John Howard & The Night Mail

TR 317CD TR 317CD

In 1975 CBS released Kid in a Big World, the debut LP by a golden-voiced young piano man called John Howard. But somehow, between glam and pub rock, this early masterpiece fell through the gaps. The world may have been ready for Bowie flirting with androgyny, but not quite ready yet for an out gay pop star. Forty years later, in 2015, Canterbury-based/Vienna-born pop writer and musician Robert Rotifer enticed this living singer-songwriter legend back to England from his Spanish exile to work on the collaborative project John Howard & The Night Mail. Apart from Howard himself on vocals and piano and Rotifer on guitar the band features Andy Lewis (Paul Weller's bassist, DJ and Acid Jazz label regular) on bass and Mellotron and Ian Button (Papernut Cambridge, ex-Death in Vegas, ex-The Thrashing Doves) on drums. Apart from the Roddy Frame cover "Small World" ("Great! Brilliant! I'm flattered," says Frame), Lewis, Button, and Rotifer share all the writing credits with John Howard. And as Howard's fingers touch the keys on "Intact & Smiling," the '60s soul-flavored lead single he co-wrote with Lewis, you can sense the electricity of finally playing together with a full band in the studio again after all those years. It's nothing less than the joyful rebirth of an almost forgotten hero of British pop history. "John, though he always creates fictional characters for his songs, had also given a lot away about himself between the lines. About his youth and discovering the magic of pop ('In the Light of Fires Burning'), his struggles with society's blinkered sexual attitudes ('Safety in Numbers'), his compulsive need for things to be just right ('Control Freak'), and the harsh realities of growing old ('Before'). As for the music... We'd hit the ground running and never stopped until the whole record was finished three days later in a grand tour de force of John doing all of his vocals in one single day... I'm listening to the record now, and I feel none of the doubts that usually hang around well after one has finished an album, because it was all done in such a breeze, with no time for self-conscience or second-guessing. I know Ian and Andy feel the same. But most of all we can't wait to see John again and take The Night Mail on the road." --Robert Rotifer, Canterbury, March 2015