Author Paul Charles Author Paul Charles Author Paul Charles
Author Paul Charles
paul charles fruupp
   

THE FRUUPP STORY—Part 1

FUTURE LEGENDS

Fruupp Future Legends Album

Fruupp was the brainchild of Vincent McCusker, a native of Maghera, being in the county of Derry in the North of Ireland. Vince had been a member of The Blues by Five—a relief group on the infamous Irish Showband ballroom scene. Excepting a few 'beat' clubs in Belfast and Dublin there wasn't really a lot of other places to play in Ireland at that point, apart from the ballrooms. So Vince's idea for his new 'progressive' group was to shortcut the Belfast/Irish circuit by heading straight to London.

Many musicians tried out for the band before Vince selected the final line-up of himself, on guitar and vocals; Martin Foye, late of Fossett's Circus on drums; Stephen J. Houston, late every morning and recently with The Ulster Youth Orchestra, on oboe, keyboards and vocals and Peter Farrelly—a very talented artist (all the meticulously created artwork on the first two album sleeves and all the early posters are Farrelly originals)—on flute, bass guitar and lead vocals.

The band lived and rehearsed in a dilapidated house in Belfast for several weeks in the summer of 1971. Legend had it that the band's name, Fruupp, came from a young female ghost who, allegedly, haunted said house. Fact has it that the name came from a Letraset sheet, which had been all used up except for the letters F, R, U and P. The group added another U and a second P (thank you Carol Vorderman) to achieve the imperfectly formed word, FRUUPP. A tip to artists going about the ultra important task of selecting a band name; never ever pick a name that is (a) difficult to spell, (b) means nothing, and (c) is impossible to achieve a universal pronunciation on (particularly when delivered with an Ulster accent). I'd obviously learnt my lesson well because several years later when I was managing Tanita Tikaram, immediately after I signed her to Warner Bros Records, and even before she'd started to record, I had t-shirts printed up spelling Tanita's name phonetically for all the Warner Bros Staff.

Fruupp played their first gig in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on 23rd June 1971 supporting Rory Gallagher. Shortly thereafter they bought a 1967 Ford Transit Van,—single wheelbase, registration plate number JRD 610E and nicknamed The Wasp—for £450. Within the week they boarded the Heysham/Liverpool Ferry on their way to London, stopping off on 2nd July, 1971 in Manchester to play at Mr Smith's Club.

Having schooled with Vince and also, at the age of 15, managed the aforementioned The Blues by Five, I was the London connection and the idea was that I would set the group up with a few gigs in London; they'd be discovered by a manager and/or record company and head off on the road to fame and fortune. As many before, and since, have discovered such a road, if indeed it exists at all, is extremely difficult to find.

Anyway we did a few gigs, and then a few more gigs and then a few more on top of that, and not too long thereafter I realised I'd become manager, agent, sound engineer, LD, roadie, lyricist, author of the short stories used to link the songs on stage, GDB and the last one to be paid.

The fine establishments and promoters who opened their doors graciously and regularly offered their stage to Fruupp during the July 1971 to July 1973 period were: Kings Hall, Derby; The Red Lion, Leytonstone; JBs, Dudley; The Golden Diamond, Sutton Coalfield; Civic, Chelmsford; Queens, Southend; The original Cavern Club, Liverpool, (the 18th and 19th August, 1972); Queens, Belfast; Liberty Hall, Dublin; 1832 Club, Windsor; The Roundhouses, Dagenham and Chalk Farm and, of course, much later, the amazing Friars, Aylesbury. David Stopps please stand up in your snow-white jeans and t-shirt and take a well-deserved bow for running the finest gig on the circuit.

In the early days Fruupp supported a lot of incredible live acts. Let's see now, we're talking about people like Queen, Supertramp, The Electric Light Orchestra, Focus, Hawkwind, Man, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, Focus and Genesis, that's Genesis with PG. Now they were an incredible band to behold in all their audio and visual glory. But all the bands on the above list were bands who broke-through from playing the live circuit and, as such, were an inspiration to the majority of bands on the circuit Fruupp were happy to be part of. The thing I love about the Fruupp musicians is that they were all big fans of live music and each night (when supporting) they'd be out in the venue immediately after their set watching the main band; particularly when Stacia was on stage.

Our lives and livelihood were based on the road and pretty soon Fruupp were playing about 230 nights, and a few afternoons, a year.

