Category: Single of the week

Everlasting Love (Love Affair)

This week’s suggestion is one of the most overplayed number one hits of the 1960s. Such is its popularity that it has charted eight times in the UK by eight different acts and has been a top 20 hit in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s – the only song to achievement that feat. The song is Everlasting Love by the Love Affair who didn’t do the original nor was it their debut single. Let’s find out more.

It all started when singer Steve Ellis and two friends answered an ad placed in NME by actor/comedian Max Bacon who had the idea that his 14-year-old nephew, Maurice Bacon, could fulfil his dream of playing drums with a band. Steve recalled, “I remember Decca Records came to a rehearsal and said they loved the band. They said we were just what they were looking for to follow on in a Small Faces vein. They told us they’d sign us up if we got rid of our drummer. Maurice was not that bad, so we all rallied round and said ‘No’. They signed us anyway. We called ourselves The Soul Survivors and were mostly doing Stax and Motown covers. But then the management wanted us to change our name to the Love Affair, which I thought was a crap name but was out-voted”.

In actual fact, there was no band on Everlasting Love. It was a bunch of session musicians with Steve Ellis singing lead, “The general opinion seemed to be that I should do it with an orchestra,” recalled Ellis in an interview with Shindig magazine. “Obviously I felt odd without the band being in the studio but it was for the good of all involved. Two takes and it was done. The band were not too concerned about this approach to things.”

The group’s debut release, in 1967, was a Jagger and Richards composition She Smiled Sweetly. The song bombed. Decca Records had acquired a reputation of being hard to work with, so The Love Affair once again followed The Small Faces and left the label. They moved to CBS who suggested they record a cover of Everlasting Love which had been written for Robert Knight, who was discovered by the song’s writer, Buzz Cason, performing in a trio with Daniel Boone and James Tait called The Fairlaines. Robert’s version was a US hit reaching number 13 on Billboard.

“The story of Everlasting Love began when I was playing with a band at the Phi Delta fraternity house at Vanderbilt University in Nashville,” Mac Gayden revealed in an interview with Songwriting in 2013. “During a break in our set, we came outside and heard this fantastic voice singing down the street. So, we ran down to the Kappa Sigma house to see who it was, and the singer, who was Robert Knight of course, was just going on his break. I told him, ‘I need to take you into the studio,’ and of course he just looked at me like, ‘What the hell? Get out of my face!’. But it turned out there was a connection between my family and his, so eventually I did take him into a studio. And I introduced him to Buzz Cason, and Buzz and I wrote Everlasting Love especially for Robert’s voice. The story actually starts a long time before that, when I was just five years old. I used to play on my grandmother’s piano and I came up with this simple little melody, almost like a lullaby, and that’s the melody that the horns and the Farfisa organ play on Everlasting Love. I’d always known I’d use that melody somewhere along the line! To this day I make a point of recording all my musical ideas. I have hundreds and hundreds of tapes all over the house, I keep everything – it’s like having a giant catalogue of melodies to draw on. It’s something very special when you custom-write a song for an artist, it’s a phenomenal thing. I think that’s one reason the song’s proved so popular over the years.”

Steve Ellis wanted to get a version out before Robert Knight’s was released in the UK. The first recording session, with Spencer Davis Group bass player Muff Winwood producing, was deemed a failure. So, the track was re-recorded with CBS’ producer Mike Smith and arranger Keith Mansfield, who often employed session musicians to provide a more commercial and orchestrated feel. Steve remembered, “I didn’t think the first version with the band was all that bad, but they insisted on me doing it with an orchestra and then giving it a Phil Spector-type production.”

In order to get noticed the Love Affair did a publicity photo shoot in London’s Piccadilly Circus and were arrested for insulting behaviour and causing an obstruction. Whilst in court, they received the news that Everlasting Love had entered the Top 20. Their arrests turned out to be a publicity stunt.

As the song was climbing the chart, the Love Affair appeared on a Jonathan King hosted show called Good Evening. When they had finished their set, Jonathan asked the bass player if they had played on their records, he admitted they didn’t. The next day the tabloids attacked them for admitting they didn’t play on their records and were banned from appearing on some television stations.

