MP3 The Dandelion Clocks - Manchester City Blue
English intelligent poetic folk rock, a tribute ECD to Manchester City Football Club including a video MPEG starring celebrity fans such as Ricky Hitman Hatton, Rick Wakeman, John Stapleton, Frank Sidebottom, Stuart Hall and Mark Radcliffe.
5 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Folk Rock, FOLK: Modern Folk
It was Christmas 1979 and I was still a schoolboy in Salford, England. Malcolm Allison had again taken over the helm at Manchester City and the club was in its third consecutive year of UEFA Cup competition. Blondie were hovering outside the top ten with their single Union City Blue and the country was experiencing its coldest winter for many years.
I really didn’t enjoy school and during lessons I would frequently withdraw into my own world, composing lyrics and songs to pass time until I was free to go home and pick up a football. I had always wanted to write a tribute song for Manchester City, but as far as I could see, Blondie had already done all the work and come up with a masterpiece. Union City Blue ought to have been written for Manchester City (perhaps it was!). The lyrics speak of power and passion while the powerful guitar melody created images in my mind of heroes and glorious goals. I wanted to take the song and shape it into the perfect tribute song that I knew it could be. Little did I know that it would take me more than a quarter of a century before I made the vision a reality.
After leaving school, among other things, I studied Performing Arts at Salford and it was here where I joined my first band as a front man. Inside Edge were formed during the early nineteen-eighties during a period when recession hit Manchester produced a plethora of guitar based indie bands. In 1985, we emerged victorious in the Greater Manchester Band of the Year Competition, beating seventy two other original bands at the now defunct Cloud 9 bar. Amid interest from Atlantic Records and despite the cutting of a debut AA side single on our own label, the band split after internal wrangling over who was going to manage the band.
Since then I fronted a number of creative original bands including Kind of Blue and My Private Ocean, signing a publishing deal with Kid Menthal Music in the nineties. I eventually semi-retired to the safety of cover bands before eventually joining Bury based outfit, The Sounds Alliance. TSA was a new departure for me as lead vocals would be shared with outstanding female singer Jo Giblin; it was the opportunity I had been waiting for all these years, and with a great female voice on board, I set about making the vision of a tribute song for Man City a reality.
In 2005, I penned new lyrics for Union City Blue and submitted them to Chrysalis Music. My publisher informed me that Debbie Harry personally approved or declined permission to proposed amendments to her songs; the necessary paperwork was despatched via London to the States and it took a few nail biting months before I received a reply. Finally I received the news I had been waiting for, the new lyric Manchester City Blue was officially approved by Debbie Harry and we could set about recording the track.
Chrysalis informed me that the previous year, some Everton fans had been given permission to amend the lyrics of the same song into Mersey City Blue, but that as far as they knew, there had been no commercial recording of the song. It was clear to me that I would have to get a move on if we wanted to get our version out there first, so we recorded it and I submitted a demo of the song to Manchester City. We were delighted to hear that it had received a warm reception.
On Sunday October the 2nd 2005, at 11.15 AM on a Sunday morning, I attended the earliest ever kick off of a Premiership football match, as Man City took on struggling Everton at Eastlands. It was an emotional day as the club marked the passing of iconic fan Helen “The Bell” Turner with a moving eulogy. I recall thinking to myself that it might be appropriate to dedicate the future CD to her memory. At half time, the speakers in the ground belted out our song, Manchester City Blue and I was honoured with an invite down onto the pitch to do an interview. City went on to beat Everton 2 – 1, during a day which was capped by a rare wonder goal scored by Danny Mills.
Before we knew it, all the local newspapers were carrying the story of the song; things got a little crazy when it made the pages of The Sun. They reported that Stuart Pearce had commissioned me to write the track as a theme song for the team to run out to on match day. A number of radio interviews ensued and I was asked to clarify The Sun story on Talk Sport. After the interview, I received an email from the Everton fan who had written Mersey City Blue. He lamented the 2 – 1 loss and the fact that his club had declined an invitation to support his efforts to produce the tribute song and he wished me luck with the project.
I wrote a new song for the club called All Roads Lead to Eastlands; this number was inspired by the view from local beauty spot Werneth Lowe, where the whole of Manchester can be seen. I had driven up there a few years earlier on what by even Manchester''s wet standards was an incredibly rainy evening, to watch the firework display of the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. It was a strange and memorable period for me as East Manchester where I lived at the time, was shaken over several weeks by a cluster of strong earth tremors.
From outside the Hare and Hounds pub near the crest of the Lowe, you can see the city which once was littered with the stalagmites of mill chimneys, undergoing its second revolution, as dozens of perilously precarious looking construction cranes convert what were the derelict quarters into fashionable housing.
It was at this point that the band underwent a period of fundamental change. After a couple of years of doing mostly covers, writing songs had rekindled our taste for creativity. For us to continue as a unit, it was clear the band was going to have to become an outlet for our creativity and to reflect this, we decided to change the name of the band to The Dandelion Clocks.
I like the irrepressible and indomitable spirit of the dandelion. Categorised as common weed and despite the best attempts of most people to eliminate them, they always seem to spring back, adorning the municipal verges of suburbia with legions of bright orange flowers. And then when they go to seed, each perfect sphere comes complete with a jester collar and a handle to become both a plaything for children, and the stuff of folklore.
Having been brought up in the city where government troops massacred working people at Peterloo, for me the unforgivably maligned dandelion perfectly symbolises the spirit of the working class and ordinary folk. It also compliments the city’s symbol of 19th century industrial power, the bee. Those illustrious magnates and power brokers of yesteryear conveniently overlooked the fact that without the flower, there can be no bee.
For the video, we teamed up with the brilliant Rob Hallam of Big Tank Productions. Ian Howard at the club arranged permission for us to shoot the video in the stadium so I invited a number of celebrity City fans to join us. Throughout the spring and early summer of 2006, we met up and filmed with Frank Sidebottom, Stuart Hall, John Stapleton, Al and Nige from Galaxy 102, Ricky Hitman Hatton, Moonchester, Mark Radcliffe and Rick Wakeman, to name but a few.
The story in the video is of a young City fan having a kick about outside the industrial backdrop of the huge gasometer at Eastlands. After a brief kick about he half volleys the ball into the next shot, which is the band performing live outside the reception of the stadium. The ball is passed from person to person on a journey which takes it inside the ground, through the dressing rooms, through Mark Radcliffe’s studio at the BBC and a variety of other interesting places before being caught at the end by the same lad who by now is stood in front of the artistic backdrop of the B of the Bang sculpture.
During the video, in some shots we don Macmillan Cancer Support t-shirts. We had a lot of fun filming (despite the relentless icy wind) and received a lot of help in putting together the project from great people, so it seemed only right that we use the opportunity to help do a little good by publicising this very worthy cause.
Simon Jackson, a very talented and imaginative guy at Moonjuice Creative did the CD artwork for us; it was he that came up with the stark blue dandelion image which is now the band logo. He perfectly realised my idea of incorporating clockwork cogs or gears into the band name, I wanted the dandelion clock concept to be a fusion of the natural and the industrial. The simple CD sleeve he initially agreed to produce mushroomed into a much larger project; including an eight page booklet, full credit to him for doing a superb job.
I have been amazed at the goodwill shown by so many people in the making of the CD. It has been really hard work, with amazing highs and crushing lows. But then being a City fan, I should be used to that. Most of all, it has been great fun and on the way I have learned a lot, accrued some incredible memories and made some good friends. I hope that you enjoy listening to the songs, watching the video and reading about the background of the project. It took over twenty five years to get there, but I think it was definitely worth the wait.