“a gold standard album for UK Americana” ★★★★
– Q Magazine
Danny & The Champions of the World release their new album ‘Stay True’ through Loose Records on 16th September. ‘Stay True’ is the fourth album from Danny & The Champions Of The World. It’s also Danny George Wilson’s eleventh album which includes six long players from the much loved Grand Drive plus a solo outing (as Danny George Wilson) entitled ‘Famous Mad Mile’. Danny has been touring the world and making critically acclaimed records for nearly 20 years now, the first Grand Drive release was on Loose back in 1997. ‘Stay True’ was recorded this year over five days at North London’s Reservoir Studios with Champs bass player Chris Clarke (ex Rockingbirds) and Danny at the helm. Danny describes the scene: “catching sleep on the control room sofa, recording deep into the night, friends and musicians dropping by, inspired by the great soul, country and rock n roll of Stax, Muscle Shoals, The Band, Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham, Dion DiMucci, Van Morrison…Ronnie Lane meets Ronnie Spector!”
Danny & The Champions Of The World has always been a pretty loose collection of great musicians, songwriters, stowaways and adventurers. The current line up is the most steady so far – it’s not a collective of folks now, it’s a band, a great band: Danny George Wilson (acoustic guitar, lead vocals), Chris Clarke (bass, vocals), Paul Lush (guitar, vocals), Steve Brookes (drums, vocals) and Geoff Widdowson (saxophone, organ, vocals).
For the recording of ‘Stay True’ some of the musicians from previous Champs line-ups came down to the studio and joined in (Rosalie Deighton, Robin and Joe Bennett of The Dreaming Spires and Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou). There are also collaborations on the record with London bluegrass outfit ‘Foghorn Leghorn’ – as Danny recalls: “the musicians all stood around the microphones in the same room – booze flowing, smoke filling the air, it was like a polka night but with banjos! Generally it felt like we were making something special, I just booked the studio and the guys heard the songs for the first time on the studio floor. The dream of actually capturing a true first take, something happening for the first time became reality and I’m thrilled with the result. You always hear stuff later that you may have done differently, but you can never beat the feel of a band playing something for the first time. It’s very easy to make perfect records these days but I can’t think of anything more boring.”
The album opens in typically autobiographical style with ‘(Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket’, the true story of Danny and his dad hitchhiking to a Fabulous Thunderbirds show. Danny describes the song thus: “a tribute to my folks, my dad’s always been a huge music fan. His first job was keeping the jukebox stocked with the hits back in the 50’s in his folks’ Milk bar in Melbourne, so he can name pretty much any doo wop or R’n’B hit within the opening bars – a great education… He saw Buddy Holly – now there’s qualifications for you.” It was always the natural opener for an album steeped in good times, bad times, family, friends and powered by a great jukebox. It’s without a doubt, the work of a champ. Stay True.