In 1984 Martin Ansell was gigging with a full band in London venues with top quality players... Trevor Morais on drums (The Peddlers, Elkie Brooks, Quantum Jump to name a few).. Andy Geirus (Linton Kwesi Johnson) on lead guitar and new virtuoso bassist Chris Rodel. Martin's music was being noticed by the business. At one gig at the Golden Lion in Fulham Island records owner Chris Blackwell saw Martin and decided to sign him to his label for a long term album deal.
Martin chose Rupert Hine to produce his album and it wasn't long before Farmyard studios was booked for a month long session early in 1985. Rupert was enjoying success at the time with Howard Jones and on one session Howard added some high octane keyboard solos to three or four of Martin's tracks.
During this period Geoff Jukes took over as Martin's manager with help from Bob Ward (The Fixx's tour manager..another of Geoff's acts) and as a result Martin did some gigs in Europe..some solo and some with bassist Chris Rodel..supporting The Fixx in Holland and Germany, Van Morrison and Chris Isaak in Holland.
When the album 'The Englishman abroad ' was finished Rupert played the mixes to Chris Blackwell. The original plan was to release it as the first CD on Island records but Chris now had other ideas. Instead of the standard 3/4 minute song format he persuaded Rupert to try stretching some of the tracks to give the music a more progressive feel. As a result songs like 'Indian restaurant', Brilliant' and the title track became 6 minute mega mixes...which was very much in vogue at the time.
Unfortunately for Martin by the time the album was released a change of A and R at the London office gave the project a luke warm reception. Dave Robinson had come straight from Stiff records and his brash style angered both Martin and Geoff. Aside from releasing 'The Eighth Wonder' as a single Robinson refused to promote the album any further in England. Geoff flew to America to confront Chris Blackwell who said he had to let his new department have their 'honeymoon' period. In truth Chris had become distracted by the film business and the first big Island success with 'The Kiss of the Spider Woman'. As a result the London office fell into disarray and many acts were lost or dropped.
Bitterly disappointed, Geoff tore up Martin's contract...convinced he could get another label to take the album on. Together he and Martin met with record labels in New York but they all said that it would have to be re-produced with a completely different sound. And so 'The Englishman Abroad' was cast adrift in the sea of obscurity....a curious memento at the end of the affluent era of pop.....
Ps: 'The Eighth Wonder' did become successful as a hit renamed 'Duende' by Spanish superstar Miguel Bose .
released March 21, 2012
Originally released on Island Records in 1986
Produced and Arranged By Rupert Hine
Guitar, Vocals – Martin Ansell
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Rupert Hine
Backing Vocals – Kevin Weatherill
Bass – Chris Rodel
Drums, Percussion – Trevor Morais
Guitar – Phil Palmer
Photography By – Kevin A. Monahan
Recorded By [Assistant] – Andy Scarth
Recorded By, Mixed By – Stephen W. Taylor
Soloist, Keyboards [Impressive Keyboard Solos] – Howard Jones
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