'Believe Me, Richard' is the opening cut from John Howard's 2013 album, 'Storeys'. Performed and produced by Howard in his studio at home in Spain.
"This album features some of my 'story-songs', a genre with which I have been associated since I began recording back in the early '70s. I wrote these new songs for 'Storeys' during 2012 and 2013 and began recording the album in February '13. Many of the songs are written from the point of view of the character within the story - as in the case of 'Believe Me, Richard' - others are a third-party view of the characters, like a Rear Window view of one's neighbours. I imagined all these different people living in the same apartment block and we go from each one, door-to-door, window-to-window, witnessing their lives and experiences.
"Believe Me, Richard' began life as a poem I actually first wrote in 1986, but only as scraps of ideas and lines which I put away in a drawer and saved with all my other scraps of lyrics and poems for a time when I may be able to use them in a song. I have box files full of them. When I started work on 'Storeys' I had a ferret through one of the files and found the 'Richard' poem. It wasn't written to anyone in particular at the time - very few of my songs ever are. 'Richard' is an amalgam of many people I've known. I liked the rhythm of the lines and as I read through them I got more lyrical ideas and a piano motif started developing in my head. What came through anew was the chorus, "The Stones were out of their heads while The Beatles they forgot to sing, 'love is all you need to make it better'" which is a cheeky reference to a Stones E.P. from the mid-'60s and a couple of Beatles songs from '67/'68. This gave me the feel of the track, and as the recording developed the '60s vibe came through ever stronger. The backing vocals in the chorus actually sound, spookily, a little like The Fabs circa '63/'64 - to my ears anyway!
"This was the first time I'd used quite heavy percussion on an album, and because I play and sing everything myself and record it acoustically in real time - no samples or loops - the track took a long time to build up and put together. But once I'd got started and 'in the groove' the album came together quite quickly, relatively for me anyway. I began recording in February 2013 and completed the final track in August. Six months for me is quite a short period to do an album. My previous release, 'You Shall Go To The Ball' took over a year to do, but that had a lot of quite complex soundscapes as well as very intricate arrangements of the songs - revisited versions of some of my 1970s songs - which were linked thematically to the accompanying soundscapes.
"Storeys is much more a straightforward pop album, featuring 12 separate songs linked only by the loose concept in the lyrics of the apartment block residents and their individual lives. This made the recording of it much simpler too, as there were no mathematical equations necessary in terms of how to layer and where to place each soundscape and song and how to link them musically as there had been for 'You Shall Go'.
"This album is my first for almost three years of brand new songs, the last one being 'Exhibiting Tendencies' in early 2011."
Storeys is available to download from iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, 7Digital and many other download stores from Monday 25th November 2013. The CD can be purchased by contacting John Howard direct via his website www.kidinabigworld.co.uk and visiting 'John's Shop'.