Release Date 02/04/2021
Steve Cradock, songwriter, producer and guitarist for Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller and The Specials presents a brand new mix of his sophomore solo album Peace City West, released on vinyl for the very first time via Kundalini Records.Steve Cradock, songwriter, producer and guitarist for Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller and The Specials presents a brand new mix of his sophomore solo album Peace City West, released on vinyl for the very first time via Kundalini Records.
The multi-talented Steve Cradock needs no introduction. During his esteemed 30-plus-year career he’s cemented his position not only as one of the UK’s finest guitarists during his time with the million-selling Ocean Colour Scene and as long serving right-hand man to the ever-evolving Paul Weller, but he’s also toured and recorded with influential Brit-Ska legends The Specials and forged a path as a formidable solo artist, songwriter and producer via his work with legendary singer PP Arnold and young British soul artist Yasmin Kiddle.
The follow up to Steve’s 2009 solo debut The Kundalini Target, and the second in a trilogy of solo LP’s released between 2009 and 2013, Peace City West was recorded in December 2010 in an intense one month creative period at Deep Litter Studios in his native South Devon, but the seeds of its creation lie in the album’s opening track ‘Last Days Of The Old World’. “I recorded it at (Paul Weller’s) Black Barn Studio’s towards the end of the Kundalini sessions,” explains Steve. “It wasn’t the same session, but around the same time and that was all I had. I just thought ‘I have to make an album now I’ve done that tune’, it set me on the road to it.”
With this goal in mind and a busy touring schedule, Steve enlisted the help of fellow Paul Weller band member and The Moons frontman Andy Croft to assist with some of the song writing process, “I was on the road with Paul and probably Ocean Colour Scene a lot at the time, so I got together with Andy Crofts and he co-wrote a few of the tunes on the album with me. We demo’d them on the road, then Me and Sal (Cradock, Steve’s wife) booked this studio which is an amazing place down in Devon on my mates farm, and we just booked a month and thought we’d see happened.”
With Steve handling most of the instrumental duties on the album along with a cast of guest musicians including drummer Tony Coote, actor James Buckley and friend and album engineer Freddy Ansell, he set about recording 10 tracks of glorious melodies and shimmering instrumentation that recalls the very best in ’60s pop, psych and folk and sits comfortably alongside contemporaries like The Coral and The Real People, whose creative partners, brothers Chris and Tony Griffiths, also contribute backing vocals to the album.
The long working days, vibrant creative spirit and bleak winter weather all set the scene for a collection of songs that reflect the adrenalin rush of creativity, bucolic studio setting and the joy of late night sessions with friends and loved ones, whether through the beautiful, pastoral ‘Lay Down Your Weary Burden’ (whose lyrics come from a poem written by Paul Weller), the late ’60s pop-sike of ‘Kites Rise Up Against The Wind’, the gorgeous fireside folk of ‘Finally Found My Way Back Home’ or the prophetic lyrics and soaring melodies of album opener ‘Last Days Of The Old World’, with its eerily accurate warnings against societies reliance on social media and technology. “It reminds me more of today than when it was written,” says Steve when recalling the latter tracks lyrics. “It wasn’t made as a big statement it was just a whimsical thought as these things are, but now it’s a true bold statement isn’t it?”
Whilst the quality of the song writing and performance on the record were never in doubt, for Steve there was always regret over the albums final mix that he felt needed fixing. “We mixed it badly on a laptop in January 2011 and then it was finished, but listening back it just sounded bad because of the mix,” says Steve, “so it was time to re-do that, get rid of the interludes and make it sound like it should’ve done and put it on vinyl, those were the three things that were missing for me.” Working at his home studio, Steve set about the task of giving the album a new lease of life. “The first track I tried mixing was ‘The Pleasure Seekers’ which is the second track on the record, and as soon as I heard the proper drums in it that’s what made me think it’ll be worthwhile doing it.”
Steve’s new mix of Peace City West gives us all the chance to hear the album in its true glory, adding a warmth, texture and depth befitting of its first time vinyl release, and cementing its place as the lost classic it is, a hidden gem in the pantheon of great guitar albums of the last decade.