Rinaldi Sings — Features

Rinaldi Sings Interview » November 2003

Steve Rinaldi talks about the origins of the Rinaldi Sings sound and how the album came to be recorded.

Steve in parka.

How did Rinaldi Sings come about?
"It all started with the mutual love of one record, Steve Flynn's 'Mr Rainbow'. I used to be in a band called The Moment and one day when I was travelling in a car with the music journalist Chris Hunt, I heard the tune on one of Chris's compilation tapes. We got talking about how great the record was, how fantastic the arrangement was, and how we'd love to try and make a record that sounded like it was recorded in 1967. Obviously it was never going to happen with The Moment, who were a bit more guitar-based — and anyway, I wasn't the singer with The Moment. We carried on talking about the idea for years and that talk eventually turned into a project that Chris Hunt nicknamed Rinaldi Sings — and the name just kind of stuck."

What was special about that particular song?
"Well, first of all the melody is an unforgettable evocation of summer. The Iyrics are positive, upbeat and quintessentially Sixties, and it has a baroque string arrangement and soaring backing vocals. It's an overblown, overproduced monster of a track that even artists who are working in a similar area to us, who are similarly fascinated with the pop music of the Sixties, weren't able, or even trying to produce."

What made you think that you would be able to produce something like that?
"Well, to make it sound like you have an orchestra playing on it, you first need an orchestra — and for me that was no problem! Not only did I have a classical training, but also I was working as a session trombonist and became friends with lots of young and talented professional musicians. When word got out about the project, many of the guys volunteered the play on the album. We had always said that if the idea was going work, we needed to record with real instruments, so the album features strings, woodwind, percussion and brass — my Rinaldi Sings Orchestra."

The album was co-produced by Ian Shaw and Paul Bevoir.
"I'd worked with Ian Shaw before with The Moment, and I had heard his work with artists such as Edward Ball, Mood Six, Nick Heyward and Kelly's Heels. He has such a great ear for classical instruments and I really couldn't have completed this project with anyone else.

"As we wanted to produce an album that sounded like it was recorded in Soho in 1967, we brought in Paul Bevoir to work alongside Ian Shaw. His entire back catalogue with The Jetset owes a huge debt to bubblegum pop of the Sixties and he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the required musical reference points. This combination of producers, together with my own orchestrations and arrangements, has made for a great album."

The album also boasts a strong northern soul flavour.
"The songs have two distinct stylistic influences — pure Sixties pop and northern soul. With this album it was fantastic to have the calibre of players at my disposal to allow me to write songs and arrangements that reflect this influence. It is impossible to recreate the sound of the 'northern' artists that I like the most, like Little Anthony and The Imperials for instance — I just don't sing like Little Anthony! But what we were after was that British version, the sound of artists like Jack Hammer, The Love Affair, The Foundations and Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon.

"I'm particularly fascinated by the idea of brassy, orchestrated pop tunes that became 'northern' monsters — there's a fine line between those Wigan crossover records and Sixties British pop artists like Steve Flynn and the Barry Lee Show. Stuff like Tony Christie singing Avenues And Alleyways. That's the point where I start to get really interested and that's the kind of sound we set out to make."

Are there any plans to play live?
"Oh yes! Originally the project was just going to be for the recording studio — a kind of eccentric singer/songwriter kind of thing. But we were so enthused by the finished recordings that we've put a seven-piece band together and we play our first gigs in December 2003."

And when will we finally see a record out?
"Well, we're talking to record companies at the moment. It depends on what happens from these discussions, but we're looking at a single early in 2004, with the album to follow a little later."

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