The details of the previously announced 40th Anniversary Celebration Gig, marking Plankton Records 40th anniversary as a record label, have now been finalised.
“It’s going to be a great evening”, confirmed Plankton partner Keith Dixon ” We’ve got four great artists lined up who all play different styles and genres of music – so there will be something for everyone!
The evening will kick-off with acoustic singer-songwriter MATT JR HURLEY, who released the EP ‘Raising Questions’ with us in 2016. He’ll be followed by FRESH CLAIM who are fronted by Plankton’s founding partner Rev Simon Law. They will be playing their usual blues influenced rock and also Simon’s brand new song that he’s recorded for our new compilation album – more of that another time. Next we have Martin Trotman and Steve Bassett from NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE. They will be sharing some songs from the brilliant 2017 album ‘Nine Beats to the Bar’ with the backing of another band and I’ll be interviewing them both too. And to close off the evening we the fantastic ECHO who will be bringing us their joyous motown and classic soul covers with a twist of faith! So we’ll end the night on our feet!
We’ve got at least 2 new products released on that day too so it’s going to be a real night to remember – and all for only £5. Just get yourself there – no excuses”
The partners have also released a 3 min video promoting the concert. You can watch it here (CLICK HERE)
As the team at NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE continue to spread the word across the globe about the whole project, they’ve just released a brand new remix of one of the most popular tracks from the ‘Nine Beats to the Bar’ album that is initially targeting France and mainland Europe via our ‘man on the ground’ in France – buts it’s available for everyone to enjoy!
“Wild World” written by and featuring Barry Taylor, has now been given a ‘Bean Euro Remix’ (named after the song producer and remixed – the v talented Tony Bean). The video was directed by the man behind the whole Nine Beats Collective project, Mr Steve Bassett who said “I came up with a concept for the whole video and had fun great fun directing”
Things are also happening in the USA and we’ll be posting news of that and also some possible UK Nine Beats Collective live dates in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, you can enjoy the video on YouTube (CLICK HERE) or via the video page on this site (CLICK HERE)
Please also check out the brand new Nine beats Collective website – it’s a corker! (CLICK HERE)
The next Plankton Records release will be a 4 song EP called “Family Celebrations”. The artist is listed as BERGDAHL & FIELDING and this is because it is a recording made by the Bergdahl family headed up by Mr Cliff Bergdahl.
Cliff has a long long association with Plankton Records having released EPs and an album with Really Free Band (the band he led for a long time) and an album with his wife, Char, on the label. Before Plankton even started, founding partner Simon Law played in a band with Cliff touring around the UK – as we said, a long long association.
This EP was recorded at ICC studios with producer Neil Costello and was probably one of the last things recorded there before the famous studio closed!
The players include Cliff and Char, their children and some of their grand children too and it will be released on CD and Worldwide digital on FRIDAY 24th AUGUST which is also Cliff and Char’s Golden wedding Anniversary!!!
After months in discussion and following loads of emails, texts, phone calls and conversations we are at last pleased to announce the PLANKTON RECORDS 40th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION GIG.
Plankton’s Keith Dixon explained: “It’s taken us a while to get to this stage but we are pleased to announce the date of SATURDAY NOVEMBER 30th 2018 for our celebration gig.”
“It’s going to be in East London and the venue is 90% confirmed so we’ll be able to share that soon. The evening is going to be a fantastic mix of live music, interviews and video as we look back over the past 40 years. We’ve got some brilliant live music from ECHO, NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE, FRESH CLAIM and MATT JR HURLEY. Founding partner, and Fresh Claim member, Simon Law and myself are talking regularly and planning the evening now everyone’s committed. These artists bring such a wide variety of musical styles and genres to the event – which is great and what we as a label are all about.”
“We are hoping to be posting regular updates, features etc soon across our website and social media so ‘watch this space’ as they say!”
“There’s also something else in planning regarding the 40th anniversary celebrations which is very much in Simon’s hands with regards to the next stage at this moment in time. We are aware that the year is marching on so we need to be moving too! It’s worth it though because after all, you are only 40 once!”
As Keith said, keep a look out for more news and updates!
