“A welcome return for a long lost treasure”. This was how Q Magazine greeted the release of Bill Pritchard’s album “A Trip To The Coast” when it came out in 2014. The album went on to be voted as one of the top 50 albums of 2014 in Rolling Stone.
It had been eight years since his previous release and who knew whether we’d see another? But then due to an unlikely set of circumstances it happened. A friend and musician, Tim Bradshaw, by chance moved close by to him. “We did the album together, basically because we’re mates and we thought we’d have fun doing it”, Bill is reported to have said in 2013. “But the response was great. I had no idea what to expect” he says now, “but the welcome back was amazing”.
He’s an unassuming character, just does his own thing and doesn’t really pay much attention to who said what about whom, the five star reviews, radio play, shows and videos, although he was most concerned for the record company representative who had to be airlifted off an Anglesey beach while filming the video for “Trentham”, the first single off “A Trip To The Coast”, in early 2014.
Fast forward to the start of 2015 and having decided not to leave it another eight years before the next album, Bill Pritchard and Tim Bradshaw returned to the studio to start the follow-up. Gradually, in bits and pieces the album emerged. “The last album was very much about a journey of sorts”, says Bill “whereas this one is more routed in one place, both thematically and emotionally”.
It was recorded mostly in Burslem, the Mother Town, with Tim Bradshaw, Mike Rhead, Liam Bradley and Remy LaPlage. Horns were added in France, and it was mixed in Burslem, Berlin and Singapore with Bradshaw’s longtime studio partner, Roo Pigott.
The Burslem studio is a short step away from the “Leopard Inn”, Arnold Bennet’s old fictional haunt, Port Vale football ground and The Waterloo Road which was the inspiration for Joe Dassin’s French classic “Champs Elysee”. Weird but true!
The songs on the album are of the classic Bill Pritchard genre. Sparkling guitars, choruses to sing along to, meltingly beautiful ballads, and personal everyday lyrics about characters, both real and imagined. There is one character whose only female company is a flower. And another who never read and rarely wrote but everything he said became a quote. And finally, the Vampire of New York who married a priest from Birmingham.
Bill Pritchard might have been physically routed in one place but his characters play the paradise, and he remembered one who, despite peoples’ views, became front page news. When I asked Bill about this person, he just said it was about “a friend and great artist who was left- handed”. Thanks for clearing that one up, Bill!
Sitting on a bench on Cobridge Road Stoke, can you be victorious? You can in Pritchard’s world. What a strange place to be!