Talking Music: Paul Young Discusses 35 Years of No Parlez – Part 2

Paul Young will be 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.  

In the second part of our interview Andy Howells chats with Paul about the making of the iconic album, dealing with success and the forthcoming anniversary shows.

Where did the title for No Parlez come from?

Well, from the track itself. After I found all the old RnB songs that I could give a new treatment to, I turned to Laurie and said, “What we need to do now is turn it on its head and find a current song that we can give a slightly RnB treatment to or put a bit more fire in them”. Laurie had done a lot of work with Anthony Moore who had a band called Slap Happy. We chose the song, No Parlez and decided to go to work on that one.

We talked about calling the album, Paul Young, but I hate that. I always like an album to have a title so No Parlez seemed suitably unusual and it got people thinking.

The photo on the album cover was cropped because there’s a guy in the background reading a newspaper wasn’t it?

Yes! Because the photo session we did for the album sleeve failed miserably!

We’d done a session for Smash Hits!  The photographers name was Eric Watson, so my manager called him up and said, “Have you got any outtakes from the Smash Hits session because we’d like to buy them off you?” We really liked that photo and the only reason we had those two burgundy strips down the sides was to paint the photographer’s assistant out of the picture.

The funny thing is, we got album sleeve of the year with The Brit Awards and it was a hash up. Happy accidents!

Was your success hard to deal with?

When We did our first tour we didn’t realise how it was going to go. We turned up in a mini bus and the fans nearly pushed it over on its side! We managed to get into the venue, fairly unscathed and I’m doing all the moves I used to do in The Q-Tips (Paul’s band prior to going solo) like lifting the Mic stand in the air.

 I said to my manager, “I’m doing all the same moves I did in the Q-Tips and they’re screaming and going mad now!” He said, “Yeah it just goes to show, you’re just the same berk you are now as you were then!” (Laughs) That was their way of keeping me on an even keel. They wouldn’t let it go to my head.

For anybody who has got the No Parlez album, if you take a good look at the photos on the inside sleeve you’ll see that we didn’t take ourselves seriously at all!

Who do you think will be drawn to your forthcoming No Parlez shows?

I think it will mainly be people who bought the album and remember it as a large part of their youth. Growing up and their hormones were raging! They’re hoping if they come along to the show they’re hormones will start raging again! (Laughs)

You’ll be performing tracks from No Parlez. Will there be performances of your other hits as well?

You have to do something as a belated second half. It will probably take 90 minutes or so to get through it because we’ll be doing slightly longer versions of the songs. Who knows, I’m making preliminary notes about what musicians I’ll need, what equipment we’ll need and how we’ll recreate the sounds.

Are there any songs you are looking forward to revisiting on tour?

I’d say Ku Ku Kurama because we did it on the very first tour and its quite a weird and wonderful song, so I know its possible to do.  The one that could be the fly in the ointment is Iron out the Rough Spots because there’s so many different parts on that song.

No Parlez is in our current set and we’ve managed to make that one work, it’s not an easy song to recreate live but we’ve managed to get there!

  • Visit for booking details.