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longsands to support OCS legend steve craddock
The Longsands are supporting Steve Craddock on 4th March with a top class acoustic set. Other support includes The Soviets and The Generals. For tickets information click here.

Tickets £12.50 available thursday here: www.o2academynewcastle.co.uk

Million selling songwriter, accomplished musician, sharp dresser and all round top bloke, Steve Cradock is familiar to most as the long-serving guitarist in Paul Weller’s band. What’s less well known is his capacity for writing the sort of heart-melting pop songs most bands would give their eye-teeth for. “I did two months on tour with Paul (Weller) and I’d built up a bank of songs” he explains.

I played them to Andy Crofts (Moons/Weller band) while we were away and he he really encouraged me to get it finished. He ended up helping me out with some of the lyrics too, which was great. He made me feel that I was ready to do another record.” Andy Crofts also wrote 5 tracks for the album.

Rewind. Born in Birmingham and raised on a teenage diet of The Who, the Small and lashings of Jam, Steve’s first band The Boys were a ferocious power-pop outfit when the Mod scene was so underground you could smell the moss on their parkas. Inspired by the The Stone Roses, his next band, Ocean Colour Scene (formed with ex-Fanatics singer Simon Fowler) reflected the new techniclour gestalt. Within a year – with Steve still just twenty- OCS were at the vanguard of a second wave of bands, only for label wrangles to delay the release of their debut album.

Recruited by Paul Weller for his band in 1993 (Weller recalling Cradock from his days in The Boys), the guitarist’s infectious enthusiasm soon kick-started OCS back into life, with second album Moseley Shoals spawning four Top Twenty hits including karaoke perennial ‘The Riverboat Song’.Follow up Marchin’ Already, meanwhile, knocked Oasis’ Be Here Now off the number one spot, the band’s place at Britpop’s top table confirmed with an appearance at Oasis’ Knebworth mega-gig.

Alternating between OCS and a role as The Modfather’s musical consiglieri ever since, Steve only got round to making he solo debut, the splendid Kundalini Target, two years ago.

All of which brings us to Peace City West. Recorded over a fortnight at Deep Litter Studios in Devon with a revolving cast of musicians including drummer Tony Coote, multi-instrumentalist Fred Ansell and actor James Buckley on guitar and vocals, it’s as richly melodic as you’d expect from someone with such an established musical pedigree.

“It’s quite a mellow record” explains Steve.

“Which is probably a reflection of where it’s recorded. It’s a barn on farm at the most southern most point in Devon. It really reminded me of somewhere Ronnie Lane might record. It’s not air conditioned, very rural and it’s full of magical instruments.”

If this bucolic ‘getting it together in the country’ feel can be heard in tender ballad ‘Little Girl’, Peace City West is also a very personal record, notably ‘Only Look Up When You’re Down’.

“That was written for my mum because she hasn’t been well’ the guitarist explains, “but it can be taken in general terms as a way to look at life. I didn’t want it to be too maudlin.”

It’s also an album which lays some musical ghosts to rest. If the funky Steppin’ Aside’ (co written with his wife Sally, who also features on backing vocals) is a Dusty Springfield-ish groove that has existed in various forms over the years, the stunning ‘Finally Found My Way Home’ has the feel of a classic; the sort of song which sounds like some dusty 45 you’d find in a second hand record shop and cherish forever.

“I’ve had that chord progression for about fifteen years” laughs Steve. “I was waiting for someone to write words over the top of it. In the end Andy Crofts rewrote the verse while we were on tour in Melbourne. We were missing our loved ones and so that’s why it’s got quite a melancholy feel to it. I’m not the greatest singer but it’s all about putting over an emotion.Anyway, it’s the best I can do.”

While My Scooter Sits Idle boasts one of Steve’s finest couplets to date (“My scooter sits idle/Just like my Gideon’s bible”, the barnstorming Last Days Of The Old World, meanwhile, will delight long term fans. Boasting a Kinks-ish guitar riff offset by apocalyptic lyrics about “ “Digital showers over London.” it also features a certain P. Weller.

“I recorded that in three hours at Black Barn and Paul asked if he could play the bass. After that he did some backing vocals too, which was great, obviously. I wrote the chorus and Andy Crofts wrote the lyrics on the verse. It’s a rough mix but it’s got a good message.”

And that title?

“I got that from Andy Lewis. There’s a book written by Sir John Hackett about an imaginary Third World War where Birmingham and Minsk get destroyed and turned into war memorials called called Peace City West and Peace City East. It seemed like an interesting concept. It ‘s also a nice nod to my hometown, because I’ve been away for a few years now.”

It’s been a long strange trip, but Peace City West is proof Steve Cradock has finally found his way back home.