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ALAN GLEN

Alan Glen is guitarist with one of London’s most sophisticated Blues/Jazz trios The Barcodes;  the  band consisting of some noted names on the British scene , Bob Haddrell on keyboards and Dino Coccia on drums; their new release has been long awaited ; it’s a quality collection of jazz flavoured swinging R&B and features several guests including Papa George, Paul Cox and Val Cowell.  We touched base with Alan just before he flew off to the CD launch at Brooks Blues Bar and at various other locations. He talked about the new album and his career and added some pointed comments on the recent so called British Blues Awards.

 

 Alan Glen

 

 

I see the album is called ‘BE COOL – the very best of THE BARCODES -tell us about the content (songs / originals / covers / obscure covers, etc)

There are 10 original songs and instrumentals & 7 covers which we’ve arranged in our own style

And have you got a tour or launch gigs lined up?

We have an album launch gig with some special guests on Saturday 9th April at Tony Bell’s venue ‘Brooks Blues Bar’ You can find other dates on our website – www.thebarcodes.co.uk

 

HOW DID THE LAUNCH GIG GO?

It was a great night actually – you can find some tracks  on Youtube

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diHJmoBzjeY

 

WHAT WAS THE THINKING BEHIND A ‘BEST OF’ RATHER THAN A NEW ALBUM?

Fit was mainly aimed at those who haven’t bought any of our four albums – but would like to have something of us in their collection – this record really sums up our ‘sound’.

 

 

ANY PLANS FOR A NEW ALBUM

We have enough material for a new studio album – but the with way CD sales are going generally at present for most bands – we’re not sure when that might be – it really depends on our record company ( Note records )

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-JbZQWDcog

 

I had a look at your bio on Wikipedia and it’s pretty impressive, but its all about you as a harmonica player; surely you’re just as much a guitar player?

guess because I’ve been in some ‘name’ bands such as ‘The Yardbirds’ and ‘Nine

Below Zero’ where I was purely a harmonica player – that’s what most people associate me with – however I have always played guitar – in fact I started with guitar first.

Bob Hadrell

Bob Hadrell Keys & Vocals

 

When I first saw you play as a guitarist and I was very taken with the style, what I noted particularly was your skill as an accompanist; solos were also very good; what’s your philosophy on playing guitar?

I find that very few guitarists these days, in the UK, know how to accompany a harp player properly. Most seem to go for Stevie Ray Vaughan / Hendrix / Clapton rock blues lead guitar. I have made more of a study of the guys that helped Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson sound great – namely Robert Junior Lockwood, the Myers brothers and others in the Chess house band.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuaJsqcZM28

 

Do you think there is too much emphasis on guitar ‘solos’ as against the all-round use of the guitar as an accompanying instrument?

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy playing a Peter Green or BB King style solo as much as the next man but I am just as happy playing rhythm guitar parts behind someone else to enhance what they are doing.

Your major influences on guitar

Kenny Burrell is my all-time favourite Jazz guitarist and he influences my playing in ‘The Barcodes’ – particularly on our instrumentals. I guess I tend to prefer the less-is-more style of playing on the whole.

KENNY BURRELL IS KNOWN AS A JAZZER, THOUGH HE’S ALSO A GREAT BLUES PLAYER. DO YOULISTEN TO ANY OTHER PLAYERS IN THE JAZZ FIELD?

I love Grant Green & Howard Roberts; – and in this country Jim Mullen & Nigel Price.

DO YOU PLAY [ON GUITAR] MUCH IN JAZZ THAT’S OUTSIDE THE BLUES – LIKE DO YOU PLAY THROUGH ‘RHYTHM CHANGES’ OR STANDARDS, THAT SORT OF THING?

Well I sometimes play Jazz gigs where I do a few standards stuff like Summertime / Sonny / Moondance / Watermelon Man – you know – the bluesier type of tunes – I certainly don’t claim to be a Jazz Guitarist and I don’t do ‘Fly me to the Moon’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRM7xG11PdE

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR GUITARS [LIKE THAT LOVELY OLD 335]

It’s a cherry red 1968 Gibson 335 – I just love it – it’s my sound – I seldom use anything else – I have an Epiphone Les Paul – it’s a spare really – in case I break a string – I’m really slow at putting  strings on – I have also a ‘Vintage’ Jazz Guitar – which I sometimes use on recordings, and a really nice ‘Lakewood’ acoustic guitar.