Sunday May 6th 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of Plankton Records releasing it first ever release – the album “Mirrored Dreams” by SEA STONE. We asked Plankton founder (and he is of course still a partner in the label) and the (then) band leader of Sea Stone SIMON LAW about the events of 40 years ago.
“Plankton Records was formed to plug a gap in the record market,” reflected Simon. “SEA STONE, a Christian rock band based in East London, was formed towards the end of 1975 after I had played in the British Youth for Christ sponsored band “Really Free”. The band gigged extensively during 1976 in schools, colleges, youth clubs, church halls and pubs – always with the view to communicating the Gospel of Jesus through blues/rock. we were constantly being asked about making a record by the audiences – as they wanted something to take away with them. So, during the summer of 1977 we recorded the album in the newly opened Soundtree Studio under the watchful eye of Brook Trickett. The band had already established its own publishing firm – Sea Dream Music – so that the copyright of the original songs could be vested in the band, and not left ‘up for grabs’ by unscrupulous areas of the music industry. Then, I took on the task of hawking the material around to the record labels. But, it was regarded as too Christian for the regular companies, and too secular for the Christian labels – who at that time were mainly putting out folk music and worship songs (with one or two notable exceptions!).
So, the band decided to go it alone. The mechanics of the business had already been established through setting up Sea Dream Music, so all that was needed was a name for the label. During the recording sessions in Biggin Hill myself and the rest of SEA STONE were helping out at a Christian Youth Camp/House Party in Limpsfield. A lad called Phil in my dormitory was involved in a discussion about putting out an album, and the fact that the band’s name and publisher had connections with the sea, when he said, “I suppose you’re going to call the record label ‘Plankton’!” And that is exactly what happened – thanks, Phil!
And so it was that Plankton’s first album – ‘Mirrored Dreams’ by SEA STONE was released on the 6th May 1978, at a SEA STONE gig at All Souls’ Clubhouse in the West End. Remarkably, sales of the album made a profit and so it was decided to plough the money back into the record label. This financed a SEA STONE 7″ single: “Summer Fever/Blow On By” in 1980 and a SEA STONE 7″ EP “Against The Tide” in 1982. Still in profit, the label decided to look around for other Christian bands and artists, who had something positive to communicate (rather than just ‘Ooh Baby, I love you, yeah’), and try to help them to get some material out to the public. Original vinyl copies of ‘Mirrored Dreams’ have become sought after by vinyl collectors and we’ve know mint condition copies sell for up to £140 in the past!
And here we are forty years on we’re still in business – having put out albums, singles and EPS on vinyl, cassette, CD, digital and back to vinyl again with NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE last year.
Plans for the future? We’ve always said that when we get really big we are going to change the name to ‘Whale Records’ – because the biggest whales only live on plankton!”
Thanks to Simon for sharing his memories. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to us and you can find ‘Mirrored Dreams’ by SEA STONE on all major digital music sites/platforms WORLDWIDE. Check it out for yourself. Here are the links to the album on the UK sites of iTunes (click here) and Amazon (click here)
Howard Reid: 20th August 1957 – 29th December 2017
I met Howard at Limpsfield in Surrey (a Christian house party run by Church Youth Fellowship Association) in 1978 – nearly 40 years ago. But it transpired that we lived in the same London borough – he in Leyton and I in Walthamstow. We kept in touch – did a few things together.
In 1980, my band SEA STONE recorded an anti-racism single called ‘Summer Fever’. I asked Howard if he would do a photo shoot with me for the front cover – this was a couple of years before Ebony and Ivory! Howard agreed, and Eric Lives took some shots of us beside a pond in Forest Gate, East London, trying to pretend we were on the beach! The single was released in 1980 by Plankton Records
Howard coped with my rock ‘n’ roll – but had his own musical tastes and, like me, wanted to communicate Jesus through the music. Thus it was that he brought a band called CLARITY to the St. Mark’s Youth Club in Forest Gate and compèred the evening. A fantastic night which was great for the young people – at the time the club was about 70% black – and Jesus was proclaimed and lives were changed.