The Love Affair followed up Everlasting Love with Rainbow Valley which was another Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden composition and again originally recorded by Robert Knight. “We recorded an album, The Everlasting Love Affair, said Steve, “But there was no big campaign to promote it. When we were labelled teenybop idols and not being taken seriously, I got very disheartened and left the band”.

The song has been recorded hundreds of times, but the UK hit versions were, Rex Smith & Rachel Sweet in 1981, Sandra (Enigma’s wife) in 1988, Worlds Apart in 1993, Gloria Estefan in 1995 the Cast from Casualty in 1998 (and is the second highest charting version peaking at number five) and finally, so far, Jamie Cullum in 2004. Two years after that it was used in TV commercials for Pringles.

In 1981 Steve Ellis retired to become a docker but was involved in a horrific accident, which took him the best part of 10 years to recover. During the eighties and nineties there was a touring Love Affair that didn’t include any of the original members, so in 1994, he went back on the road as Steve Ellis’ Love Affair.

Robert Knight passed away in 2017 aged 77, but Buzz Cason, who also recorded under the name Garry Miles, is 80 and Gayden is 79 and both still live in Nashville, Tennessee. Gayden said, “It’s fair to say that writing Everlasting Love has enabled me to stay in the game, so I’m certainly not complaining when the royalty cheques come in! Lately I’ve been working with my daughter Oceana and with the 70s R&B group The Valentines, and it’s Everlasting Love that’s made that possible.”

Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

“This song isn’t just a song it’s a lesson of life that everyone should be taught.” A statement someone made on YouTube about this song and there’s a whole lot of truth in that. There are some very touching tributes on there and seemingly a favourite funeral song. Simple Man is a simple song with heartfelt words about a mother and son relationship. It also shows that there is far more to Lynyrd Skynyrd than just Freebird and Sweet Home Alabama.

It’s a well-known fact how the band got their name, but if you didn’t know, they named themselves after Leonard Skinner, the school PE teacher who taught at the Robert E. Lee High School where a couple of members of the band attended. He hated boys to have long hair and the school had a policy about it which Skinner seemed to enforce more than others.

The band originally formed in 1967 and comprised lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, Larry Junstrom on bass and Bob Burns on drums. Previous names had included My Backyard and later The One Percent. After being mocked about the latter name with some saying the band had only one percent talent, they finally settled on the teacher’s name in 1969. After a few line-up alterations, they were playing a gig in 1972 when they were spotted by Blood Sweat & Tears musician Al Kooper who was impressed enough to sign them to his Sounds of the South record label which had the backing and distribution power of MCA records. Their debut album, Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd was produced by Kooper who also co-wrote the track Mississippi Kid.

Simple Man featured on this album and the song came about very much like Mike + The Mechanics’ the Living Years some 16 years later in as much as it was written by its founding member, Mike Rutherford and songwriter B.A. Robertson who had both recently lost their fathers thus making it very personal to them and a song so any people can relate to.

Simple Man was written shortly after the deaths of Gary Rossington’s mother and Ronnie Van Zant’s grandmother. The pair sat down one day at Van Zant’s home and started talking about their respective losses. After learning that the two women essentially gave them the same advice, Ronnie penned the lyrics which open with, ‘Mama told me when I was young, Come sit beside me, my only son and listen closely to what I say, and if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day,’ while Gary came up with the chord progression. Within an hour the song was written. Pretty impressive seeing as the track clocks in at just under six minutes. The only thing not quite accurate is that Van Zant was not the only son, he had two younger brothers, Johnny and Donnie as well as two sisters, Darlene and Marlene.

The song goes on to offer more advice from personal experience and mistakes made in life that they have been through. She says, ‘Follow your heart’ and you can make it if you try. She explains that he will encounter troubles along the way but explains that she just wants her son to be happy by living a content life; to become a simple man.

