I started as a guitarist and piano player, doing sessions for singles and albums, and those memories are starting to fade!
In The Beginning
My first album was called Thinking It Over. Judy MacKenzie and I were signed to EMI under the name MacKenzie Cooke, being groomed in part by Wallie Ridley (one of the old school A&R men at EMI - George Martin and Norrie Paramour being two others). But we didn't produce a suitable single that everyone could agree on, so it was decided that we would record an album to keep us quiet.
We walked into Abbey Road as inexperienced musicians and started recording our songs with a host of great session musicians and arrangers, including Harry Robinson (who was subsequently a great help when I started writing for TV). The album was total tosh! Self-indulgent gospel twaddle was never too popular and EMI were completely disinterested in the project. However, we had great fun doing it and it was a good start.
Many albums after that, but it wasn't until around four years later I was approached my Andrej Sifrer from Slovenia, Yugoslavia. I was on tour there at the time and Andrej, who was acting as manager to the artist with whom we were playing, decided to record some of his songs. As Andrej saw it, having two English musicians available (Bill Thorp and me) was too good an opportunity to miss, so we were herded into a wild pre-war Slovenian radio studio to record 3 tracks. Bill played bass, glockenspiel and real strings and I ended up playing drums, guitars, mouth organ, Hammond organ and assorted percussion. We played for 6 hours solid, overdubbing like crazy until around 3am, before falling over with exhaustion and receiving the all-together generous sum of £30 each! After returning home some time later, we discovered that all three tracks had been released and hit the number one slot in the sales and play charts. Amazingly, these tracks still appear to have near-legendary status with musicians in Slovenia today! I continued to produce for Andrej both in UK and in Slovenia, with every production going either Gold or Platinum. We’ve just celebrated out 30th year as friends and work chums. Listen to Jem singing one of his songs we recorded for a special series of concerts that featured Christopher Cross. Happily it’s in English!
I started with Cliff Richard and was fortunate to produce several single and album tracks and was involved as co-producer with the band in the Rock & Roll Silver Album celebrating Cliff's 25 years of music. This album remains one of the best rock'n'roll albums around (yes really)! Other tracks for Cliff include The Winner, Where You Are, Over You, It Has To Be You, Better Than I Know Myself, Yesterdays Memories and This Love. There are examples of these tracks on the site. Click here to listen to them.
I produced two albums for another music legend, Helen Shapiro. Both are strong gospel albums, called Nothin But The Best and Enter His Gates, with the latter having a strong Jewish flavour.
Several childrens projects have been great fun to work on. To You To Me (from BBC TV series called Chucklevision) was recorded at JFM studios and is a fun album sung by Paul and Barry Chuckle. Download these songs here. Check this and other spaces for another new album arriving soon.
Another fun album project was for OAA involving The Cabbage Patch Kids (released on Critique through BMG in USA). Most of the songs on this album come from the first two animation films made by Famous Flying Films, but we were also asked to write new material for this album, with additional lyrics by Paul Field and Judy MacKenzie-Dunn. This album has been featured on TV in the USA and it includes performances from some of the finest UK musicians and child singers available. (see Music, or check out OAA web site for more details of this). In fact you can listen to them here! There have been other album projects, but modesty and nausea prevent me from mentioning them further. Points awarded if you can find any... and you know what points mean?
To download songs, music and lyrics, click here.
Heart and Soul. Check out The making of the album plus some tracks here.
Formery Helen Janaway, or Janet Helloway depending where you’re from. A lovely Bitter Sweet album that featured the amazing voice and lyrics of Helen. A real beauty and deserves more recognition. Some tracks here.
Helen J Hicks
Helen started with Decca and was signed to them for some time recording with The HoneyRiders. Click here for some tracks.
Ongoing. Jem started singing when she was 3 years old and was winning awards when she was 3 ½ years old! She went on to sing on many TV and radio tracks, albums and sessions, and is currently working as a singer for Hobsons. The tracks we are producing are for an ongoing album project we hope to realize very soon. Click here for examples of songs recorded, gigs and new videos.