As always, a huge thanks goes out to all of the musicians for donating their music and to Andy Holdcroft / Hot Music Live Presents for putting it all together. This album is dedicated to the memory of Paul Brook. You can also find Andy's latest HML article, a lovely and fitting tribute to Paul, here: http://www.hotmusiclive.co.uk/article?article=12739.
For those of you who have already downloaded "Hot Music Live Presents Volume Four"
(if not, please check it out at
you'll know that this album is dedicated to the memory of Paul Brook (January 19th 1955 to May 3rd 2007): drummer, programmer, producer, writer, composer & multi instrumentalist.
What follows in the rest of this feature is essentially what I originally intended to appear in the Bandcamp notes but given that these are not prominent & this tribute has grown longer than that format is designed for, I reproduce here what I would have written there for you so you can understand the dedication: there is now a link to this article in the Bandcamp credits instead.
On "Hot Music Live Presents Volume Four" you can hear Paul & his music on the tracks "For You" "Dawn Approach", "Train Song", "Shadow Box" and "Sophia's Choice"
Paul was a member or associate of too many bands to list fully here, but ones you may remember fondly include Analog, PZAZZ, the Reluctant Stereotypes, Mummy Calls, Le Cod Afrique, Cupid's Inspiration, Red on Red, Manalyshi & the Jon Paul SETI Project.
Beyond these, the list of musicians he worked & played with is even longer and includes Coldcut, Percy Sledge, the Marvellettes, Kevin Dempsey (Dando Shaft) Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Nik Kershaw, The Dream Academy, Gary Moore, Greg Lake, Pino Palladino, Bonnie Tyler & countless more.
In 1992, Paul created the world's first realistic drum sample CD "Masterkit" and he was subsequently approached by Yamaha to create a custom drum library, which appeared on their products over the next few years. Later drum sample CDs he created included "Chemical Beats" and "Brutal Beats".
He even made it into cinema as one of the hits he co-wrote while in Mummy Calls, "Beauty Has Her Way", features on the soundtrack of "The Lost Boys".
If, like me, you had the privilege of attending the tribute event at the Assembly, you will have been as impressed as I was by the sheer number of his friends & admirers (I imagine few musicians would need a venue of such a size for such a purpose) and the depth of their feelings towards Paul.
Therefore, as bare facts alone cannot adequately capture the essence of the man, here are the thoughts of some of his fellow musicians and friends which speak far more eloquently:
"On Tuesday 3rd May 2007 my dearest friend for 30 years passed away after fighting a two year battle against cancer.
Paul Brook was simply one of the best drummers / musicians on the planet, I worked with Paul on the Yamaha sample sessions and Chemical Beats sessions.
Paul was in and out of hospital for the last 2 years of his life but he never let that get in the way of letting other drummers share his vast knowledge of drums and music. He was a major contributor to drum forums all over the world in particular the Mike Dolbear drum forum where he posted 7445 topics.
Along with hundreds of other people, in and out of the drumming community, I miss Paul a great deal, but the impact he had on my drumming will never be forgotten and will continue to be a source of inspiration.
A GREAT MAN who will be sadly missed
Love you Paul
(Ted Duggan: Badfinger, Cupid's Inspiration, Red on Red, Dirt Road Blues Band etc)
"Paul was a dear, dear friend. I last visited him in the week before he died & although he was clearly really ill, he had not lost his sparkle & was talking about the future & his excitement about new technology & music. My favourite memory of him was when we were working with German Goth band Sopor Aeternus and The Ensemble of Shadows on their album ‘Es reiten die Toten so schnell'. Holger had written all the drum parts on a computer & printed out sheet music for each part of the kit, which meant Paul had many sheets on separate stands in front of him but even so it was technically impossible to play. However Paul realised the parts perfectly, playing to a click track & concentrating so hard that we had to record only thirty seconds at a time. I don't know anyone on earth who could have done that"
(John Rivers, Woodbine Street Recording Studio, the longest established independent studio in the UK)
"Paul Brook – ‘Brookie' to his close friends, late of 27 Woodbine Street, Royal Leamington Spa, the original location of the renowned Woodbine Street Studios. This is literally a stone's throw from my doorstep and Paul would regularly call me to say ‘come over and have a listen to this' – or ‘could you spare an hour to play a guitar part on my new song' – or even ‘fancy a pint?'. We would go to either the ‘Woodland Tavern' ("Woodies") or the ‘Star and Garter' around the corner and talk music or whatever.
