Will Birch

Will Birch, writer and lyricist, drummer and songwriter with the Kursaal Flyers and
The Records, author of No Sleep Till Canvey Island - The Great Pub Rock Revolution
and Ian Dury - The Definitive Biography

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STUDIO FROLICS

Various Record Production Credits
Yachts Suffice To Say

YACHTS Suffice To Say/ Freedom (Is A Heady Wine)
Stiff Records 45 Produced by Will Birch 1977
Recorded at Pathway Studio London, engineer Chas Hetherington

If I catch you playing drums again Ill chop you hands off, were the immortal words of Jake Riviera, insisting that I produce The Yachts for Stiff Records. I was well flattered; Stiff was a happening label and Liverpool beat merchants The Yachts sported a neat line in retro leisure wear. Great song too. 

The Records Starry Eyes

THE RECORDS Starry Eyes/ Paint Her Face
The Record Co/Virgin 45 Produced by Will Birch and Dennis Weinreich 1978
Recorded at Scorpio Studio London, engineer Dennis Weinreich

Although I was credited as producer, this was really a team effort.
But I knew how I wanted it to sound and got pretty close. We were on the Stiff 'train tour' backing Rachel Sweet at the time. We took copies of the 45 to New York when the Stiff tour played The Bottom Line and it got instant radio play on WNEW-FM. Thrilling.

Billy Bremner Loud Music In Cars

BILLY BREMNER Loud Music In Cars
Stiff Records 45 Produced by Will Birch 1981
Recorded at Eden Studio London, engineer Aldo Bocca

Billy Bremner was the dark horse of Rockpile, a modest and amusing chap who plays great guitar, writes beguiling melodies and sings from the heart. This was the start of our two year spell as co-writers, during which I think I heard every joke known to man. Thanks to Nick Lowe for the 'turn it up' suggestion.

Billy Bremner Laughter Turns To Tears

BILLY BREMNER Laughter Turns To Tears/ Tired And Emotional (And Probably Drunk)
Stiff Records 45 Produced by Will Birch 1982
Recorded at Rockfield Studios, engineers Paul Cobbold
, Aldo Bocca, Neill King

More fun with Bill. The song was originally entitled 'Laughter Turns To Screams', but Dave Robinson at Stiff put me right. It was later covered by the Hollies, who roped me in to produce. Check out Bill's sneaky guitar licks on the b-side, a song inspired by seeing The Coasters in Chicago in 1980.

Howard Werth Six Of One & Half A Dozen Of The Other

HOWARD WERTH Six Of One & Half A Dozen Of The Other
Demon Records LP Produced by Will Birch and Paul Bass 1982
Recorded at Ampro Studio London, engineer Paul Bass (Paul Riley)

Shake hands with a big voice. Formerly with Audience and exiled in LA, he returned to London with a portfolio of stirring songs. Jake had the idea of combining these with some sixties R&B covers. Much credit must go to Paul Riley for creating a tough sound and coming up with some cool production ideas.

Desmond Dekker Book Of Rules

DESMOND DEKKER Book Of Rules
Stiff Records 45 Produced by Will Birch 1982
Recorded at Eden Studio London, engineers Neill King, Aldo Bocca

This one sure stretched my limited capabilities, but Desmond was a dream to work with... such a great vocal talent. He also kept us spellbound with tales of making 'Israelites' with producer Leslie Kong, whose "heart burst over the mixing desk." Desmond's 'royalty' for 'Israelites' apparently consisted of a Ford Zephyr, a mohair suit and a gold-plated microphone.'

Billy Bremner Bash

BILLY BREMNER Bash!
Arista Records LP Produced by Will Birch 1983
Recorded at various studios including Eden, engineer Neill King
Arista A&R man Tarquin Gotch (no, really...) sponsored a full LP's worth of tunes from Bill, and good on him. Side one was made with Terry 'the greatest rock drummer in the world' Williams  Side two featured an equally great drummer, Bob Irwin. Bill and I slaved over the songs (in between trips to the turf accountants and Walton snooker hall), plus we enjoyed a contribution apiece from Elvis Costello and Chris Diffford/Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze.

