Finally, for the first time ever, there is a touring version of THE KORGIS!
Performing ALL the hits and the most loved album tracks of The Korgis along with wonderful new songs, the band strike out - in the UK during March and April, with a lineup featuring John Baker and Al Steele from the 1990s Korgis, Glen Tommey from Stackridge, drummer Paul Smith and trio Born To Win on backing vocals.
In the beginning… there was Stackridge, formed by Andy Davis, James Warren and a few other eccentric Bristol-based chums in 1969. Unclassifiable and unashamedly eclectic, this constantly evolving musical collective ploughed their own highly original furrow through the self-indulgent heyday of Progressive Rock. Too diverse and unconventional to attract mainstream recognition Stackridge did however notch up one very notable achievement: they impressed legendary Beatles producer George Martin enough for him to record their finest album, The Man in The Bowler Hat (1973).
Even though the band followed this brush with stardom by performing at Wembley stadium with Elton John and The Eagles in 1974, two years later disillusionment had set in and Stackridge officially threw in the towel.
James and Andy remained in touch though, occasionally posting each other cassette tapes (remember those?) of their latest creations, until finally deciding in the summer of 1978 to actually get together in Bath to record a demo.
Recorded in the top-floor apartment of classical composer David Lord, the four new songs attracted the attention of Nick and Tim Heath, sons of the celebrated 1940s bandleader Ted Heath, who had recently left E.M.I. to set up their own publishing company. Nick and Tim were especially convinced that one tune had great radio-friendly potential: ‘If I Had You’. Persuading record companies of this however proved to be well-nigh impossible and so the idea was inevitably mooted, “why not form your own record company?” And thus was born Rialto Records.
Andy and James were immediately given the green light to get to work on an album’s worth of new material and after five months of intensive writing and recording released their debut as The Korgis in 1979
The critics loved it, BBC Radio One D.J. Tony Blackburn played 'If I Had You' to death and before they knew it, after ten years of trying to make it in the music biz, Andy and James suddenly found they had a top twenty hit. The Korgis never really secured a strong profile and despite the global success that was just round the corner, didn’t make that all important connection with the record-buying public. That global success came in the form of the modern-day classic ‘Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime’ from the second Korgis album, 1980’s ‘Dumb Waiters’ - again written and recorded in Bath with Producer David Lord.
The odd thing about the album is the fact that Andy is largely absent. The pressure of trying to capitalize on unexpected success, fundamental disagreements on how to present and arrange the new material, plus the exhaustion of intense and claustrophobic recording resulted in Andy walking out on the project half-way to completion.
Andy and James were still estranged for the making of ‘Sticky George’, the band’s third album (1981). James continued to work with session players, but with much background tension induced by suspicious record-company wheeling and dealing, not to mention the unenviable task of trying to emulate the massive recent success of ‘Everybody’s ...’ the now solitary Korgi experienced an out-of-character meltdown.
Next followed a rather unexpected episode: in 1982 James recorded a one-off Korgis single with trend-setting producer Trevor Horn (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Yes, Propanganda, etc).
Unfortunately, Trevor’s involvement still didn’t achieve the hoped-for chart action and as with Stackridge a decade earlier, The Korgis having come to a bit of a dead end were effectively put to bed for the next seven years.
By the early 1990s Andy Davis had toured the world twice playing keyboards for Tears For Fears, while James Warren had been content to tour closer to home as The Meanies, performing Simon & Garfunkel and Beatles favourites with his old mate, John Baker (who used to sing with Roland Orzabal before the latter went on to form Tears For Fears).
Andy now had his own studio space in Bath (shared with Will Gregory later of Goldfrapp fame) and the idea of recording a new Korgis album gradually took shape - but this time the band would be a trio.
The voices of James and John Baker blended very smoothly together and John’s easy-going presence would provide a welcome counter-balance to the fractious intensity of Andy and James’ working relationship. That was the theory behind John Baker’s involvement in the new project and it worked very well. The album that eventually emerged from Andy’s ‘Doghouse’ studio, ‘This World’s For Everyone’ (1992), was a definite return to form.
What have Andy and James been up to since the year 2000? Andy started the new millennium as a high-flying session player once again, this time touring the world as keyboard player for Goldfrapp. James by contrast had become the father of twins at the age of 48 and so music-making was understandably not his chief preoccupation.
However, 2005 and 2006 saw two fine additions to the band’s discography, ‘The Korgis Kollection’ and ‘Unplugged’ (both Angel Air) , released on independent label Angel Air. The Kollection had the added bonus of featuring new specially written tracks and also boasts one bona-fide rarity: possibly pop music’s most overlooked and underplayed Christmas song, ‘Wish You A Merry Christmas’.
As far as live performance was concerned, Andy and James returned to their Stackridge roots. They hit the road around 2007 with several permutations of personnel, eventually settling on a very serviceable five-piece combo they continued to perform, with the final tour between September and December 2015 being a sellout success throughout the UK and in Tokyo, Japan for two memorable concerts in October 2015. Then, after 40 years, they put Stackridge to rest.
Since then, Andy has simultaneously been performing with his own acoustic trio while James recorded his first solo album, ‘Innocent Bystander’ (Angel Air), recorded in 2016 and finally released in early 2017.
Bringing us up to date, James, having a formidable catalogue of memorable songs and encouraged by old mate, guitarist songwriter and arranger Al Steele, has embarked on a new chapter with his band - the highly anticipated first ever touring version of, The Korgis !