On 29th March 1973 Fruupp visited a small studio on Fulham Palace Road, London W6, and made a demo of 4 of their songs. One track on this demo was a Vincent McCusker original called Decision. It's is a magnificent, classic, beautiful song. Robin Blanchflower (A&R Director) also loved it, so much so in fact, that in July of 1973 he signed Fruupp to Dawn Records, the progressive limb of Pye Records. Inspired by the fact that Pye Records was the home of the Kinks, Fruupp happily signed on the dotted line.

August 1973 Fruupp took their longest break thus far from the road to visit the Escape Studios in Kent to record their debut album, Future Legends. The album was pretty much made up from the tried and (very well) tested live set. At the very last moment however, Fruupp had to substitute On A Clear Day, Stephen Houston's Focus influenced version of one of the movements from Holst's The Planets Suite, with another stage favourite, a cheerful little Vince McCusker/Paul Charles ditty entitled Graveyard Epistle.

For some reason or other, I can never remember exactly why, but two early stage favourites, The Steam Machine, a Vince original and a encore regular, and Be Glad, another tooth-filling-rattler from the pen of McCusker & Charles, didn't make it on to Future Legends, or any of the other albums for that matter. Perhaps they displayed too much of the early heavy rock influence and were discarded in favour of the evident emerging symphonic rock sound. Or, it could quite simply have been due to the fact that with songs like Lord of The Incubus, Song For a Thought, Olde Tyme Future and the aforementioned Decision, four of Fruupp's best ever songs; there quite simply wasn't the room.

Decision, I feel, shows the writer and the band off at their true original best. The lyrics are based on a poem by the band's trusted first roadie, Ivan 'Touche' Vallelly. Vince's superb soulful guitar work acts as another voice. It's a song I keep going back to. When asked the question, "which song shows off Fruupp at the best?" I always respond immediately with, "Decision." Every time I hear it still, I realise exactly why Mr. Blanchflower quickly reached for Pye's chequebook.

By the way, the producer of Future Legends really did say to us, and kept saying to us throughout the entire process, "it'll all work out in the mix." To me the sad thing wasn't that he said it, but more that we were gullible enough to believe him.

The album was released on Oct 5th 1973 and a few days later the band embarked on a two-month "album" tour, which ended on November 29th with a magic concert in The Whitla Hall, Belfast where Fruupp performed with The Ulster Youth Orchestra. It was an incredible night, a sold out concert with standout performances from Fruupp and the Orchestra especially on Song For A Thought and Decision.

The band finished off the year on an incredible high and things were looking great for the future. To find out what happens next please buy a copy of Seven Secrets, which is also released by these fine people at Esoteric Recordings, who are part of the Red Bus Empire. They're releasing the original four Fruupp albums, separately and in their entirety for the first time since they came out on vinyl and 8-track in the 70s. "What's an 8-track?" As I say, please tune in to the sleeve notes for Seven Secrets and we'll reveal that and a lot, lot more.

 Paul Charles fruupp

THE FRUUPP STORY—PART 2

Seven Secrets

Seven Secrets Album

Previously on the Fruupp Story...

Fruupp was the brainchild of guitarist extraordinaire, songwriter and vocalist, Vincent McCusker, a native of Maghera, Northern Ireland. Vince had been a member of The Blues by Five—a relief group on the infamous Irish-Showband, ballroom circuit. His idea was to form a progressive group and shortcut the Belfast/Irish circuit by heading straight to London.

The group consisted of Vince on lead guitar and vocals; Martin Foye, on drums; Stephen J. Houston on oboe, keyboards and vocals, and Peter Farrelly—on flute, bass guitar and lead vocals.

The band lived and rehearsed in a dilapidated house in Belfast for several weeks in the summer of 1971. Legend had it that the band's name Fruupp came from the name of a ghost who allegedly haunted said house. Fact has it that the name came from a Letraset sheet, which had been all used up, except for the letters F, R, U, P. The group added another U and P.

