Paul Younger – No Parlez interview

Paul Young - No Parlez interview

Paul Younger talks No Parlez

Paul Younger ushered within the sound that dominated the second half of the 80s with the eclectic No Parlez, which spanned soul, New Wave, Bowiesque art-pop and even boasted a controversial Pleasure Division cowl. Now celebrated with a brand new expanded version, we hear how the album was created from Paul, producer Laurie Latham, bassist Pino Palladino and backing vocalists The Fabulous Rich Tarts.

“When individuals consider ‘The 80s’, it’s normally categorised as New Romantic, due to bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet changing into so iconic. No Parlez was a extra soul-based departure from what was happening on the time. It actually stands up, and it was influential. With its backing vocals, the Simmons drums and, sure, my fretless bass, it’s an album with a robust id. I nonetheless can’t consider an album that sounds fairly prefer it. Paul and his music should be remembered greater than they’re.”

So says bass legend Pino Palladino of Paul Younger’s solo debut album. He’s proper, too. No Parlez has turn out to be such a staple, and the artists like Merely Pink, Moist Moist Moist and Go West who adopted in Paul’s wake turned so enormous all through the remainder of the last decade, it’s straightforward to neglect simply how radical the album’s sumptuously clean hits Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My House), Love Of The Frequent Individuals and Come Again And Keep appeared once they landed, whereas the chart panorama was all about synth-pop and futurism.

Paul Young - No Parlez cover

Retro Soul

By the point the album was launched in July 1983, Paul was lastly a star. No Parlez promptly bought two million in Britain, second solely to Thriller because the yr’s best-selling LP. However the concept of somebody considered a jobbing retro soul flip changing into huge was a mighty gamble when Sony imprint CBS supplied Paul a solo deal away from his band, Stax-influenced brass botherers Q-Suggestions.

“Being supplied a solo deal got here as a shock,” admits Younger. “We needed a brand new deal for Q-Suggestions, I wasn’t trying to go solo. However what I ended up with was a solo supply on the desk. What I had in my favour was a pocketful of concepts and a confidence in my capability. Q-Suggestions had performed up and down the nation for years, so I knew I might maintain a stage. And I’d listened to plenty of completely different music, which you’ll be able to hear within the album’s range.

“Popping out of a classic band like Q-Suggestions, I believed it was time to embrace know-how. All of the adjustments happening in music have been there in No Parlez, however I needed actual devices, too. That blend has helped the album stand the take a look at of time, as a result of I believed synths have been simply one other instrument to make use of.”

Standing The Check Of Time

CBS have been initially unconvinced, as Paul remembers: “CBS needed me to do a soul album. I mentioned I didn’t need that, that there wasn’t going to be a brass part. CBS mentioned: ‘Properly, what do you need? Make some demos to point out us what you assume the album ought to be.’”

Though it’s dominated by covers, demos of No Parlez’s three authentic songs – Tender Lure, Damaged Man and Behind Your Smile – have been key in convincing CBS their new signing might pull off a pop-soul hybrid. They have been co-written with keyboardist Ian ‘Rev’ Kewley, the one Q-Tip to stay in Paul’s solo band.

“We’d written Damaged Man whereas making an attempt to maneuver Q-Suggestions away from being so retro,” Younger explains. “Ian and I felt Q-Suggestions have been being left behind as soon as the Mod motion began to dissipate, that we wanted one thing extra modern. The others within the band weren’t so eager.”

Stressed Spirit

Behind Your Smile was finally relegated to the album’s CD bonus observe and neither of the opposite authentic songs turned singles, however CBS might see what Paul was making an attempt to attain. “I’d solely simply began writing with Ian on the finish of Q-Suggestions,” causes Paul. “As a songwriter, I used to be stressed. After I was youthful, I couldn’t settle. I’d begin writing a music within the morning however, by mid-afternoon, I’d be bored out of my mind. I discovered it arduous to pay attention. I don’t assume Ian was a pure songwriter both. Wanting again, I ought to have diversified and written with different individuals in addition to Ian.”

Kewley, who died in 2020, could have been a hesitant songwriter, however he flourished as Younger’s bandleader. Everybody Basic Pop talks to is enthusiastic about Ian’s position in letting their musical voice be heard on No Parlez. Palladino raves: “It was a really collaborative album. Paul was very encouraging, and the Rev’s preparations left plenty of area for me to capable of play as I’d hoped.”

It helped that Paul and Ian gathered such a robust band, dubbed The Royal Household, for the album. Paul jokes: “They assembled like The Avengers,” and there was a way of destiny in accumulating such nice sessioners.

