19 February 2014

Christopher Neil - If I Was Close To You/ Grey Day



Label: RAK
Year of Release: 1972

There are two ways I purchase records for this blog. One is to approach the problem by shopping using either blind or calculated luck. Perhaps the band's name seems interesting, or a producer of some renown is credited on the label, or it's 50p in a charity shop and I've never heard of it before. The other is being tipped off by people online raving about long-lost singles which they haven't heard in years.  The former approach pays dividends about a tenth of the time, I'd say, whereas the latter approach tends to involve striking gold more often than not.

So then, this Christopher Neil single has a number of fans on the internet, yet there are no YouTube videos of it or even brief snippets to be found anywhere.  The only way I could possibly hear the thing was by tracking down a copy, which I did on ebay from a seller who seemed keen to pitch it as a fantastic folk obscurity.  "Here you are, Mr Ebay seller!" I cried, waving my hands around like Russell Brand. "Have my bank details immediately and debit my account of ten pounds, for - despite its appearance on the none-more-pop RAK Records - this is clearly a Nick Drake styled winner!" The fact I was also slightly drunk at the time might explain matters further.

I wouldn't have bothered to mention the above were it not for the fact that I have to be brutally honest and declare that I'm not too sure what everyone else is hearing. The A-side "If I Was Close To You" was later covered by Olivia Newton-John, and is pleasant, silky, acoustic guitar led pop. What it isn't is popsike or acid folk or even fuzzy felt folk.  It's a frail, lovelorn pop record you could imagine an artist like Cliff Richard taking on.  I can't imagine myself playing it that often.

The B-side "Grey Day" seems to get more virtual knickers in twists, and I can appreciate that a fair bit more - it's a rather more sixties affair, complete with jazzily plucked guitar strings and a melancholy feel.  Still, though, I would never have paid that much money for it had I known the contents.  But damn it, when so many people are seeking out an mp3 copy of a record, it seems only fair to give it a place on here, however much I agree with them or otherwise.

Christopher Neil has many strings to his bow, being an actor, singer, songwriter and record producer. His most successful foray into record production was probably with Celine Dion who he handled for the global hit "Think Twice", but he gains far more respect from me for having twiddled the knobs for the Earl Brutus-favoured Dennis Waterman hit "I Could Be So Good For You", a record which is so good-time, boozy and giddy it practically whiffs of fizzy lager and the smoke from a hundred lit Bensons. 

He did eventually release an LP on RAK as well entitled "Where I Belong", but I have yet to see a copy of this anywhere. 

Sorry for the pops and clicks on both these tracks. I tried my hardest by giving the record a deep clean, but only so much could be achieved.

11 comments:

VanceMan said...

You'd think the man who a few short years later produced the insidious "Heaven on the 7th Floor" and "Morning Train" would have had something even poppier ready to go.

23 Daves said...

His catalogue of past productions really doesn't chime with this record at all, does it? A common occurrence, though - Driver 67 was talking about his work with Mott The Hoople only last week.

Arthur Nibble said...

Possibly, Chris's biggest TV moment was on "The Big Time" in 1979, shown producing Sheena Easton's first forays into chartdom?

23 Daves said...

Got to confess that I've never actually watched "The Big Time", but it would have made complete sense for him to be filmed.

Is it worth watching? I bloody hate those early Sheena Easton records, so I'm not sure I could stomach it...

Arthur Nibble said...

It was worth watching at the time, but not these days. By the way, I think you should possibly give the A-side a few more spins. Yes, all the lyrics are repeated somewhere or other, and it's a cobweb of a song, but the chorus is ultra-catchy.

mbc1955 said...

I can understand your reservations, bt I liked it then and, 42 years from having last heard it, I like it still.

Any chance you might upload it to YouTube, scratches'n'all?

23 Daves said...

Hi mbc1955, I could try but it's freely available here, and YouTube have my account restricted at the moment due to copyright violation issues.

If anyone else wants to upload it there using the audio, I won't mind (though a link back to the blog would be nice).

mbc1955 said...

Hi Daves

I subsequently worked out how to DL it, though I've no plans as yet to do anything more than enjoy it regularly. But if I ever post about it on my own blog, you'll be properly accredited and linked. Many thanx.

Anonymous said...

My dad has been looking for "If I was Close to You" for ages, I finally found it here, thank you SO much for posting the song as well as the info. Means a whole lot to him.

Lorna

23 Daves said...

I'm happy to help, Lorna! A lot of people really love this record and it's been a pleasure to share it.

Richard said...

I have a copy of Where I Belong somewhere in the attic. Used to be one of my favourite records. Patchy but some really nice songs (at least I thought so when I was 18).