Let’s turn to harmonica – who are your major influences?

Little Walter – he was, and still is, my favourite; also Sonny Terry / Junior Wells / Magic Dick / Kim Wilson & many more. When I was 17 (1968) I went to see the Muddy Waters Band – and at that time Paul Oscher was playing harp in the band. What struck me was that he had the smallest instrument – but he made the biggest sound ! That was the moment when I decided I wanted to be a blues harmonica player.

Do you play chromatic and diatonic?

Mostly diatonic – I have used the chromatic on some recordings – but I prefer the sound of the diatonic

We’ll be talking in much more depth soon, but for now; I’m intrigued by how it all started for you – I note you were born in Germany so is that where you started or the UK?

I was born in Germany because my father was in the British army and was stationed there – I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 16 and back living in the UK. I think the first blues I heard was by The Rolling Stones -their version of ‘I’m a King Bee’ helped me to search out the original version by Slim Harpo. I started buying records on Chess & Veejay,and went to see all the American Folk Blues Festivals that came to England in the late 60′s and early 70′s. I also developed a love for Jimmy Smith / Georgie Fame & Zoot Money style Hammond blues, which has stayed with me and which eventually led to me getting together with Bob & Dino in the late 90′s to record the first album by ‘The Barcodes’

 

 

THERE WAS QUITE A SCENE WITH UK BANDS PLAYING IN US AIR BASES, AND CLUBS IN HAMBURG – WHERE YOU VERY AWARE OF THAT WHEN YOUNG?

No – I only knew what I heard on British Forces Radio – mostly Matt Munro and Sinatra – but I bought my first record in a German record shop – ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ by The Byrds. Their first album is still one of my all-time favourites.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT EARLY GIGS / BANDS / WHO YOU STARTED OUT WITH, ETC?

I was in a band playing Harp & Slide when I was in the 6th form at school in Gravesend – 1969 – called ‘Shadrak Virgin’ – we supported Free and also Deep Purple – and nearly got a deal with Blue Horizon Records – other early bands were ‘Crowjane’ & ‘Italian Parcels’ – in the 80′s I was in the ‘Radical Sheiks’ [great band and I’m sure I saw Alan with them at the Railway Tavern in Hornsey – it was a pitifully small audience, but the band played superbly, out of their skins- a real example of professionalism – Ed]- we supported BB King at Hammersmith Odeon – Albert King at Town & Country Club – also Albert Collins there – Johnny Winter / Dr John / Billy boy Arnold at Dingwalls and had a residency every Friday at the Caernarvon Castle at Camden Lock [Those were the pre-Indie days when Camden had proper paid venues-Ed]. I was also in the ‘Brothers Grimm’ for a year in 1990 before Joining Nine Below Zero in 1991.

As I said the CV is very impressive so what’s your career highlight so far?

Highlights – It’s hard to name just one -  recording a track with Jeff Beck at his house was pretty cool – Playing with ‘Slash’ in Texas – supporting Eric Clapton for 12 nights at the Royal Albert Hall with ‘Nine Below Zero’ – Womad with ‘Little Axe’ last year – ‘Ronnie Scott’s’ last week.

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR TIME WITH THE YARDBIRDS – WHAT WAS THE BAND’S SITUATION WHEN YOU JOINED / HOW IT WENT WITH THEM, ETC  

I joined in 1996 and was with them until 2003 when I left – however I went back with them for a year in 2008-9. The original members are Jim McCarty on Drums & Chris Dreja on guitar – John Idan was on vocals & bass, and Gypie Mayo on lead guitar – we recorded the ‘Birdland’ album at Steve Vai’s studio in Hollywood with some special guest guitarists – Steve / Joe Satriani / Steve Lukather / Brian May / Jeff Beck / Skunk Baxter – and we played some nice gigs – Hilton Las Vegas / Hollywood House of Blues ( with Vai & Lukather ) Austin South by Southwest Fest ( with Vai / ‘Slash’ & Skunk Baxter ). We also toured the USA & Canada with The Animals in Aretha Franklin’s tourbus and did loads of gigs in Europe

HAVING PLAYED WIDELY ON THE BLUES / R&B SCENE, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PRESENT SITUATION, FOR GIGGING MUSOS, YOUNG BANDS, ETC,

Bit tough at present [that’s putting it mildly – Ed]

THE QUESTION OF BLUES AWARDS HAS GENERATED SOME DEBATE RECENTLY, WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON THEM?

