- Railroad To The Sea
- The Goodlife
- Back To England
- Hard Times
- Only The Strong Survive
- The Kiss
- Night Starvation
- City Without Walls
Paul Roberts - vocals,acoustic guitars.
Robin Langridge - keyboards.
Dean Klevatt - keyboards.
Clem Clempson - guitars.
Les Davidson - guitars.
Ricky Stevens - drums & percussion.
Mo Foster - bass.
Danny Thompson - double bass.
Ian Maidman - bass.
Guy Barker - trumpet.
Pat Crumly - tenor & alto sax.
Noel McCalla - backing vocals
Produced by - Paul Roberts
Recorded by - Kenny Denton & Tony Cook
Mixed by - Leif Allanson & Brad Davis
My solo career came about almost by accident. I had been invited to a party at the Portobello Hotel. It was the 1984 Christmas party of Sonet records. Sonet had been our Scandinavian Licensee and I remembered them as very nice people. They had an art gallery in Stockholm to boot which made them quite unlike other record companies. Dag, Gunner and Sven had started the label in order to bring Jazz (their passion) to Sweden, and this outlook reflected their enthusiasm for music. They had also bought one of my paintings, the one used for Ride Blue Divide. At the party while talking to Dag (Haegquist) he asked me what I was doing musically, I replied not much, whereupon he offered me a deal with Sonet.
At the time Sonet had just bought a recording studio in London, so it was suggested that I could make the album there. He also suggested Kenny Denton, who ran the Studio for Sonet, as engineer co-producer. All this seemed fine, Kenny was an engineer of the old school and a man so garrulous that we were in danger of half the budget going on chat. I had done a bit of work with a keyboard player called Robin Langridge introduced to me by an old friend Karel Fialka. Robin was not just a brilliant musician but huge fun to have in the studio, so he was my first choice when it came to musicians. Robin suggested a drummer he had worked with, Richie Stevens the son of John Stevens the jazz drummer, only twenty and bursting with talent and self confidence - he was a real find. Dean Klevatt was another keyboard whizz that Karel had introduced me to. Clem Clempson of course, the opportunity to record with him at last, and Les Davidson from the band. The one thing we lacked was a bass player. There was a guy, highly recommended by both Karel and Dean, no doubt a good player but we had him booked to do the rhythm tracks and it was really obvious he was not our man. Rather than down tools we just got on with it with a view to finding someone later. By the end of the first week Kenny wanted me to know that he didn't really like the way we were working. He favoured a more methodical approach and a little less lip from the drummer. He thought the working method chaotic, I thought it was working brilliantly, it was creative, fun and everyone was involved. Kenny took me to one side and said he couldn't work with the drummer or with this seemingly haphazard approach, he resigned which I think was the right thing for him to do and I was left holding the baby. Kenny suggested a freelance engineer called Tony Cook, I took on the production chores.
This was the first time that I was officially in the producer's chair and the way things were going I relished it. Robin was there all the time and became an invaluable sounding board and benign and humorous presence. Clem suggested we try Mo Foster on bass, he was a much in demand session man, expensive but quick. He ended up doing eight tracks in a day with some fabulous playing. One track 'Night Starvation', I had always felt would benefit from some double bass. Richie Stevens knew Danny Thompson and gave him a call, he did two tracks in the end in one three hour session. We also got Guy Barker in for a trumpet solo on the title track City Without Walls and Pat Crumly for some sax on a couple of tracks. Noel McCalla did some backing vocals as he had done on the first two Sniff albums and Ian Maidman played bass on Hard Times. Having musicians of this calibre playing for me was a privilege and even more so because they all seemed to enjoy themselves. I don't like telling people what to play unless I have to, I'd rather their input was creative rather than saying could you do it like so and so or could you play this. Clem would take a tape home to listen to the song and work on it. Most musicians will jump at the chance of a bit of free rein if they like the music.
Despite a lot of publicity and press and TV in Europe it failed to set the world on fire although 'Back To England' as a single charted in Germany. I'm proud of this album but I regret not having got out to perform it live, which was a mistake, but hey.
Slowdown - Paul Roberts solo compilation
'City Without Walls' is no longer available but many of the tracks can be found on 'Slowdown', a compilation of Paul's solo albums 'City Without Walls' 1985 and 'Kettle Drum Blues' 1987. Comprising fifteen tracks, four remixed, one alternate mix and re-mastered, this selection gives you a good idea of the music Paul was making in the mid to late eighties.