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24th May 2023


Q: You’ve been around for a while. How come this is your first solo album? Lockdown was the opportunity but have you never had the desire before?


CC: I suppose I have. Lockdown was the opportunity because as with many of us, we were thrown into the thing where all tours were cancelled and I had nothing to do so it gave me the opportunity to concentrate my mind on doing it. I guess in a way, I had always had the desire since Tods Rundgren’s Something/Anything back in the seventies (1972) because he pretty much played everything on that, engineered it and produced it. I thought ‘What a great thing to do’ but it took some time, fifty years to get there (laughs). It isn’t strictly speaking my first solo album as I did do an instrumental mood music album called Mystic Mountain Music twenty-five years ago which was based on various trips to spiritual parts of the world like the Great Pyramids and places like that. It’s quite different because it’s just instrumental and ambient music.


Q: That was very popular back then.

CC: It was a bit. My wife works in the healing fields and she wanted some music for it so that gave me the inspiration to do it at the time but this was the first time I could sit down and concentrate. I had just got a new guitar before lockdown and I always find new guitars bring new inspiration and I just wrote one track and recorded it - the title track, Liberty – and put it on Facebook and it got thousands of hits quite quickly. Then Renaissance Records in America contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing something and if I had any more like it. Originally it was going to be an EP because I had another new track I had been working on plus I re-jigged a song called Everybody Knows that had appeared on a Strawbs album called The Broken Hearted Bride (2008) and A Splash Of Blue which had appeared on the Lambert Cronk album, Touch The Earth (2007). So it was going to be an EP and John Edwards at Renaissance came up with the artwork which I loved and he said ‘This is good, let’s make it an LP’ and another lockdown happened then so I was able to crack on and get a few more tracks together.


Q: Aside from those two you mentioned, are the songs all new or have some been in your head for a while without an outlet?


CC: No, they were all completely new. Having put the four together for the EP, I saw where the album could go after that. I didn’t want to go back to any more old stuff and the theme of it was liberty, the desire of being let out. There was so much negativity about in the news so I buried myself away up here in the studio and worked away on what I perceived to be positive songs to uplift the human spirit if you like.


Q: Predominantly known as a bass player, you’ve shown yourself to be a competent multi-instrumentalist. When did you start to dabble on all these different instruments?


CC: I’ve always played guitar. I’m an acoustic guitarist-song writer who started specialising in bass many years ago. The production and the keyboards and the other parts of it I’ve been doing really, since the eighties when MIDI first came out and I’ve always loved studios. Too me, the recording process is magic. Having been a photographer as a kid and being in darkrooms, the magic of seeing something develop in front of your eyes, this was the aural equivalent. I was fascinated by studios in the seventies with Strawbs and I’d spend a lot of time with the engineer helping man the big boards in the days before automation when you needed a few pairs of hands to get a mix out. Then in the eighties, with the advent of sequencing and digital came in, it became more and more possible. Back then I had a band with a good friend of mine, Roy Hill, called Cry No More which was signed to EMI and the first album we did was engineered by some of my favouries. Jeffrey Lesser who worked on two Strawbs albums in the seventies and the second album we did we had Andy Richards produce and engineer it. He was another dear friend and also the last keyboard player in Strawbs in the 1970s and had gone onto great things.


Q: One of my favourites as well. His work with Berlin and Pet Shop Boys…


CC: Frankie Goes to Hollywood…

Q: Yes!

CC: Yes. When you listen to Relax or Two Tribes, a lot of the sounds that he was using on those were also on the last Strawbs album in the seventies, which eventually came out as Heartbreak Hill. Fabulous player, a genius a sequencing and all that sort of thing. He had a Fairlight which was a monstrous machine compared to this little box you can get it all into which we are talking to each other on now. The second Cry No More album was called Love & Power (1989) and the engineers he used were just superb. Tony Phillips went onto work with Joni Mitchell in America, Nick Davies went on to produce and engineer Genesis so with those people, I was learning little techniques all the time.