Fruupp played their first gig in Belfast, supporting Rory Gallagher in the Ulster Hall, on 23rd June 1971. Shortly thereafter they boarded the Heysham Ferry to play at Mr Smiths in Manchester on 2nd July 1971, en route to London. They were signed to Dawn Records (part of Pye Records, the home of The Kinks) in summer 1973 by a true gentleman who went by the name of Robin Blanchflower. The band recorded their first album, Future Legends, in July 1973 and Dawn Records released it on Oct 5th 1973. Fruupp were a gigging band and like the majority of gigging bands in the 70s, the word single, (45rpm) was dirty and never uttered. Bands on this circuit built up an audience; the audience bought the album; the album charted; with this new national profile even more people bought the album and came to the gigs and on and on. At least that was the theory and the theory worked well for people like, Queen, Supertramp, Focus, Hawkwind, Genesis, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and Rory Gallagher. Rory had already proven with his blistering hot live band, Taste, that the system worked, and, in 1973, was starting all over again, only this time under his own name. But sure all of the above artists had to release several albums before they "broke" and Fruupp had only released one album at this stage—the aforementioned Future Legends—so let's not get ahead of ourselves.

In January and February 1974, in between breaks from the continuous gigging, Fruupp returned to Escape Studios in Kent to record their second album, which was to be called Seven Secrets and the biggest secret was of course they only had six songs as they entered the studio. The chaps figured the word 'seven' was just that wee bit more mystical than 'six', and they're not wrong are they? Not to mention the fact that Six Secrets didn't sound anywhere as near as good a Seven Secrets, so, principal songwriter, Vince McCusker, came up with Seven Secrets, the song. It might have been a short song but it had impeccably arranged harmonies and lots of DTs (double tracking).

I love the music Vince came up with for White Eyes and Wise As Wisdom. Fruupp and the Future Legend Stings sound like late night lounge Lizards on these two McCusker & Charles tunes. That's string section leader Michael and the rest of his gang talking about their next session on this track. We recorded them nattering away during one of the breaks and dropped it into the track towards the end of the song; you know the part where it sounds like the band and the string players have been on a wee bit of a musical walkabout and, led by Stephen Houston's beautiful keyboard work, they all decided to get on their bikes and head off and take the song home.

White Eyes is about the famous Fruupp' Face, seen on the first two album sleeves and all the early posters thanks to Peter Farrelly's amazing artwork.

Garden Lady had been around since Future Legends days and I believe it and the never-recorded Steam Machine were two of the first songs Vince composed for this band. We're talking way, way before he'd found the musicians to play the music he was hearing in his head. To my ears Garden Lady is the perfect centrepiece to Seven Secrets. Musically it's very adventurous, but still melodic. It's made up of several beautiful pieces of music, cleverly and seamlessly arranged together and it contains some of Vince's finest recorded moments as a guitarist.

Three Spires, the third McCusker & Charles on Seven Secrets, is song about Magherafelt (my hometown)—well more about a return visit to a hometown and discovering that, mainly romantically speaking, it's no longer your hometown. That's producer David Lewis playing piano and Vince takes over lead vocals for the first time on record. David Lewis never once uttered, "it'llallworkoutinthmix" so he was okay with us, not to mention the fact that he did a great job.

Seven Secrets is nearly the best all round Fruupp album. Yes, there are valid arguments for two of the other albums, no debate there, but I believe with Seven Secrets, David Lewis managed to capture an entire album of Fruupp's magic, whatever that might have been. My point would be if it's real magic you can never quite put your finger on it. Seven Secrets enjoys a beautiful relaxed feel and is always very welcoming to the listener.

The album was released on April 19, 1974. Fruupp started another tour a few weeks later and finished up with a very successful concert in the Shaw Theatre, London, on June 2nd. Fruupp had by this time (with more than a wee nod to Genesis) developed the visual, theatrical side of the performance and Stephen, complete in all his knickerbocker glory, attempted to sing the high bits, play oboe, play two keyboards, cut his neck with a sword and spout forth blood simultaneously. Despite continued pleading from the other band members he couldn't find a way to sweep the stage at the same time. The blood was produced with more than a little help from a capsule or two, although I read recently on the Fruupp web site (superbly Captained by web master and Fruupp fanatic,—Professor Robert Cervero) that at least one fan was convinced the blood flowing from Stephen's mouth was the real thing.

Fruupp's career took another solid step in the upward direction. The band went straight from the Seven Secrets Tour to a UK tour with the fabulous Man band. Then they returned straight back to Fruupp shows again. The gigs were getting bigger and better all the time. They even did a well attended free concert in Phoenix Park, Dublin on Saturday 29th June 1974, so we're talking about at least a few decades before The Pope, U2 or the governor himself, Mr. Tom Waits, considered appearing there. The following afternoon they played another free outdoor gig, this time at Nutts' Corner Belfast. For some reason the stage was about 14 feet up in the air and we'd major problems getting the piano up onto it. Jimmy Saville was the compere. We'd an audience of about 10,000 people, the band were in amazing form and enjoyed an incredible reaction.

