Best Of Days
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The great Steve Ellis, former vocalist with 60’s hitmakers The Love Affair (whose mega-hits Everlasting Love and Rainbow Valley are staples of ‘Gold’ radio station programming all over the world), and then leader of seventies roots rockers Ellis and Widowmaker, returns to the recording fray with a brand new album, entitled Best Of Days, released on the Demon Records label on Monday, August 4th 2008.
Featuring fourteen tracks, and aided and abetted by heavy guests such as his longtime pal, Who vocalist Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller and Steve Cradock, Best of Days is long playing proof of Steve Ellis’ enduring vocal talents. Featuring re-interpretations of Everlasting Love, and his Ellis classic, the moody ballad El Doomo, as well as a plentiful supply of new songs, and an emotive version of Weller’s Brand New Start, Best Of Days is a resounding return to hostilities after too, too many years.
Steve Ellis is one of the great British Blue Eyed Soul vocalists, alongside the likes of Steve Marriott and Stevie Winwood. He was but seventeen years old when his band, The Love Affair, became over-night heart throbs with a dazzling run of hit singles, commencing in January, 1968 with Everlasting Love. The band suffered from the revelation that they did not play on their hits – despite being an excellent live band. On departing from the Love Affair in 1969, Steve recorded several solo singles, and the much-collectable soundtrack to the Joe Orton film, Loot. He then formed his own band, Ellis, with Zoot Money, with whom he recorded two excellent albums – the first of which, Riding On The Crest Of A Slump, was produced by Roger Daltrey. It featured the brilliant El Doomo, which should’ve been a massive hit. His next project was the hard rock combo Widowmaker, with ex Spooky Tooth / Mott The Hoople guitarist Luther ‘Ariel Bender’ Grosvenor. After touring with The Who and ELO in the USA, Ellis left the band, and in the process sued manager Don Arden – and won! He then recorded an all-star solo album The Last Angry Man, and then took an extended hiatus from the music business. Whilst working as a docker in Brighton, Ellis sustained an horrific accident, which delayed his return to music for years. However, in that period, his reputation was enhanced by acknowlegment from the likes of Paul Weller, the UK Mod scene and support from his longtime friend Roger Daltrey.
Best of Days is an excellent restatement of Steve Ellis’ remarkable vocal and compositional talents. Steve Ellis is available for interview in support of this long-overdue release. Please contact Indiscreet PR at the telephone numbers / e-mail addreses below for more information.
Steve has already recorded a “Tracks Of My Years” feature for Radio 2’s Ken Bruce, and much more press and radio coverage is anticipated.
|| ||Everlasting Love|
|| ||Brand New Start|
|| ||As The Crow Flies|
|| ||Step Inside|
|| ||Requiem For A Tyrant|
|| ||Nu Clear Blues|
|| ||Little One|
|| ||Yellow Rose Of Texas|
|| ||Turn To Stone|
|| ||Heaven's World|
|| ||El Doomo|
|| ||Best Of Days|
|| ||Everlasting Love (Live)|
Steve Ellis found overnight fame, aged just 17, as the sweet, smoky-voiced singer in the Love Affair, racking up two undisputed classics with Everlasting Love and the glorious Rainbow Valley. Forty years on, his voice has lost none of its soulfulness. Aided by a superb band and including guest appearances by Paul Weller and Roger Daltrey, Ellis shifts effortlessly from tight, stomping soul (Step Aside) to slow and fluid modern blues (Requiem For A Tyrant) and, on Little One, croons the most tender ballad to a child since Phil Lynott’s heartbreaking Cathleen. Wonderful.
Here's a tip for fans of old-school music magic. Sixties singing star Steve Ellis, is back in action with his new album Best Of Days. And has a couple of handy guests helping him out – Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller.
Cutting a dash in a black leather jacket and shades, original mod Steve Ellis, formerly of Sixties outfit The Love Affair and later Windowmaker, shows us where the likes of Paul Weller learnt his chops. Steve was at the heart of Swinging London, playing legendary venues such as The Flamingo and Marquee. A natural vocalist similar to Steve Marriott, Ellis kicks off with his immortal Everlasting Love on an emotive blue-eyed soul set aided and abetted by his close mates Roger Daltrey and Weller. Wonderful.