Q: I actually went back and had a listen to Touch Earth and noticed that you pulled in a few old friends for that record. Andy Richards was on keyboards, Tony Fernandez on drums, Ian Mosely, now in Marillion but who you knew from the Steve Hackett days. Were you not tempted to do the same for this one?


CC: I guess it was the lockdown thing. We were all so isolated and I just thought why not see what I can do. Yes, I would have been tempted at the time if I had known where it was going to go (laughs) but at the time, I had no idea whether people would like it or not. Moving forward, if I do another one, I might be tempted to and I am planning to do another one.


Q: Well that’s good but you’ve proven now that you can do it on your own so you have wider options.

CC: True. Yes. I’m certainly not the greatest singer in the world or keyboard player or guitarist but I can find a way of making it all work.


Chas and Rick Wakeman and sessions


Q: Just referring back to the production, you mentioned working with Andy Richards and those but going right back, you were working with some of my favourites from the sixties. Tony Visconti for example and him, along with people like Mickie Most, Tony Hatch and others, they were ground-breaking.


CC: Yes. When I started working, I was signed up to a production company called Writer’s Workshop which was the creative hub behind the revamped Regal Zonophone label. The producer there, Denny Cordell, liked what I and one of my old school friends were writing. We were kids and I remember the very first meeting with him and he told us he had just recorded this last night and played us Whiter Shade Of Pale. ‘What do you think?’ (laughs) So I was rubbing shoulders with people like that and T.Rex, Joe Cocker they had just signed so it was an eclectic bunch of people and I was the junior if you like but they gave me downtime in the studios. You know, I’d be going into Olympic Studios in downtime but I had to be out by 8pm because Hendrix was coming in to record an album. Denny brought Tony Visconti over from America as a sort of protégée and the first record I ever played on was a song called The Running Kind by Jimmy Thomas who had been the singer with The Ike and Tina Turner Show. They had toured England, Jimmy liked it, moved over, Denny signed him up, put him in the studio with Tony Visconti producing and told me they needed a keyboard player and do I know one. I had just met Rick Wakeman a couple of weeks before so I said I do and Rick came in. I thought he was just going to do a Soul thing but he did all his arpeggios thing and everyone said ‘Thanks for bringing him along!’ (laughs) Rick’s session career sort of started there.


Q: I’ve never been able to find a copy of The Running Man.


CC: No. Me neither. It came out on the Spark label, I remember that. I wish I had one. Jimmy passed away last year and we had only just re-established contact not long before. He was a lovely man, a great guy.


Q: Do you recall any sessions you did after that?


CC: Yeah. As Rick’s session career took off, he kindly roped me into a fair few bits. He started doing some film music with the composer Stanley Myers and we did an Elizabeth Taylor film called X,Y & Zee and there was a Ken Russell film that Rick did the music for, I was on that. Along the way, around about that point, Rick had been doing sessions for Strawbs and bringing Dave Lambert in sometimes on guitar for these film sessions and that’s properly how I met Dave although we had crossed paths many times growing up where we did in West London. I was running around doing all sorts of odd sessions then but yeah, with Rick, there were a few interesting ones.


Q: Are you still in touch with Rick by the way?


CC: The last time I really saw him was when he pitched up and played with Acoustic Strawbs at a festival out in Suffolk somewhere as he lives in that part of the world. He came on and did a couple of songs he was known for with Strawbs so I haven’t spoken to him for quite a while but I have contact with him through Tony Fernandez and Lee Pomeroy who has been his bassist for some time now.


Q: I saw you with Rick in the eighties. I can’t remember if it was The Venue or Hammersmith.


CC: It would have been Hammersmith. It was released on an album.


Q: That’s right and it was the gig when the P.A. broke down.


CC: (laughs) Those were the days eh?


Q: Yeah! You had just started Arthur and two minutes in, the P.A. cut out. Rick told jokes for twenty minutes while they repaired it. I think that was the start of Rick’s stand-up career as well.


CC: (laughs) He was good at that.


Q: I also saw you with Steve Hackett; Ian Mosely was on drums.


