Mercurial Moods took me longer to get done, being recorded from ’05 – ’06, when it was released. I knew what I was doing with my 12-track studio by this time and as a result, the quality of these recordings was considerably better than my earlier albums. Again, of course, the album was self-produced.
Half of the songs on the album are accounted for by songs written in 2000 all around the theme of a holiday romance. There were a further two songs from the same bunch – Long Way From Me and The Ocean, You And Me, which appeared on Life?. The remainder were written in 2002-03 in a period of renewed creativity.
At this time, I was using the tagline “Mercurial Acoustic Performer” on posters, and acknowledging the great variety of emotions running through the songs, Mercurial Moods seemed an appropriate title.
The album cover takes a photo of one of my tattoos, which is a crest based upon the Queen crest, which incorporates various astrological symbols. There’s the water carrier and the double wavy lines of Aquarius; the eagle is apparently an Aquarius connection; the hieroglyph in the centre is the symbol of my Ancient Egyptian birth sign, Shu; the lioness is my Vedic love sign; and I’m Chinese year of the tiger. The disc sticker featured a picture of my other tattoo, of my blue Ovation guitar.
The release of this album coincided with a significant decrease in the frequency of my gigging activity and bearing in mind that these CDs were basically produced as needed and sold at gigs, there were therefore very few copies of this album made, which is a bit of a shame as it was definitely the best of those first three albums.
Nottingham Song, written in 2003, was inspired by Ray and Dave Davies solo songs. In London Song, Ray describes iconic places and famous Londoners, whereas Dave’s Fortis Green is more oriented towards his personal memories of growing up. I decided to do a combination of these approaches in tribute to the town of my birth and childhood. The music is also heavily influenced by The Kinks, although there is a Queen influence in the style of the backing vocals, which are multi-tracked. There’s plenty of brass on there too.
Change was co-written, in 2002, with a friend, Deb Hainsworth, who provided the lyrics, which I then set to music. Kinks influences come to the fore again with elements of Harry Rag and Little Miss Queen Of Darkness in there. Change is another song that has proved popular live.
Treloyhan Beginnings sets the scene for that holiday romance of 2000. An odd title – the scene of the story was a hotel named, “Treloyhan Manor”, in St Ives, Cornwall. The “beginnings” element suggests that this is to be something more than just a holiday romance.
Luv Ya Lottie, was written in 2003 for the girl who would eventually become my wife, Charlotte. There’s a bit of Paul McCartney influence with this one. The additional guitar with the phaser effect really makes this record.
Together With You picks up the attempt to continue that holiday romance as a long distance relationship. There’s a yearning for the separating distance to be removed. The bit just before the guitar solo is heavily influenced by Hellraiser by Sweet. The solo itself was intended to be in the style of Chuck Berry, albeit rather more distorted.
Waiting reflects the long distance lover disclosing that they’re having second thoughts and needing time to think, leaving the protagonist in torment, waiting for the phone to ring. I was trying to get a Santana-like sound with this track.
The next two tracks deal with the news being bad and the relationship is over. The songs become rather dark as the singer was hopelessly in love and is now in despair. The End is the immediate reaction to the news, desperately sung to the lost lover. This song was most influenced in style by John Lennon. I particularly like the way the guitar starts off the intro at a steady volume whilst the bass and drums fade in underneath.
In Where Do I Go From Here? the singer is trying to look ahead but can’t yet see any future without that lost love. This song is influenced by Freddie Mercury songs Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow and There Must Be More To Life Than This.
I’m Not Gonna Play Your Games Anymore is a rather different post-relationship mood. Dealing with the constant harassment of an ex- that won’t let go, this was written in ’03. It’s a very catchy riff, with a cool bass line. There’s more of those Queen style multi-tracked backing vocals and lead guitars to be found here!
Post-breakup emotions are dealt with from yet another angle on Drinkin’ Gin, Smokin’ Fags And Feelin’ Lonely. When a planned distraction with friends falls through, the singer hits the bottle and the smokes. This is a bluesy / jazzy piece with a double bass and brushed snare rhythm section. Nice.
Another Time Another Place is the final one from the 2000 holiday romance saga. The experience is put into some context and the singer seems to take the first steps towards getting over it. It’s another Queen-inspired anthem.
Guide Me makes for a quiet, introspective finish to the album. It asks all the big philosophical questions and appeals for a mentor for guidance. This was also written in 2003.
So it’s certainly fair to say that a whole range of emotions, or “mercurial moods”, are covered on this album. How much of it was genuine at the time? Every last bit. Lot of therapy here!