brings you some wonderful songs, with orchestral
arrangements and backing from Colin Campbell and his
Here, Digger talks to David
about his music, his career and his influences.
Please give us a brief bio of how you got into the music
I’d always been into music. It came from my mother’s side of
the family. I played piano from early on, and when I was
seven, I started lessons. At fourteen, I could suddenly hear
harmonies and harmonise with songs, on the radio. This started
a craving for some involvement in the business and the fact
that my voice was developing, around that time, I saw that as
the way forward.
I worked as an industrial chemist, for a short while, and
there, I met a chap, Bill Beasley, who could play guitar. We
spent our lunch- times composing songs.
Following that, I went to a teacher-training college for three
years, to study Maths and Music. It was while I was on
teaching-practice, that I picked up a newspaper in which there
was an advert for a band vocalist, on the Mecca circuit. I was
lucky. That’s how it all started.
You have worked with a lot of the big names. Can you tell us
about that please David?
The first ‘big name’ for me was Malcolm Lockyer. He was the MD
with the BBC Radio Big Band, when I was invited to record a
session for Radio2, in London. I’d heard him on radio, for
years, and of his work on films and in major recording
studios, with all the great stars of the 50s and 60s. I was
terrified, but he was one of the nicest people you could wish
to meet and we had a great time. It was the same, working with
Brian Fahey, in Glasgow. He’d been Shirley Bassey’s MD, for a
number of years; a simply wonderful person and talented beyond
Working on the same bill as Cilla Black and Lulu were further
great experiences, and watching them ‘play ‘ the audiences was
Joe Longthorne, Tony Christie and Matt Monro were other
‘greats’ with whom I came into contact, later on, before I
moved up north. There were other very talented people, who
deserved far greater recognition, but never quite ‘made it’.
It was a wonderful pleasure to meet and work with them all.
Can you let us know about the inspirations for the selections
on the new CD?
I’ve always admired the work of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett,
Vic Damone and Mel Torme and I’ve learnt a great deal about
presentation, diction and breathing, by just listening to
them. I wanted to record some of the songs that they had
performed, but using my own interpretation. The man I
especially have to thank, for giving life to the CD, is Radio,
TV arranger and MD, Colin Campbell; another really talented
man, whose work is recognised and respected in many countries,
throughout the world.
Nostalgia is big business, whether it be vintage vinyl,
jukeboxes, Airstream caravans, vintage music festivals and
forties events or vintage clothing. Why do you think that is
Nostalgia is a great and lasting enjoyment for those who
remember how it was in their time. It comes as a result of
‘progress’ from one era to the next; something to which they
can hang on and relate to, in the face of a changing society.
It’s also true that some younger people enjoy the music of
yester-year; its instrumental and vocal talent. I’m as
broad-minded as the next bloke, but some of the stuff you hear
today is ….. well, I believe the word they use now is
‘challenging’; ‘rubbish’ would make me sound ‘judgemental’,
wouldn’t it? As there is less concentration on quality, in
every walk of life, there will be a demand for what remains of
an era when things were considered to be ‘better’. Nostalgia
will always be big business.
People can write, perform, produce and promote their music
from their bedrooms today. What are your thoughts generally on
the music business these days?
There is a huge amount of talent out there but it needs to be
recognised, nurtured, directed, and eased into being by
established, time-served, musicians. The problem, at present,
is that anyone can create some kind of sound and have it
thrust out into the public realm, mostly before the new-comer
is ready, via shows with ‘celebrity’ judges, whose main aim is
to rejuvenate their own careers, rather than to foster new
musical talent. They are so narrow in their approach, that
real music and real talent is being side-lined, in order to
perpetuate this ‘challenging’ material from which they make a
fabulous living. And it’s gradually killing the industry, as
we know it. They’re not worried. They’re already
multi-millionaires! They just love the adoration of a young
audience, the majority of which hardly knows one note from
another, but screams-along, just for the hell of it! Where are
the orchestras and bands that abounded, up until the 90s,
providing the opportunities for the kids out of music schools?
