped out, I was in trouble - I had to quickly concoct something myself but had absolutely no inspiration (lyrics have never been my strong point). Then I realised I could actually tell the story of the recording process through the song itself. I invented the “Tony Corona” character after I had jokingly crooned the vocal melody lounge-lizard style, although he hasn't reappeared since - maybe one day...

Guess - Robotic (C Portman)

Clare Portman - lead vocal/acoustic guitar, Giles Tomlinson - bass guitar, George Esteves - drums, Zoe Handscomb - backing vocal, Mark Abel - saxophone, GU - keyboards.

Recorded at Knighton Heath Studio, Poole, April 1998. Produced by GU and Cliff Cresswell.

Whilst in the final year of my BTEC Music course, myself and a fellow student were set an assignment to co-produce a band recording in the College’s 24 track studio. As a recording studio technophobe ("Hey man I just drive it, I don't know how it works!" – a classic quote by Oddball about his broken-down tank in Kelly's Heroes), I pretty much left the onerous engineering tasks to my partner. I took responsibility as the "A and R" man, asking this interesting band fronted by Clare (in the year below) to be our subjects, choosing the best song in their repertoire to record, and re-arranging their live version making full use of the studio environment. Thus the presence on this recording of not just one of my tutors on sax, but also myself on subliminal keyboards, kind of like an aural version of Alfred Hitchcock making a cameo appearance in his own movies.

BPCFE Recording Assignment - Matriarch: Suite (G Underhill) 

GU - keyboards/programming/acoustic guitar, Kevin Jackson - acoustic guitars/percussion, George Esteves – Fender Rhodes solo/percussion, Zoe Handscomb - vocals.

Recorded at Knighton Heath Studio, Poole, Summer 1998. Produced by GU with the KH crew. Music and Lyrics © G Underhill.

This was my final project on the Bournemouth and Poole College Music Course: producing my own material in the College recording studio. This track was originally written about a decade earlier on acoustic guitar. I demo'd it using Cubase sequencing, adding "live" instruments and vocals on the actual studio recording (performed by other students, although I had another cameo role playing acoustic guitar). You could call this an "opus" what with its 7 minute+ length, genre hopping, and tempo changes, and the production took several long sessions to complete, whenever free studio time was available. BBC sound effects were also thrown in, plus the percussion on the "samba" segment was played live then looped on a sampler. I later recycled this in edited form as part of my composition portfolio whilst at Salford University.

Salford University Composition Assignment – Ni’oi (G Underhill) 

GU – synthetic piano and trumpet.

Recorded at home, Manchester, Spring 2000. Music © G Underhill.

Post BTEC course, I upped sticks to Salford to do a music degree as I basically didn’t have anything better to do at the time. After the opulent balm of Bournemouth this was a real culture shock, much of the local landscape run down, bleak and almost dystopian, including a derelict pub near my student digs once known as the Unicorn - what was left of its sign provided the title of this composition (geddit?). The general decline of what was once a proud working-class environment also inspired (if that’s the right word) the desolate and elegiac nature of the piece, with its icy piano and mournful trumpet. This was an assignment written to order (to demonstrate use of music modes), but as with everything I did academically, I also tried to make it stand up in its own right, as I think I’ve managed here.

Breeze and Nia - Rocket (B Murdoch/N Waugh)

Breeze and Nia - vocals, GU - keyboards/programming, Mick Hutchings - guitars, Nick Waugh - rap.

Recorded at The Soundworks, Barnet, c. Autumn 2000. Arranged by GU. Produced by GU and Mick Hutchings. Arrangement © G Underhill.

In more recent times I had patched up my on/off relationship with Nick Waugh (it’s currently “off” again, this time probably for good, but then again who knows?), and during my second year at Salford Uni he informed me that his 10-year old daughter had made up a couple of tunes, which he’d added some chords to. However, they needed a serious makeover, which I was happy to do. On this one I came up with an arrangement that had a contemporary-style dance beat, layered with cute sounds to enhance the naive appeal of the performers. For the recording I persuaded my "clients" to use my old chum Mick and his relocated Soundworks studio. I was rather pleased with the outcome so included it in my final University year arranging portfolio, where it was considered good enough to merit a 1st class mark.

The Nitefly - Radio Broadcast excerpt from The EEEZY Show (G Underhill)

GU - DJing/voiceover/script/music, Donna Worthington - voiceover. 

Broadcast on ALL FM radio station, Manchester, October 2002. Music © G Underhill.

I responded to an ad by this local community station, and was somewhat surprised to be offered a DJ slot, wherein I could indulge myself playing tunes that reflected my burgeoning (if belated) interest in the Easy Listening revival. I also took the opportunity to feature some recently composed lounge-style pastiches as jingles for my show. It all sounds rather spiffing, but in reality it became a real bummer. It wasn't so much the apparent lack of listenership that did for me, as fighting losing battles of integrity against a: my fellow DJ's (mainly hip-hop-loving youths who had no qualms half-inching the studio's record-deck needles) and b: the Station Manager, whose irritating and pompous manner more than reminded me of a certain fictional Slough-based boss then fast becoming the nation's favourite buffoon. The final straw came when my spot was moved without my knowledge, so I jacked it in. But hey, that's showbiz, folks...