Ronnie’s son Johnny is the current lead singer with the band and in a track-by-track commentary on the DVD that accompanied the 2007 live album Live from Freedom Hall, said, “Well that’s a great song and something that I think we all live by. I think anybody out there needs to respect their mother, and the words of their mother. It’s mama talking to you in that song and I think it’s probably one of my favourites if not my favourite to do live. It’s just a great song and that one stays in the set and the crowd always goes crazy on that one.”

Al Kooper didn’t like the way the song sounded. The band decided to re-record it without Al on it but agreed to let him add his organ part later. He also didn’t think they should release it, but after it was so well received in their live sets, he realised he was wrong.

During a radio interview in 1976, Ronnie admitted the writing itself isn’t hard to do, but the difficult part is getting started: “I think the whole trick to writing is it’s not very hard to do. The hard thing to do is to get yourself in the mood for writing, just get yourself in that right atmosphere. When you get yourself in the right mood and the right place all the pressure’s off your head.”

On 20 October 1977, tragedy struck. After a gig in South Carolina, the band boarded a plane bound for Baton Rouge, Louisiana when it ran out of fuel and crashed in a wooded area in Mississippi, killing Ronnie, guitarist Steve Gaines and Steve’s backing singer sister Cassie as well as their road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray. Other member suffered serious injuries.

The group disbanded shortly after the accident reuniting briefly in 1979 and then again in 1987 when they recorded Live from Freedom Hall which was a 30th anniversary tribute of the plane crash. The album was dedicated to Ronnie.

Memphis Tennessee (Chuck Berry)

A few years ago, I did a connection round at my Start of Year quiz which included the songs, I’m The Urban Spaceman, Clair, Always the Last to Know, A Boy Named Sue and Save Your Kisses for Me among others. Any ideas as to the connection? Well, the answer is that they all have a twist in the tale. One song I didn’t think of at the time was this week’s suggestion.

Chuck Berry was one of the original and most important figures in the history of rock and roll. John Lennon, who was a big fan, once said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.” He burst onto the scene in 1955 with Maybelline and despite his chequered history, his music was ground-breaking and original although he did stick to a winning formula.

Charles Edward Anderson ‘Chuck’ Berry was born on 18 October 1926 and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where he showed an interested in rhythm and blues. He admired the blues guitarist T-Bone Walker and his flamboyant guitar style and went on to perform with a trio which was led by the pianist Johnnie Johnson. In 1955, he met Muddy Waters who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, the owner of Chess records. Chuck did so, Leonard signed him and thus his career began.

In September 1958, in his home town, he recorded the song Memphis Tennessee. He invited his long-time friend Johnnie Johnson to play piano and brought in Fred Below on drums and Willie Dixon on upright bass and like many of Chuck’s classic, it contains a simple but memorable guitar line. The song tells the story of the protagonist asking a long-distance telephone operator (or international operator as we knew it in the UK) to find a phone number for Marie which we are led to believe was an ex-girlfriend who had run off and the story-teller wants back. He even tries to describe to the operator where she lives, ‘Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge’ as if that was going to help. We’re further led to believe that the break-up was because the girl’s mother didn’t approve of the relationship, ‘Only that I miss her and all the fun we had, but we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree.’ In the final verse, Chuck reveals that Marie is only six years old and you realise, in a clever twist, that Marie is his daughter who is now living with her mum in Memphis.

Memphis Tennessee was never released as a single in the States, a cover by Pat Boone was released but never charted. The Beatles regularly performed it and Elvis Presley recorded a version in 1963. That same year, Decca records recording artist Dave Berry recorded a version and was his only UK hit credited as Dave Berry & The Cruisers. Chuck’s version was rush-released in the UK on the Pye International presumably after they heard about the impending un-related Dave Berry version but Chuck charted three weeks after Dave’s version. Chuck vs Dave, who won? Chuck reached number six whereas Dave stalled at number 19. Pye International cleverly coupled Chuck’s version with Let It Rock billed as a double A-side – just in case one failed!

Many have covered the song over the years, Rolling Stones (1963), The Hollies and Del Shannon (1964) The Animals and Tom Jones (1965), Dave Clark Five (1969), The Faces (1971), a new wave version by The Silicon Teens (1979), George Thorogood & The Destroyers (1985), Status Quo (2000), James Taylor (2009), Cliff Richard (2016) and George Benson (2019).

