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MP3 William Topley - All in the Downs

William''s music is smorgasbord of diverse styles, all laid down over a bed of the blues. He combines folk and rock; and ties it together with some phenominal song writing.

10 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Folk Blues, BLUES: Acoustic Blues

All In The Downs - Track by track notes:

"Of green men and real ales in folk song and sailors tale from western isles and Sultans towers with British beef and Indies flower all in the downs the fleet was moored. In taverns far from foreign shores"

Three years ago when I moved to the Hampshire countryside, I found myself
living in the same village a producer/engineer and friend called Nick Davis. He had mixed four tracks for the Blessing during the Locust sessions, and we got on well and stayed in touch.

For a recording musician, a man like Nick is an indispensable asset. Years of experience recording some of the best bands in the world brings judgement, speed and ''people skills'' in equal measure. He was going to need all three.

After nearly two years talking about doing an album together we finally made it in to Jacobs studio in Farnham, courtesy of P.C.M, in December of last year.

Choosing from songs we had already played on our recent tour of the US (opening for Mark Knopfler) and other compositions in various states of completion, Nick selected ten tunes.

He then called in the touring band, Luke Brighty, Jim Kimberley, Mark Taylor and Mark Smith and set us up for live cutting.

In the converted stables that made up the live room in Jacobs, a real B3, Rhodes and an acoustic piano, Jim''s drums, our battered Boogie and Fender amps came together to form the backing tracks.

A second session in February, complete with snow on the hills and Mike Westergaard and Dorie Jackson on board to complete the feel, and Nick and I retreated to my little studio to do the singing.

With a Beyer Dynamic microphone on loan, we chewed our way through the vocals. With great patience Nick let my adapt the lyrics all the way to the end, and by the time Jim and Luke had done their percussion, trumpet and vocal overdubs we were ready to finish in style with David Jackson''s saxophone solo.

So "All in the Downs" it really was recorded, and as Nick mixed on a secret SSL, with cattle staring through the studio windows, I enjoyed the fact that the only London day on this record would be spent in Dick Beetham''s excellent mastering suite.

Pressed to take the Queens shilling and sail for New England, I hope you enjoy the album.


Are you One of Us?

Written with David Saw about the personnel on one of Chris Difford''s writing retreats.

We fairly soon divided in to party animals and serious poets, and naturally enough the performers partied and the writers went to bed. For every early rising, pencil-chewing enthusiast, there would be another deserted bottle of red for us the night before. For every tortured simile, an extra hour in bed!

On the last night the other lot came down at four in the morning saying they had seen a ghost (we were staying in a Scooby Do style mansion complete with suits of armour). Blankets and bottles of wine were passed around in front of the twenty-foot wide fireplace and the dawn mist came up over the weald of Kent to the sound of a high-strung guitar.

Holding On

Written with Johnson Somerset, the chords dictated the mood and the imagery came from a gig we did last year with MK in Lyons. It was our first outing as an acoustic trio in front of his size of an audience. We were very excited the crowd was huge and by the time we got to ''That’s my right'' they were singing along with Luke and Dorie.

After the show we sat down by the Rhone on a pontoon and thrilled to the stadium illusion, that they all loved us and would follow us forever.

The next day in a rude awakening we got our first experience of the Heathrow air traffic jam, circling aimlessly above Surrey for an hour, whilst top priority flights from Birmingham and Bournemouth were swooped down in to the perma-drizzle.

I believe the harsh contrast in culture going from Orvieto to the long-term car park bus at Heathrow in less than four hours is damaging to the sensiblerie.

Lotus Eater

This one took me ages to finish but I love it. I went to Harbour Island in the Bahamas about two years ago and it seemed to me to be a perfect mini Bond world, with a bit of Keith Richard''s recuperation shack thrown in for good measure. Like most Northern Europeans, I dream upon a distant shore and long for the sounds of drum and thunder over a sulking Piton (without actually having to go there of course).

David''s saxophone compliments this beachcombing blues, and though I did eventually get to Rome, alas I know only the airport!

St Emilion and the Sinner

Written with Mark Taylor whose keys define this track. Luke brings a mean slide that allows the Jimmy Miller/ Leon Russell feel to emerge. Like the cubists before me I scour my atelier for still life inspiration, and seizing upon the bottle in front of me, I found my title. However this song could have been called ''Tennents Super and the Sinner'' and still have been rocking.

I have always wanted to write about Donald Crowhurst, the single-handed yachtsman, and he notes smelling ''woodsmoke on the wind'' for the first time since England, off the Falkland Islands in the far South Atlantic. He records in his logbook listening to gospel music from Nashville towards the sad end of his voyage.


Written with Luke in our usual way. He came in with a chord sequence. I added another one to the end of his and he then played a melody over the two bits, which became the top line. It’s great working like that. The lyric took a while to settle but the chorus does what I wanted it to. ''BC Nugs'' are hydroponics from Vancouver, and ''The Gardens of Allah'' was an apartment complex in L.A. famous as a retreat during divorce.

A great solo from Luke and the boom of a big bass drum, which I found at my local rubbish dump.

Sooner or Later

Luke and I wrote this song with Jaques in Paris. It is great how a new place and different set up will change elements in the music. I must admit to feeling a bit like Professor Norman Sherry, who got dysentery at the same hostel in Liberia as his hero Graham Greene had done thirty years before, when I follow the Stones around the globe like this. West Wittering, Jamaica, Montauk, Villefranche, Compass Point and now dear old Neuilly is added to the list.

Sad, dirty faces reflected in the oil patches on the runway.


I remember waiting outside a liquor store in West Palm Beach, when a strange lady popped her head through the car window to ask for some money. This is my version of her husband’s tale of loss and woe. Written with Alice Bierhorst whilst dreaming of sin in the sun belt on a Kentish afternoon.

Chapter and Verse

Written with Colin Vearncombe in Ireland. The setting is L.A. again but the protagonist is not I feel a native or even a resident. Seeking out old friends can be one of the perks of touring, and my address book is full of 213 numbers I wouldn''t dare ring now. Ditto 303 and 615. Still, the tour bus can act as a boxcar and the audience can look wistful and though to be honest, I never tried walking with a ''New York'' woman, I have got friends who have. Scared me and I''m on parole!

My sincere apologies to any ''primped up nasty hidalgo knaves'' who may have been offended during the making of this song, but the scenery of West Cork inspires without censure!

Traitor’s Gate

Written with Jim as kind of James Bond theme song to be pitched to ''Carry on Columbus'' perhaps, or a cognitive therapy project about the Salem witch trials, a document rescued by volunteers during the Port Royal land registry fires of 1690, or the puny ''pensees d''escaliers'' of a thwarted lothario who can tell?

The best traitors are former allies, and the sweeter the apple the blacker the ...

Sweet William

The album finally took shape in my mind when I found John Gay''s ballad, it had Hampshire, seamanship, parting and love. A full English of emotional nourishment, a simulacrum, if you like, of period costumes and cider burps, a bodice ripper no less and a good sister for Seafever.

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