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SAS: Although I look back on these touring years with a kind of sadness, there were always special times on stage together, always. Music asks for a certain suspension of reality and playing a concert is the most tangible way to achieve this. But the reality was that we were all changing and had different needs, half of us had families to take care of – It becomes harder to live off dreams. The making of Simple pleasure had been brutal at times and damaging to us as a group. The new management set up was not working out and we had come to end of our deal with This way up / Polygram / Island / Universal, (whoever they were) with not much idea of what the next step would be or, indeed, if anyone would want to work with us.

As we were released from our contract we began work on the score for Trouble every day for Claire. New songs that would become the basis for Can our love.. bubbled away in the new studio in the background. We were approached to make the title music for a new BBC drama ‘The Sins’ – Perhaps we didn’t need a record company?

DB: An old work colleague of mine watched play us at the Glastonbury festival. A big music fan, musician. He also dabbled in writing about it. He found me somewhere afterwards. He couldn’t believe what he’d just seen. The last thing he’d expected that day, stood in a field, was to hear If you’re looking for a way out. Especially played by us. He’d watched us grow from that old trying to succeed band to melody maker favourites, never quite able to swallow it. Now it made complete sense to him.
Not that we ever needed it, but that one voice made up for all the voices that thought we’d gone mad. This became a bit of a trend. It was great to find real friends and lose those that just wanted to suck you dry.

We played the album, start to end, at Brixton mass. A moment of real triumph. I walked up Coldharbour Lane after the soundcheck. To the flat myself and Stuart shared when we first came to London. Almost a decade ago. How much we’d done since walking, wide eyed, along these streets. I could feel that wonder again!

We drove up a mountain to Ronda after a show in Malaga. The bus couldn’t make it all the way. We’d just played six shows in a row. We were tired. And relationships weren’t the best. Arriving late into the night. It was a studio owned by a friend of Stuart’s. We had a day off, thought we’d spend it on some new songs.
It was a great idea. Overshadowed by the mood. Sweet release grew on this day. And gives it a special memory for me. A beautiful song, in a beautiful place over looking the mountain drop.

Our crew were no longer made up of friends we’d picked up along the way. No matter what credentials these new people had. I don’t think we trusted them. It put a lot more focus on our own relationships with each other. We tried to laugh about it. It’s very frustrating to spend such an important part of your life with people you know don’t care. People you don’t even know if you like. An important lesson for us.

Simple Pleasure

Released 6th September 1999

Recorded at RAK studios, London, with Bryan Zee, 9th-14th October 1998, except for ‘From the Inside’, recorded at RAK with Ian Caple, 25th January 1999.

Mixed at The Dairy, London, with Ian Caple.

Produced by Stuart A. Staples.

Mastered by Tim Young at Metropolis, London.


Al Macaulay – Drums
Mark Colwill – Bass
Neil Fraser – Nylon string acoustic guitar, electric guitar
David Boulter – Piano, Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond organ & maracas
Dickon Hinchliffe – Electric violin, Hammond organ, Fender Rhodes piano, vocals
Stuart A. Staples – Vocal & tambourine

String section:
Violins – Lucy Wilkins, Harvey Brown, Calina de la Mere, Ruth Gottlieb, Charles Nancarrow, Eduoard Wood
Cello – Oliver Kraus & Sarah Wilson.

Horn section:
Trumpet – Steve Sidwell, Trombone – Neil Sidwell, Baritone Sax – Dave Bishop, Tenor Sax – James Talbot, Phil Todd.

Vocal background:
Jenni Evans & Gina Foster

String & horn arrangements:
Dickon Hinchliffe

Sleeve notes:

We took so many Polaroids back then. I had taken this special one of Suzanne’s bump when she was carrying Stanley – She looked so magnificent! The rest of the sleeve design refers to Ann Peebles’ ‘I can’t stand the rain’. I always felt it such a pure and innocent image, I was surprised to find myself called into the Universal legal department to discuss the possibility of hiding / removing the nipple as it was deemed to cause possible offence.

