PJ Proby: Responses

Photo from PJ Proby site

There were these three interesting responses to Michael Layne Heath's PJ Proby article.  We thought that they were worth sharing for anyone interested in his work and career.

P.J. Proby

Thanks a lot for a great article. I have read the article written by Michael Layne Heath and appreciate the interest and the effort he has shown in my life.  We'll try and get you a copy of Legend which EMI refuses to release for Public consumption. I regard the work on that CD as some of my best and the vocals are better than they were in the sixties as far as I am concerned.


Thank you for your splendid article, which we thought really excellent. Considering the limitations of word count, the weblike subject matter of Proby's legend, as well as the complexities of our own Savoy recordings, you did a sterling job. First rate.

The comments which follow are not to nit-pick your piece, but to clarify our point of view, the history of and why we made these records.

The first point we'd like to stress is that these records sounds EXACTLY like they do by intention, not through ignorance. Some of our co-producers on them, all of whom were professional people, having worked with Take That, Cher, 808 State, New Order, and so on, we bent to our will. We did not want a smooth production. To put it into context, we have been around rock music a long time, over 25 years by the time we came to do these records. We go way back to the 1950s, and have seen all the great seminal rockers in their prime: Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Floyd, Zappa with the original Mothers, Captain Beefheart with the original Magic Band, and so on,  including all the main 1970s Brit bands, plus the Cramps, Devo, Thunders, etc. So musically we were/are far from novices.

The other point to make is that we've had retail stores in the centre of Manchester for thirty years and knew all the local boys, Ian Curtis, Morrisey, New Order, Magazine, The Fall, Buzzcocks, Happy Mondays, Tony Wilson and a whole lot of visiting folks like Iggy, Ian Dury and so on.

So inexperienced Ed Wood(s) we were not! (cool though his name may be in some quarters).

The records sound outside the mainstream by way of what knew, not what we didn't. We probably knew more than any of our contemporary bands and did not wish to make our Proby records sound like them -- or like anything else. Sure, they had to sound like Proby-style records. His linkage has to be there, so we set-to, slaughtering these contemporary sacred-cow songs with relish. Whether it's 'Heroes', 'Somewhere' or 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. People often make the mistake of seeing the records as LESS, rather than MORE, which is what we think of them as being. Deliberate square pegs in round holes, out of time and out of place and out of their heads. Brother,  that is rock'n'roll.

Nobody could have made these records except us. Certainly nobody else from that time could have been brought in who would have made anything like a commercial success with Proby. We sort of knew this then, and we know this know. Jim would not promote anything modern; he just couldn't get his head around it. He's still a dynamic performer with barrels-ful of charisma, but just too wayward.

When we did straight records like 'In the Air Tonight' we intended they were straight. When we did bizarre -- 'Hardcore' -- we knew they were bizarre. These things didn't happen by chance but by design.

You comment on 'Hardcore' that it is: "The acknowledged nadir of Proby's Savoy incarnation..." Nadir means 'the pits', the 'lowest of', and we can see you may mean this as praise, but the point is not clear. We regard 'Hardcore' as our summit. It took us forever to get it to sound loose and impromptu, so don't be fooled by its 'drunk man walking here' veneer. Peter Doggett, who edits the Record Collector, thinks as we do, and gave it a rave review (see below).

How's this for synchronicity? You acknowledge the inspiration of Julie Burchill of The Modern Review. She wrote this (in The Spectator 5th Oct 1991) on the prosecution of Lord Horror the novel:

"The recent banning of the book, Lord Horror, on the grounds that the anti-semitism expressed by the barking mad leading character was 'obscene' caused shrill misgivings among the screaming meemies of the Left-over press. I, for one, am up for a riot in Golders Green or Stamford Hill if any rogue rabbi wants to organise it. We could probably even get the paperback stopped."

Let's just say, Julie Burchill is a fat cunt -- and leave it at that!

You don't mention our website when you mention the availability of the Savoy recordings. It would be a help if you could do so, because we are banned from being mentioned on Proby's official sites. Jim believes we've become millionaires by selling his records and are not cutting him in!

Give our regards to Roy Rogers and Trigger...

Björn Lund

thank you very much for publishing the very good article about P.J.Proby,written by Michael Layne Heath.  I would appreciate if you even add my link to your site. http://home.swipnet.se/~w-25396/
I have followed Jim in Sweden since 1997.Did an video interview with him in Stockholm when he was here for Quadrophenia.  He even mention his work with Marc Almond and his latest CD "Legend". http://w1.839.telia.com/~u83903811/reddevil.html

"Off the record" he got even his own explaination why EMI did not much for sell "Legend".  It is a pity that you have not listen to that CD -one of Proby´s best.  In May the 27th,2000 -Marc Almond was in Stockholm.He allowed me to make a video interview with him about his work with P.J.Proby and about "Legend".After the interview,Neal X took Marc´s seat and let me even interview him.Both Marc and Neal X wrote wonderful songs for that CD.  http://w1.839.telia.com/~u83903811/myvideos.html

1999, at the opening evening for the Swedish version of "Catch My Soul" -Jim was invited.I brought him to Uppsala( 70km north of Stockholm).He enjoined the play,even if he did not understand any Swedish.Jack Good had sent the theatre a fax and was wishing good luck.

At the same time he was giving a performance in Uppsala.It was a real success.

Last year,he did it again - in Stockholm.His voice was better than ever.  He added something extra to both "Hurt","Somewhere","American Trilogy" and "Maria".

Earlier that year, the 14th of February,I went to Gloucester in England and met him and Miss Billie Davis. It was a very nice meeting with them after the performance.We talked mostly about cats.  :-)

Since that,I met Jim in Berlin the 16th of September http://w1.839.telia.com/~u83903813/ulrichs.html
and in Croydon (Proby again !!) http://w1.839.telia.com/~u83903811/croydon.html
..and I can certify that he never drinks anything alcholic.He prefer to drink Sprite and orange juice (fifty - fifty)

Hope you will take your time to take part of my material from my sites.  It is a lot of links to other sites with a lot of pictures.

In December last year,I started a "Yahoo Group Proby" : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/proby/
Guess you´ll find some interesting information from that site if you are making some research for P.J.Proby.

p.s. hope you are able to listen to "Legend" -it is a shame that EMI does not want the world to take part of it. It was never to be found in Australia  for all his old fans there  -  for example.......

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