If you are going to call yourself ‘The British Blues Awards’ and try to be taken seriously like the American Awards – you need to do the job properly. To win in a category where half the best musicians haven’t even been nominated renders the award pointless and means they’re worth much less (no offence intended to those nominated ).

DO YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE CANVASSING FORVOTES?

It’s inevitable that this will happen. It probably wouldn’t take that many votes to win.

 

 

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS (MUSICAL)

Many – here’s a list Kenny Burrell / Little Walter / Aretha Franklin / Miles Davis / Jimmy Smith / Howlin’ Wolf / Vladimir Ashkenazy / Junior Wells / Peter Green / Muddy Waters / Georgie Fame / Mose Allison -and many more.

 

…AND YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE GUITAR PLAYER?

Kenny Burrell

 

WHAT ABOUT INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF MUSIC?

I like Theatre / Art /  and my ’77 VW Campervan…

 

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH

The old Hancock Half Hour radio shows and these days ‘Lead Balloon’ and ‘Have I got News for You’

HAVE YOU GOT ANY AMBITIONS STILL TO FULFILL?

I’ve had some music I’ve written used in a couple of films and on TV – but nothings earned a fortune yet – how about the theme to a long-running TV series syndicated world-wide with enough PRS to buy a farmhouse in the

Cotswolds and a big house in Jamaica!

THE TRACK YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF

From a Harmonica view – probably ‘Zip Your Lip’ – from a Guitar view – possibly

‘Angle of Dissent’ – from a song-writing view probably ‘Crazy Life’.

 

So we wished Alan & Co good luck for the future and with the new album

 

Garfield DuBois

 

 

Alan Glen is guitarist with one of London’s most sophisticated Blues/Jazz trios The Barcodes;  the  band consisting of some noted names on the British scene , Bob Haddrell on keyboards and Dino Coccia on drums; their new release has been long awaited ; it’s a quality collection of jazz flavoured swinging R&B and features several guests including Papa George, Paul Cox and Val Cowell.  We touched base with Alan just before he flew off to the CD launch at Brooks Blues Bar and at various other locations. He talked about the new album and his career and added some pointed comments on the recent so called British Blues Awards.

 

 

 

I see the album is called ‘BE COOL – the very best of THE BARCODES -tell us about the content (songs / originals / covers / obscure covers, etc)

There are 10 original songs and instrumentals & 7 covers which we’ve arranged in our own style

And have you got a tour or launch gigs lined up?

We have an album launch gig with some special guests on Saturday 9th April at Tony Bell’s venue ‘Brooks Blues Bar’ You can find other dates on our website – www.thebarcodes.co.uk

 

HOW DID THE LAUNCH GIG GO?

It was a great night actually – you can find some tracks  on Youtube

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diHJmoBzjeY

 

WHAT WAS THE THINKING BEHIND A ‘BEST OF’ RATHER THAN A NEW ALBUM?

Fit was mainly aimed at those who haven’t bought any of our four albums – but would like to have something of us in their collection – this record really sums up our ‘sound’.

 

 

ANY PLANS FOR A NEW ALBUM

We have enough material for a new studio album – but the with way CD sales are going generally at present for most bands – we’re not sure when that might be – it really depends on our record company ( Note records )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-JbZQWDcog

 

I had a look at your bio on Wikipedia and it’s pretty impressive, but its all about you as a harmonica player; surely you’re just as much a guitar player?

guess because I’ve been in some ‘name’ bands such as ‘The Yardbirds’ and ‘Nine

Below Zero’ where I was purely a harmonica player – that’s what most people associate me with – however I have always played guitar – in fact I started with guitar first.


