G Plan The Cavendish Set Review and Interview with Rick Blackman.

Written by Jason Disley
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I first heard of The Cavendish Set back in 2017 although they had first been conceived in 2009 after the break up of a band called Grantura. Rick Blackman, the main man behind this project and my own path crossed when Rick asked me if I would be interested in recording a Spoken Word album with him.

I readily agreed, and despite my inexperience, we produced an album that I am proud of. That album, titled Speakeasy was released through Heavy Soul Records in 2019. So, when I heard Rick had returned to recording a new album with The Cavendish Set, also to be released via Heavy Soul, my interest was naturally piqued. Rather than just write a review of the album, I thought it would be a good idea to ask Rick a few questions about the project and the new album.

JD Hi Rick, it's good to see how busy you have been. You recently published a fantastic book called Babylon's Burning - Music, Subcultures, and Anti-Fascism in Britain 1958 - 2020. (Bookmarks, 2021) A serious and timely book that deals with anti-fascism and anti-racism. The subject matter in some places is quite heavy and deals with some very serious issues - presumably working on G Plan has been a welcome relief, and has allowed you to enjoy creating great music again, tell us about The Cavendish Set, and how the project started?

RB I guess it evolved out of previous bands that demised, but The Cavendish Set is more of a collective than a band, people contribute according to what the song needs. So for instance, there are accordions, strings, trumpets, sitars, as well as standard guitars, bass, and drums on the new album, Toby Kinder who is now playing with French Boutik is playing Hammond on two songs, no band these days, is as big as all those musicians, so it’s determined by the songs, although the core of the band is me, always the same singer Matt Owen and drummer David Graham and then old band mates and vocalists who join in as and when they’re needed.

Rick Blackman G Plan 2

JD - From listening to the music and seeing the wonderful modern and minimalist artwork by Mark Hynds. The sixties "lounge music" feel is mirrored fantastically. There are elements that make me think of Burt Bacharach and even the great composer Lalo Schifrin. The opening track also reminds me of Bill Conti who composed the soundtrack to The Thomas Crown Affair Would you say these were influences when you were writing the music? There are some very soulful tunes also, track 7 Amiens especially feels a bit like a Motown ballad.

Track 8 Vanilla Girl has a lovely vibe to it, and is pure sixties pop.

RB - There’s no song on the album that intentionally tried to sound like a specific song, but ‘feel’ is a different thing altogether, there’s definite attempts to create a vibe, a feel, so the songs you mention, Vanilla Girl, definitely some Van Morrison in there, the opening track Sometimes, Always, Never is pure 60s film music. Soul music is (after The Beatles) probably the biggest influence for me, so it’s bound to surface in the songs and the playing. But music is weird, you can intend to sound like something but it comes out completely different, it takes on a life of its own. Look at the Stone Roses and The Smiths both had very similar influences, to each other, both trying to emulate old stuff, but they’re totally different bands and sound worlds apart.

JD - I found that G Plan is a very easy listen, it has a great chilled summer feel to it, its light and airy, and feels like an album that has been around for years. There are some beautiful clear vocals on the album. Tell us about the vocalists, and the other members of The Cavendish Set that are on this album.

RB - Three vocalists, Matt Owen from my old band Grantura, we were a sort of Americana band (the album is on Spotify), so Matt does three songs, then there’s Pam Nyambo a woman I’ve worked with before on a soul/funk album, she’s got a great soul voice and lastly Helen Maw a young singer songwriter from Liverpool, another beautiful voice with perfect clarity.

JD- Being a poet and writer, I was naturally drawn to the lyrics of the songs on G Plan. There are some beautiful lyrics throughout, I am interested in your writing process. Do you write as some songwriters write, composing the music alongside the lyrics, or do you write the lyrics first, almost as poems, and then build tunes around them?

RB - Always the same for me, the melody first sung with some gobbledegook lyric, and then the words form around the melody, although there are ideas or concepts for lyrics, that float about in my head, that only properly form when the melody presents itself

JD- Do you have a favourite song on the album? Which one stands out the most, or was the one you felt - yes that is exactly how I wanted it to sound?

RB- Ha, that’s like asking you which is your favourite child! I guess Girl at the Window is as close to how I heard it in my head, but Tread Softly and Amiens are close, Vanilla Girl is quite chirpy.

JD- Lastly, what plans do you have for The Cavendish Set? Will there be any live shows, or is it purely a studio project?

RB- Well the response to the album has been great, so we’re gonna try and do some gigs, not quite sure logistically how we’ll do it, but we’ll find a way.

JD- Let’s hope so. Thanks to Rick for taking time out to answer these questions.

To my mind this album by The Cavendish Set is going to be a big part of the soundtrack to my summer. The album oozes a vibe that is at the same time both familiar and fresh. The clarity of the songs, and the handpicked vocalists make the album stand out beautifully. The music is arranged with the precision of a master craftsman. G Plan is available now from

https://www.heavysoul45s.co.uk/product-page/the-cavendish-set-g-plan-cd

Do yourself a favour and enjoy - grab a copy whilst you can, and play it loud, whether it be indoors or outdoors, and spread the vibe. That to me sounds like a Great Plan. Or in short a G Plan. Onwards and upwards.

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Read 356 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 June 2022 18:43
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Jason Disley

Jason Disley

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