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Remember Howard Reid

Remembering Howard Reid

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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!

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Stuart Elwin – Living in the Dark 20 years on

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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!

Stu on grifterHey 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)Stu & 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

Stu & Syl

(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) Stu & LP

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)

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Nine Beats Collective a music highlight of Greenbelt 2017

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We recently received a copy of the 2017 Greenbelt Festival supplement that appeared in a recent copy of Church Times. We are very pleased to say that  NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE featured in their Music Highlights section.
“The Nine Beats Collective brought a multi-textured soundscape of the Beatitudes – with attitude. They mixed American style gospel singing and rap with a confident strut and a big dose of soul. Their campaign #blessed seeks to reclaim true blessing from consumerism. Echoing the conviction and passion for justice of the Beatitudes in word and tone, they brought the crowd to their feet clapping and dancing, before turning reflective and soulful”
You can check out the music of Nine Beats Collective on the superb NINE BEATS TO THE BAR album available now on all major digital music sites/platforms Worldwide and on CD and double heavyweight vinyl from this very website (CD – click here) (Double Vinyl – click here)  and the official Nine Beats website www.9beats.org (where you’ll find loads of other official Nine Beats merchandise too)
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ECHO release second video from new album

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Classic soul, funk, Gospel band ECHO has just released a new video featuring a beautiful version of the classic “People Get Ready” which is featured on their latest album SOUL PROPRIETOR.

This new video is the second video issued featuring a track from their latest album. Around when the album was released, ECHO released a video for the groove packed “Ain’t Nobody”.

Both videos are available on YouTube or you can watch them on the video page of this website (click here).

The SOUL PROPRIETOR album is available on CD from this website (click here) or digitally from every major music download and streaming platform Worldwide

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ECHO on Premier Radio breakfast show

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Plankton soul/gospel band ECHO are appearing live on London’s Premier Radio Inspirational Breakfast Show on Friday 20th October. The band will be interviewed and they will be doing some live song performances in the studio too.

“You (Plankton) sent a copy of our new SOUL PROPRIETOR album to John & Rosie who present Premier’s breakfast show” explained Echo’s band leader (and bass player) Greg Nash, “as we’ve appeared on the show a few times before and they seem to really like us – we like them too. Anyway, they contacted us and asked us if we’d like to go on again to talk about the new album and of course we aren’t going to say no!”

When asked about the band’s recent social media postings which stated ‘expect some surprises’ we asked Greg what this meant – his response “You’ll have to listen to find out!”

If you are in the Greater London area please tune in your radios. Here’s a link to the programmes website page where others might be able to listen too.


The SOUL PROPRIETOR album is available on CD from this website (CLICK HERE) and from all major music download and streaming sites Worldwide (Exclusive free dig-book with full album download from iTunes)

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Nine Beats Collective UK mini tour

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Following on from a packed weekend at the Greenbelt arts festival which consisted of 7 sessions focussing on the Beatitudes, a jaw dropping full band live showcase Saturday evening gig, several Collective members taking part in seminars and discussion groups, appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday morning worship programme and a solo Rev Vince Anderson gig where he lived up to his description of ‘a force of nature’ – some of the Nine Beats Collective are embarking on a mini UK tour.

“Greenbelt surpassed all of our expectations” shares Plankton’s Keith Dixon, “the response and interest from people to everything we did was just phenomenal! Our goal was to raise awareness and the profile of everything that Nine Beats Collective is about, not just the album (which is obviously Plankton’s main involvement) but also the newly published book and the upcoming ‘nine fold path’ resources and the potential impact on how we live our lives and interact with our communities, and I think we totally achieved that”

Following on from Greenbelt, HEATHERLYN and MARK SCANDRETTE are staying on in the UK to do a mini tour. Dates are (so far) confirmed at London, Brighton, Gwithian (Cornwall), Luton, Hitching, Thrapston and Birmingham – with another possible date in Manchester to be confirmed. REV VINCE ANDERSON is also doing a solo gig in Brighton before returning to the USA.

Check our events page for full details.