Bob Hadrell Keys & Vocals

 

When I first saw you play as a guitarist and I was very taken with the style, what I noted particularly was your skill as an accompanist; solos were also very good; what’s your philosophy on playing guitar?

I find that very few guitarists these days, in the UK, know how to accompany a harp player properly. Most seem to go for Stevie Ray Vaughan / Hendrix / Clapton rock blues lead guitar. I have made more of a study of the guys that helped Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson sound great – namely Robert Junior Lockwood, the Myers brothers and others in the Chess house band.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuaJsqcZM28

 

Do you think there is too much emphasis on guitar ‘solos’ as against the all-round use of the guitar as an accompanying instrument?

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy playing a Peter Green or BB King style solo as much as the next man but I am just as happy playing rhythm guitar parts behind someone else to enhance what they are doing.

Your major influences on guitar

Kenny Burrell is my all-time favourite Jazz guitarist and he influences my playing in ‘The Barcodes’ – particularly on our instrumentals. I guess I tend to prefer the less-is-more style of playing on the whole.

KENNY BURRELL IS KNOWN AS A JAZZER, THOUGH HE’S ALSO A GREAT BLUES PLAYER. DO YOULISTEN TO ANY OTHER PLAYERS IN THE JAZZ FIELD?

I love Grant Green & Howard Roberts; – and in this country Jim Mullen & Nigel Price.

DO YOU PLAY [ON GUITAR] MUCH IN JAZZ THAT’S OUTSIDE THE BLUES – LIKE DO YOU PLAY THROUGH ‘RHYTHM CHANGES’ OR STANDARDS, THAT SORT OF THING?

Well I sometimes play Jazz gigs where I do a few standards stuff like Summertime / Sonny / Moondance / Watermelon Man – you know – the bluesier type of tunes – I certainly don’t claim to be a Jazz Guitarist and I don’t do ‘Fly me to the Moon’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRM7xG11PdE

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR GUITARS [LIKE THAT LOVELY OLD 335]

It’s a cherry red 1968 Gibson 335 – I just love it – it’s my sound – I seldom use anything else – I have an Epiphone Les Paul – it’s a spare really – in case I break a string – I’m really slow at putting  strings on – I have also a ‘Vintage’ Jazz Guitar – which I sometimes use on recordings, and a really nice ‘Lakewood’ acoustic guitar.

Let’s turn to harmonica – who are your major influences?

Little Walter – he was, and still is, my favourite; also Sonny Terry / Junior Wells / Magic Dick / Kim Wilson & many more. When I was 17 (1968) I went to see the Muddy Waters Band – and at that time Paul Oscher was playing harp in the band. What struck me was that he had the smallest instrument – but he made the biggest sound ! That was the moment when I decided I wanted to be a blues harmonica player.

Do you play chromatic and diatonic?

Mostly diatonic – I have used the chromatic on some recordings – but I prefer the sound of the diatonic

We’ll be talking in much more depth soon, but for now; I’m intrigued by how it all started for you – I note you were born in Germany so is that where you started or the UK?

I was born in Germany because my father was in the British army and was stationed there – I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 16 and back living in the UK. I think the first blues I heard was by The Rolling Stones -their version of ‘I’m a King Bee’ helped me to search out the original version by Slim Harpo. I started buying records on Chess & Veejay,and went to see all the American Folk Blues Festivals that came to England in the late 60′s and early 70′s. I also developed a love for Jimmy Smith / Georgie Fame & Zoot Money style Hammond blues, which has stayed with me and which eventually led to me getting together with Bob & Dino in the late 90′s to record the first album by ‘The Barcodes’

 

 

THERE WAS QUITE A SCENE WITH UK BANDS PLAYING IN US AIR BASES, AND CLUBS IN HAMBURG – WHERE YOU VERY AWARE OF THAT WHEN YOUNG?

No – I only knew what I heard on British Forces Radio – mostly Matt Munro and Sinatra – but I bought my first record in a German record shop – ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ by The Byrds. Their first album is still one of my all-time favourites.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT EARLY GIGS / BANDS / WHO YOU STARTED OUT WITH, ETC?