So that's about the end of this edition of the Fruupp story. Oh, you'd been waiting for me to explain what an 8 Track was. I'm awfully sorry about that but Mark Powell from Esoteric Recordings has just told me I'm outta space. Tune in to the next thrilling instalment of the Fruupp Story, which is free with the PRINCE Of HEAVEN'S EYES CD & Original Story package and I'll not only talk about the 8 track, but I'll also tell you about the time Fruupp were busted.

Promise I will. You all come back now, you hear?

Cheers

 

THE FRUUPP STORY—PART 3

THE PRINCE OF HEAVEN'S EYES

Fruupp - The Prince of Heaven Eyes Album

Well the first thing you know old Jed's a millionaire... sorry, sorry, wrong show.

Previously on the Fruupp Story...

Fruupp was the brainchild of Vincent McCusker, guitarist extraordinaire, songwriter and vocals, and a native of Maghera, Northern Ireland. Vince had been a member of The Blues by Five—an R&B group who performed mostly on the famous Irish-Showband, ballroom circuit. There weren't really a lot of other places to play in Ireland at that point so Vince's idea was to form a progressive group and shortcut the Belfast/Irish circuit by heading straight to London.

The band line up was Vince McCusker on guitar and vocals; Martin Foye, late of Fossett's Circus on drums; Stephen J. Houston, still late every morning and an ex—Ulster Youth Orchestra member, on oboe, keyboards and vocals, and the multi-talented Peter Farrelly, on flute, bass guitar, lead vocals and artwork.

The band lived and rehearsed in a dilapidated house in Belfast for several weeks. Legend had it that the band's name Fruupp came from the name of a ghost who allegedly haunted said house. In fact the name came from a Letraset sheet, which had been all used up except for the letters F, R, U, P. The group added another U and P.

Fruupp's first gig was in Belfast, supporting Rory Gallagher in the Ulster Hall on 23rd June 1971. Shortly thereafter they boarded the Heysham Ferry to play at Mr Smiths in Manchester on 2nd July 1971, en route to London. The played the blossoming underground/progressive music circuit in the UK until mid 1973 when Robin Blanchflower signed them to Dawn Records. They recorded their first album, Future Legends, in August 1973 and released it October 5th, 1973. That first album (in good nick) now fetches around £150 on the collector circuit. Coincidently #150 was the gig fee Fruupp received for the majority of the concerts around the time of first two albums. The second album Seven Secrets followed incredibly quickly, recorded in breaks from gigging Jan and Feb 1974 and released on April 19th 1974.

Last time (in the sleeve notes for Seven Secrets) we were talking about what an incredible relaxed sound there was on Seven Secrets. The relaxed part might have been somewhat self-induced because in the early hours of the morning of Sun 27th June 1974, Fruupp, as they slept peacefully on their "getting it together in the country" farm in Thurless, Co Tipp, were busted by the Gardai Drug Squad. The Gardai discovered a piece, "allegedly" no bigger than your small fingernail, of an illegal substance. I believe they used the word "sissies" but nevertheless the arrest made the front pages of all the Irish national papers, and was mentioned on all the news bulletins. All of which ironically upped the band's profile considerably, and, consequently, put more bums on seats.

Just over a month later on 6th of August Fruupp entered Morgan Studios in North West London to commence work on their most ambitious project to date.

Since the first album we'd been keen to try and make our albums a bit different, a bit more than a collection of songs if you will. Doesn't everyone I hear you ask? Along with several live-links, I'd written short pieces, The Tramp and The Priest (Future Legends sleeve) and The Planet Suite (Seven Secrets sleeve) as a way to tie the collection of songs together, give them a common thread, maybe even a thread that wasn't really there. Perhaps inspired by how the live show was developing Fruupp decided, for their third album, to do it to other way around; to have the common thread in advance and write the album around this theme.

I'd written a short story called The Prince of Heaven's Eyes about this mythical wee chap called Mud Flanigan who, on the death of his parents, decided to go off around Ireland on his travels in search of the end of the rainbow. Mud's adventures in The Prince of Heaven's Eyes were to be the basis of the concept album of the same name. That's Mud in all his colourful glory and innocence on the front of this CD jacket. During the search he has lots of mental, physical and romantic adventures. Anyway I don't need to go into the story in too great a detail because the good people at Esoteric Recordings have made the story available with this CD package—the first time it's been available since the very limited edition that went out with the original vinyl album over 30 years ago. In October 2012 the story was published as a ebook.

