RIDE BLUE DIVIDE

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LYRICS

SNIFF'N'THE TEARS

Paul Roberts - vocals acoustic guitar.
Les Davidson - guitars.
Mike Taylor - keyboards.
Nick South - bass.
Jamie Lane - drums.
ADDITIONAL  MUSICIANS
Stevie Lange & Martin Jay - backing vocals.
Martin Diggle - congas.
Dick Morrisey - saxophone. 
Martin Drover - trumpet.
Derek Wadsworth - trumpet. 
Lew Lewis - harmonica.
Recorded & mixed - Mike Shipley
Produced by Sniff'n'The Tears

Ride Blue Divide was to be the last thing we did as a band in the eighties and it was only 1982. It was our fourth and last album for Chiswick contractually, and as such, feelings of a last ditch effort were difficult to avoid. Chiswick was a small label without the resources to give us the final push we needed. Had we got out with Love/Action things might have been different. No producers were being called for, so Jamie, who by this time had serious ambitions to be a producer, asked if he could co-produce this one. When I put this to the band there was outrage. To Jamie's chagrin and in the interests of peace it was produced by "Sniff'n'The Tears". We did the album at battery studios in Willesden with an engineer called Mike Shipley who was and I imagine still is, brilliant, so no complaints about the sound. Les organised a horn section for a couple of tracks, arranging the parts himself. In the end though it probably was produced by myself and Jamie. As a record there are things about it I'm proud of; some great Sax from the late Dick Morrisey, some great Harmonica from Lew Lewis including probably our most successful single after 'Driver's' Seat' 'Hungry Eyes' but it was the end of an era and that cloud that hung over us means it is hard to be objective. Barring miracles it was to be the end of the band as it was.

After Ride Blue Divide we didn't so much break up as drift apart. We were out of contract but I had neither the will or the energy to pursue another one. What I wanted to do was to take some time out to assess my situation. I had several calls from the record company Chrysalis, trying to arrange a meeting with their MD Roy Etheridge. I went to the meeting expecting to be wooed, instead I got a very laid back Mr Etheridge asking me about the band, the album etc., finally coming out with the punch line, "So why should I sign you?" I said "I don't know." and that was that. I've never been good at interviews.

 

Sniff'n'The Tears '82

There was an improbable postscript to all this. We were all set to go our separate ways when we were asked to do Rock Pallast a popular TV show in Germany. It was to be a live show recorded at the Metropol in Berlin of us and Dexy's Midnight runners who had just had their huge hit "Come On Eileen". The problem was even though we were no longer really a band, having spent years hoping to do the show it was hard to say no. So I thought OK we put it together one more time, it might sell a few records. Then Steve Howard from Zomba wanted to fly over and see it and the new boss of the German record company Metronome was coming from Hamburg so it was turning into a showcase. Everyone was up for it, we would be paid after all, and we might even get a deal out of it. So we did a rehearsal got a van and a roadie and went to Berlin. We spent the afternoon at the gig sound checking etc. About an hour before the show Les suddenly asked when were we going back to the hotel, I told him we're not. 'But I haven't got my stage clothes" he squeals, "just wear what you've got on," I replied. A combination of heart broken and panic stricken persuades me to drive him in the van back to the hotel, big mistake. We got back to the hotel no problem but the return journey was a nightmare. The very straight road that took us to the hotel did not go straight back. We were diverted into the hinterlands and were soon completely lost. We were eventually put on the right track by a couple of ladies of the night and arrived back at the gig. We had to push our way through the crowds that were still trying to get in. We were late, very late. I realised as I started to change that the audience had already started a slow handclap. I also realised that I was in a muck sweat. The rush and panic and slow handclap had turned me into gibbering wreck, not a good state for performing. None of this usually matters once you're on because of course you win 'em over. We launched confidently into "Steal My Heart" got to the chorus and - shit where's the guitar?. Les had broken a string. Normally faithful guitar tech hands you freshly tuned guitar, but in the interests of economy we had come with one back line roadie and guitars were not our man's speciality, he hands Les his spare guitar completely out of tune, so the next two songs are accompanied by Les's attempts to tune up while playing. By this time my desire to be somewhere else is acute. I freely admit that I don't cope well with onstage disasters and this was one of the worst of my experience, even more appalling for being so avoidable. After the gig unable to face anybody we ended up in a Greek restaurant somewhere in Berlin, secure in the knowledge that this time we had really blown it, the band as it had been for two years was finished.

An interesting postscript to the postscript, is that some thirty odd years later I have finally seen the Rock Pallast show and it's not bad at all, we coped with the problems pretty well, I was a little sweaty, the audience a little partisan but on the whole the music is pretty good and that's what counts.

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