Official Nine Beats Collective website (CLICK HERE)

For more info on the Nine Beats NINEFOLD PATH (CLICK HERE)

Heatherlyn official website (CLICK HERE)

You can also follow Nine Beats Collective, Heatherlyn and Mark Scandrette on Facebook, Twitter , Instagram and YouTube

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Plankton artists play August festivals

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As we hit sunny (yeah right!) August three Plankton artists are preparing for appearances at UK music/arts festivals. First festival of the month is the annual KINGSSTOCK Festival were both MATT JR HURLEY and ECHO perform on Saturday August 12th.

“It’s great news for both artists” reports Plankton’s Keith Dixon, “Matt has been wanting to play there for a couple of years now and he was one of the last artists book this year – so he’s very pleased. Then for ECHO this is the very first gig they will be playing with stock of (very) ‘hot off the press’ copies of their brand new CD “Soul Proprietor” available. The other great news for Echo is that they were invited back at the insistence of some of the festival organisers – always a good sign!”

Then on August bank holiday weekend MATT JR HURLEY plays RIVERCAMP FESTIVAL in Evesham. His hour long performance is the closing set of the event on August 27th at 10.00pm.

That same August bank holiday weekend, a number of the NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE artists come together from Britain, the USA and Denmark for a whole weekend of performances across the GREENBELT FESTIVAL at Boughton Castle.

Nine Beats spokesman STEVE BASSETT reports “We’ve got HEATHERLYN, REV VICE ANDERSON, ERIC LEROY WILSON, MARK SCANDRETTE and ROZELLA HAYDEE WHITE coming over from the USA and MIKAEL R ANDREASEN from Denmark. UK musician, singer, writer (and Nine Beats Collective member) MARTIN TROTTMAN has pulled together a great band and will be our MD for the weekend. We are all doing at least two performances/seminars/activities each day and our big showcase event on the Saturday evening. It’s going to be great. We’ll have loads of Nine Beats merchandise and resources with us along with the CD and the gorgeous double heavyweight vinyl edition of the album.Our aim is to get every festival goer leaving the site living their lives nine beats to the bar!”

For more details on the above check our events page on this website or go to the website of each festival:

KINGSSTOCK website (CLICK HERE) – for Facebook page (CLICK HERE) & Twitter (CLICK HERE)

RIVERCAMP website (CLICK HERE) – for Facebook page (CLICK HERE) & Twitter (CLICK HERE)

GREENBELT website (CLICK HERE) – for Facebook page (CLICK HERE) & Twitter (CLICK HERE)

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Latest Echo news – New album recording completed

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This is taken directly from Echo’s latest emailed newsletter:

Echo have completed recording their latest album, ‘Soul Proprietor’. The full length album includes 14 more of their regular, well known (and some less well known gems) soul and Motown tracks which have been given the ECHO Eternal Edge treatment.

It’s been a labour of love since last October for the 9 piece band who have employed the genius of producer/musician/ arranger Richard Cottle to realise their own arrangements to the songs and use his expertise on the keys. Richard‘s vast experience comes from working with the best; from Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie in the 70’s, to Seal and Wham in the 80’s/90’s to arrangements for the likes of the RPO and he is MD for many tv shows, most recently including ‘The Voice’.

ECHO have also been assisted by the supremely talented Andrew Linham who scored the brass arrangements and members of the Andrew Linham Big Band performed the parts for the album.

The ECHO Sisters have been adding their harmonies to the songs along with Marie’s dynamic lead vocals over their usual rhythm section of James on guitar, Greg on bass and the superb feel of Barney’s drumming. The drums have been recorded at Ralph Salmson’s famous studio, The Bunker, with Barney playing Ralph’s vintage Gretsch studio kit.

The original pressing of Echo’s first album, ‘Bought Not Souled’ has now sold out and the CD is now on its second pressing and the band are expecting copes of their latest album to move even faster when released towards the end of July!

Amidst the busy work preparing and recording in the studio the band have been maintaining their regular gigging schedule including concerts, outreach events and gigs in secular venues.

You can contact ECHO on info@echomusic.co.uk

Keep up with ECHO by ‘Liking’ their Facebook page – CLICK HERE

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Nine Beats album released & Greenbelt confirmed

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“At long last” reports Plankton Records’ Keith Dixon, “we can say that the wonderful NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE ‘Nine Beats to the Bar’ album is released and available. The digital and CD versions of the album that is. The spectacular double heavyweight vinyl version is still in production and is due to drop in August. Personally, being a passionate vinyl lover, I can wait for that”.