CC: Oh that was a great band! I met him, again through doing sessions. I had met Ian and he and I were doing a lot of sessions at a studio called Redan Recorders and I think we were doing something for Gordon Giltrap at the time who was doing a few library music types albums. Steve was there working on his album, Cured, with Nick Magnus who was also a brilliant programmer…


Q: …and also on the Lambert Cronk album…


CC: He was! Yes and he was also in Cry No More with Roy Hill and I.


Q: Quite a little family you have there Chas.


CC: They are. All great guys and good friends. Anyway, Steve was in the studio next door and we all met up as you do working in the same studio complex together and towards the end of him recording Cured he gave Ian and I a call and asked if we would be interested in going out on the road with him.


Q: I’m fascinated by British session players because, particularly in the sixties, all of you were really the embryo of classic British Rock. Rick and yourself, Jimmy Page did a lot with Mike Leander stuff, John Ford worked for Mickie Most as did John Paul Jones, Richie Blackmore was with Joe Meek…for me it’s the greatest chapter never written about the British music business.


CC: Yes. I know what you’re saying. All of these fantastic names from the future and they were good times.


Q: It’s a great legacy.


CC: It is.




Q: Let’s find out a bit about you. One of my favourite questions is if I came to you house and had a browse through your bookshelf, what subjects would I see?


CC: Ah…well right above me here is the Macintosh Bible which is so out of date, a lot of reference books about music production and stuff like that, photography books, a book called Music And Life by W.J. Turner, The Nations Favourite Poems…


Q: Let’s go with photography as you mentioned it was a passion of yours when you were a kid. I like all the great sixties photographers, David Bailey, etc. Who do you admire?


CC: All those guys and especially someone like David Bailey. Then you’ve got the guy who did all those wonderful Black and White images of Death Valley in America whose name escapes me. I’ve got his book here somewhere.


Q: Film or digital?


CC: I love the whole film process. Being able to take the picture and make the negative itself and then go in the darkroom. The darkroom was a great place to be creative in. I did work on a book as a junior more than anything but there were not many openings in those days. I remember at the school careers evenings saying I wanted to be a photographer and them saying ‘Oh…well, there’s the R.A.F… aerial reconnaissance…(laughs)


Q: I think we had the same careers officer.


CC: (laughs) And if you wanted to go into moving pictures, TV kind of thing, you had to come out of university with a degree just to get a job as a cameraman at the BBC. It’s a whole different world now but I ended up after studying at college at Gillette, the razor company. You know that building on the A4, Great West Rd where it borders Isleworth?


Q: The listed building. You were there?


CC: Yeah it’s an Art Deco building. I worked there for about a year in the Research and Development department and our assignments were weird. One of them was talking high magnification of blades after various uses so you could see the jagged edge. It was enjoyable but not exactly massively creative year there. Then the whole department moved to a different part of the country and at the time I was still living at home as my parents were both elderly and partially disabled and didn’t want to move. So I was out of work but working semi-professionally musically so I concentrated on that and gradually became more and more a professional musician.


CC: Given your love of photography and being a musician on the road. Did you combine the two? Do you have a lot of unpublished phots of life on the road with Strawbs?


CC: Not enough on the road in those days, especially in the early days. A phone camera then would have been handy. I didn’t take many of the bands even if I did have a camera with me. I’d take myself off to the local park or zoo or something and take place shots more than people. Really, I should go through them. The best one’s I’ve got are on old slides of the time spent out in the desert in New Mexico or Arizona somewhere. I did go through them a little bit with the Liberty video because it is a montage of some of the photos I’ve taken around and about. I also did one for Slipping Down A Stream.


Q: Well, winter project, get up into the attic and see what you have and what you’ve forgotten you have.


CC: Yeah you’re right – I should do.


Q: Chas, we’ve come full circle on this, back to Liberty and I think that’s a good way to wind this up. Thank you very much, it’s been very nice to talk to you.


CC: Lovely to talk to you as well Glenn.

