Ian Gillan has reunited with his pre-DEEP PURPLE band THE JAVELINS to record the group’s debut album. “Ian Gillan And The Javelins” was released August 31 as a CD digipak, a vinyl LP and a digital download. The 16-track collection features covers of American blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and country tunes, including renditions of rock classics like THE CONTOURS‘ “Do You Love Me”, Roy Orbison‘s “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)” , Chuck Berry‘s “Memphis, Tennessee” and “Rock And Roll Music”, Jerry Lee Lewis‘s “High School Confidential”, Buddy Holly‘s “It’s So Easy”, Howlin’ Wolf‘s “Smokestack Lightnin'” and Ray Charles‘s “What I’d Say”.
In the video below, Ian Gillan and THE JAVELINS share some stories from the 1960s.
Every DEEP PURPLE true lover knows how much their magic and powerful style is the result of many different influences brought in by the single members, all merging into the powerful sound loved by millions of rock fans. Ian Gillan‘s love for American soul and R&B as well as skiffle and early rock and roll has been well documented in many articles and interviews.
Founded in the early 60s, THE JAVELINS were influenced by pop, soul, country, jazz and blues artists from America. They soaked up the music of their heroes, added their own stamp and went from town to town to perform their favourite songs in front of a small but ever growing audience — becoming local heroes themselves.
This was the time when Ian Gillan discovered himself, broke the chains and “found his voice.”
THE JAVELINS paved the way for the Ian Gillan who, only a few years later, wrote music history with DEEP PURPLE, becoming one of the most iconic frontmen of all time and, together with very few others, shaped rock music the way we know it today.
“These contemporary recordings (2018) by THE JAVELINS are drawn from our set lists, circa 1963, when I was 18 years old. Now, a few years later, I have the privilege and joy of working with my old mates from the original group; Gordon Fairminer (lead guitar); Tony Tacon (rhythm guitar); Tony Whitfield (bass guitar); Keith Roach (drums), as we make a long-overdue LP.”
Ian Gillan has defined this new studio album as “a collection of catchy rhythms and feel-good melodies”. This understating definition shows Gillan‘s ability to still look at those songs and his whole career with the same eyes of the 18-year-old boy who sang them many years ago.
But there is a lot more to this recordings…
By paying tribute to music legends such as Chuck Berry, THE DRIFTERS, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley, IAN GILLAN & THE JAVELINS have not only managed to do that.
Avoiding the use of any modern technology, the band has managed to find the spontaneity and true sense of freedom of pop and rock and roll music of 50 years ago, probably without completely realizing it themselves.
One world superstar and four friends who have taken very different directions in life (none decided to “turn pro” as they would say it) but still able to capture the essence of what being a performing band is about.
This album is what happened during four days of recordings in a studio in Hamburg, Germany, where instruments, microphones, lyrics sheets and memories were the only tools allowed.
This album is not an act of nostalgia, or a celebration of the purity of the old days versus modernity. This is simply what the Javelins were in 1963… and this is what they are now, if they happen to meet in the studio, embracing their guitars and look at each other with a big smile on their face.
This is where it all started.
“Ian Gillan & The Javelins” has been recorded at the Chameleon Studios during a five-day recording session in Hamburg, March 2018, Germany. It features Don Airey (DEEP PURPLE) as special guest on piano.
Gillan told Kaaos TV about THE JAVELINS: “The guys in the band, most of them tickled along at the occasional gig and they practiced, but most of them haven’t really played in any progressive way for 50 years or more — 55, 56 years now.
“I prepared all the material with Steve Morris, my old partner from Liverpool — not Steve Morse; Steve Morris. And we sent the tapes, 16 songs, to each of the guys, and said, ‘Okay, practice like crazy for six weeks.’ And so we all met in the studio in Hamburg and we recorded 10 songs on the first day. And the whole 16 were recorded in two days, and then the solos and extra bits and pieces, a few mistakes, were repaired on a Wednesday, and then we did a video, and that was it. It was unbelievable.”
He continued: “I was listening to the rough mixes, before we put on the vocal backings, the girls, and the brass section, because a lot of those old songs, like THE COASTERS and Ray Charles, had brass sections on them, so we’re doing it authentically, augmenting the band. But, you know, because they hadn’t played professionally for 50 years, they didn’t evolve at all — they kept playing in the style which was in 1962, and consequently, when I’m listening to it, I think, ‘My God! This is so authentic. It sounds just exactly as it did in those days.’ It’s not musicians from today trying to do a retro version of those songs, which I’ve heard plenty of, and they’re always high production — there’s no breathing space; no nothing. It sounds, to me, just as I remember it.
“Of course, we’re all in our 70s, and we’re like a bunch of school boys in the studio,” he added. “We had a reunion a couple of years ago — at Christmas, we all went on a boat up the river Thames and had a fantastic night. And it was great — the old banter was still there, the jokes and the sense of humor. And it was wonderful — just truly wonderful. A great experience for these guys who have not been in a studio like that before. We did try another project a few years ago and made another set. So I think there were some nerves and some apprehension prior to the session, but by God, they went through it great. After every day’s work, we sat down, we had a meal and drank some beers together and just talked about things. It was great. It was certainly a fantastic experience.”