Prince of Heaven's Eyes

The Prince of Heaven's Eyes really was a true band project. The record was self-produced by Vince, Stephen, Martin and Peter (ably assisted by engineer Roger Quested) and it was arranged and performed entirely by the band. I'd never seen the band work together as well as they did on this project and, in my opinion, they did a masterful job on the production side.

On vinyl (unlike CD) you can only have 45 minutes of music before you start to sacrifice sound quality and so sadly, very sadly, Lost in A Dream, Windward, Crystal Brook, King Stranger and Reflection (all composed by Vince) didn't make it unto the album.

The final track, The Perfect Wish, by Stephen was originally two songs, The Clearing Shower and Giants Causeway.

For the first and only time Fruupp composed a song as a band. It was called The Prince of Heaven, the song was about the album story as opposed to being part of it, which was why it wasn't included on the album and released only as a single.

Dawn Records released Fruupp's first ever single—The Prince of Darkness (b/w Annie Austere)—on the 11th Oct 1974. Strangely enough they didn't lead with the aforementioned Prince of Heaven. The Prince of Heaven's Eyes two-month tour started on 24th Oct with a sell out concert in The Ulster Hall Belfast. Fruupp played Coleraine University the following night, then they set off down to Dublin for a concert in Trinity College. Again both shows sold out and the new material was enjoying an incredible reaction every night. Our special guest for this tour was David McWilliams, a fine Ballymena songwriter who'd a hit with his first two albums (David McWilliams Vol I and Vol II) and the classic single, The Days Of Pearly Spencer.

The set list for the POHE Tour was:

Decision
Olde Tyme Future
On a Clear Day
It's All Up Now
Prince of Darkness
Annie Austere
Knowing You
Crystal Brook
Seaward Sunset
The Perfect Wish
Lord Of The Incubus
Song For a Thought

with encores of:

Prince of Heaven
The Steam Machine

The album was released on Friday 8th November. That night we played a sold out show in Kings Hall, Derby. Dawn Records really went to down on their marketing and promotion on this one. The reviews were great, heck even Time Out loved the album. The band was doing a lot more press and radio interviews. The pirate station Radio Caroline went through a week of playing the Prince of Heaven's Eyes album in its entirety every night. They were very supportive from this point onwards.

By the time the tour ended with an amazing concert in Friars Aylesbury on Dec 7th, The Prince Of Heaven's Eyes album had already out-sold Future Legends and Seven Secrets. I can remember all the Friars gigs. When you're in a band, or you work with a band and you're all crammed in a van travelling the length of the country, playing gigs everywhere you're allowed to set up your gear and you're living on the breadline, well then all the bitching, all the moaning and all the arguing stops the minute your band walked out onto the stage in somewhere like Aylesbury. The amazing reaction the band receives from just walking out onto the stage immediately reveals the audience aren't there to judge; they're there to enjoy. It's on magic nights like those in Aylesbury, Derby, Belfast, Southend, Chelmsford and Dublin etc where the band and audience, together, combine to create something very, very magical. You have no other thoughts in your mind other than: this is special; this really does make it all worthwhile. There is nothing else you'd rather do. You are 100% convinced that all the slogging around the country Fruupp had been doing for the previous three and a half years was now finally worthwhile.

Yes, Fruupp ended 1974 on an amazing high, their biggest selling album; best selling tour; best gig fees; overtures from an American record label; best reviews; best radio play and even encouraging airplay on the recently (December 1974) released single, Prince of Heaven (b/w The Jaunting Car). As we headed off to Ireland for Christmas, perhaps we should have been just a little more concerned about The Prince of Darkness and how he was feeling about Mud Flanagan's growing stature. To read about the unbelievable events which occurred in early 1975 please tune into the next edition of the Fruupp Story, available only with Esoteric Recording's full CD version of Modern Masquerades, Fruupp's final album.

And I promise to finally reveal all about the 8-track.

 frupp

THE FRUUP STORY—PART 4

MODERN MASQUERADES

fruup - Modern Masqeurades

Fruupp was the brainchild of Vincent McCusker, guitarist, songwriter and vocals, a native of Maghera, Northern Ireland. Vince had been a member of The Blues by Five—an R&B group who performed mostly on the famous Irish-Showband, ballroom circuit. There weren't really a lot of other places to play in Ireland at that point so Vince's idea was to form a progressive group and shortcut the Belfast/Irish circuit by heading straight to London.

