A musical journey, featuring some horrendous detours

My musical aspirations have been around for a few years, and as things stand at the moment I have recorded three solo albums, an EP and two albums as a duo with my brother Buz under the moniker Hidden Depths. This was all done in my little home studio which cleverly doubles as a bedroom. I’ve never had a musical lesson in my life, nor have I ever been taught to play anything - everything on my albums is the product of a self taught learning curve. With each album I learn something new. Below is my discography and a description of my recordings to date. As I go back and listen to my back catalogue of songs, I realise how terrible some were, so I apologise to all those I inflicted with them at the time. Here they are, in ascending order of quality.

Everybody Loves Me / I’ll Get You / Everybody Loves Me (Timbo remix) - cassette single 1997


Dear oh dear oh dear. This was my first ever crack at writing a song. The story behind it was when I was a little lad aged about two or three, I was given a plastic red guitar for my birthday. I strapped it on and strummed some made up chord while yelling at my parents and grandparents “Everybody loves me!” Now while that may be true, it’s hardly the subject matter of which classic tunes are made. Nevertheless, when I decided to have a go at writing a song I thought what better than to re-work this? In hindsight, just about anything would have been better. I recorded this heavily influenced by Roger Taylor’s song ‘Shove It’ that he did with The Cross. Sadly, I didn’t have a tenth of Roger’s talent - in fact, I hadn’t progressed much further than the one nonsense chord from years ago. The result was a sample filled, piss weak, 3 minute dance rock embarrassment. ‘I’ll Get You’ was absolutely as bad as the title suggests, a demo featuring only bass and “drums”, not to mention some banal and primitive lyrics. I never bothered finishing that particular gem. The Timbo remix was my Uncle’s attempt to make something of my debut, but a miracle eluded him and all he managed to do of note was add some nice keyboard flourishes and halve the running time of the track.

All I Want / Addicted To Love - cassette single 1998


My second single was a major improvement - it had a structure, but was still poor! It was totally original, not mimicking any song in particular. It was envisaged as a horn based upbeat rocker celebrating the many qualities of a woman I had fallen for who was inspiring the whole new album. Desperate to impress, I recorded this on a crappy four track and backed it with my version of the Robert Palmer classic ‘Addicted To Love’ using a backing track, which was the first song I sung with any satisfaction at karaoke. I played the keyboards on ‘All I Want' (because there were no horns, just synths), programmed the drums, did the bass parts on the keyboard and sang. I released it to universal apathy, one of the major positive bits of feedback being “Well, the Robert Palmer one was good....” That was a lie too. ‘All I Want’ sounded much better in my head.

I Think I Love You (edit) / Tie Your Mother Down / Great Balls Of Fire (live) CD single 2002


So convinced was I of my musical tapestries being the next big thing, the stony faces I encountered sent me into a furious rage. I flung myself into finishing my first ever full length album. I decided when I did, I would treat it as if it was it was being released by a record company instead of just by me. I did promos for it and preceded the album with a single, which was an edited down version of a disco-esque track called ‘I Think I Love You’. The song is okay in theory - bits of it are good and the lyrics remain decent, but the vocal was hardly world class and some of the playing could’ve been better. To back the single, I included a version of Queen’s ‘Tie Your Mother Down’, another cover I had a bash at with staggeringly soulless results, and added a live rendition of ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, recorded at a karaoke night. That was easily the best thing about this lacklustre three track CD, which is, to the relief of many, no longer available.

Story Of My Life - CD album 2002


This was my debut album. Once the single had been released to anyone interested (or, more accurately, was forced upon my family and friends), the album followed shortly after. It turned out to be ten tracks, telling a story about how I fell for a woman who changed my life and my efforts to win her love. All the tracks were originals written solely by me, and I played all the guitars, keyboards and did all the programming on it. At the time I thought it was a staggering opus of raw talent, because I was very much involved emotionally with the song content. Listening to it now I can see faint potential in the songs. However the delivery is anaemically weak, as the drum software isn’t convincing, nor is my playing - or my singing. Aside from that, it really rocks! The full track listing was: Give It A Try / Showman / All I Want / Cry For Love / I Think I Love You / Good Times / I Gotta Know / Walking Away / Raining Again / The One.

'Stripped Shaved Shagged' - song-writing and performance credit on Buz Gaden's ‘Feel The Buz’ CD album, 2004


Now this is an interesting one. My brother Buz recorded an album of covers, and for his follow up decided to do more covers but also add two originals. One was his version of my song ‘Cry For Love’ from ‘Story Of My Life’ and the other was this song, ‘Stripped Shaved Shagged’. It originated from my friend Keith and Buz. Keith is a man who can sink to levels of coarseness previously unheard of and Buz does nothing but encourage him - indeed it was Keith's idea for the cover to be what it is. Buz somehow strung all of his favourite Keith vulgarisms into a set of song lyrics about being in prison, then asked me to write music for it. I literally bashed something out in ten minutes, but Buz liked it. He wasn’t satisfied with his version though. I cut the original demo with just a guitar and my vocal, and I thought it was killer. It was a bizarre departure for me compared to what I usually sing about, so I re-recorded it for inclusion on the second Hidden Depths DVD (see further down). The re-recording can be heard on the Hidden Depths site. The song writing credit was a three way split, between Buz, me and Keith, under his artist pseudonym of Dirk Coolburger, C.I.A. Don’t ask.

