Although two of the movements of Inner City music had already been written using my Ibanez 2 second delay pedal, in the early 90′s Digitech released the PDS 8000 digital delay, which could repeat an 8-second loop!
This was long enough to create a whole phrase of music to play over the top of. I bought one straight away, and instantly took to it; all of the remaining tracks on Purple Electric Violin Concerto were written and recorded using this delay pedal, by improvising them on the street and developing the tracks which caused the most people to stop and listen.
My old friends Martin Cradick and Su Hart (who are now members of WorldMusic band ‘Baka Beyond’ ) had a studio near Banbury, and it was there that I recorded Purple Electric Violin Concerto in a single afternoon on 1st April 1992, recording each track completely live on to a DAT walkman, with no overdubs or re-mixing.
In an age when the recording of an album could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, I managed to record PEVC for a total cost of £4.99, which was the price of the digital tape I recorded it on!
I got 500 cassette copies made, folding all the covers by hand, and took them to the Edinburgh fringe festival, where I busked for several days and managed to sell the lot ! This earned enough to get a CD of the album pressed, and it was finally released on Equation Records, with a distribution deal with Backs Records and Shellshock to get it into the record shops.
My manager arranged a busking tour of UK record shops to promote the album. Initial sales were promising, but it really took off when Alan Freeman heard the first track, Oxford Suite Part 1, and played it on Radio 1!
He gave it a lot of airplay on his show, and it was then played by Bob Harris and Johnny Walker on Radio 2, resulting in a top 100 UK chart position.
A full-page feature in Q magazine and a cover CD on Future Music were followed by a live appearance on ‘Later with Jools Holland’ – I was flown from the south of France, where I was on tour with New Model Army, and driven straight from the airport to the BBC studios to appear alongside Bryan Ferry and Suede!
(Bryan Ferry told me he quite envied my recording method, as it was all done in one take, ready to release, whereas his latest album had been recorded on 72 tracks, which had taken an eternity to mix!)
I did the show, then flew back to France the next day to rejoin the band on tour!
I then supported metal band ‘Paradise Lost’ on their European tour, opening their shows with ‘Purple Electric Violin Concerto’ in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Poland and Germany, and selling CDs at the concerts.
Back in the UK, I did another television appearance on the Mal Pope show, which also featured Christy Moore and Ralph McTell.
This was followed by a Radio 2 session with Johnny Walker, performing live from Keith Floyd’s pub! Other guests included Strangler’s frontman Hugh Cornwell and The Troggs.
The following year, China Records re-packaged the album under license from Equation, and released a CD single version of Oxford Suite part 1. The original album cover photos, layout and design work were done by another good friend, graphic designer Richard Wise, on his IBM computer.