Track listing:

1. Can we start again?, If you’re looking for a way out, Pretty words, From the inside

2. If she’s torn, Before you close your eyes, (You take) this heart of mine, I know that loving, CF GF

Released by Simply Vinyl as a standard single album (SVLP 112) & CD released on Island Records (CID 8085)

Recording notes:

RAK Studios built by legendary Mickey Most was the place for Simple pleasure. I was finally going to officially produce and Bryan Zee from L.A. was going to engineer. The studio in my garage had been completed and we were making demos, rehearsing in there. We had a test run in RAK and made a few demos. These demos were caught between the new and old. Pretty words sounded like a ‘curtains’ out take , it needed taking apart and putting back together. I wanted nothing that had any relationship to this previous approach and I wanted the album played ‘live’ in the studio. I suppose I thought this approach would put the emphasis back on the 6 of us equally. In reality it just pissed us all off equally. The album needed to be vibey and loose feeling, we were 6 guys trying desperately to be loose – at times this could be painful. We sweated for those takes – Before you close your eyes – Take 25, Can we start again? – Take 24, etc. With distance, it has its own thing going on that I have grown to love. Simple pleasure was such an overhaul in every way it gave us a future that definitely didn’t exist at the end of making and touring ‘curtains’. These decisions, this moment has fed into our future. Sometimes you need to be brave and leave the things you love behind.

Even our gear – Mark’s beloved Burns Bison guitar, Al’s Coliseum snare, Neil’s Fender twin – they all were consigned to history. We wrote songs, made sounds, recorded them all in a different way and there wasn’t any going back.

On the other hand, we met Gina Foster whose beautiful voice has graced our music ever since and Dickon made his first great brass arrangements.

For the first time I gave time and importance to my singing, I worked hard at it. I remember the frustration, the feeling of hitting a glass ceiling – I could see where I needed to get to I just wasn’t ready…

Can we start again?

Released 1999

Track listing:

A. Can We Start Again?
B. One Way Street
C. A Little Time (CD1 only)
C. Desperate Man (Live Version From “Curtains” Sessions) (CD2 only)

Released by Island Records on 7” single (IS 756) & two CD singles (CD1: CID 756 & CD 2: CIDX756)

Can we start again?

SAS: An idea of a voyeurs cinema where men go to watch women do normal, everyday things. That was the start of it…

Chiswick Café by Steve Gullick

Live concerts and sessions

Le Rock Dans Tous Ses États Festival
Evreux, France

Glastonbury Festival
Glastonbury, United Kingdom

Maubeuge, France

Montreux Jazz Festival
Montreux, Switzerland

Brixton Mass
London, United Kingdom

La Route Du Rock Festival
St. Malo, France

Köln, Germany

Lowlands Festival
Dronten, Netherlands

The Queen’s Hall
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

BBC Studios
London, United Kingdom
3rd GLR Session

London, United Kingdom

New Morning
Paris, France
Black session

Canal+ Studios
Paris, France

Cirque Royal / Koninklijk Circus
Brussels, Belgium

Crossing Boarder Festival
The Hague, Netherlands

Utrecht, Netherlands

PC 69
Bielefeld, Germany

Große Freiheit
Hamburg, Germany

Stockholm, Sweden

Den Grå Hal
Copenhagen, Denmark

Berlin, Germany

Geneva, Switzerland

Rote Fabrik
Zurich, Switzerland

Zirkus Krone
Munich, Germany

Planet Music
Vienna, Austria

Vox Club
Nonantola/Modena, Italy

Espace Julien
Marseilles, France

Palau De La Musica Catalana
Barcelona, Spain

Teatro Victoria Eugenia
Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain

La Riviera
Madrid, Spain

Teatro Cervantes
Málaga, Spain

Coliseu Dos Recreios
Lisbon, Portugal

Coliseu do Porto
Porto, Portugal

Le Krakatoa
Bordeaux, France

Palais De La Mutualité
Paris, France

Théâtre de la Madeleine
Troyes, France

Köln, Germany

Du Devenir Festival
Saint-Quentin, France

Hammersmith Palais
London, United Kingdom

Dublin, Ireland

Sfendona Theatre
Athens, Greece

Sfendona Theatre
Athens, Greece

Mylos Club
Thessaloniki, Greece

BBC Studios
London, United Kingdom
GLR Session