(above) Leeds Observatory bar. Good idea to hide the singer’s face in a promo photo!
The year begins with a £60,000 publishing deal on the table and the likelihood of signing to Silvertone. A new single, ‘Magic’ from the well-received ‘Leggy Mambo’ album is ready, and a tour to promote it booked.
9 Jan 1991
Photo session at Leeds Observatory bar for ‘Magic’. The band are awkward and rarely looking at the camera in most of the pix (see above and below).
An enthusiastic A&R guy, Martin Tower from A&M Records visits Leeds to see CUD. He’s so young looking, the band choose to call him ‘Young Shaver’. It seems an odd choice of label to CUD, with its roster of Sting and Sheryl Crow, but the legacy of the Herb Alpert and Sergio Mendes days is appealing.
CUD take the train to London for a series of meetings. Today it’s Alison, the lawyer, dealing with contracts and a Melody Maker interview with Michael Bonner (who coincidentally wrote a comic strip William drew for Speakeasy magazine.)
A Thai lunch with Paul Adam from Polygram (The band so relish being taken out to restaurants!) and a trip to E.G. Records office. This latter meeting is unlikely to lead to a deal, but gives the band a contrast. E.G. seem rather stuffy and focussed on the songwriting, while Polygram seem more enthusiastic about the band’s career.
William stays behind in London for a interview on the BBC World Service, while the rest of the band head to Leeds. It feels an odd time to talk to ‘the world’ as a US ultimatum to Saddam Hussein ends and troops gather on the borders for an invasion.
Desert Storm 1 begins.
Polygram agree to CUD’s terms. A date for signing a publishing deal (and signing off!) is imminent.
Manchester powwow with Jim and a belated meeting with BMG. Nice to know they’re interested in the publishing, but the band have already made their decision.
Start filming ‘Magic’ video (below) with director, Steve Shone at The Leeds Observatory Bar. It’s packed on a Saturday night and the band are conspicuously dressed in ill-fitting suits, with hair brylcreamed down, and playing chess (Wha?!). The resident DJ keeps pointing out the filming and sends punters to the Upper Bar “where you could be a star! You might be on Top of the Pops in a couple of weeks!”
Day Two of filming, the same suits, but an empty bar. While Carl strolls about, singing into a period microphone, the band perform sombrely, Mike on a borrowed semi-acoustic, and William on a double bass. It is hardly the band’s image. CUD resemble Roland Rivron’s comedy act, Raw Sex. The band are impressed by a new toy, the Steadicam, though.
The deed is done. Mike signs his life away to Paul Adam from Polygram. Note XXXX ‘Dutch courage’ on table. The keen-eyed amongst you may recognise Paul Adam, on the right, as a fomrer judge on Pop Idol.
CUD return to London and sign the deal with Polygram. Finally CUD are professional musicians. The band quaff celebratory champagne and each pocket a cheque for a grand, but agree later to a basic wage of £60 a week.4 Feb
Ex-business manager, Eric Longley finds out and has his lawyers demand 10% of the deal.
The band meet to watch the edited ‘Magic’ video and head out for a rare non-working social evening. The mood is very positive.
Magic Tour begins at London ULU.
There is some brief filming at the soundcheck to add to the ‘Magic’ video.
CUD are told 15 record companies are showing up for the gig, plus the press. Pressure? What pressure?
As it is, the gig is a sell-out, the band play a blinder and the crowd are fantastic and persistent stage invaders.
(Informal tour photos, top: Carl & Gordon in van, bottom: Rose and Carl at cafe)
Glasgow, Queen Margaret’s College3 Mar
Bournemouth International Centre.
This venue is too large and unsuitable – brightly lt, decorated with plants and connected to a sports centre! Still, the 600 folks who showed up helped it go well.
Gordon and Chris, the road crew are assigning nicknames to the band.
Carl is ‘Mixed Grill’ for his penchant for hearty breakfasts. Mike is ‘Les’ (for the Les Dawsonlike ‘uniqueness’ of his guitar solos) of Adolf for his dictatorial tendencies.4 Mar
Single ‘Magic’ released.
Ltd ed. 7” (two mixes, Farsley Mix by Dave Creffield, Stockport Mix by Chris Nagle, who’s worked with The Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets.
12” bw Beyond Hair/Marjorie
+ CD and cassette
Artwork is by Steve’s current girlfriend, Carla Abraham.
Probably the best performance of the tour.
The venue is rammed. Both A&M and Island come to see the band. Magic has a midweek chart placing of 67.
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (16 in the charts and on TOTP!) come and see the band after the show.
Manchester International 1
Alas, ‘Magic’ just misses the Top 75.
First of two nights at Leeds Warehouse.
(The Pralines support.)14 Mar
Leeds Warehouse (right)
(The Poppy Factory support.)
According to William’s reckoning, this is CUD’s 200th show.
After three encores, dinner with A&M, three bottles of champagne, the band are in celebratory mood. Mike realises again why he’s in a band. This is probably the band’s last UK gig on an indie label. It’s a great ‘send-off’.
Carl, Mike and William go to see Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s Leeds show.
A&M have made an offer and want the band to start recording ASAP.
Live session in Manchester for Mark Radcliffe’s ‘Hit the North’ show.
3.30am wake-up call. CUD are off to Paris!
The ferry crossing is rough. Even ‘Iron Man’ Dunphy goes pale. The band arrive in the French capital at 8.30pm and check in to the hotel near the venue. It’s La Locomotive below the Moulin Rouge, next door to a ‘Homosexuel Lesbo Peep Show’ and a ‘Cockney’ tavern.5 Apr
Because of the Moulin Rouge’s dance schedule, the band have to be up early again to soundcheck between 7 and 10am.Later is an interview with Christophe from Radio France, then the show in front of a fair number of British fans.
Mike’s FX pedal rack fails which puts him in a dour mood, but we still play well and get a good response.6 Apr
Head home. Arrive 3.30am on the 7th. All for one show! Would be nice to do a continental tour next time.
Train to London to meet lawyers and A&M. CUD get introduced to the staff and invited to Sting’s party. The deal is not yet agreed. A&M demand the band get medicals for life insurance.
With deals signed and imminent, Mike’s writing like a demon. There are now six new songs practised and ready to roll.
CUD’s last hours as an indie band are spent on a train packed with Yorkshire rugby fans on their way to a London final.
A small gathering of A&M staff, and Paul Adam join the band for the signing, champagne and prawn sandwiches in the Hammersmith offices. Carl’s signature is typically much larger than anyone else’s.
Now the band has a deal and regular income, the band agrees to pay for a childminder for the Dunphys, so Mike is free to continue songwriting.
The band continue celebrating back in Leeds with more bubbly at The Faversham.