Released: December 1983
If you're looking to buy this album, you're out of luck. It's not been available for a very long time, since shortly after its release.
There is usually at least one copy floating around on eBay at any given time, but be prepared to pay collectors' prices for it on CD (you can usually get it on vinyl or cassette for a fair price). If the seller isn't aware of the CD's potential value, then be prepared to find stiff competition from other bidders.
In the track listing below, each track title is a link to a short MP3 sample (approx. one minute). Don't ask me to include full tracks on this site - it'll never happen for a multitude of reasons.
The last album to feature John Williams, its pre-Christmas release was not only an attempt to capture the gift-buying market, but reflected the content of perhaps the most accomplished work the band had done since Francis Monkman's departure.
Opening with an interpretation of a Christmas classical music stalwart (including sleighbells!), with track titles like "Mother Russia" and "A Girl in Winter", how can one not associate this with cold, wet nights (preferably snow instead of rain)? Most of Sky's classical reworkings leave me cold, but Troika is one of the exceptions. Herbie offers his almost-contracual "silly" piece to the album in the shape of "Telex From Peru", and the album's quiet piece comes courtesy of a rare Fry composition, "Then and Now".
Eminently listenable, full of good tunes, and more occasions than most for the individuals to display prowess with their chosen instruments, not to mention a replacement for Hotta as the encore piece when playing live, the aptly-named Son of Hotta. Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the Forum!
Track listing (including original liner notes from the band):
Troika (Prokofieff, Arr. Fry)
I remember this piece from B.B.C. primary school radio programmes. As you can see it's from quite along piece by Prokofieff called "Lieutenant Kije" and this is just one movement. The story is about a completely fictitious character in the Russian Czar's Army - (my own life story entirely).
Anyway I shall always remember listening to it in the school hall in Colindale over loud speakers (nothing's changed).
This started life as a short fanfare sort of number which I was thinking of using for other purposes but, as often happens with these things, I kept developing it until at some stage (I can't remember when) I started thinking that it might be nice for the group to record ... and then I thought!
A Girl in Winter (Tarney)
I found it impossible to write about these two numbers separately as I'd been on at Alan to write something for us for about six months but he didn't start on them 'till I was staying at his house just before we made the album: and so I bent his arm and marched him towards a guitar. (Actually we had a game of tennis and the loser had to write some numbers for the SKY album). He then tried to get out of it by proposing a table-tennis match which resulted in many tears and me having to find somewhere else to stay. He is currently
suing me for the three days rent that I incurred and I have now signed over to him all future royalties as a part payment thereof. (continued below, under Return to me).
Mother Russia (Gray)
(a.k.a. Knees Up Mother Russia)
In May '83 1 returned home from SKY's Japanese tour on the Tran-Siberian Express and stayed for a few days in Moscow, spending eleven days in all on Russian soil (or, wheels). Most of the Westerners left the train at Irkutsk, and consequently I spent long hours talking (mostly in German) to Russians.
This piece then is dedicated to people who are warm, proud, friendly and possessed of a sly sense of humour - especially the women. It is also deliberately an old-fashioned and nostalgic piece: - time and again I was reminded of my own childhood in North East England in the late forties and early fifties.
Telex from Peru (Flowers)
This bloke went to Peru to get away from it all; and when he went to the post office to send a Telex to his mum to tell her how much he loved it there, the Telex machine was broken: so he sent a musical Telex instead.
The Boy from Dundee (Flowers)
This is dedicated to the boy in Dundee, who directed Bey Bush and Herbie to the bakers to collect a birthday cake for Nick. There'd been a fire or something because this kid was quite badly scarred. He winked as we drove off.
This was a totally different story to the way FAYRE was written. It was conceived as a number for this album right from the start (always assuming that the other louts in the group liked it of course) and conformed with my mania for heavy pieces which has existed all my musical life (that I can recall) starting with Little Richard and carrying through Jimi Hendrix and onwards. I know the feeling of night-time means different things to different people but I've always been a nocturnal animal and the night is not necessarily just peaceful slumber.
Then and Now (Fry)
What a strange title for a song!! Maybe it's a strange song. Actually the germ (hope it's not
catching) started about a year ago while 1 was fiddling (or violining) about on the piano in the No. 3
Studio, Abbey Road when we were mixing the SKY Five Live album. Then I sort of left it until about a week
before SKY's October '83 European Tour. I think a piece of music with such a gap from first ideas to
completion really makes you realise how such a long time goes so quickly. Thank you.
Return to Me (Tarney)
I have since apologised to him for winning and he said that I could come and pick up some of my clothes if I didn't take too long or, better still, if he was out at the time. Alan's two tracks can be beard by any interested parties by placing the needle of the record arm on the centre hole. Failing that try listening to Abyssinian
F.M. radio after 2.00 am (not recommended for people on strong medication). K.P.
Son of Hotta (Gray)
When I was a kid I used to go to the Saturday morning pictures (or movies or films) and the serial I remember was the "Ghost of
Zorro" followed by "Son of Zorro". However: now that I'm older and worldly-wise I realise it was really all about Hotta and his son. Those of you who know Dad will remember that he has only four chords - this chap (or fellow) has lots more different ones, a different tune and a different key but is otherwise exactly the same.
This little bit of information is stolen from Steve's announcement during our live show. The reason I have been forced to write this is because I have to pay for not writing any music on the album.
By popular demand, you can download your choice of high-resolution scans of the record cover sized for use as your computer desktop picture.
Click on the resolution which your computer uses for the right size. If you're using MSIE or Netscape as your browser, right-click on the picture when it comes up and select "Set as Wallpaper".