I was in a band playing Harp & Slide when I was in the 6th form at school in Gravesend – 1969 – called ‘Shadrak Virgin’ – we supported Free and also Deep Purple – and nearly got a deal with Blue Horizon Records – other early bands were ‘Crowjane’ & ‘Italian Parcels’ – in the 80′s I was in the ‘Radical Sheiks’ [great band and I’m sure I saw Alan with them at the Railway Tavern in Hornsey – it was a pitifully small audience, but the band played superbly, out of their skins- a real example of professionalism – Ed]- we supported BB King at Hammersmith Odeon – Albert King at Town & Country Club – also Albert Collins there – Johnny Winter / Dr John / Billy boy Arnold at Dingwalls and had a residency every Friday at the Caernarvon Castle at Camden Lock [Those were the pre-Indie days when Camden had proper paid venues-Ed]. I was also in the ‘Brothers Grimm’ for a year in 1990 before Joining Nine Below Zero in 1991.

As I said the CV is very impressive so what’s your career highlight so far?

Highlights – It’s hard to name just one -  recording a track with Jeff Beck at his house was pretty cool – Playing with ‘Slash’ in Texas – supporting Eric Clapton for 12 nights at the Royal Albert Hall with ‘Nine Below Zero’ – Womad with ‘Little Axe’ last year – ‘Ronnie Scott’s’ last week.

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR TIME WITH THE YARDBIRDS – WHAT WAS THE BAND’S SITUATION WHEN YOU JOINED / HOW IT WENT WITH THEM, ETC  

I joined in 1996 and was with them until 2003 when I left – however I went back with them for a year in 2008-9. The original members are Jim McCarty on Drums & Chris Dreja on guitar – John Idan was on vocals & bass, and Gypie Mayo on lead guitar – we recorded the ‘Birdland’ album at Steve Vai’s studio in Hollywood with some special guest guitarists – Steve / Joe Satriani / Steve Lukather / Brian May / Jeff Beck / Skunk Baxter – and we played some nice gigs – Hilton Las Vegas / Hollywood House of Blues ( with Vai & Lukather ) Austin South by Southwest Fest ( with Vai / ‘Slash’ & Skunk Baxter ). We also toured the USA & Canada with The Animals in

Aretha Franklin’s tourbus and did loads of gigs in Europe  

HAVING PLAYED WIDELY ON THE BLUES / R&B SCENE, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PRESENT SITUATION, FOR GIGGING MUSOS, YOUNG BANDS, ETC,

Bit tough at present [that’s putting it mildly – Ed]

THE QUESTION OF BLUES AWARDS HAS GENERATED SOME DEBATE RECENTLY, WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON THEM?

If you are going to call yourself ‘The British Blues Awards’ and try to be taken seriously like the American Awards – you need to do the job properly. To win in a category where half the best musicians haven’t even been nominated renders the award pointless and means they’re worth much less (no offence intended to those nominated ).

DO YOU THINK THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE CANVASSING FORVOTES?

It’s inevitable that this will happen. It probably wouldn’t take that many votes to win.

 

 

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS (MUSICAL)

Many – here’s a list Kenny Burrell / Little Walter / Aretha Franklin / Miles Davis / Jimmy Smith / Howlin’ Wolf / Vladimir Ashkenazy / Junior Wells / Peter Green / Muddy Waters / Georgie Fame / Mose Allison -and many more.

 

…AND YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE GUITAR PLAYER?

Kenny Burrell

 

WHAT ABOUT INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF MUSIC?

I like Theatre / Art /  and my ’77 VW Campervan…

 

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH

The old Hancock Half Hour radio shows and these days ‘Lead Balloon’ and ‘Have I got News for You’

HAVE YOU GOT ANY AMBITIONS STILL TO FULFILL?

I’ve had some music I’ve written used in a couple of films and on TV – but nothings earned a fortune yet – how about the theme to a long-running TV series syndicated world-wide with enough PRS to buy a farmhouse in the

Cotswolds and a big house in Jamaica!

THE TRACK YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF

From a Harmonica view – probably ‘Zip Your Lip’ – from a Guitar view – possibly

‘Angle of Dissent’ – from a song-writing view probably ‘Crazy Life’.

 

So we wished Alan & Co good luck for the future and with the new album

 

Garfield DuBois

 

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