Paul was always good company; witty, intelligent and funny and he absolutely lived and breathed music. He also embraced the revolutionary new technologies which emerged in the 1980s, for example drum machines, sequencers, digital samplers etc., and because of this he became a sought-after drum programmer.
At heart though he was always a very fine natural drummer with a great ‘feel' and we played loads of gigs, many at the much-missed Kelly's in Court Street. He also often called on me as a session guitarist on various projects, both his own and for other artists.
Because of my gigging commitments abroad I was unable to be at Paul's funeral, to my deep regret.
I remember him this way: at Kelly's, I would look round while playing one of our many nights there to see Paul behind his drum kit with a big grin on his face…
(Steve Walwyn, Chevy, the DTs, Dr Feelgood etc)
"Paul had the most professional approach & commitment to playing. This was a guy who put the hours in to achieve perfection. He truly had a "drum brain" to figure out new rhythm grooves from other ideas. He could take a concept & create his own ideas rather than copying an original. He taught me that (and a lot else besides) and I tell my students in turn to do this in order to create their own styles. Paul could pass music he had heard through a "tea strainer" in order to achieve something new. He also always told people never to listen to music of any genre they were trying to write in the style of.
I knew him really well as a person: I spent most days with him as during his first battle with cancer he would come into my shop to practise daily and offered us many ideas. He also helped many other drummers: he was a local drum guru. I would stand at Kelly's watching him play when I was about 15 & then when I had my first big gig there, I was amazed to see him standing watching me play: though he did describe me as "the laziest drummer he'd ever seen"! He was a great inspiration to me."
(Victor Guillamon aka "Dr.Um")
" Paul was one of the finest musicians I've ever had the privilege to work with. He brought so much to Le Cod Afrique: such talent and professionalism. Sadly missed!"
(Jon Lewis: Le Cod Afrique, Manos Puestas, TwoManTing etc)
"Paul worked with a lot of bands/people over the years and was behind some of the most groundbreaking albums, songs and instruments of which you can find out more about online. The following is my own personal recollection of how I knew Paul.
I was one of the lucky ones who got to play alongside Paul on a regular basis, as part of Le Cod Afrique and also in the Jon Paul SETI project as well as numerous other sessions, recordings and as a sound engineer on many of his other gigs. I think it's very fair indeed to say that Paul was in the very, very top ranks of all of the musicians I have worked with. On my musician side (as well as the engineer in me) this was an extremely fortunate place to be as playing with Paul was such an inventive arena, he was one of the few people I've met in life who could listen as much and as intensely as the command they had of their instrument.
The Jon Paul SETI Project came about because of a love of improvising and a love of electronics and orchestration and not being limited to the 'standard sound of the instrument'. Paul was a very capable musician and not just a drummer his musical and technical knowledge was vast which made using effects, synthesisers and treating the sounds that we created as all part of the fun.. I have very fond memories of the Peace Festival where we finished the set off (and the Sunday lineup), all of us having carefully looped (recording yourself live) ourselves and then walked offstage - the sound engineers face was an absolute picture with this 'band' still playing. I don't think the Peace Festival has experienced anything like that since..!
The track 'Dawn Approach' was one such tune which we came up with doing a short guest slot at Kellys bar in 2001, Paul started on the Handsonic with one of the melodic rather than percussion patches on the instrument and I was playing a very treated and alternate tuned patch on 'synth' guitar setup. Andy's beautiful melody improvisation on the sax was the final cog that takes us all through the calm journey… the title came after we listened back obviously but I think it's a fitting title nonetheless.
The other side of Paul which few people know about was his absolutely fabulous culinary skills and when they had them his Thai green curry nights at the Star and Garter were not to be missed, he could have been a chef if he chose to! His sense of humour was also renowned and he also wrote articles, one of which will stay me till I drop - the satirical review of the 'Pig Iron Drum Kit' for one of Dr. Um's (Leamington's finest Drum Shop) early newsletters. The other classic is a 'recipe' for Christmas cake which involves a whole bottle of vodka and a broken window…
Paul is still sorely missed by those that knew him, he taught me an awful lot and as a musical partner he was second to none.
Still thinking of you Paul, RIP"
(Jon 'Bungle' Blackford)
" I met Paul in the early 80's when I photographed Level 42 in Leicester. He was in a band called PZAZZ, a jazz-fusion outfit that was undoubtedly a powerhouse of the finest musicians on the scene at the time. He was gentle and unassuming with an air of mischief about him and we hit it off immediately. This wasn't the only time I would run into Paul. He visited my
photo studio in Russell Street next to the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, where I worked with musicians and bands enjoying the explosion of interest in the area through the Two Tone Movement. Paul was a regular visitor to the studio, where these portraits were made."