“It’s been a long but ultimately rewarding effort by the whole Nine Beats team. The core team had been working on the album for some time even before we (Plankton) got on board. We are honoured to be associated with a work of such artistic integrity and achievement.”

“The range and styles of the music included on the album is staggering – so much so that we decided to release a single a week (all featuring a different style/genre of music) on all digital formats Worldwide for the last four weeks up until the album release on Friday June 16th. I’m delighted to say that all of the singles have been enthusiastically received and the first wave of critical reviews and features on the whole album have been totally positive – across all sectors of the music press. We even made it into the Daily Mirror!”

The latest exciting news is that NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE are going to be at the UK Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival over the whole August bank holiday weekend with daily performances, showcases and seminars. So far confirmed are Heatherlyn, Rev Vince Anderson, Mikael R Andreasen, Martin Trotman, Eric Leroy Wilson, Mark Scandrette and Rozella Haydee White.

The Official NINE BEATS website www.9beats.org 

The CD version of the album can be ordered from the official Nine Beats website (click on the link above) and from this website (CLICK HERE) and for UK readers from Amazon (CLICK HERE)

The DIGITAL version of the album  is available now on all major download and streaming sites Worldwide

For more information on the Greenbelt Festival (CLICK HERE)

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Four Nine Beat Collective singles announced

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Ahead of the June release of the astounding NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE ‘Nine Beats to the Bar’ album in conjuction with the Nine Beats team we are pleased to announce the release of FOUR singles that will be available on all digital music download and streaming sites Worldwide. From iTunes to Spotify and everywhere in between.

This is such an exciting project for Plankton Records. NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE is a collaboration of world class musicians, artists and songwriters from three continents (Europe, North America and Africa) on the trail of exploring the ancient Bible sayings known as ‘the Beatitudes’. The ‘Nine Beats to the Bar’ album is a concept album of music, spoken word and soundscapes and textures that searches for the essence of these ‘nine beats’ via an eclectic soundscape of R&B, soul, rock/pop, acoustic threads, classical, jazz/funk, African vibes and a hint of Gospel.

To highlight the enormous musical scope and variety of the album we’ve decided to release four very different singles from the album – one a week leading up to the album’s release. Each of the singles will give a different flavour of what’s to come and will also help raise awareness of the album ahead of it’s release.

The first single (released Friday 19th May) is the title track from the album. It features the beautiful haunting atmospheric vocals of Denmark’s MIKAEL R. ANDREASEN. Genre wise it is very hard to describe the single with elements of ambient rock, jazz and reggae (to name but a few!). The song also features the guitar work of the legendary guitar virtuoso CALEB QUAYE, former member of the ELTON JOHN band and HALL & OATES to name but a few.

The second single, “What Can Love Create?” (released Friday 26th May) features the amazing American singer/song-artist HEATHERLYN. This beautiful song, co-written with UK songwriter and NINE BEATS COLLECTIVE linchpin Steve Bassett, showcases her soulful honest voice and it also features a great string arrangement by DEBORAH PRITCHARD – one of the UK’s rising classical stars.

Single number three “Kosi” (released Friday 2nd June) features AMBASSADA, one of the most prominent artists on the African music scene. This song, co-written with TONY BEAN, the MOBO award winning producer of the ‘Nine Beats to the Bar’ album (he also plays multiple instruments on the album too!), has an irresistible gentle African groove and heartfelt vocals that are passionately delivered.

And last but not least comes single number four “#blessed” (released Friday 9th June) features REV VINCE ANDERSON from the USA. This song is a withering take on the Twitter/social media culture and the idea of cheap blessings all underpinned by a pounding groove that Rev Vince likes to call ‘Dirty Gospel’ – a term the Rev uses to describe both his musical style and influences and his theological perspective.

So four very different  NINE BEAT COLLECTIVE singles are on their way. We will be posting news updates as their release dates get nearer and videos are posted etc and of course we’ll be reporting on the album as well which is currently due to be released on CD and digital on June 16th with a stunning double 180gsm heavyweight vinyl version being available in early August, ahead of the NINE BEAT COLLECTIVE daily performances at Greenbelt… but that’s a whole future news article!