Peter Cox – 20 Questions
He is a man who can sing in many styles and not always flat out but always with warmth and authority. His work with Go West is justifiably renowned and his solo works well worth hearing. Here, he fields a set of tailored questions from Pete and his responses are informative and illuminating. Thank you Peter!
- Which Go West cuts do you still especially really enjoy performing and why please is this?
I get a kick out of the fact that audiences know the words to and sing along with songs I was involved in writing over 30 years ago, and ‘We Close Our Eyes’ always gets a good reaction.
- Give us an instance of where Drummie was right and you were wrong
That’s never happened! Seriously – as soon as we’d finished writing ‘The King Of Wishful Thinking’ Richard said ‘that’s a hit’. Whether or not any song ever makes it onto the radio is subject to so many variables – I’ve never felt that kind of certainty.
- A favourite bassline on a dance recording? And why?
I’m not a fan of what passes for ‘dance music’ today – but if it can be called ‘dance’ I’d go with the bassline to Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’. It was an influence when writing ‘We Close Our Eyes’.
- Best rock’n’roll swagger recording NOT by the Rolling Stones
I’m bound to say ‘Free Live’ – for me it has all the ‘swagger’ you could ask for. Soul, attitude, space – the whole greater than the sum of its parts, and for me, the best male singer this country has ever produced.
- An acoustic gem? What song/tune and who by? what’s the appeal?
Rickie Lee Jones’ ‘Last Chance Texaco’. I love the lyrical idea and the song has such atmosphere.
- Which artist did you go to see perform with low expectations but ended up impressed? Where and when was this?
I was at The Marquee to see Back Street Crawler’s benefit gig for Paul Kossoff . The support act was AC/DC, just over (for the first time, I believe) from Oz. I remember thinking ‘what a terrible name’ – and when Angus took the stage in ‘the outfit’ I thought ‘w**ker’. You can guess the rest. Jaw dropping. They blew the ROOF off and then some. I’m still a huge fan.
When you were on that US Eighties revival tour as shown on TV, how did you get on with Leee John? Cards on table, we love this guy and he even helped our Glenn with his A levels and film soundtracks … what other memories do you have of that period?
Leee is a sweetheart. He was the first of the cast of ‘Reborn In The USA’ to stand up to the manipulation by the production crew – they would have done ANYTHING for drama! He can’t hold his champagne, though..!
- Can you dance? Do you dance? How do your family rate your dancing?
I am not a dancer. ‘No s**t!’, says anyone who knows me..!
- Name a recording (an album maybe) that really ‘grew’ on you and has ended up as essential listening ? What is it about this recording that you value?
Miles Davis ‘Kind Of Blue’. Ron Fair, the A&R man who signed us introduced me to it. It was a different dimension completely to my listening up until that time. Peerless, seemingly effortless musicianship. Gorgeous.
- My favourite song of yours is ‘The King Is Dead’ with its cross-time piano runs….please tell us about this song
Glad you like it. The original chord progression was Richard’s – he likes the black notes – they stick up further! We had been working live with Peter John Vettese playing keyboards. He came to the studio and just OWNED the song, referencing influences unknown to us. His piano performance is brilliant.
- Suggest a song that reminds you of your childhood – and why might this be?
The Beatles ‘Love Me Do’. Wicked bluesy harmonica, for starters. As kids my mates and I would stand on the steps at school and pretend we were playing this song onstage. The beginning of my musical aspirations, perhaps.
- Name a great recording including in the title 1/ Green 2/ White 3/ Black
1. Vangelis – Memories Of Green. I love Vangelis – fashionable or not! Beautiful.
2. Cream – White Room. Part of my listening transition from reggae to rock..
3. Back In Black – AC/DC. Knucklehead riffage!
A recording that makes you laugh … intentionally or otherwise!
Todd Rundgren’s ‘Bang The Drum All Day’ from ‘The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect’.
- Name an actor or actress who made a listenable song recording – and what’s the appeal?
If you haven’t seen the YouTube clip of Robert Downey Jr. singing ‘Driven To Tears’ onstage with Sting, you should check it out – but I’m going with Kristen Bell who, amongst many other roles, plays a wickedly dark character in ‘House Of Lies’ – and voices Princess Anna in Disney’s ‘Frozen’. Overachiever!
- Has a radio DJ anywhere (and any era) ever impressed you and if so why?
When I used to listen to the radio (!) I guess John Peel would be the man. I didn’t share his taste a lot of the time – but he wasn’t ‘slave to a playlist’, constantly introducing new music and broadening listeners’ horizons.
- Best 2nd or follow up album of all time and why? (I love The Doors ‘Strange Days’)
‘Best’ is subjective! I’m going with Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’. In addition to her wonderful voice, which led to a crowd of ‘soundalikes’, she was a brilliant lyricist, writing absolutely authentically (it seems to me) about her life experience. A tragic loss.
- Where in the world in your opinion is live music best received? What venues appeal?
In my experience, UK audiences are the best! Of course it’s great to play to 20,000 people at a festival – but there’s something special about the intimate atmosphere of a small, sweaty gig..
- Two or three songs with great actual endings (not fades) by The Who or The Beatles? Or both acts!
‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by The Who – ‘She Loves You’ by The Beatles.
- Two tickets suddenly arrive for a live performance, they are for someone you have always wanted to see… which act or artist? And which numbers will be hoping to hear?
Prince. I’d love to hear ‘Face Down’ and ‘Joy In Repetition’ live – but the man’s a genius. So many brilliant songs – whatever he played would be fine with me!
- Name a TV series where the theme music was better than the actual shows and do you know who created or recorded it?
I don’t know about ‘better than the shows’ – but I’d never have heard Alt-J’s ‘Left Hand Free’ if not for the TV show ‘Strikeback’, or discovered Anders Osborne if I hadn’t heard his ‘Black Tar’ in the context of ‘Banshee’.
Peter Cox’s solo record ‘Damn The Brakes’ is available now. For more information visit: www.peter-cox.org
For CDs and DVDs visit: www.petercox.tmstor.es
(Thanks TG for help with this article)