I learned a lot from Howard – working on some seminars with him at Limpsfield. He introduced me to Martin Luther King’s speeches – especially the one he preached on 3rd April 1968, the night before he was shot in Memphis. He had a passion for the Gospel and wanted people to come to faith – regardless of their background, colour or social status.
I hadn’t seen Howard for a few years but ran into him recently. I shall miss him but know that I will see him again. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
I finish with Martin Luther King’s last speech – which Howard taught me.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. Martin Luther King. 3rd April 1968. Memphis
Rev. Simon Law – Rector of Pitsea with Nevendon/Partner in Plankton Records
Tribute to Howard Reid at his Funeral on Monday 22nd January 2018
Post Script. Bumped into Gary at the funeral – one of Sea Stone’s original fans. He and his friend Kafil (Gunga) Din used to come to gigs and demand that we played “Smoke on the Water”. We always explained that as Deep Purple didn’t play our songs, we didn’t play theirs. Anyway, Gary started attending “The Cornerstone Church” a few years ago and was welcomed by Howard. He knew he had seen Howard before somewhere and, when he found his SEA STONE single in the attic – he realized where!
May 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the first ever Plankton Records release so with such a long history we are always recognising some milestone or anniversary with regards to an artist or a particular release. This year has been no exception and Plankton Records partner Keith Dixon sat down with his old friend and Plankton artist STUART ELWIN to discuss his album LIVING IN THE DARK which was released 20 years ago in 1997. As you read this interview and then listen to the album, available on all major digital music download and streaming sites Worldwide, you’ll realise what a remarkable album it is, and what a remarkable artist and writer Stuart is too!
Hey Stuart, for those people who don’t know you, you are registered blind – a very important element of LIVING IN THE DARK which we’ll come onto soon – but can you tell us your story of growing up, because I remember you riding a bike around the streets etc
(Pic left – Stuart on his Grifter bike)
My red Rayleigh Grifter! (laughs) When I was a toddler I remember I couldn’t see things when the light went below a certain level – known as night blindness – but when I was 5 my parents realised something more was wrong and I eventually ended up at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London having tests. It was then that we officially found out I had a degenerative eye condition. Over the years I had to wear glasses because of my increasing short sightedness and I developed tunnel vision which increased as time went on. I couldn’t play sports because I couldn’t see the ball etc.
Please excuse the directness of this question, but when did you realise that your eyesight had really seriously deteriorated?
In 1989, when I was 23. I was riding my bike and I know it sounds strange but I suddenly realised that I couldn’t actually see, meaning focus on, anything. I clearly remember that exact time. Then, eventually in 1991 I was officially registered blind.
And as this was all happening, you were also playing music?
Yes I was. When I was 16 I started to play bass guitar at Church. I was given very very basic tuition (this is C etc) and then just learnt most of what I know from playing along with my records. Then I progressed onto keyboards and a bit of guitar and then played in a few local Christian bands including Playing for Keeps and Asylum. I played the Fringe at Greenbelt in 1995 with Asylum and we had a track on the Greenbelt Fringe ’95 CD that you organised and Plankton released.
Yes that’s right! That Greenbelt Fringe ’95 CD was a great album. 20 artists who all performed on the Fringe that year all contributed a track to it. This was when having your music available on a CD was quite something for independent or grassroots artists as CDs were quite new and expensive to manufacture.
Well there was certainly no way that my band could have afforded to release a CD then so thanks mate!
Anyway, you also did some solo recordings at your home studio which brings us onto LIVING IN THE DARK. How did that album come about?
My first solo release was the ‘Discerning Reality’ album and then in mid 1996 I wrote the song ‘Living in the Dark’ which was a song about the consequences of someone living with blindness and this proved to be the inspiration for the album
(Pic right – Stuart with his current guide dog SAUL)
There are 3 songs on the album that deal with / themed around being blind
Yes, there’s ‘Living in the Dark’ which also acknowledges the help I was experiencing from God, from my wonderful wife Sylvia and my first guide dog Norma. Then there’s ‘Picture This’ and finally ‘Silhouettes and Shadows’ which closes the album and is me ironically commenting on my everyday life with a sense of humour.
You also had some braille stuck on the back of the cassette cover too didn’t you. What did that say?