Anchor 1

Chas Cronk チャス・クロンク





Q: 以前から機会はあったと思うのですが、なぜ今回が初のソロアルバムなのでしょうか?ロックダウンがきっかけになったとは思いますが、今までそのような思いはなかったのでしょうか?

CC:それがきっかけだと思う。ロックダウンは、僕たちの多くがそうであるように、すべてのツアーがキャンセルされるという事態に放り込まれたので、そういう機会になったんだ。その時、僕は何もすることがなかったから、集中して取り組むことができた。ある意味、70年代(1972年)のトッド・ラングレンの『Something/Anything』以来、ずっとその願望があったんだと思うね。彼はその曲のほとんどを演奏し、エンジニアもプロデュースもしていたからね。「なんて素晴らしいことなんだ」と思ったけど、そこに至るまで50年という時間がかかってしまった(笑)。厳密にはこれは初のソロアルバムではなくて、25年前に『Mystic Mountain Music』というインストゥルメンタル・ムードミュージック・アルバムを出していて、それはピラミッドなど世界のスピリチュアルな場所への旅を題材にしたものだったんだ。インストゥルメンタルとアンビエント・ミュージックだけなので、今回のとはかなり違うね。


Q: 当時はそういうのがとても人気だったんですよ。

CC:多少はね。妻がヒーリング系の仕事をしていて、そのための音楽が欲しいと言っていたので、その時に閃いたんだけど、今回は初めて腰を据えて集中することができたよ。ロックダウンの前に新しいギターを手に入れたばかりだったんだけど、新しいギターはいつも新しいインスピレーションを与えてくれる。で、1曲だけ作って録音したのがタイトル曲の「Liberty」で、Facebookに載せたら、あっという間に何千件もヒットしたんだ。すると、アメリカのルネッサンス・レコードから連絡があり、「何かやる気はないか」「他に同じようなものはないか」と聞かれたんだ。元々はEPにするつもりだったんだ。それで、ストローブスのアルバム『The Broken Hearted Bride』(2008年)に収録されていた「Everybody Knows」という曲と、ランバート・クロックのアルバム『Touch The Earth』(2007年)に収録されていた「A Splash Of Blue」を再調整したんだ。それでEPにする予定だったんだけど、ルネッサンスのジョン・エドワーズがアートワークを考えてくれて、それがとても気に入って、「これはいい、LPにしよう」と言ってくれて、そこにロックダウンが起きたので、いろいろモチーフを得て何曲か作ることができたんだ。


Q: その2曲を除けば、曲はすべて新曲ですか、それとも出口がなくしばらく頭の中にあったものもあるのでしょうか?



Q: ベース奏者として知られていますが、マルチインストゥルメンタリストとしての実力も発揮されていますね。さまざまな楽器に手を出すようになったのはいつ頃からですか?







CC:そう。『Relax』や『Two Tribes』を聴くと、彼が使っていた音の多くは、70年代のストローブスの最後のアルバム、最終的に『Heartbreak Hill』として発売されたものにも使われていた。素晴らしいプレイヤーで、シーケンスやそういうものの天才だった。彼はフェアライトを持っていたんだけど、こんな小さな箱に全部入れて、今、お互いに話題にしているものに比べたら、巨大な機械だった。クライ・ノー・モアの2作目は『Love&Power』(1989年)というアルバムなんだけど、彼が起用したエンジニアはまさに超一流だったね。トニー・フィリップスはアメリカでジョニ・ミッチェルと仕事をするようになり、ニック・デイヴィスはジェネシスのプロデュースやエンジニアをするようになった。僕はいつもちょっとしたテクニックを学んでいたよ。


Q:実は『Touch The Earth』を聴き直してみたのですが、このアルバムには旧友が何人か参加していることに気づきました。キーボードにアンディ・リチャーズ、ドラムにトニー・フェルナンデス、今はマリリオンのメンバーですがスティーブ・ハケット時代から知っているイアン・モズリーです。今回も同じように彼らを使おうかなという誘惑はなかったですか?