Avengers Assemble

Drummer Mark Pinder and synth participant Matt Irving had labored with Kewley in earlier periods. Pinder knew guitarist Steve Bolton. Then got here backing vocalists The Fabulous Rich Tarts – Kim Lesley and Maz Roberts – who’d sung with Q-Suggestions. It’s not possible to listen to Come Again And Keep or Love Of The Frequent Individuals and picture them with out Maz and Kim’s contribution.

The pair had labored collectively for a number of years, initially in Soho nitespot The Superstar Membership, then as backing singers for Panties, a London rock & roll revue band. Maz recollects: “We did 5 gigs per week within the West Finish, working from place to put with costumes underneath our arms and getting modified within the women’ bogs. We’d play to some hostesses and a load of businessmen, who have been off their trolley.”

Their break – and their identify – arrived when Jools Holland’s tour supervisor noticed Panties, on the eve of Holland’s first solo tour since leaving Squeeze. He wanted two feminine backing singers. Lesley laughs: “Every part with Jools was hilarious. Jools mentioned he’d make one thing up on the spot for our identify.

Completely Fabulous

“We advised him: ‘That’s superb, simply don’t name us tarts or slags.’ At that first gig, he left a pause between every phrase: ‘Please welcome… The Fabulous… Rich… Tarts!’ Maz and I muttered: ‘You bastard!’ as we went on. It simply made us chuckle, actually.”

Maz provides: “Paul was a gentleman and referred to us as ‘The FWTs’ in interviews and within the album’s credit. However everybody nonetheless is aware of us as The Fabulous Rich Tarts.” They first met Younger on the identical tour, as Maz reveals: “Kim and I have been in our dressing room after we heard a load of shouting outdoors. We opened the window – it was Paul and his then-girlfriend, asking if they may are available to see the gig. We bought them in, and Paul requested us to sing with Q-Suggestions, too.”

The camaraderie continued when drummer Mark really useful Laurie Latham as producer. The 2 had labored collectively in cult indie band The Vampire Bats From Lewisham. Latham was finest often called the producer of Ian Dury And The Blockheads, as Paul notes: “Laurie and Rev got here at music from such a unique angle, however that’s what made the album work. They introduced out the very best in one another. Laurie had a leftfield, indie sensibility, which was nice for an angular guitar participant like Steve.”

Iron Out The Tough Spots

Though Laurie was conscious that Blockheads guitarist Chaz Jankel had produced Toast, the 1978 novelty hit by Paul’s first group Streetband, the producer hadn’t saved up along with his new consumer’s subsequent profession. “I didn’t know an terrible lot about Paul’s previous,” Laurie confesses. “I used to be decided to do one thing completely different from Q-Suggestions’ soul revue type, which chimed with what Paul needed. Paul is sort of shy, so it took some time to get to know him. Then, when he began singing, it was unimaginable. There have been parts of Bobby Womack in his voice, with the falsetto of Marvin Gaye. I couldn’t consider it. Additionally, Paul let me get on with it, which was superb.”

Though completely happy to let individuals do their jobs, Younger’s imaginative and prescient for a brand new sort of pop album was in place from the beginning. “Placing all these nice gamers collectively might have been a recipe for failure,” he says. “They wanted to have a standard intention, and I needed to get a pop sensibility by means of them. Having been within the recreation for therefore lengthy, I used to be prepared.”

A fan of Tom Tom Membership, Paul’s first concept was to strive Don Covay’s R&B groove Iron Out The Tough Spots up to date within the type of the Speaking Heads spin-off. It didn’t chart, and is so obscure it doesn’t also have a Wikipedia entry. “I used to be actually pleased with that music,” sighs Paul. “I used to be so unhappy it didn’t fly. The video therapy for it was nice – a cartoon stage set of a Fifties kitchen, with big family implements like Hoovers protruding of the ground and partitions. I’d dance my approach round these whereas singing. It sounded wonderful, however CBS then wouldn’t put up the cash. Truthfully, if we’d made the video, I feel it will have damaged that single.”

Frequent Trigger

Subsequent, Younger recorded Love Of The Frequent Individuals after listening to Nicky Thomas’ reggae model on the radio: “I believed: ‘It’s bought 4 chords and nice lyrics. What higher can a singer ask for than a easy chord sample and nice phrases?’” CBS have been involved it didn’t showcase Paul’s voice. A pissed off Younger responded: “Does each music have to point out my voice off? It doesn’t need to be an awesome vocal efficiency, isn’t it extra essential that it’s an awesome music?”

Initially, CBS gave the impression to be proper: Love Of The Frequent Individuals additionally failed to succeed in the High 100. How did Paul really feel after his first two singles flopped? “I used to be recklessly assured again then,” he laughs. “My view was: ‘In the event that they don’t get it, that’s not my fault.’ I simply cracked on with making the remainder of the album.”