Love Affair singer Ellis has been carving himself a long-overdue slice of respect pie in recent years and this latest album shows there’s good reason. While never shying from his biggest hit Everlasting Love – in fact, there are two versions on this album (one featuring pals Paul Weller and Steve Cradock) – he continues to write new material worthy of a voice that has matured superbly. Roger Daltry gives a helping hand on The Yellow Rose of Texas and even if this set gets a bit pub-rocky in places, it veers from the obvious to the surprising – a soulful reworking of Weller’s Brand New Start claims the song for his own from one of the most distinctive stylists in the business.
www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk, August 08
I really didn’t want to review this album in a way. What is it they say ? “You should never meet your heroes ?” Okay, so I haven’t met Ellis but back when I was so much younger and a different person Ellis fronted a band called the Love Affair who hit the number one spot with their version of ‘Everlasting Love’ and then went on to release a good number of classic 60's pop singles. But, for me, their first album, ‘The Everlasting Love Affair’ was one of the best albums of the late 60's. The mixture of covers and self-penned songs worked so well because of one thing, the vocals of lead singer Steve Ellis. So when I saw this new album from Ellis some 40 years later I was concerned that the man who was at least the equal of any of the blue-eyed soul singers from that era (Marriott, Winwood, Chris Farlowe) was going to blow this image I had in my mind of him; the one where I rated him as one of the best but underrated British singers of the last 40 years.
My worries were unfounded, Ellis, who looks in better shape than a man his age has any right to on the sleeve of this CD, has released an album of 14 songs that stand up to anything he did with the Love Affair or any of his subsequent bands like Widowmaker or Ellis. While Ellis has had an interesting career we won’t dwell on that any further here but concentrate on what the man is doing right now. And, if this album is any indication, what he is doing is still making soulful pop / rock music, and if that voice has lost any of its power it is hardly noticeable.
The album is topped and tailed by new versions of ‘Everlasting Love’. Again maybe it is not a wise thing to do; revisit past glories, but Ellis has on this song, like most of the songs on this album, taken a more acoustic route than we remember him for. The version that opens the album is simply stunning. I grew up to this song and have heard it massacred by many through the years ( Jamie Cullum, you are so guilty!) and the Love Affair version even knocked Robert Knight’s original for six. But here Ellis reclaims the song for his own. Slowed down and powered by acoustic guitars it shows his voice is still in fine shape but whoever suggested this arrangement for the song deserves a medal, as it is injected with new life. The closing version again takes the same arrangement but this time Ellis is joined by a certain Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene's Steve Cradock and Weller injects some excellent vocals of his own.
The Weller connection follows into the next song where Ellis tackles ‘Brand New Start’ one of its composer's best songs from (can it really be?) 10 years ago. Again Ellis treats the song to a more acoustic setting than the original and, again, it works so well. Not only has Ellis managed to retain his distinctive soulful vocals through the years but it seems he has acquired a talent for reinterpreting songs from the past in a new and exciting way. ‘El Doomo’ from his Ellis band days is also reworked here to great effect.
I had visions of this being a hasty re-hash of former hits delivered with pub-rock leanings, how wrong I was. It seems that Ellis, apart from choosing the right material, can still take on any song and inject it with those passionate vocals and make it his own. He still holds a melody well, his vocals never drift off and on songs like ‘Requiem For A Tyrant’ we can only be thankful that he finally got round to releasing a new album so we could hear one of our countries best singers in a contemporary setting.
‘Little One’ is particularly affecting, with stunning guitar from an unnamed player it’s a touching song from a parent to a child and whoever it is backing Ellis on these songs ( no information is given on our copy) they do a sterling job. But saving the best (almost) to last, the title song, ‘Best Of Days’ has to be among the top 5 songs Ellis has ever committed to tape. String-laden and piano-led Ellis sings of the joys of being alive to a melody which is simply heavenly.
This album is much better than we had any right to hope for. Welcome back, Steve. Just don’t leave it so long next time.