Have You Heard The News? - CD album 2005


My second album was a chance for me to just sing, without worrying about the music - the irony was, I didn’t sing very well. I decided to follow Buz’s example and record a full album of covers. I originally was going to do a load of rock and roll standards, but I eventually went the route of recording a series of covers by one artist. I picked Huey Lewis And The News because they wrote some great songs, had a big rock and roll influence in their music and I thought I could sing their stuff fairly well. I was wrong. It was fun to do, and I used everything I learned about making the CD sound as clean as possible. No tape was used, everything was done straight to my Mac’s hard drive. I didn’t play anything on this CD, it’s all backing tracks. I just contributed lead and some additional backing vocals and had fun. In hindsight, 90% of this record was pretty poor, but you live and learn. The full track listing was: Heart Of Rock And Roll / Power Of Love / Doing It All For My Baby / Heart And Soul / Stuck With You / Hip To Be Square / I Want A New Drug / Jacob’s Ladder / Walking On A Thin Line / If This Is It / Working For A Living.

Hidden Depths - ‘Hidden Depths’ - CD album 2005


Buz and I decided to do an album together and this is it. With the invention of Garageband courtesy of Apple, suddenly the drum sound was no longer a worry and it was actually built for recording songs, unlike what I used before. I wrote the bulk of the material on the CD with Buz writing some of the lyrics. Some of it is reasonable and my playing (I did everything) is enhanced considerably by some Apple loops and samples. While far from perfect, it was a big step up from my previous stuff. There are plenty of flaws but one or two tracks stand up pretty well. The ten original songs on the album are Internet Love / Between You And Me / Stephanie / I Don't Wanna Go / My Kind Of Deja Vu / Hidden Depths / Watch Your Back Jack / Is There A Way / Tale Of Two People / Back On The High Road. The album was paired with the Buried Treasure DVD, which has been championed as very funny, well written and impressive - yet it was nothing compared to the sequel... More about Hidden Depths can be discovered by visiting our official site.

Taylor Made - CD EP / Online Download 2007


Everything is part of a long learning curve - if you want to be really good at something, you really should never reach a point where you think it’s good enough. This was certainly true of my website because I decided to rebuild it from scratch and make it better than it was. That meant some new music too because the “best” stuff on here last time was not very professional sounding - it was simply me singing over the original recording of songs. That was something I did because the songs I felt happier singing were not available as backing tracks.

That changed with Garageband, the programme on my beloved Mac which opened up a whole host of new options. Couple that with the fact some Queen fans out there had painstakingly created midi files of songs by the band, and suddenly I was able to create, arrange and mix my very own versions of tracks produced by my biggest influence.

So, to compliment the website, I created the Taylor Made EP where I paid tribute to my hero Roger Taylor with a five track selection. I knew nothing about panning or assigning placement of instruments in the stereo field before this record, so this was an experiment with panning and reverb and the like. A CD was burned of it, hence the artwork. The tracks I recorded were: Tenement Funster / Ride The Wild Wind / Fight From The Inside / Foreign Sand / Coming Soon.

Hidden Depths - ‘Believe The Hype’ CD 2009


The second Hidden Depths CD came out in the summer of 2009, and once again features just myself and Buz. There are no samples this time, everything on the record was put there by either my dextrous fingers or by Buz. I’m really happy with how it came out and we gained genuine and sincere praise on this record for how far we’d come. Some people actually played it more than once! I’m very pleased with the response, especially as this was created completely from scratch. The tracks are:

She Wants My Money / Baggage Handler / Boiling Point / Friend Zone / You Say What You Want / Make You Mine / Spectator Sport / Easy To See / You Bring Me Down / Burning Ambition / Word Of Warning / Living The Dream / Those Lookers Are Hookers. 

And of course, due to the popularity of the last one, an accompanying DVD called Depth Charge was released to coincide with the album. That DVD, like the record, blew the first one away for quality, production values, look, content and reaction. Unusually for my stuff, when I go back and listen to it, there’s very little I would change (aside from some of the production and EQ, which I learned more about afterwards). That aside, musically, I’m happy with the album as it is! I strongly advise a visit to the Hidden Depths site for clips from the DVD, song snippets and general amusement.

‘Third Time Lucky’ CD 2013


My third full length solo album is easily the best thing I’ve done to date. Featuring 12 original songs and two cover versions as free bonus tracks, Third Time Lucky spans rock, funk, pop and disco. All the instruments and programming were done by me, and vocally I was assisted by the staggeringly talented Ann Bailey, who I only intended to use on one song. However, she was so good, I used her on seven tracks instead! The songs are:

Boom / Second Best / Playing With Fire / Live To Love / The Invisible Man* / Slut / Give Me A Chance / Pipe Down / Searching For Romance / Not The Same / I Know Better / Neutron Dance* / Walking On Air / You’re Pathetic

* free bonus tracks