Talking Music: Paul Young Discusses 35 Years of No Parlez - Part 1
Chart-topper Paul Young is back on tour this autumn, performing tracks from his successful 1983 debut album No Parlez at Cardiff’s Tramshed on October 23.
No Parlez, which celebrates its 35th anniversary saw the Luton born artist achieve success following his work with Streetband and The Q-Tips. No Parlez topped the UK album charts in 1983 for 5 weeks before becoming triple platinum. It featured Paul’s first UK number 1 single, a cover of Marvin Gaye’s Wherever I Lay My Hat and hits Come Back and Stay and Love of The Common People.
Andy Howells recently caught up with Paul to discuss the forthcoming No Parlez show’s and the iconic album itself.
Its’s 35 years since No Parlez was released, what’s it like to revisit an album you recorded so long ago?
I listened to the album in its entirety almost as a bystander, because I admit its been so long now. I’m at least one step removed from it and the album sounds crazy. If I didn’t know better and hadn’t being there myself, I’d say, “this lot have taken acid or something!”
I imagine your voice has changed a bit since those days as well?
It has, I was 24 or 25 when I made that album. I’ve always had a baritone voice and sung at the very top end which becomes impossible. So, you have to alter the key a bit.
How did you go about selecting the songs for No Parlez? In the case of Marvin Gaye’s Wherever I Lay My Hat and similarly Love of The Common People which was a hit for Nicky Thomas, you put your own stamp on both of those with enormous success.
Well, Love of The Common People was originally a country song in the 1960s (recorded by The Four Preps) and I didn’t even know that! But that was the idea, I could write some decent songs like Broken Man which is a favourite with some of the fans, but it wasn’t particularly commercial. So, I knew I had to look elsewhere.
Most of the artists I admired covered as well as wrote, so I didn’t see it as out of the ordinary. If I can’t write a good pop song, I’m going to go to places where people write nothing but good pop songs. I did go to publishers, but they played me stuff I didn’t like and I thought “Right, its back to the record collection then!" I went through things I had got and some things I hadn’t got.
What was it like when you reached number one with Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)?
The funny thing was, the week it went to number one, I moved into my flat in London. At the time, my manager said “You cant really afford this flat but hopefully something good is going to happen,” and it did. That is my most memorable moment! He said, “Right, you can rest easy now, that flat will be yours”
On television, you, your backing band and your backing singers (The Fabulous Wealthy Tarts) looked like a close group of performers, did you have to work on your presentation style?
I got a band around me as soon as possible, I never wanted to be solo. I was putting them right at the front of the stage with me so I felt like I was still in a band.
What happened was we started as myself, the keyboard player and the engineer and producer. Then we got The Wealthy Tarts in to sing. One of them, (Maz), was going out with bassist, Pino (Palladino) and said “I took the rough mixes home and Pino loves it.” I said, “Do you think he’ll play on something?" and she said, “Yeah he’d love to.” So, then we got a bass player. Then we found guitarist, Steve Bolton. Before I knew it, I had an exceptional bunch of musicians around me and we all knew by this point we were on to something big.
- Read the second part of our interview with Paul Young on Entertainment South Wales tomorrow.
- Visit tramshedcardiff.com/listings for booking details.