Yes I did. It said ‘Elwin’. I’d got to know a guy called Mark Lister who had a machine that could print out braille onto an adhesive plastic strip and it seemed like a good thing to do given the title and theme of the album. It was a good talking point!
50% of all money you received from sales went towards supporting the work of The British Retinitis Pigments Society (BRPS) didn’t it?
I’m an RP sufferer and was a member of the RP Society and given the main theme of the album it made sense. The symptoms of RP can become apparent at any age but most commonly occur in young adults. It is now acknowledged as being one of the most common forms of irreversible blindness. Research work into RP is being carried out throughout the World.
In saying all of this, there are also lots of other things explored in the other songs on the album too
Well, being registered blind is only part of my life and who I am! I write songs about people, situations and circumstances I encounter, experience and observe and also about things that I love and enjoy
(Pic left – Stuart with his wonderful wife Sylvia)
So that explains the song ‘Heart’ which also has (for Syl) after the title and several tracks that appear to have a sci-fi theme
Absolutely! At that point in time, Sylvia had been at my side through thick and thin – we got married in 1986 before I was registered blind – and she still is right at my side today. She has been my rock through everything. And I do love Sci-fi too. There are some samples from a famous film on one of the instrumental tracks but let’s not say anymore about that!
All of the songs on the album are originals, written by you. How did you actually write the songs?
Well I couldn’t sit down with a piece of paper! I’d usually go for a walk with my guide dog, coming up with and working on words and melodies in my head as we walked along and then I’d just have to remember them until I had chance to record them. I could then compose, arrange and record around this to build up the song. This was not always easy as sometimes the time between me coming up with the idea and then being able to record something was quite a long time
Your studio is in your home. How does this work and how did you work and record if you couldn’t see what you were doing. Is it specially adapted equipment?
No it’s not adapted or specialised in any way. I put the studio together myself in our spare bedroom. It wasn’t anything too grand – I couldn’t afford that! – but I put it together in a way that I could use it. I had to remember the layout of everything and would feel around and slowly work things out if I needed to re-wire or adjust anything. With regards to recording levels and mixing songs etc all I can say is there was a lot of trail and error! It was setting and checking all the levels by ear as I couldn’t read any equipment displays or meters. I had a few keyboards, a sound modulator and sequencer, drum machine, electric guitar and various pedals and outboard gear. I actually played all of the album’s bass parts on a keyboard. I recorded the final mixed tracks onto DAT tape and then I moved onto mini-disc.
So, who were your musical influences
Well, lyrically it was people like Todd Rundgren and David Bowie – who both you and I love. They were also musical influences too. Then musically there was Gary Numan who’s synthesizer/electronic influence is obvious and also Jean Michel Jarre , Early Roxy Music and solo Brian Eno and also Utopia (a band that Todd Rundgren was a member of) who used to have guitar and synths alternating between each other during solos – I loved that. Utopia were also an influence with regards to mixing vocals. I also liked heavier rock music and the likes of Alice Cooper. Some people might not realise that Alice Cooper is a Christian. One thing he said which I always remember is something like “I’m not a Christian artist, I’m a rock singer who happens to be a Christian” and that’s the approach I’ve always taken with my writing and recording. My faith was a big and important factor with regards to this album but there were other aspects in both my life, the lives of others around me and the world as a whole that I wanted to write about and incorporate in my music
(Pic right – Stuart enjoying some vinyl)
So, that album was 20 years ago. Have you recorded anything since?
Yes I have. I’ve got some tracks ‘in the vaults’ so to speak. Unfortunately, we had to dismantle my studio to make room for other things at home so its been out of action for some time but we are trying to reinstate it in some way at the moment so I can do some more work at some point. You never know what the future might bring.
Indeed not Stu. Thanks for your time. Always great to talk to you and listen, if there’s some kind of release to mark Plankton’s 40th anniversary we might want to discuss including one of those unreleased tracks?
Always a pleasure. I’m sure we can come to some sort of arrangement with regards to using one of my unreleased masterpieces (laughs)
Big thanks to Stu for the conversation. Stuart Elwin’s album LIVING IN THE DARK is available on all major digital music download and streaming sites Worldwide. To link to the album on UK iTunes (CLICK HERE)