Monday, November 05, 2018
In Praise of TT.
I won’t lie to you, I’ve been lucky. The number of people who’ve been willing to throw their talent at whatever dumb idea I’ve come up with has, over the years - the decades even - been humbling. I once formed a band called The Free Albanian Airforce which featured a punk singer on bass, me on guitar, and a guy who once auditioned for Generation X on harmonica, for instance. Then someone actually gave us a gig. Our big showstopper was a version of JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze”. At that point I wasn’t entirely sure whether he or the bloke who used to be in The Velvet Underground were the same guy. That’s how much leeway my friends have granted me, over time.
I have played The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (in full – the whole album) to a The Jam-loving friend, who still speaks to me to this day. I have opened a secondary school talent show with a Uriah Heep cover. I have persuaded a folk band that a twelve minute version of Tonight’s the Night is a perfectly acceptable way to close a beer festival. Apparently, according to me, Status Quo’s What You’re Proposin’ makes for a fabulous Sunday lunchtime jam. I am, in short, blessed.
None of this was put in to sharper relief than when I idly tapped in a few digits on the electric internet and happened upon Tony Turrell (I know him as ‘TT’) doing an acoustic session with the singer from Genesis Visible Touch (GVT for short). TT was (and for all legal purposes is) the keyboard player in Songs from The Blue House. We came across him first in a pub in Essex (this happened a lot in our recruiting process) and invited him to come and play on our version of Blue Oyster Cult’s (Don’t Fear) The Reaper. His brief (and this was my idea) was to play the middle eight as if it were an extended version of the intro from Genesis’s Firth of Fifth. “Okay” he said, and rattled it off as if it were a thing of no consequence at all. Non piano players may disagree.
Subsequently, TT roamed around the highways and byways of East Anglia with us, occasionally making oblique references to his time working with Mr. Fish-out-of-Marillion and, on one occasion (most excitedly for me) Heather Nova. He ended up writing my second favourite Blue House song, and playing an exquisite piano part on my first; gracious enough to take on board my advice about the dusty end without the merest hint of doyouknowwhoiam-ism.
As I say, I just wanted to tell you how lucky I’ve been.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Folk, People and Others; Tony Turrell.