So it was summer 1987 and I was 13. The whole world was mine for the taking. Liverpool still won leagues for fun and the only decision in life was what did I want to be when I grow up. Well this summer I had decided I was gonna hit the music biz. Not as a performer though I was gonna be a big time record producer. So how would I get on the ladder that would send me all the way to receiving a brit award ? There was only one choice. I needed an artist to produce and write songs for. So there was only one choice. The younger brother of one of my best mates. I could take him under my wing (Not in a Johnathan King type of way) but I could guide him to the top and have huge success like Wham or Frankie Goes To Hollywood. So there he was, Ian Wignell. He must have been the tender age of nine and here we were co-writing our own album with me on production. After several arduous sessions in the studio (Ok it was really about an hour in his back living room with my latest cassette recorder bought from Dixons) it was a wrap. The first album was in the bag and to be released on cassette. So being and hands on man I decided to do the cover artwork myself, created with my finest felt tips I had received the christmas before. It was self promotion all the way for my new star in the making. No 80’s powerhouse like Paul Morley behind us. No Stock Aitken and Waterman remixes or production we were out on our own. So the album was titled “Highway 64” which was also the first single released. Mixed by me again with snippets of Genesis instrumentals added for the twelve inch version. The front cover proudly boasts production and copyright Faytape 1987. Im assuming Faytape was to be the next big record label on the block. The cover (see below) had added sleeve notes “This is Ian Wignell’s first tape. I hope you enjoy this tape” A very welcoming message from a wide eyed 13 year old crafted in my finest double writing which I have long since forgotten. Next up was “Neil Fay has written all these songs. If you have any promising songs see Neil Fay and you might be successful” All the innocence and yet ambition I had. First up I co-wrote the songs so already being a great record producer by shafting the artist. Next on the cassette sleeve was a warning “If you are offended by any of the material please tell Neil Fay” What kind of stuff was I pumping out mid 1980 ? and if you were offended what was I gonna do when you contact me ? Was I after Mike Read to ban our single to propel us up the charts. Next up the tease “Ian’s next tape will be coming soon. The title remains a close secret” Nothing like keeping the smash hits, number one magazine and the old NME and Melody Maker hanging on for the follow up album details eh. Then the final bit on the sleeve was the cost of this tape is 10p a day or 50p a week. Now being a small independent record label we could only afford well errr one copy of the album. To be honest me and Ian are still waiting for the official sales figures to come in and the royalties. None of which Ian will see after my costs have been deducted. As for the second album title being made made public im sad to report that me and Ian fell out and never made another album together. But the interest generated on Facebook, Twitter and this blog made me go in the loft and find this piece of Liverpool’s musical history. Me and Ian some 24 years later have now patched things up and will be doing some promotional material around the re-release of “Highway 64” and the dreams we had those many years ago have been awoken. So here’s the track listing and original album artwork. How innocent was I as a 13 year old.
1. In The Admiral (Wignell/Fay)
2.Bin Man (Fay)
3.American Fever (Fay)
4.Johnny Eins Crap At Football (Wignell/Fay)
1.True Love (Fay)
2.Highway 64 (Fay) *im sure Wignell co-wrote this.
3.Down At Night (Fay)
So whilst writing this blog Elizabeth came up to me and picked up the cassette and asked whats this daddy. I explained that you put it into a special machine and the cogs spin around and the brown tape in the bottom moves and music comes out. She asked if we had such a machine and I replied ” I think we have one in the loft” The look on her face when she picked the cassette up was one like she had picked up a bit of rock from an alien planet and my description of how such primitive technology worked didn’t help. Yet upstairs in the loft when looking for the “Highway 64” album I had to look through over 400 cassettes of mine. So I will dig out my old cassette player and show Elizabeth how we really lived it up back in pre ipod days.
Fay x x