Mojo, September 08
‘Former Love Affair singer reworks his past with Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller’
Like Steves Marrior and Winwood, Love Affair’s Steve Ellis was a ‘60s soulful Mod shouter, but while both the former singers managed to move with the times (with ‘70s Humble Pie and Traffic respectively) Ellis lost his way, succumbing to unimaginative hard rock with Widowmaker. Here though, he returns to his roots, not just with his material – he revisits Love Affair’s Everlasting Love and El Doomo – but musically too. Everlasting Love, transfigured as a poignant, rousing acoustic ballad, sounds like a lost song by Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance, a cover of Weller’s Brand New Start recalls pink-label Island’s soulful folk.
Shindig! August 08
What Steve Ellis is mostly being remembered for, is the orchestrated blue-eyed soul confectionery of his late’60 days spent fronting The Love Affair. However, given a proper chance, his lungs can provide whatever Steve Marriott, Steve Winwood or Rod Stewart were capable of at their best.
I still haven’t managed to track down the name of the producer, but whoever twiddle’s the knobs here, seems to be aiming for The Style Council-like ‘80s soul vibe, while ending up more like Paul Young or the like. Hearing stripped down acoustic arrangements of ‘Everlasting Love’, and Weller’s ‘Brand New Start’, suggest an idea of what-might-ve-been, along with a couple of other exceptions such as the moody ‘El Doomo’ from his ‘70s Ellis-era, or the post-Small Faces Ronnie Lane-like good-time vibe of the title tune.
A major talent, mostly being lost to an inappropriate production, with just an occasioonal harmonica, blowing some life into the overall artificial surrounding.
Maverick Magazine, November 08
This is a great new solo album by THE Steve Ellis, the legendary former vocalist of 1960s hit-makers the Love Affair as well as 1970s roots rockers Ellis and a band that I saw in concert during my school years – Widowmaker. The masterful Requiem For A Tyrant has him vocally up there with the likes of Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey, the track also has some fantastically soaring slide guitar from Steve Fairhead. There is also an incredibly good version of El Doomo, a song that harks back to his Ellis days.
Classic Rock, November 08
Steve Ellis Interview
By all means tell him you liked Love Affair and his hard rock band Widowmaker. Just don’t sue him or step on his foot.
Of you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember Steve Ellis as the voice of your adolescence. He was lead singer with Love Affair, who in 1968 scored a UK No.1 hit right off the bat with Everlasting Love. In the following months the group had four further Top 20 Singles.
Tiring of Love Affair’s teen image, Ellis quit at the end of ’69. After plying his trade in succession of different bands (Ellis and Widowmaker to name but two), in 1981, after retining from the music business to work as a docker, he suffered an horrific accident.
After a long period of rehabilitation Ellis returned to the live music circuit, touring under his own name and with The New Amen Corner. He has just released a new album, Best Of Days, with guest appearances from his mates Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller.
Tell us about your time in Love Affair.
We were originally called Soul Survivors and we were great band. We worked hard and we had a strong following. I didn’t like it when we changed our name, though. I was outvoted, outgunned by the management.
The vocals were all your own, but the rest of Love Affair were criticised for not playing on the records.
Back in those days a lot of bands used session players in the studio, it was no big deal. But Jonathan King was a cunning git. He wheeled the truth out of us on Saturday evening telly. It was all over the papers the next day.
Classic Rock readers will be intrigued by Widowmaker, the hard rock band you formed with Luther Grosvenor (aka Ariel Bender of Mott The Hoople).
the music was on fire but personality-wise it was completely off-kilter. We opened for The Who at their football stadium gigs in 1976. And I’ll never forget the show we did at Swansea. Someone shouted: “The Old Bill are backstage, get rid of everything you’ve got!” We each snorted a gram of sulphate. We must have played the quickest set in the history of rock’n’roll. I didn’t sleep for two days afterward. It was bedlam being in that band; like Spinal Tap times 10.
Widowmaker were signed to Jet Records. The label’s boss, the infamous Don Arden, took you to court – and you won!