The band line up was Vince McCusker on guitar and vocals; Martin Foye, late of Fossett's Circus, on drums; Stephen J. Houston, an ex—Ulster Youth Orchestra member, on oboe, keyboards and vocals, and multi-talented Peter Farrelly, on flute, bass guitar, lead vocals.

The band lived and rehearsed in a dilapidated house in Belfast for several weeks in the summer of 1971. Legend had it that the band's name Fruupp came from the name of a ghost who allegedly haunted said house. In fact the name came from an Electraset sheet, which had been all used up except for the letters F, R, U, P. The group added another U and a P.

Fruupp played their first gig in Belfast on 23rd June 1971, supporting Rory Gallagher in the Ulster Hall. Shortly thereafter they boarded the Heysham Ferry to play at Mr Smiths in Manchester on 2nd July 1971, en route to London. They signed to Dawn Records (part of Pye Records made famous by The Kinks) late July 1973 by Robin Blanchflower, recorded their first album, Future Legends, in August 1973 and released it Oct 5th 1973. The second album Seven Secrets followed incredibly quickly, recorded in breaks from gigging Jan and Feb 1974 and released on April 19th 1974.

The band was busted by the Gardai Drug Squad in the early hours of the morning of Sunday 28th July 1974. They immediately returned to London to start work on their third album, the self-produced Prince of Heaven's Eyes, which was recorded in August and Sept of 1974 and released 8th November same year. The album was a concept album based on a short story, The Prince of Heaven's Eyes, written by yours truly.

The band enjoyed a dramatic break-through with this album and the November tour. Dawn Records marketed and promoted the album aggressively, spending a generous amount of money on it. The reviews were great, media coverage, radio and press, increased noticeably and as a result of all of the above, the album outsold the first two albums by the end of the tour. Ticket sales were way up with sold-out signs going up in places other than Aylesbury and Belfast.

However we were to find that 1975 was not to start as well as 1974 had finished.

On the 19th January 1974 Stephen J. Houston played his last gig with Fruupp.

It was at the Greyhound, Croydon. Stephen had talked earlier in the month about wanting to leave because of his recent religious discoveries. Stephen had promised that he would stay with Fruupp until we'd found a replacement and worked him in. Sadly immediately after the Greyhound gig he disappeared into the night and very uncharitably (particularly in view of his newfound faith) took a lot of Fruupp equipment with him. Long story short; Fruupp got their gear back and continued as a 3 piece until replacement John Mason joined them on stage in Huddersfield on 14th March.

Now the important, maybe even the single most vital, part of this story is just how damaging the timing of Stephen's departure was. Yes, yes, I know that everyone claims how big the fish was that got away. But hear me out please. Seymour Stein, the head of Sire Records in New York, was a fan of Fruupp and in particular he loved The Prince of Heaven's Eyes. Seymour Stein is the man responsible for signing Madonna, The Talking Heads, the Ramones, kd lang, and the B52s amongst many others and he had made arrangements to come and see Fruupp play at a sell-out show in Farnborough Tech College on Sat 1st Feb 1975. As I'm sure you can imagine Dawn Records, the band and myself were pretty excited about this prospect.

Sadly, due to Stephen's untimely departure, it was only possible to do this show as an under-rehearsed three-piece band.

Long story shorter; we didn't pass the audition.

But not to worry, we were all for one and one for all and all of that stuff. We didn't need Stephen, we could do it without him, and sure doesn't he still sleep too much. And that's only the printable things we were saying about him! Within a couple of months we'd totally regrouped with John Mason. During the months of July and August, the new Fruupp, with Ian McDonald in the producer's chair, were in Island Studios, Basing Street, London, recording the fourth and final album, Modern Masquerades.

Sheba's Song, a song on the album by John and Paul—no, no, not that John and Paul, the other one; that's John Mason and Paul Charles of course—was discovered over 30 years later by a Brooklyn RAP artist called Talib Kweli and used as the basis of Come The New Day. This RAP version of Sheba's Song appeared (with Nora Jones guesting on lead vocals) on Talib's 2006 Warner Bros album, Ear Drum, which entered the Billboard American Top 200 Charts at Number 2! Talib and his people were generous enough to share credit and publishing. I'd still love to know how a Brooklyn RAP artist had tuned into Fruupp.