(Rob Lapworth, musician & photographer)
"Paul was a highly respected drummer and percussionist, but many people didn't know he also had a good voice. I remember him singing "California Dreaming" at the Star and Garter one evening. He also did backing vocals on some of my recordings of which I'm proud to say he produced. He had a very dry sense of humour. He encouraged me to push myself musically and join My Space long before Facebook".
"In our band, Manalyshi, we were struggling for a drummer. Paul stepped in and blew us away with his generosity to teach and guide us and of course his out of this world drumming"
Finally, having heard such testimony, you can watch a video of a masterclass demonstration by Paul here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJol0f1TUqA&fbclid=IwAR2BTJWAJ5Lnc6W-JUCYKp15n9B8tC7fz5e_3d1EWmhXOxlaEf1j7x0TbG0
It was barely a fortnight ago that I was telling you all about The Upsiders' single "Worth A Million" which I'm delighted to see has been welcomed as warmly by so many other people as it was in this magazine. Hot on its heels however, almost before we've redrawn breaths on the subject, the band have released its follow up, "Sway" (or to be accurate they will on Friday), being the second instalment of their "Reconnect" project which I briefly outlined in my earlier article.
Moving the narrative forwards from the first part which celebrated everyone's inherent & equal value in society, in "Sway" the protagonist of the sequence, "Kenny" is invited by the band to a "disco funk party" as part of his journey "to form genuine connections with the world around him". And what better place to do so than at a party? (I'm sure the irony of releasing songs about parties isn't lost on any member of the band nor their audience. Call it something to look forwards to maybe). Equally who'd want to miss an Upsiders party? So many people we review in these pages would make great party guests & hosts but it's tricky to think of a local band more suited to putting one on with their well know joie de vivre.
If "Worth a Million" was an interesting fusion of various uplifting & sunny vibes & styles, "Sway" reflects its specific subject matter in being a typically uninhibited blast of well, you guessed it, funky disco music. You can safely say these chaps like to party & even better they clearly want their guests to enjoy themselves as much as possible: as much as they do. After all, if "Kenny" is to be helped, he will need nights out like this with others pitching in for him.
They can party well but they can also play well: funk doesn't ever sound easy to play convincingly, especially when giving it this light & breezy vibe over the top, but they carry it out with aplomb. What I found particularly interesting was how the song reminded me less of classic transatlantic disco & more of the late 1970s/early 1980s "Britfunk" scene (think Light of the World, Hi Tension, Freeez, Linx, Junior Giscombe etc) which is very refreshing as this sort of music isn't often referenced any more.
As delightful & soul revitalising as its predecessor, "Sway" advances the plot delightfully while remaining in its own right another one which will get you onto the dance floor with Kenny & get you moving your bodies when you hear it live. In the meantime, please look out for the music video (created by Nathan of the band) premier on YouTube at 6pm on Friday.
It was only last week that I was telling you about the new Stylusboy single "This Is Where I Belong" which was released in advance of its parent EP "Live in the Basement" which in turn came out a few hours ago.
A six track collection which also includes live versions of "Out Upon the Ocean", "Keep You", "Embrace the View" , "Ride This Storm" and the Stylusboy classic "For the Souls of My Brothers" in addition to the aforementioned track, the larger set shares the virtues of the trail blazing song and I'll fairly shamelessly reprint some of my earlier comments since they hold true & I can't improve upon them: ".. there is a haunting element to his live performances which is difficult to capture in words ..... and the underground venue with its ambience serves to amplify this. Stylusboy works superbly with his performance style and the intimate nature of his music: you need to be enclosed with him & in proximity to him to get the most of out the opportunity & moment.". True last week, true today & pretty certain to be true for the rest of what hopefully will be a long career, though as I did say in my review of his last studio album, 'Routes', topping his recent compositions will be a challenge, though one I'm sure he'll rise to.
In fact, if you are new to Stylusboy's music, "Live in the Basement" might be a useful starting point: not only does it contain some of his very finest writing to date but if does really encapsulate his live performance skills & show you in a nutshell precisely why people appreciate his craft. I can only hope that the clinical situation permits live performances in the intimate setting where this works so effectively as soon as is safe. In the meantime Stylusboy has been live streaming quite a lot: please check out the videos on his pages & they should all also be on the "Hot Music Live Presents" Facebook page.
Read more articles in the magazine.