Latham was extra involved: “I at all times keep in mind listening to Dave Lee Travis saying after enjoying Iron Out The Tough Spots on Radio 1: ‘That’s such a intelligent report,’ after which it simply didn’t go wherever. I in all probability wasn’t too certain whether or not we’d progress after these first couple of singles. We used to moan concerning the label on the time however, trying again, they have been very supportive and enthusiastic. I at all times thought Paul deserved to do effectively, I simply hoped the report we have been engaged on would do one thing.”

Fret Not

The true genesis of No Parlez arrived when Marvin Gaye’s obscure 1969 B-side Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My House) randomly popped into Younger’s head in the future. “I hadn’t heard it for about 10 years,” shrugs Paul. “That was typical of No Parlez. All these very completely different songs had soaked into my head and began to drip out at opportune moments.”

Maz’s boyfriend had already volunteered himself for bass duties on the album. Pino Palladino had met her whereas enjoying bass on that Jools Holland tour, having moved from Cardiff in 1981 to attempt to turn out to be a session bassist. He’d seen Q-Suggestions at Cardiff membership Casablanca, pondering: “That singer is actually good.”

After shopping for his trademark fretless bass at a music retailer in New York, Pino first performed it on Gary Numan’s 1982 album I, Murderer, however Paul’s soulful pop would show a extra pure match. “The timing was excellent,” enthuses Palladino. “I felt so able to tackle a problem and present what I might do. There wasn’t a lot of a thought course of from me, I used to be merely: ‘Get in there and get all of your concepts out.’ I didn’t wish to go away the room till I’d bought all my concepts onto Paul’s songs.”

Hats Off

That first session of Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My House) proved so fruitful that Paul reworked the association to swimsuit Pino’s enjoying. “Pino began enjoying and I used to be instantly: ‘Woah! Oh my God!’,” chuckles Paul. “I’d thought we have been simply making an attempt Pino out, however what he performed was simply so good. Pino’s languid type meant Mark’s drums wanted to be extra intricate, constructing all of it up from what had began as a easy Phil Spector sound.”

Though Pino was the album’s remaining key ingredient, Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My House) was Paul’s first single solely along with his identify, relatively than as Paul Younger And The Household. “I’m not a pure solo artist,” insists Younger. “I wasn’t able to go utterly solo. I used to be hiding the very fact I used to be abruptly a solo artist by having Paul Younger And… after me on the sleeve, till I might get snug with the concept my music was now: ‘That is me, I’m solo.’”

Coming into the UK singles chart at No.84, single three regarded prefer it may go the identical approach as the primary two. Sustained radio play helped, as did an unprecedented two successive appearances on The Tube, co-hosted by The Fabulous Rich Tarts’ former boss, Jools Holland.

In a single day Success

“As a result of we knew Jools so effectively, being on The Tube felt utterly pure,” breezes Maz. “The producers, Geoff Wonfor and his spouse Andrea, cherished us. They have been: ‘Wow, that was sensible! Are you able to come again subsequent week?’ And abruptly it went nuts from there.”

On the eve of No Parlez’s launch, Paul had a No.1 single for 3 weeks. “When success occurs, it occurs actually rapidly,” ponders Maz. “Individuals thought Paul was an in a single day success, however Paul and everybody concerned had been slugging round for a couple of years.”

“I used to be excited as soon as it regarded like I’d lastly have a No.1, however Ian Kewley was in shock,” causes Younger. “Ian was a couple of years older than me. It was unusual and beautiful for me to abruptly have acceptance, however it was a lot extra essential for Ian. He advised me: ‘I can lastly help my household.’ I didn’t have children, I wasn’t even going regular. It’s straightforward to neglect pressures like Ian had.”

Royal Welcome

No Parlez being within the can meant Paul already had a basic able to roll to capitalise on his overdue new success. Its three hits occupy roughly the identical pop/soul terrain, making it easy to miss simply what a rewardingly wealthy and numerous expertise No Parlez is total. Steve Bolton, in contrast by Paul to David Bowie’s guitarists Adrian Belew and Earl Slick, wrote the wild Ku Ku Kurama, whereas Anthony Moore of prog rockers Henry Cow penned the much more adventurous sprawling title observe. As Paul places it: “There’s a streak in me that hates being categorised. These two songs are what assist give the album its longevity. Listeners in all probability passed over these tracks at first. Then, as soon as they bought bored of the singles, there have been these different attention-grabbing songs to find. We have been out to point out we might create nice music past pop singles.”

That experimentation allowed additional freedom for The Royal Household to point out their craft. “Being a part of such an awesome band was a giant ingredient of No Parlez,” affirms Pino. “I’m not saying we have been of their league for historic significance, however that early incarnation of Paul had an fringe of Sly And The Household Stone to it. It was funky, rocking and so thrilling.”

