'Now I Know - The John Lawton Story'
The music industry is buzzing about the new concept album by former legendary Uriah Heep / Lucifer's Friend vocalist John Lawton titled The Power of Mind.
An innovative new CD, conceived, written and produced by the CGI member, Dr. Milen Vrabevski, but performed by John Lawton and Bulgarian ensemble Diana Express, The Power of Mind is an exploration into the science of positive thinking and its applications to the subconscious mind. Featuring 14 amazing songs that showcase the soulful vocals of John Lawton and the powerful instrumentals by Diana Express will leave you wanting to hear it again and again.
"The Power of Mind is a concept album with positive thinking being the theme," John explains. "In the world of today, I don't think there are many better things to focus on. The way the songs flow into each other is really the way one would read a book or relate stories to friends. The melodies and lyrics say a lot about how we should view each other."
Chatting further with the man himself, and taking it right from the top, he began his music career in North Shields (England) in the early '60s with The Deans. So, was it true that they were all just a bunch of kids who simply decided at random to name him as the lead singer?! "Yeah it worked out that way. We were 15 years old at that time and of course music was what everybody wanted to do. One of the guys could play guitar a bit, one of the others decided he was the bassman, another took drum lessons, which left me. And so it was decided I was the singer! I spent the early rehearsals with my back to them staring at the wall because it felt so wrong at that moment. Great days though, in many many ways :-)"
You then moved on to West One and later Stonewall, which also included John Miles, Vic Malcolm (Geordie) and Paul Thompson (Roxy Music)! Wow, now that must have been a brilliant band to be part of at the time?! "It was decided that we would put a band together from the best of the local guys and I got the singing spot :-) Vic had written some songs so we went out and played in Hamburg (no recordings unfortunately) and by the time we were about to return to England, the band was really tight. However my future seemed to lie in Germany and so I stayed. The rest of the guys returned home went their separate ways and the rest is history :-)"
Things got more commercial for you when you became the lead singer for legendary German rock cult band Lucifer's Friend. You ended up, through two stints, recording nine studio albums with them, so that must have left an incredible impression on you. Can you, perhaps, pull a true highlight from your time in the band to reveal to us today? "Lucifers Friend was such a great band, as musicians they were first class, always looking for a new way forward musically. It has been said a lot we were ahead of our time in many ways. The 1st album (Lucifers Friend) set out to be heavy rock but after that we went a little more prog. With the 2nd album (Where The Groupies Killed The Blues) and from there we went slightly poppy until my favourite album came along which was Banquet, an absolute stunner of an album in my opinion :-) I have worked with some great musicians in my time and the Lucifers guys are up there with the best of them."
After a shot at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976 re: the Les Humphries Singers, you joined Uriah Heep for three years and three studio albums. Again, please reveal a true highlight from your time in the band; something that left you with a great memory? "Joining Heep was momentous for me, coming from the Humphries Singer to one of the best rock bands around - well, what can I say :-) In that time I got to see places especially in the USA that I had heard of as a singer starting out. The tours were long compared to what I had done previously, but we toured with some great bands KISS, FOREIGNER, CHEAP TRICK, and played some incredible venues. I think a highlight has to be playing Kansas City stadium to 20/30 thousand people and seeing them flick the cigarette lighters on for the song 'July Morning.' Truly memorable."
Since then you have worked with some of the finest record producers and some incredible musicians through the years - and today have just released your latest album; a concept album entitled The Power of Mind. But, this innovative new album was actually conceived, written and produced by the CGI member, Dr. Milen Vrabevski, but performed by you AND a Bulgarian ensemble, Diana Express! So, first things first, how did you first meet Dr. Vrabevski? "I was introduced via a musician friend in Bulgaria to Milen who gave me a copy of a CD sung in Bulgarian of some really good songs. I really liked the melodies and the way it had been recorded all live no computerised stuff :-)"
"Milen asked me if I was interested in singing the songs in English, so after looking at the translated lyrics (not Google translate, thank god) :-) I really wanted to do this album."
And how long ago did Dr. V. suggest the idea to create a "concept album" to you? (ie: how long did it take to complete the album, from start to finish?) "From our first discussion about the project until actual completion was about 6 months. I had other commitments that had to be fulfilled before I could start, but basically everything was there. The tracks remained as they were from a playing point of view, all I had to do was re-sing all the lead lines. But, of course all the backing vocals had to be re-done as they were all in Bulgarian also! I had everything recorded in the space of 10 days, but it was fun to do."
With the concept songs showcasing 14 amazing songs that explore the science of positive thinking and its applications to the subconscious mind, did you yourself find that during its recording you were suddenly feeling, well, more positive and free within the confines of your own mind, perhaps? "I understood where Milen was coming from and we had a good time in the studio while putting down the vocals. At the time it felt like I was reading a book to somebody and every song seemed like the next chapter of the story. I was suffering from a bout of flu at the time of recording so I guess positive thinking played a part in getting it all done :-)"
Indeed, with regard this new album, how easy or hard is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderments and accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "Wooahh !!! That's a loaded question! I hope that we have created something that will last, and not be seen as a "one off". Whether it surpasses any musical accomplishments of other artists, remains to be seen. I truly hope that
POWER OF MIND opens doors to a second album already in the writing stage, and gives us a chance to fulfil the promise."
Do you have a favorite track from 'The Power of Mind,' perhaps? And if so, which one and why? "I have 2 favourite tracks, TWO HEARTS and THE SEARCH. I just love the melodies especially on HEARTS, but the transitions on THE SEARCH from the intro to the powerful ending, absolutely awesome. Even if I say so myself :-)"
If you had to sum yourself up in just five (5) words today, after all you have been through, encountered and succeeded in/at, what would those five (5) words be? "Actually it would be 7, if that's allowed? It would be, Still Paying My Dues to the Blues"
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why? "I honestly don't like much from the 80's. It might be an ABBA song :-)
But if any, it would have to be 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling' by The Righteous Brothers. I just love the vocals on that song especially Bobby Hatfield. A really good singer, sadly no longer with us :-("
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins (the birds) ... do you?! "Love em !!! And their dancing feet :-)"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
"Fairy Tale" promo video
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