He wanted to sue me for 30 grand, so he took me to court with all these solicitors and everything. I pulled up on a pushbike. I said to the judge: “I worked for this man for several years, toured all over the world, signed a publishing deal for £100,000, and I didn’t see any of it.” The judge went: “Case dismissed.” That was it – I walked.
How was it working as a docker?
It was bloody hard work but I got super-athlete fit. I was slinging hundred weight sacks of potatoes around all day like they were basketballs. Then I got into an argument with a forklift truck and broke both my feet. I spent seven, eight years in and out of hospitals having bone grafts. The agony was murderous. I got fit by doing karate, and eventually I managed to get back on the road.
How did you become friends with Roger Daltry and Paul Weller?
Roger’s been my mate for 40 years. I first met him in 1967. He’s like my big brother in a way. Paul I’ve known for 25 years, but he’s more like a pal I’ve connected with musically. I try to distance myself a bit, because it’s pretty hip to hang on to Paul Weller’s coat-tails and I don’t want to do that.
Interview by Geoff Barton
Irish News, 13.12.08
Steve Ellis Interview
After the hedonism of the 1960s and 1970s Love Affair’s Steve Ellis retired from the music business. He tells Trevor Hodgett about teaming up with long-time friends Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller on his long-awaited comeback album.
Love Affair’s Everlasting Love is indisputably one of the most fondly remembered hits of the ‘60s. Steve Ellis, singer on all five of the band’s hits, later led his own successful bands. But by the late 1970s, shattered by the death of his pal, Who drummer Keith Moon, and disillusioned by his treatment by his infamous manager Don Arden, he had walked away from the music business.
Now, however, Ellis, with the help of admirers like Paul Weller and Who singer Roger Daltrey, had made a comeback, releasing and excellent album, Best Of Days.
Ellis rememberes Love Affair with ambivalence.
“We were doing it for the music,” he recalls, “but it turned into this teenybop thing and it was just screaming and you couldn’t hear.”
One experience in a hotel in Scotland was unforgettable.
“Girls were climbing over the rooftops and getting in, like an invasion,” he reminisces.
“They were tucked under beds and everywhere. One of the lads got himself a girl in the wardrobe. All of a sudden these police turned up. It was pandemonium and girls were being dragged out. This copper was wagging his finger at us and at that the one in the wardrobe, absolutely b****** naked, jumped out, straight on to his back.
This copper just flipped him off like a rag doll and said, ‘Behave, laddie!’ And that was it. The things we got away with, you couldn’t get away with now.”
The band’s reputation was destroyed by the revelation that Ellis was the only member to perform on their records.
“We did The Jonathan King Show,” Ellis says, “and he says to one of the band, ‘You didn’t play on your record, did you?’ And the prat says, ‘No.’ Next thing you know it’s all over the papers. Everybody was doing it but we were the idiots who admitted it.”
Ellis later formed Widowmaker, with ex-Mott The Hoople guitarist Luther Grosvenor – whom he hospitalised.
“We were on a tour of the States,” he explains, “and every time he got p*ssed he threatened to kill me. One night he comes to my room: ‘I’m going to kill you, blah, blah, blah.’ And I said, ‘Right, that’s it.’ So BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG.
“A statement went out that he fell over a coffee table.
“I was a bad boy – but he was driving me mad. And after that he didn’t wind me up anymore.”
The band was managed by rock’s most notorious manager, Don Arden.
“He had a reputation of being a gangster but I wasn’t intimidated because I’ve known real gangsters,” smiles Ellis.
“He sued me but he lost.”
One of Ellis’s closest friends was Keith Moon, who died in 1978.
“He was the funniest man,” he says.
“He would do anything to make you laugh. He would keep us in his house for days. It just bewildered me how much he could drink.
“It broke my heart when he died. Everybody dines out on it and goes, ‘Oh Moon the Loon,’ but he was my mate and I don’t think the stories are greatly funny because he’s dead.”
“I just thought, ‘I’ve got to get straight. I’ve got young kids, I can’t be running around like a lunatic,” he explains.
Subsequently he worked as a docker. “I loved it,” he says. “I was athlete fit and I got paid at the end of the week.