CC:うん。社会人になってから、リーガル・ゾノフォン・レーベルのリニューアルに伴い、クリエイティブの拠点となるライターズ・ワークショップという制作会社に所属することになったんだ。そこのプロデューサー、デニー・コーデルが、僕と昔の友人の書いていたものを気に入ってくれたんだ。僕たちはまだ駆け出しだった頃で、彼との最初の出会いを覚えているよ。彼は昨晩これを録音したばかりだと言って、「Whiter Shade Of Pale(邦題:青い影)」を聴かせてくれた。「どう思う?」なんて訊いてきたんだよ(笑)。T.レックスやジョー・コッカーと契約したばかりの頃で、いろいろな人と肩を並べることになった。いろいろな人と出会い、僕は後輩だったけど、スタジオの使えない時間を教えてもらった。そんな時間にオリンピック・スタジオに入るんだけど、ヘンドリックスがアルバムのレコーディングに来るから、夜8時までに出なきゃいけないんだ。デニーがトニー・ヴィスコンティをアメリカから連れてきて、弟子のような形で僕が初めて演奏したレコードは、アイク&ティナ・ターナー・ショーのシンガーだったジミー・トーマスの「The Running Kind」という曲だった。彼らはイギリスをツアーしていて、ジミーはそれを気に入って移り住み、デニーは彼と契約し、トニー・ヴィスコンティのプロデュースでスタジオに入れたんだ。で、キーボード奏者が必要だと言われたんだけど、誰か知ってるかな?って言われた。その2週間前にリック・ウェイクマンに会ったばかりだったので、「I do.(知ってるよ)」と言ったら、リックが来てくれた。ソウルぽいナンバーをやるだけかと思ったら、分散コード奏法なんかもを全部やってくれて、みんな『連れてきてくれてありがとう!』って(笑)。リックのセッションキャリアは、そこから始まったようなものさ。


Q:「The Running Kind」のコピーが見つからなかったんですよ。




CC: ああ。リックのセッション活動が軌道に乗ると、彼の好意で僕もいくつかのセッションに参加することになったんだ。彼は作曲家のスタンリー・マイヤーズと映画音楽を手がけるようになり、エリザベス・テイラーの映画『X、Y&Zee』を手がけ、リックが音楽を担当したケン・ラッセルの映画もあり、僕はそれに参加した。その頃、リックはストローブスのセッションをやっていて、そのフィルムセッションにデイヴ・ランバートを時々ギターで連れてきていたんだ。というのも、僕たち二人は西ロンドン育ちだったから、何度もすれ違いがあったんだけど、デイブと出会ったのはそれがきっかけだった。当時はいろいろなセッションをやっていたけど、リックとは面白いセッションがいくつもあったね。





Q:80年代にリックと一緒にあなたを見ました。The VenueだったかHammersmithだったかは覚えていないんですが。













CC: そう、彼だ!彼もまた僕とロイ・ヒルと共にクライ・ノー・モアにいたんだよ。














CC:あー...僕の頭の上には、もう古くなってしまったMacintoshのバイブル、音楽制作の参考書や写真集、W.J.ターナーの『Music And Life』という本、『The Nations Favourite Poems』とか…









CC:(笑)また、映像やテレビの世界に入ろうと思ったら、BBCでカメラマンとして働くために、大学を卒業して学位を取らなければならなかったんだ。今は全く違う世界だけど、僕は大学で勉強した後、カミソリのジレット社に行き着いたんだ。A4地区、Great West RdのIsleworthとの境目にある建物を知ってる?






CC:当時、特に初期のころは、あまりツアーはなかったんだ。当時携帯のカメラがあれば便利だったんだけどね。カメラを持っていても、あまりバンドを撮らなかったね。オフには田舎の公園や動物園なんかに行って写真を撮ってたよ。あまり人物は撮らなかった。本当によく通ったよ。僕のベストは、ニューメキシコかアリゾナあたりの砂漠で過ごした時の古いスライドだね。「Liberty」のビデオは、僕があちこちで撮った写真をモンタージュしたものなので、少しは見返したけど。「Slipping Down A Stream」でもやったよ。



CC: そうだね。そういうことをやらなくちゃね。




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