I grew up in a coal mining town in Yorkshire. Descendant of a long line of coal miners. In 1979 / 80 or thereabouts, I would have been playing Subbuteo on my Mum’s kitchen table with my friend, Andrew Spence. He’d always be Barnsley, I’d always be Leeds. At the side of the pitch on a chair, I’d have a cassette player set up where I would force Andrew to listen to my taste in music. Around that time it would be Sad Cafe’s “Facades” album. He didn’t rate it. That year he got me into John Foxx, Gary Numan, David Bowie. I got him into precisely nothing. Last time, I was in Barnsley, I called in on him as a a surprise. I looked through his cd racks. I spotted “Aja” by Steely Dan which was one of the albums I would have recommended back in the day. He just said he’d got it because he’d read about it in the music press but he couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
Later about 1985, I was raving about another Sad Cafe album to my friend, Kevin Fenton. This time it was “Politics of Existing”. Me and Kev used to drive all over the place in his red car, half the night and then work in the morning. Mad. One night, we were driving back from Blackpool with Sad Cafe on his cassette player. He was falling asleep at the wheel. I can still remember him jerking awake when his tyre hit the curb. Later, I persuaded him to come to Manchester Apollo to see the Cafe. I thought they were great. He said they weren’t as good as Mr Mister. He was never influenced by my musical tastes either.
I went on to become a writer. Wrote for most of the music papers at some time or other. Sad Cafe split up. I listened to a lot of jazz.
2000. I heard on the news that Paul Young the lead singer of Sad Cafe had passed away. Only 53. Didn’t seem right. I went down to Oxford Street to HMV and poked around in that racks. Not even a space for Sad Cafe. Didn’t seem right.
Around 2007, I got talking to Dave Irving who was the drummer for Sad Cafe. We both lamented that none of their albums were available in the stores. Maybe some cheap badly put together mid-price “Best of” but none of the original albums. I still thought they were the best UK band on the live circuit for much of the Seventies and Eighties. It wasn’t right that you couldn’t buy their music.
I got in touch with an American label and suggested they license the albums and I would remaster them free of charge. For some reason, they took me up on the offer.
I was talking to Des Tong (Sad Cafe bass player) after a concert and he said that it sounded like a really good idea. I decided to do it. It was going to cost me money but, hey, this was music.
I worked on all their major albums and one by one they came out. The label survived a takeover bid and they’ve now resumed releasing the back catalogue. “Live” is scheduled to come out next month……. Another label in Japan took up the vision and released a box set and 6 albums, again I produced, again I did it for nothing. Because it seemed like the right thing to do.
About 2008, I thought it would be a good way to finish off the series if we released an album of out-takes and b-sides and solo recordings.
I got in touch with Alistair Gordon who had been working on recordings with Paul before he left this world. We decided to listen to what he had. It immediately became apparent that we could end up with an album that was better than what I had in mind. But we needed funds. I raised the money for recording sessions. Alistair got all the members of Sad Cafe to agree to play on it. And then all the members of Mike and the Mechanics. And then 10cc. Alistair is a diamond.
I revamped the official Sad Cafe website out of my own pocket with Dave Irving’s help. I bought out investors when they became discontented at how long the album was taking.
We spoke to Pat, Paul’s wife and her family. She was cautious but she let us do it. As time as gone on, she has been a real help and I hope the finished album brings her much joy. She’s been through a lot and she deserves every good thing in the world.
It’s been a long and difficult trip but the album is now finished and today will be my last day working on Paul Young-related projects. We’re going to post out some press kits, have a drink and then I’m done. The album will come out on the 25th of March. Sad Cafe Live, I hope will appear in the U.S. in April but if it doesn’t come out that’s on the label.
I got involved because it didn’t seem right that someone had made so much good music and you couldn’t buy it. I also wanted to do something for Paul’s family who I’d never met but I knew they were hurting.
By the end of it all, you can buy Paul’s music in every major record buying nation in the world. I think I’ll settle for that as a job well done.