The Saddleworth Consort – Credo from Missa Brevis (G Palestrina) 

Katy Boulton and Sandra Jackson - soprani, Judy Lund and Deborah Peak - alti, Mike Barnes and Iain Coulton - tenori, Mike Garnett and GU - bassi. Directed by Michael Warrington.

Recorded in concert at St Chad's Church, Saddleworth, Lancs, September 2005.

By the time I had finished at Salford University, I had pretty much OD’d on the popular music scene, also losing any remaining ambition to pursue music as a career – sadly, ability alone is no barometer of success. Since then my musical interest has been primarily as a listener, largely steering clear of participating in musical ventures. However, one of the few challenging things I had done at Uni was the (voluntary) choir, which also helped improve my music reading. So post-Uni the Consort was one of two choirs I joined out in the "real world”, for whom I have sung both tenor and bass (I’m a jack of all trades vocally as well as instrumentally). This was part of a lengthy and meandering piece that's difficult to perform in any circumstances, never mind in front of several (much larger) choirs that shared this concert with us that evening.

DWS Chorale – Benedictus from Mass For Men’s Voices and Organ* (D Solomons) 

David Solomons – alto tenor and bass voices/keyboards/programming, GU – tenor and bass voices.

Recorded at David’s place, Sale, Cheshire, 2006/07 (mixed summer 2007). Produced by David Solomons and GU.

I met David Solomons through another of the choirs I had joined, and discovered that he also composed music, so offered my services to sing on this fantastic piece that he presented to me. I recorded the tenor and bass parts about 4 times over (to David’s stringent instruction), so perhaps it wasn’t surprising that my voice would give out after a few hours, and I’d have to come back on another day to put down more vocals (but it was worth it, in my opinion). I actually tried to record an alto part on this: I’m sure I would have been able to handle it in my younger days, but unfortunately my falsetto voice has now completely packed up on me (it used to sound like Jimmy Somerville, but now sounds like Jimmy Saville), and so my excruciating efforts were politely declined.

* To hear the full version of this, click here.

Steven Sproat - Boulevard (G Underhill) 

Steven Sproat - acoustic guitar, GU - keyboards/programming, Steve Allen - trumpet.

Backing recorded at The Soundworks, Enfield, 1993. Original production by Mick Hutchings and GU. Overdubs recorded at FFG Studio, Bredon, Worcester, 2007. Additional production by Dave Pickering-Pick. Music © G Underhill.

I was briefly friendly with Steve Sproat when we were fellow bedsit-dwellers in Bournemouth in the early 1980's. We then went our separate ways, and over 20 years later I was stunned when I recognised him in a newspaper magazine supplement advertising a CD he had released. So I got back in touch and we exchanged some music, and I thought that was that. But he then contacted me again, asking if he could add some overdubs to this old Lighthouse Keepers track of mine and feature it on his latest (self-financed) album, which was most flattering. Apart from several of his own tunes, he's also covered songs by 70’s singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan and old standards tunesmith Jimmy Van Heusen, so you could say I'm in good company...

David Munyon - New Waters (D Munyon) 

David Munyon - lead vocal/acoustic guitar, Mick Hutchings - acoustic guitar/bass guitar, BJ Cole - pedal steel guitar, GU - "Fender Rhodes piano", Roy Sharland - organ, Nigel Appleton - drums, Dagmar Wirtz and Paul Manzi - backing vocals.

Recorded at The Soundworks, Barnet, 2007. Produced by Roger Morrish. Co-produced by Mick Hutchings and Roy Bowden.

I was making one of my occasional visits to Mick for a few jugs (nowadays having much more of a friendship than a creative musical relationship), and was just about to depart when out of the blue he invited me to lay down some tracks for this project that he was involved in. So despite being completely unprepared and somewhat rusty, I agreed to participate and managed to comp along to a couple of tunes using a Fender Rhodes patch before making my way back home. A real cult figure, David Munyon has a keen supporter willing to sponsor his muse - it would be nice to imagine (if wishful thinking on my part) that maybe there's someone out there who likes what they hear here and can offer me similar patronage...

The BoT Posse - Back on Track (The Posse) 

GU - vocals, The Posse - vocals.

Recorded in Manchester, July/August 2013. Produced by Mr B.

At my OCD therapist's suggestion I tentatively enrolled with an activities group, and and as well as visiting places of interest such as art galleries and museums, I also participated in a short music course - not just to hopefully overcome my inertia having done next-to-nothing creatively for over 5 years, but also to see if I could cope in a group environment where I may not necessarily have the same viewpoints as others. Many of those involved are young people of various ethnicities from underprivileged backgrounds, so perhaps unsurprisingly this course targeted that demographic with DJ-ing and rapping sessions. Normally, as far as I'm concerned you can put a "c" in front of rap and that says it all, but as part of the "posse" I wrote and performed my own for a track we recorded, and have to admit that the experience was quite enjoyable. But don't worry Eminem et al - I have no plans to carry on, so you can still sleep at night...

the author rocks out, c.1992

Any music, lyrics, or arrangements featured on this page marked "© Gavin Underhill" cannot be re-used without permission of the author. 

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