On 9 October 2015 we release our very first album, A Gift from Men United, featuring household names from the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, such as Nik Kershaw, Joe Brown, Hamish Stuart (Average White Band), Paul Carrack and Chris Difford (Squeeze). Producer, Dale Newton, tells us the story behind its creation.
Meet Dale Newton. Dale has been a manager for the likes of Van Morrison and Nik Kershaw, helped sign The Sex Pistols to A&M records for 24 hours(!) and has helped develop acts like The Police, Supertramp and Squeeze. Dale is the producer of ‘A Gift from Men United’ and, following a chance conversation, is now a big supporter of Prostate Cancer UK.
“I remember meeting a man at a wedding and we got on like a house on fire, arguing about music and sharing jokes,” Dale said. “And then he told me had aggressive prostate cancer. He was upbeat and looking at treatment options, but was also very committed to raising money and awareness to help more men. That's the conversation that really started it all.”
It’s a gift from everyone involved in producing and promoting the album - they are Men United in a common cause
From that day on, Dale realised that music and heritage musicians from the last 30 to 40 years could be perfect for reaching men at risk. The question was how? Dale decided to raise money by getting some of his mates together to record an album.
“I decided to make a few phone calls to friends of mine in the industry and one of the first people I phoned was Matt Irving; I knew he’d have a big heart and would want to get involved,” Dale said. Matt was a keyboard and bass player with the likes of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Chris Rea, Squeeze, Paul Young and Los Pacaminos. What Dale didn’t know, was that Matt had advanced prostate cancer.
“As soon as we met, and without hesitation, he was 'in’,” Dale said. “But I had no idea he had been diagnosed and was undergoing treatment. I remember having a meeting with Matt about the musicians who were available and he changed the meeting location from the pub to a hospital,” Dale said. “Only then was it that we discovered just how far advanced his cancer had become.”
Matt brought one of his oldest friends, Hamish Stuart, on board. Years before, Hamish was ‘picking up the pieces’ with Average White Band, the two were playing music together at school in Glasgow. “He asked me if I'd like to help with an album for Prostate Cancer UK. It was a no brainer” Hamish said.
More famous faces were asked and soon plans were in place to record ‘My Father’s Son’, with vocals from Lance Ellington, session singer with the likes of Sting and George Michael, and now singer on Strictly Come Dancing.
By the time the recording session occurred, in early February 2015, everyone was aware of Matt’s situation and knew his prognosis was bleak.
“It created a very special atmosphere in the room,” Dale said. “The musicians wanted the day to be about enjoyment, doing what they loved with someone they loved as a friend and fellow musician.”
For Hamish Stuart, it was an emotional day. “The session was a gathering of old friends; it was a joy to be a part of. There was a lot of love in this work and recording that song and being part of this album certainly ranks with the best musical experiences of my entire life. To quote the drummer Ian Thomas, ‘it will be a jewel in the crown of my memory’. Everyone wanted to be there for Matt, who unbeknown to us all only had a few more weeks to live.”
A little over two months later, Matt Irving sadly passed away on 2 April 2015. “The whole experience became all the more poignant,” Hamish said. “The music we recorded that day is dedicated to his memory, which all of us have many happy ones, not least, these last sessions for this album.”
For Dale the album title says everything. “It’s a gift from the musicians, engineers, producers, studios, managers, graphic designers, promoters, press, media consultants, distributor, everyone involved in producing and promoting the album - they are Men United in a common cause.”
So how would Dale describe the album? “It’s definitely fun, often poignant, and sometimes emotional. Some of the songs have been written especially for the album, other tracks where previously recorded and donated. The one thing uniting all these tracks is the fact that they are gifted by a bunch of very talented people wishing to help find a cure, help create awareness and save men’s lives.”
A Gift from Men United is out 9 October 2015.Preorder on itunes Preorder on Amazon
Nik Kershaw joins a host of pop rock legends – including Los Pacaminos and Go West – to record a A Gift for Men United in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.