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Issue 1084

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Feature

Huey Morgan: Morgan Spice

Huey Morgan @bluesandsoul.com
Huey Morgan @bluesandsoul.com Huey Morgan @bluesandsoul.com Huey Morgan @bluesandsoul.com Huey Morgan @bluesandsoul.com

It was a beautiful sunny day and perfect for strolling down the leafy streets of North West London. I was really excited, as I was about to meet one of the most likeable guys on the planet - the 'dude of dudes' and the 'architect of cool' - Mr Huey Morgan. Who can forget his seminal band The Fun Lovin' Criminals. They definitely had 'the fun factor' in the 90's and became incredibly successful. Not bad for a group who started as a stand-in house band, when the main act didn't turn up! The rest is history, as they sayâ€Â¦ But today Huey is concentrating on his new project, Huey & The New Yorkers - more rock than hip-hop, but still peppered with good songs. So with a feeling of both excitement and high expectations I was duly ushered into Huey's 'man cave' where the interview session was about to beginâ€Â¦ Now it was my turn to stick it to the man!

We started by talking about how his life in London and the work he does thereâ€Â¦

"Life is good, VERY good, I have a wonderful family, I'm able to do what I want to do in life; put a band together, cut a record, do radio shows, write books AND of course enjoy this 'man cave' that we are in! I'm not a presenter, I'm a DJ. I play songs on Radio 2 from midnight to 3am. I go on TV and try things out, you gotta try things out right? Just don't put me on weekend morning shows! (laughs) â€Â¦I love doing radio, just by the sheer fact I get to meet great musicians. I would never have met Dennis Coffey from the Funk Brothers, Mick Fleetwood, Mick Jagger, Greg Allman. Yeah, we would meet VIPs when we were opening for U2, but not on this level - It's why I fell in love with music again - I'd become so disillusioned. So when I got given a cool acoustic by my wife it got me so fired up, I wanted to record.

The BBC were great, they lent me mic's, a couple of Neumann 87's. It was then I got the idea of doing some stuff with friends from New York. I got all the stuff up to pre-mix phase here and then got producer Tim Latham in.... I sent stuff to Pete Levin and Frank too, a lot of file swapping went on to get it up to speed. I got a hard-drive and then Fed Ex'd it to Tim, who mixed it with me sometimes on video chat! A unique experience and everybody put their love into this album and it definitely shows!

So touching on the new album......

"If you're gonna do a solo project then it has to be drastically different. My point of view is still the same, I just flipped it stylistically, it's a little bit more politically motivated."

Huey also takes a dig at modern production techniques, especially in the song "It Will Never Be The Same." Where he actually sings "f**k off back to Motown!"

Yeah well, you have all these kids using pitch shift auto-tune, wailing all over the place - man it's killing me! It's killing everybody!! It's like a McDonalds' commercial! I had to say something and say it with profanity, like Richard Prior's jokes. He made you listen to them coz he uses mother f**ker when he rolls and that gets you their initial intention - you getting the point? People don't sing like they use to.

The current state of the record industry isn't looking too good and Huey spoke vociferously about thisâ€Â¦

"Records just ain't selling anymore, even for RiRi! The world's changed, they'll never be the money - people are downloading music for free. We got an eight album deal with EMI, that don't happen anymore, now you're lucky if you get one! We were the last one in as the door was closing, we got lucky!! This new album was done for LOVE not money and that's the key tipping point why we are you doing it. I just wanted to hook-up with my NY friends, even if meant just on the computer screen - I didn't even think anybody would want to know about it and I was surprised when Naim said they wanted to release it! If you like 'London Calling' and 'Physical Graffiti,' you'll dig this." ...I'm lucky Naim are behind this, they have some pretty sick acts too, Phantom Limb and Neil Cowley - they've given me this beautiful stereo system too and I can listen to my Hawaiian radio station! I kiss my wife I kiss my baby everyday, I am blessed to be this lucky!"
So, Huey let's discuss the albumâ€Â¦ The first track "Stick It To The Man" is classic...

"It's Joe (Strummer) man! That's the guy who got me into music, made my pre-pubescent hairs on my balls stand up! The musicians all chipped in too, swapping instruments and pitching ideas in - I had a ball sticking in some lead guitar on this album too, I even did an Eddie Van Halen type solo!"

Props to Chris too, the other guitarist who channeled the best of Eddie Hazell (Funkadelic) - especially on Huey's "White Guard"

"He was off the chain, like 'Maggot Brain,' which incidentally was the song my wife requested as we walked down the aisle to get married! It was beautiful man, it was dope!"

We then got to talk about my fave tune on the album "New York Blues" (which we both had a jam on as his cave is filled with guitars!)

"It is a Bo Diddley groove but everybody else is playing something different. We like to offset the melodies and rhythms and that's what we concentrated on. We're gonna do a video for that one too, with me walking out the water at Coney Island beach playing guitar! It will be fun coz I like to go back regularly and visit friends and family, I got air miles coming out my ass and it's free for the kid - going back to NY is like going home touching base, checking things out and putting my feet back on that pavement.

The lyrics on this album are pretty deep tooâ€Â¦ Huey repliesâ€Â¦

"I figured why not? I tried to make the music the background frame and the lyrics are the picture of what the story actually is. For instance, like in 'Fallen To Me,' you can set it on a hill top in Afghanistan - where this guy's in the middle of the shit and gets a mail call, the most important thing a serviceman can get. It's his wife writing, telling him 'anytime you come back baby I've got you.' That keeps him going through the madness, stuff like that you have to address coz it's happening in the world right now and some of those guys have been in wars TEN YEARS or more! Then next thing they're back home having to adjust to civilian life! "This is grown up music for the grown ups. I listen to a lot of music hip-hop, rock, country, whatever! Just as long as it's gotta 'thing' going on."

Well Huey's got his 'thing' going on and it's going to surprise a lot of people, but the one question I had to ask was, are the Fun Lovin' Criminals in the morgue or just chillin'?

"I'm just taking a break. We got kids, we're doing different things. Besides, the Crims are like the Cosa Nostra, you can only leave when you're deadâ€Â¦!"

Long live Huey & Fun Lovin' Criminals! It's been a hugely enjoyable experience hanging with the man and it's good to see he's got his mojo back, as he saysâ€Â¦

"I feel like a kid at Xmas, my NY friends are coming over and we'll be playing this shit live!"

I can't wait Huey... and you better play "Scooby Snacks" too!

Huey & The New Yorkers' debut album "Say It To My Face" is out on October 29 on Naim Edge Records
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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