Dawn Records released the third and final Fruupp single on 24th Oct 1975. It was a McCusker & Charles song called Janet Planet a track from the new album. Modern Masquerades the album was released on the 14th November and the tour started in Hastings on 5th Dec and finished in Manchester Uni on Feb 2nd 1976. The London gig this time was at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm where one of Fruupp support acts was the 101ers who, within months, would change their name to The Clash. The tour also took in yet another magic night in Friars Aylesbury on 6th Dec. Happily the Friars' audiences and Dawn Records were showing a commitment and loyalty our ex-keyboard played seemed unable to. This time at Friars we had the sense to bring up a mobile unit with us to record the show for a possible live album.

We were working on another concept album, Doctor Wilde's Twilight Adventure, at the time the group finally spilt up. This time it was based on another short story of mine called The Flight of The Dove and the idea was to use the music of the 1812 Overture. Ambitious? Yes certainly, but, as Dylan observed, there's no point reaching for the sky just to surrender... on top of which the rehearsal tapes for the twelve songs were sounding very encouraging. The band was busy rehearsing at the foot of the Dublin Mountains. In their spare time they were doing a few gigs around Dublin under the name of The Future Legends Orchestra.

But the reality was the momentum we'd enjoyed at the end of 1975 was no longer with us. The embryonic Punk/New Wave movement was dating progressive music incredibly quickly. The writing was most definitely on the wall and, one by one, we all accepted this. There was a final puff at the Roundhouse Chalk Farm in July and so the Fruupp adventure that had began in Belfast in 1971 ended five years, four albums, three singles, two keyboard players and one drugs bust later.

Sadly the Live at Friars Alyesbury album never got to see the light of day. The master tapes were destroyed in a fire that totally burnt out a flat Vince, John and I shared in Peckham in London. I was lucky to get away from the fire (and Fruupp) with my life and in fact if it hadn't been for some spectacular heroics from Vince McCusker I might not have.

THE FRUUPP ROLL OF HONOUR:

Betsey McCusker—helped finance original trip to London in 1971—big supporter, big heart, beautiful lady and God rest her soul.
Ivan 'Touche' Vallelly—roadie, driver and poet—the lyrics of Decision were based on his poem.
Ian 'Litz' Littlewood, John Urry, Michael Connelly & Rayner Jesson—trusted road crew one and all.
Bob Gold—agent with a heart of gold.
David Stopps—Mr Friars, a vision in white.
Paul Fenn—credit line and base control.
Robin Blanchflower, Nic Hampton & Jack Boyce—the three Pye wisemen.
Professor Robert Cervero—the king of the web, the untiring feeder of the flame.

All of the above—without whom Fruupp wouldn't have existed—most definitely deserve a mention on the Fruupp Roll of Honour.

So, that's it, the end of part four, which is in fact the end of the Fruupp Story... that was of course until the good people at Esoteric Recordings decided to re-release the four albums in their entirety on CD, so I suppose we'll have to watch this space...

The 8-track question? Look it is very interesting but I've run out of space yet again. Tell you what I'll most definitely discuss it in my next Christy Kennedy Mystery, which is called A PLEASURE TO DO DEATH WITH YOU and should be in the shops Sept 2010. Now I can't say fairer than that, can I?

Cheers,
Paul Charles
January 2009

  mystery book

Paul Charles Fruupp Songwriting Credits

FUTURE LEGENDS:

Graveyard Epistle. Music Vince McCusker, Lyrics Paul Charles

future legends

SEVEN SECRETS:

Wise As Wisdom. Music Vince McCusker, Lyrics Paul Charles
White Eyes. Music Vince McCusker, Lyrics Paul Charles
Three Spires. Music Vince McCusker, Lyrics Paul Charles

sheba's song

THE PRINCE OF HEAVEN'S EYES:

Book by Paul Charles.

Christy Kennedy Mystery

MODERN MASQUERADES:

Janet Planet. Music Vince McCusker, Lyrics Paul Charles
Sheba's Song. Music John Mason, Lyrics Paul Charles

fruupp

UNRECORDED:

Be Glad. Music Vince McCusker, Lyrics Paul Charles

All four albums were re-mastered and re-issued March 2009 on Esoteric Recordings available now on Amazon.


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Author Paul Charles

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Inspector Christy Kennedy novels  |  Inspector Starrett novels  |  Music books