Jim Diamond's personal account of "City of Soul"...
CITY OF SOUL by Jim Diamond
Sir Tom Hunter, through his foundation, is a man who the underprivileged of the world hold in great esteem. How many lives he has touched and saved and how much money he has raised will probably never be known. All that we, the people of Scotland, know is that we love and admire him and are proud to call him one of our own.
Every year, Sir Tom, in conjunction with Radio Clyde, the local radio station, puts on a fund raising evening in Glasgow for the Charity Cash for Kids which is always a tremendous event. As Sir Tom has a great passion for music it is always the core at these evenings which I have been lucky enough to have been asked on a few occasions to perform at. And like all the artists past and present it has been my honour to do so.
At last year’s concert all those taking part were lucky enough to be supported by the most fantastic band of Scottish musicians featuring Wet Wet Wet’s Tommy Cunningham on drums, Hue and Cry’s Greg Kane on keyboards; Garry John Kane, from the Proclaimers on bass guitar and Brian McFie, Marianne Faithfull’s guitarist. Also John Milne with his fantastic horn section and of course, Hammond organ, from young Stevie Mulhearn. And then the icing on the cake – three tremendous young Glaswegian singers – Tippi, Joe and Lynnie. A soul band to die for!
The night turned out a great success with people quite literally dancing in the streets. I was approached that night by Sir Tom and asked if I would be prepared to do a soul record (soul music being his great love as well as being mine) which his foundation would finance and from which all the proceeds would go to the charity Cash for Kids.
I immediately started to compile a list of songs for the project but I ended up with a list of 60 titles and that had been pared down from a 100! Tamla Motown, Stax, Atlantic – so many amazing songs- how does one get it to 12. And then a eureka moment – as a kid in Glasgow I sang, like many of my contempories in pubs, clubs and YMCAs battering out soul music and there were certain songs that were not only part of my repertoire but also the repertoire of most of the bands on the circuit at that time.
So I met up with Sir Tom in London told him my ideas – an album of 12 classic soul songs that we would call “The City of Soul” A tribute not only to the music but to the city we both love.
Now for the band:- my first call was to Tommy from the Wets – and as I expected no hesitation - of course he would do it. I got the same reaction from all the musicians I approached. So the band that had backed me on the Cash for Kids evening - to a man and woman - were all in.
The studio was booked and rehearsals arranged. Tommy was a rock and as I am based in London he did most if not all of the legwork. Likewise Greg who had extensive knowledge through his production work of how to attain the authentic sounds of those records we all loved so much. With these two now firm friends and the commitment of all the musicians, the project was on its way.
We rehearsed and recorded and mixed the album in 14 days. No overdubs, all live. If a mistake was made or we weren’t happy with the feel of that take then we started again from the top so all the performances you hear are what happened then and there. No smoke, no mirrors – just like it used to be. Horns and backing vocals were then put on top.
I am only one of the many musicians that made this record possible and we sincerely hope that you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it. Every penny that this record hopefully makes will go directly to the charity.
Peace to you and yours, Jim Diamond, City of Soul.