“Then somebody dropped the blades of a forklift on me and chopped my feet in half. That put me out of the game for seven years. I was in a wheelchair, then crutches, then a walking stick.”
Best Of Days, a remarkable comeback, includes a live version of Everlasting Love, with Paul Weller.
“Paul’s been a mate for 25 years and he was doing an acoustic show and he said: ‘Do you fancy doing Everlasting Love?’ We just ran through it a couple of times at the soundcheck. But it worked.”
A studio version is also included.
“It’s nothing like the Love Affair version, so I’m happy with it,” Ellis says.
Eight of the songs are Ellis co-writes.
“I’m not prolific,” he says, “but I ended up with quite a few songs here because I hadn’t done an album for a while.”
Roger Daltrey plays harmonica.
“Rog’s been my mate for 40 years,” he says.
“We did this tracks called Nu Clear Blues and Rog had this idea about using an underlying harmonica in two different keys.”
Ellis has no expectations of selling millions of records. “Nah, I’m just pleased to get it out,” he says. “Anything that happens is a bonus.”
www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk, September 08
Steve Ellis Interview
Your new album, ’Best Of Days’ is out in September. Are they all recent recordings or have you been working on them for some time?
Mostly all newly recorded a few years ago in my Keyboard player & co Producers garage studio. It was sectioned off into two & measured about 10ft x 8ft.I Did the vocals in his front room but his Mrs wouldn`t stand for a Drum kit set up by the dining table so we used samples, not ideal but those were the circumstances presented. The live version of "Everlasting Love" was recorded at Fairfield Hall Croydon with Paul Weller & Steve Cradock a few years back. Paul gave me the master and said do what you want with it. It had been bootlegged on the Internet so I thought I would put it on as a Bonus Track and any monies accrued go to St. Marks Hospital in London where my son was an inpatient and gravely ill which is why the release was delayed for several years. The only other older track included is "Step Inside" which quite coincidentally also has Paul playing on it .We recorded this for The NSPCC children’s charity about ten years ago and released a 1000 copy Limited Edition which sold out so I thought as it had cost me a lot of money (and my best guitar/long story) I would slip it onto the album. It is very souly and some reviewers have indicated it sounds a bit Style Council but I can`t see it myself it is just music to me blame Mr. Weller he was in that band.
Apart from the obvious cover versions on the album how many of the songs did you write? The title song and ‘Little One’ for example could be autobiographical.
Probably about half of them some on my own and a couple with co-writers. Rex Brayley original Love Affair guitarist co-wrote "Step Inside" some years back .The title track "Best of Days" is indeed sort of autobiographical as you say and it originally had soundbytes on the fade of Mohamed Ali, Bruce Lee & Kenneth Wolstenholme "They think it’s all over, it is now" but the record company thought we might get sued. As they were tributes I thought it unlikely but unfortunately it was pretty much non negotiable. A real shame. "Little One" I wrote for my son many years ago with Darren Aldridge who is a very talented mate.
Paul Weller and Steve Cradock are on the live version of ‘Everlasting Love’ which closes ‘Best Of Days’ how did that come about?
Paul & I have been mates for twenty five years or so it was quite accidental if you like. Paul was touring "Wings of Speed" & had Steve "Slasher" Cradock on guitar with him. He phoned me and asked if I wanted to come to the gig, I went up to Croydon and we did "Everlasting Love" & Paul’s "Broken Stones" at sound check they sounded pretty good so he invited me to do them onstage at the gig. It was a good vibe that night the audience seemed to really love it.
Looking back a little now, when The Love Affair were at their most popular you were still in your teens, did you ever think that say nearly 40 years down the line you’d still be making records?
Absolutely not it was live for the day. You never think beyond the day when you’re a raging hormone full of teen spirit.
At the time of ‘Everlasting Love’ and ‘Rainbow Valley’ there was a lot in the papers about the band not playing on their records. It didn’t seem to damage your popularity did it?
