St Austell, 10 February 2022: Andy ‘Keys’ Clark (pictured top) and Nathan Funnell, founder members of St Austell-based ska band D.M. Street, have teamed up with members of Madness and Dexys Midnight Runners (aka Dexys) to produce a cover version of Queen’s I Want to Break Free to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust and Youth Music.
Produced by keyboardist Andy with Nathan on rhythm guitar, this reworking of a rock classic forms part of a new album released by the Specialized Project, which brings together ska and reggae musicians from across the globe to raise money for worthy causes.
Working together as the Lockdown Allstars, the cross-country supergroup is the brainchild of Garry ‘Mr Scurf’ Scurfield, a radio host with Newcastle-based Koast FM, and features Chris ‘Chrissy Boy’ Foreman of Madness on lead guitar and ‘Big’ Jim Paterson of Dexys on trombone. Between them, Chrissy Boy and Big Jim hold three UK number one hit singles: House of Fun by Madness and Geno and Come On Eileen by Dexys.
A Dream Come True
“I still have to pinch myself to think I’ve played on and produced a track with Chris ‘Chrissy Boy’ Foreman of Madness and ‘Big’ Jim Paterson of Dexys,” Andy says. “Both are hugely influential to me as a musician and I’ve always been a huge fan of both throughout their musical careers. It’s a dream come true.”
The track is accompanied by a video produced by St Austell-based Ninjin Art. Playing on themes found in the original 1984 promo clip, the video also pays homage to Queen singer Freddie Mercury, who died 30 years ago this past November. Originally scheduled for release late last summer but delayed due to Covid-related disruptions, the track and video were both produced remotely via the Internet to comply with strict lockdown regulations in operation at the time.
“Working remotely is not like having someone sat with you to discuss the sound and levels,” Andy notes. However, having to produce a song with musicians located as far apart as London, Tyneside and Scotland was not the biggest challenge Andy faced. Rather, it was the sheer quantity of material produced by the charity supergroup’s members.
“There are 11 musicians and singers in total, some of whom have a very unique style and sound, and overall this produces a lot of sound files for editing,” Andy explains. “I’ve never worked with so many sound files in my life but it’s been a great experience. Totally enjoyable and it certainly gave me plenty to focus on during the lockdown!”
Lockdown in St Austell
“I’ve worked with Andy in the past, including making a video in Japanese about the lockdown in St Austell, so I jumped at the chance to work on the video for the new track, especially when he told me it would involve Chrissy Boy from Madness and Big Jim from Dexys,” says Ninjin Art producer Ignatius Rake.
Covid lockdowns have been disastrous for musicians as the restrictions meant they were not able to rehearse together let alone play live and earn money. However, one upshot is that many musicians are now more open to collaborating remotely.
“Maybe that will encourage more inter-regional projects like this one,” Ignatius continues. “If so, that will hopefully help more Cornish musicians who have always been at a disadvantage geographically when it comes to getting their talents heard by people in other parts of the country.”
Whatever happens, all involved hope the album does well for the Specialized Project and its chosen charities. “They do fantastic work and all of us in the Lockdown Allstars, plus our video producer at Ninjin Art, are very happy to have contributed,” Andy says.
– Ends –
Notes to Editors
1) Blending elements of ska, rocksteady and synthpop, the Lockdown Allstars’ version of I Want to Break Free is taken from a newly-released four-CD album entitled Specialized Project… Viva! Songs of Freedom. The album can be purchased online from the Specialized Project website (https://specializedproject.com/), which also contains more information on this musical charity that last year notched up its 10th anniversary.
2) Lead vocals on the track are provided by supergroup founder Mr Scurf, who also pulls off many of Freddie Mercury’s trademark moves in the accompanying video. He is joined on the mic by fellow Koast FM presenters and producers ‘Marky’ Mark Rowley and Mark Dickinson; Jason Vare of Newcastle-based band Growing Robots; and blind Newcastle-based rapper Blindman B. Meanwhile, Bobby Blencowe and Smudger of West London ska band The Launchers belt out the brass on trumpet and saxophone, respectively.
3) The video can be viewed on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izsQYlq3MPI
4) The names Dexys Midnight Runners and Dexys are both stylised without an apostrophe. ‘Big’ Jim’s surname is Paterson with one T not two.
Media Contact: Ignatius Rake.
Picture credits: Ignatius Rake / Ninjin Art.