Bob Harris has a lot to answer for. I am sure – like many other musical insomniacs – he influenced our choice of album purchase in the early 1990s. As mentioned in despatches elsewhere, his overnight show for BBC Radio 1 was a veritable cornucopia of new stuff, obscure stuff and, frankly, good stuff.
One of the bands he featured was the Midlands-based duo Nothing By Chance or Gilly Darbey and Keith Donnelly. Their background was on the folk circuit, although Gilly had also been approached to form a UK version of Three Degrees.
As part of a trio called Waterfall with Donnelly she toured in Europe and further afield but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that they formed Little Aeroplane then Nothing By Chance, named after a Richard Bach novel. One of their early songs was “Why Won’t Anyone Give Me A Record Deal”.
They signed to comedian Jasper Carrott’s management company and had some exposure on the BBC TV show ‘Pebble Mill At One’ until that show was axed. They stopped performing as a duo in 1996 and Darbey later moved to New Zealand. She can be heard on Gordon Giltrap’s 2005 live album ‘The Symphony Hall’. Keith Donnelly continues to play UK folk clubs and festivals.
I saw them performing a couple of times (in the same tour) during the period, initially at Theatr Clwyd in North Wales. It was a fairly small, intimate gathering when they offered up their radio friendly pop/soft rock.
It was so intimate that during the proceedings Keith noticed an audience member excusing themselves for a comfort break and weighing up the situation implored the audience to hide behind a large stage curtain. We had to keep perfectly quiet and still so that when the lady returned she would have thought that there had been a fire drill or, worse, the gig had finished.
It was a bizarre scenario but highly memorable and could only endear us more, especially when grafted to a very fine, assured performance. Donnelly is a fine raconteur, a craft evidently honed in countless folk clubs, and a talented songwriter. Plus, his instrumental skills are well displayed on ‘Green Parrot Blues’. Darbey’s vocal talent is equally evident on the acapella showcase ‘The Killing Time’.
Amongst the album highlights are songs like ‘Ghost Of Love’, ‘Crazy Eyes’, ‘All Comes Down’ and ‘Dark Horses Dancing’. It was co-produced by John Acock (who produced several Steve Hackett albums) and featured Hackett alumni Nick Magnus on keyboards/programming and Bimbo Acock on saxophone.
Ghosts of Love was their one and only album, but there’s an earlier four-track 12″ single released in 1987.
In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)
Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)
THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)
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