You find modern youngsters out making music on the streets,
subways and the odd club that still employs musicians. Such a
waste! Thank heavens for musicians who organise rehearsal
bands and local orchestras, in order to keep genuine music
alive, and allowing an outlet for these talented young people.
what about the BBC now compared to ‘back in the day’?
Decisions to cut back on expenditure were made quite a number
of years ago and, as a result, the House Orchestras were
disbanded, leaving the way clear for the disc-jockeys.
Technical innovations have been a tremendous success but, of
course, this has led to a complete change in approach. Some
producers of music programmes now compile their shows at home
and email them to the studios. That wasn’t even a dream, in my
Why do you think titles such as those you have recorded are so
The composers, the musicians, the era; it was a time when
people in their twenties and thirties had money, not the
youngsters. Music still depended on the prowess of the
musicians in the orchestra. No synthesizers , in those days.
It was all hard work, from professionals who had spent most of
their lives perfecting their instrumental skills, and when
that red light went on, they were expected to perform….. and
they did! Songs that told stories; songs that made you laugh
and songs that made you cry. They’re imbedded in your soul.
You never forget that kind of music.
you tell us more about your own compositions – for example,
the satirical political Westminster Song that is on YouTube?
It’s only lately that I’ve started to write, in earnest. One
or two of them I wrote some years ago, but I’ve composed about
twenty, to date. Some more will be up on the site, soon. The
political one was really a one-off; it isn’t the kind of stuff
I usually do. It came to me around the time of the last
general election, when somebody I know got themselves elected
to Westminster. I remember thinking about how they would
settle in and get used to the place; and if there was anyone
there to give advice …….. then, it suddenly hit me and I
couldn’t stop writing! I’ve had a couple of new ones played by
Sheila Tracy on her show, ‘Swingtime’. Sheila presented a
big-band show on the BBC for a number of years, but works
independently now, with a great following of fans, keeping
Are you attracting younger audiences as well as ‘people of a
David Brandon: I
think some kids I know might come to see me, but more out of
pity rather than any real interest. I’m probably geared more
for the ‘certain-age’ category. My body-popping days are over.
What are the best things about what you do David?
David Brandon: I
just love singing songs, especially harmonies. To change the
‘direction’ of a chord progression, by the addition of a note,
does something magical to the soul. It’s a very selfish thing,
I suppose, but at my time of life, it’s as good as, if not
better than, sex!
What are your retro, vintage or nostalgic passions apart from
I’m a fairly ‘retro’ kind of person. I like antiques,
paintings, historical buildings and castles, art galleries,
auctions. It’s fascinating to stand and think about the
people, over the centuries, who have looked at and touched
what you are looking at and touching. With music, you can even
Digger: What’s next David and what are your
plans for the future?
As far as the future is concerned, I’m going to continue to
write, as long as I can hold a pen - and sing, as long as I
can hold a note. Thank the Lord, for the internet!
Like numerous other
singers of the mid-sixties, I learned my trade on the Mecca
Dance Hall circuit, which led to offers of sessions with the
For many years, I worked
with bands and orchestras at various venues: with a
twenty-piece orchestra, crammed into The Opposite Lock Club,
Birmingham, to Fairfield Hall, in Croydon and The Chichester
Festival Theatre, sometimes finding myself supporting artists
like Lulu and Cilla Black.
I’ve been very fortunate
to have worked with extremely talented musicians, and
directors such as Brian Fahey and Malcolm Lockyer. One session
included Marion Montgomery and her husband, Laurie Holloway ……
The music and composers
that have influenced me the most, are represented on this CD:
the melodies, the simple, yet so-effective lyrics, combine to
express the ever bitter-sweet wonders of being in love. I’m
sure you know what I mean.
And so, with a final
touch of genius, from Colin Campbell and his music, here it is
……. ‘Lovers Songbook’...
An Affair To Remember, You’d
Be So Nice to Come Home To, I’ll Remember April, Come Back to
Me, Two for the Road, And This Is My Beloved, In the Still of
the Night, It Had Better Be Tonight, All the Things You Are,
The Impossible Dream, The Pleasure of Her Company, We’ll
Gather Lilacs, My Foolish Heart, Do I Love You (Because You’re
Beautiful), The Way You Look Tonight