Any Trouble Wrong End Of The Race

ANY TROUBLE Wrong End Of The Race
EMI America LP Produced by Will Birch and John Wood 1984
Recorded at Rampart Studio London/Penny Lane NY, engineer John Wood

Clive Gregson presented the job to me as a fait accompli involving the great John Wood, whose ear for sound knows no bound. The latter stages of this epic involved no less than three trips to NY, including a mixing session with the legendary Bob Clearmountain, who had just finished mixing 'Born in The USA'. His first and only question was, "what kind of sound are you guys looking for?" which was reasonable, I thought.

Makin' Time Here Is My Number

MAKIN' TIME Here Is My Number
Countdown Records 45 Produced by Will Birch and Pat Collier 1985
Recorded at Greenhouse Studio London, engineer Pat Collier

Countdown Records was a label run by Eddie Piller and Maxine Conroy, distributed by Stiff. The first exercise was a compilation LP featuring a dozen mod groups (third generation), the best of whom was Makin' Time, featuring the phenomenal vocal talent of Fay Hallam. No Makin' Time gig was complete without a post-show blood bath involving the various factions that [cont]...

Makin' Time Rhythm And Soul

MAKIN' TIME Rhythm And Soul
Countdown Records LP Produced by Will Birch and Pat Collier 1985
Recorded at Greenhouse Studio/Workhouse London, engineer Pat Collier

....followed the group. I ended up 'managing' them. 'Here Is My Number', which Pat Collier turned into a hit sound, hovered around the bottom reaches of the chart for weeks but failed to break. The LP 'Rhythm And Soul' contained many amazing moments and introduced the world to the sound of young Willenhall (West Midlands).

Long Ryders Looking For Lewis And Clark

THE LONG RYDERS Looking For Lewis And Clark
Island Records 45 Produced by Will Birch 1985
Recorded at Chipping Norton Studios, engineer
Neill King
I loved the Long Ryders first full length indie LP 'Native Sons' for its post punk take on the Byrds/Burrito Brothers. Astonished to be offered the job of producing their major label debut, I nipped over to LA for song routining purposes, returning to the idyllic Chipping Norton to cut. The rocking 'Lewis and Clark' was a minor  hit single, but the album, described by Time Out as  [cont]... 

Long Ryders State Of Our Union

THE LONG RYDERS State Of Our Union
Island Records LP Produced by Will Birch 1985
Recorded at Chipping Norton Studios, engineer
Neill King
..."the most under-produced record ever to appear on a major label" (the birth of alt. country  lo-fi, natch), failed to happen. Of course, I would blame the 'Paisley Underground' backlash.. it was bargepole time for the Long Ryders before their 1985 plane even touched down, but Sid and the guys were a warm bunch and a privilege to work with. Great live, too.

Dr Feelgood Brilleaux

DR FEELGOOD Brilleaux
Stiff Records LP Produced by Will Birch 1986
Recorded at Trackside Studios Southend, engineer
Neill King
According to legend, the launch of Stiff Records in 1976 was enabled by a 400 loan from Lee Brilleaux. 10 years later, the Feelgoods turned up on the roster, releasing two albums, this and 'Classic' (1987) in the dying days of the label. The object of 'Brilleaux' was to try and get the group some radio play and the single 'Don't Wait Up', whilst not a hit, was the first time I'd heard a new Feelgoods' single on Radio 1 in many years.

Dr Feelgood Primo

DR FEELGOOD Primo
Grand Records LP Produced by Will Birch 1990
Recorded at Greenhouse Studio London, engineer Paul Tipler

Dr Feelgood launched their own label, Grand Records, in 1988 to handle reissues from their catalogue and the occasional new recording, such as 'Primo'. Whilst not 100% true to the group's R&B roots, a varied selection of covers (The Doors, J J Cale, Los Lobos) made for an entertaining record on which Lee gave his all, despite declining health. The album also includes a cover of the Kursaal Flyers' 'My Sugar Turns To Alcohol'.

Homeme