Interview with Elkie Brooks (2003)

Publié le 15 Décembre 2008

Jon Kirkman: When Vinegar Joe split, I was very surprised that it took you longer to establish yourself as a solo artist than it did for Robert Palmer although, to be fair, he didn't make the big bucks until the mid eighties, but it seemed the emphasis was on Robert Palmer rather than Elkie Brooks.
Elkie Brooks: Well, I'll give you a very simple scenario for that one. Robert already had his career mapped out a year before he told us he was leaving the band. We were just a rehearsal band for Robert Palmer but it never worked out that way. I got picked on by the media and I was the focal point of the band. But a year before he left, he had all the songs written, he knew what area he was going to go in and what he was going to do. He basically had Chris Blackwell in his pocket and the rest, as you know, is history.
 
JK: Well, if I'm honest, and this is no disrespect to Robert, his songs on Six Star General sounded very much like Robert Palmer solo rather than Vinegar Joe.
EB: Unfortunately and in fairness to Robert, because I think he was full of frustration the last couple of years in the band. You have to remember there were a couple of very strong characters apart from myself. Pete Gage on guitar and Steve York were awesome characters the pair of them and both wrote very well. So, it was kind of difficult to get his foot in the door a lot of the time when they'd be going off on one. They were all very educated blokes and me, you know, (laughs) who'd left home at fourteen and it was difficult for me to get anything in there quite a lot of the time as well.
 
JK: With respect to the other members, wasn't the perception of Vinegar Joe in most people's eyes you and Robert because you two were a pretty unique front line at the time?
EB: I know, but it just kind of worked out that way but, really, behind the scenes there was a lot of argy-bargy going on. We had a lot of different musicians come in and come out of the band that caused a lot friction between myself, Robert, Peter and Steve which was a great shame but you often find that don't you? People do it for the hell of it. There was one bloke one time and I won't mention his name and he was just telling so many stories and I turned round to Pete and I said that I'd much rather believe what Robert says than what this other guy said. I'd rather go with Robert, let's get rid of this other guy.
 
JK: Vinegar Joe made three good albums and although I like the first two, my favourite is Six Star General which I think that is your best album in terms of material and production. Would you agree with that?
EB: Well it's hard to know because I haven't heard the albums for a long, long time. I mean really a long time and I have to say I always liked Circles. I think that was on the first album and I actually recorded that again because I liked the song so much. I don't know what Robert thought of it but it was actually a couple of keys up but I always thought that was a great song. I tell you what, to give you an honest opinion on that I'd have to re-listen to all the albums but I suppose in fairness we had all matured and got a bit older by then.
 
JK: Well my first brush with Vinegar Joe was the second album Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies. Then Six Star General came out and I saw you on The Old Grey Whistle Test performing Proud to be a Honky Woman and Lady of the Rain and I thought, ooh they're good!
EB: Yeah! I wrote that with the drummer. Lady of the Rain, it was one of the first songs I ever wrote. I always remember Palmer saying to me that I used to come out with all these mad lyrics after a couple of drinks and he said, "Write them down!" I never really had much confidence in myself as a writer but I thought maybe he had a point there, perhaps I ought to and actually after the band folded I started to write much, much more. I wrote very little while I was in the band because there was always so much competition with the other guys in the band so I never bothered.
 
JK: Well, I think you should listen to the albums again because I think they stand up. They're very of their time in terms of production values. Obviously in purely technical terms things have moved on an amazing amount but in terms of the performance and the song writing they stand the test of time.
EB: Well, that's nice. We should have been a huge band really and if so, perhaps, Palmer would have still been alive, who knows? But he had to do all those wonderful albums that he did but maybe he would have taken a different turn, you never know. Things have to be the way they are.
 
JK: Well I'm a bit fatalistic here but what will be will be…
EB: Yeah, yeah, you're absolutely right.
 
JK: It must have been a dreadful shock for you. It was a shock for most people I think but you've worked with him in the past and so it come a little closer to home I suppose.
EB: Yeah, I was very sad and I hadn't seen him for going on twenty- seven years although I have kept in contact with his parents when I go to York and Scarborough. They've always kept me well informed as to what he was doing and give me the latest CDs but yeah, it really was a shock. When you spend four years together in a band you get to know someone and I feel on a one to one basis I thoroughly enjoyed his company. He was a very, very sophisticated and intelligent guy.
 
JK: It is a dreadfully young age to die.
EB: It is really, and he was so talented.
 

Rédigé par olivier

Publié dans #robert-palmer

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