“There have been no dangerous vibes in that studio, none,” agrees Laurie. “There have been so many gifted individuals within the studio they usually all gelled. Rev had unimaginable preparations and hook concepts, whereas Paul’s fantastic voice held all of it collectively. It’s an album the place all of it labored.”

Vocal Acrobatics

Lesley admits: “I didn’t count on it to take action effectively, as a result of it felt too good to be true. The perspective all through was: ‘Let’s simply do what we wish to do and let the report firm foot the invoice.’ We thought we have been making an extremely eclectic report, and we have been. It made for one thing new and completely different, one thing that caught the ears of the nation. That band was a love-in – a lot in order that Maz and Pino ended up with three children!”

Married to Pino since 1992, Maz was delighted she and Kim have been on the forefront of an album that begins with their joyous interaction on Come Again And Keep. “After we met, we found that we have been each obsessed by The Everly Brothers,” she remembers.

“Our voices blended collectively effectively, and we then tried to emulate our harmonies being nearly as good because the Everlys’. Kim has the upper voice and does the vocal acrobatics, whereas I do the extra talking-sounding vocals.

“We have been inspired to assume outdoors the field on No Parlez, doing foolish issues most singers would by no means let backing vocalists do. Nothing was too bizarre in these periods, it was sensible.” Younger considers: “Maz and Kim are so essential to the album. They’d finished pretty commonplace components with Jools, and I knew they may do much more. They have been such a discover.”


As soon as No Parlez went to No.1, a backlash was inevitable, most noticeably from Pleasure Division followers outraged at a canopy of Love Will Tear Us Aside. “I might hear The 4 Tops sing it,” explains Laurie, who had advised it for Paul to deal with. “Doing it within the type of The 4 Tops was the place to begin, however it moved away from that, particularly as soon as Steve’s mad guitar got here in.”

“I might see that Ian Curtis was sacred to Pleasure Division followers,” accepts Paul. “I wasn’t shocked my model was so controversial. I’ve since met Peter Hook, who mentioned: ‘Thanks for masking our music,’ and the turning level was when John Peel performed it. He mentioned: ‘I’m a Pleasure Division fan, and I feel that’s a worthwhile interpretation.’ I feel followers ought to be happy to listen to a unique model of a favorite music, however I’m responsible of hating covers, too. I’m a giant Free fan and I wasn’t finest happy when Pepsi And Shirlie did All Proper Now.”

Younger’s fame meant he was abruptly a pin-up, too, exploited in among the later heartthrob single sleeves. “I’m glad I don’t have an addictive character,” displays Paul. “I like a drink, however I knew when to cease. My supervisor had labored with me since Streetband, so there was plenty of mickey-taking happening. I wasn’t allowed to get too massive for my boots, however I’m fairly a mellow character anyway.”

Teen Idol

There have been far worse singers to scream at, as Kim factors out: “Paul was a beautiful-looking man who sang his arse off and danced like a dream. He was a gifted man, and a very good man in addition. We have been all OK with ladies worshipping him.”

The tour noticed presents begin to flood in for Palladino, whose imperious enjoying has since featured on artists from The Who to Miley Cyrus. He says: “No Parlez was huge for me, as a result of the bass was such a characteristic. I bought calls from David Gilmour and Elton John. The band took the piss on tour, going: ‘Fucking hell, who’re you enjoying for right this moment?’”

Latham went on to work with Squeeze, Echo And The Bunnymen and The Christians, confirming: “I bought supplied a lot work that I needed to flip down some profitable presents. Within the States, No Parlez was extra of a cult album than it’s in Britain. I met Tina Turner, who advised me it was on heavy rotation on her tourbus, however I turned down what turned Personal Dancer.”

Younger Love

No Parlez stayed within the UK High 100 for 119 weeks, a word-of-mouth phenomenon that allowed Paul to take his time over his subsequent album, The Secret Of Affiliation. “The report firm couldn’t consider it,” grins Younger. “The success gave me time. I used to be a singer at the beginning, and my robust level was how I interpreted different individuals’s songs. It doesn’t matter to me in the event that they’re mine or another person’s. We laid ourselves open to publishers and mentioned: ‘See in case your songs are adequate.’ It meant we bought despatched piles of crap, in fact, however it meant we discovered some good obscurities, too.”

The brand new expanded version is probability to rediscover how No Parlez is without doubt one of the defining albums of pop’s best decade. As Laurie Latham summarises: “Paul is very often excluded when individuals speak about 80s music. He at all times appears overlooked of these tribute programmes to the last decade. That’s not truthful, however I perceive it: you couldn’t pigeonhole No Parlez then and you may’t now. The 80s sound is outlined. No Parlez is simply too eclectic for that.”

Go to Paul Younger’s official web site right here

Learn Extra: Right here Basic Pop tells the story of 1983 in music



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