We did the Jonathan King show prime time Saturday night T.V. it was 1968 people only had two channels in the 60`s BBC & ATV.S o half the nation were watching when King who was a clever bastard asked the Bass player if the group actually played on the record. He knew they hadn`t and that I had sang on it but utilised session musicians like the great Clem Cattini on Drums etc; anyway the Bass player stumbled his way through after being caught on the back foot. Jonathan King got himself and us headline news in the Sunday papers and the band got a bad reputation but we had been gigging at the all-nighters such as The Flamingo, The Marquee and mod clubs everywhere for two years prior to any success "we earnt our stripes" in that respect so we just carried on gigging it did not seem to bother supporters at concerts. I hate the word fans but they were great about it and people bought our next five chart records which were all recorded in the same way. As I have often said it was a bit of a paradox but we were a good live band I`m not bragging just telling you how it was we did the Royal Albert Hall supporting the Small Faces in 1966 before we had any success our drummer was fourteen & the rest of us were sixteen and we were better musicians than they were but we rehearsed every chance we had and would play anywhere for free in the beginning. Three of us had to go to the home office to get visas when we played abroad because we were under age and had to have an adult accompany us, bizarre or what?
The band played on all the songs on their first album (except those first singles), ‘The Everlasting Love Affair’, though, didn’t they?
Yeah sure, stuff like "Hush" "Tobacco Road" "Handbags & Gladrags" by Mike D`Abo and songs I wrote with Morgan Fisher that we were doing live. When we were told the record company wanted an album we put those tracks for the album down in literally about two days and mixed them. We were playing pretty much every night sometimes twice we never had the chance to sit down write an album and then promote it. Things were different then we were worked like dogs and unfortunately what I would call a proper Love Affair album was never recorded as such. Maybe if we had been given the opportunity we would have been taken more seriously by the media at the time and perhaps stayed together longer who knows? Such is life I am afraid we were branded Teenybopper and it was a bitter pill for the band because we kicked arse live ask anybody who saw us play then.
www.ready-steady-go.org.uk, September 08
My Favourite 45 by Steve Ellis
Steve Ellis, legendary singer with the seventies blue eyed soul band The Love Affair, is back with a brand new album, ‘Best Of Days’ which includes a new version of the classic ‘Everlasting Love’ alongside a cover of Paul Weller’s, ‘Brand New Start’ and brand new compositions. Both, Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller also appear on the album.
The man behind such perennial Mod club spins such as, ‘Loot’s The Root’ and ‘So Sorry’ took time out from promoting his latest release to tell RSG! readers about one of his favourite 45s.
“There are numerous great 45`s of the sixties so many in fact it is impossible to actually make one of them favourite” say Steve, “So (I’ll go for) a random shot "Positively 4th Street" by Bob Dylan”.
“Ironic as my musical tastes lay deeply in Black Soul & Blues Music because to be honest they have just got soul, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, David Ruffin, SamCooke, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim, Lightning Hopkins, Snooks Eaglin, Ray Charles, Paul Robeson et al, Tamla Motown, Stax, Oriole, Chess, Sue. Indefinable but they and hundreds more translated so much passion and feeling”.
“So for me to pick Bob Dylan is strange I suppose because Bob is no James Carr or Otis Redding or Etta James. Bob Dylan is to some a bumbling old man past his best, to some he is the messiah. Well folks sorry to disappoint but he is a human being and a great one at that. He has written so many classics it is ridiculous. Sure The Beatles and The Stones and to some degree Pete Townsend and The Who and not forgetting the sadly missed Marriott and Lane or Ray Davies and The Kinks all major players in the songwriting dept, in the sixties but Dylan keeps on writing them even to this day”.
“So back to the plot "Positively" is a great lyric in that it curses all the people who smile in your face and stab you in the back so to speak. The world is full of them but Dylan just brushes them aside stating "I know just where you’re at, you just want to be on the side that’s winning". Quality. I can’t say "The Hurricane " because it is 70`s but what a lyric......”
“I had a look through my CD’s before I typed this and the funny thing was I found I owned more Dylan than any other artist although the rest of the music is a very mixed bag indeed”.
“So from an old soldier/mod, Dylan takes 1st Prize”.