What you may not have known is that there was a sequel to this song called Little Marie which opens with the line, ‘Yes, oh yes, long distance, I’ll accept the charge, I’ll pay’ indicating they have got in touch but the protagonist is unsure who it is, saying, ‘Which love one is calling me, I did not hear you say. Both are deep within my heart, her Mom and my Marie.’ We learn at the end of the song that it was Marie’s mum when we hear ‘Then she spoke and asked me to come back and see Marie and live together in our home in Memphis, Tennessee.’ Aw, a happy ending.

Chuck, who is ranked fifth on the Rolling Stone list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, was an inductee at the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1983. He was in good company as other inductees that year included, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, James Brown, Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Sam Cooke, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis. Chuck was induced by the Rolling Stones’ guitarist and song writer Keith Richards who, because Chuck stuck to a winning formula, commented, “Chuck continued to release effectively the same song over and over again. It’s true that Chuck Berry’s biggest hits contain many re-cycled elements. But heck, Chuck invented this stuff – why not stay true to a proven formula?”

Berry passed away on 18 March 2017 at the age of 90.

Bicycle Race (Queen)

This week’s suggestion came from one of my Thursday night quiz regulars, Mummybear who emailed to ask, “Having recently watch Bohemian Rhapsody, where Queen singles get the ‘Hollywood treatment’ as to their origins, we were listening to Bicycle Race in the car and were wondering about the origins of this song.” Well mummybear, let’s find out.

This song was released in 1978 as part of a double A-side with Fat Bottomed Girls which reached number 11 in the UK chart. It was their first of three double sided hits even though many cite We Are the Champions / We Will rock You, the previous year, as being their first, but the latter was never listed on any chart as such and was, therefore, not a UK hit. Even the record label says ‘B’ on it. It was just one of those much-played B-sides.

Both Bicycle Race and Fat Bottomed Girls were taken from their seventh hit album Jazz which was recorded in a remote area in France because they were using the time as a tax break. The band were being heavily taxed and that’s why they took off to France. For future albums they used a studio in Montreux in Switzerland. Queen’s drummer, Roger Taylor, recalled in the TV documentary, Days of our Lives, “We were being taxed as much as 98% on royalties on previous albums, so we decided to record outside the UK.”

It was while in his hotel room, the song’s author, Freddie Mercury, saw the Tour de France pass his hotel window and that’s what gave him the inspiration he needed for Bicycle Race. Fat Bottomed Girls was written by the guitarist Brian May and is seen from the point of view about a male liking a large lady. “I wrote it with Fred in mind, as you do especially if you’ve got a great singer who likes fat bottomed girls… or boys,” Brian said in a Mojo interview.

One of the bizarre things is that fat bottomed girls is mentioned in the lyric of Bicycle Race, ‘Fat bottomed girls, they’ll be riding today so look out for those beauties, oh yeah’. One of the other unique things about the single is that is it has a bicycle bell solo with an unusual chord progression shifting in time signature from a regular 4/4 to 6/8. Soon after the band began playing the track live, cycle shops in the area were suddenly selling out of bells because fans were buying them in their droves to ring at the concerts.

The song is not generally classed as a ‘list’ song, but could or maybe should be because it mentions John Wayne, cocaine, tax, Star Wars, Jaws, Jesus, Vietnam and Watergate.

Another memorable feature is the accompanying video of naked women riding round a cycle track. The whole thing was staged at Wimbledon Stadium in south-west London and featured 65 professional models cycling naked but clever photography covered their important bits. A poster shot of the event came free with the album but only if the stores decided to stock them. The more prudish owners refused and the purchaser had to order a copy via the good old-fashioned postage system.

In Queen – the New Visual Documentary by Ken Dean, Brian May gave his thoughts on nude bicycle racing, “We lost some of our audience with that one, ‘How could you do it? It doesn’t go with your spiritual side.’ But my answer is that the physical side is just as much a part of a person as the spiritual or intellectual side. It’s fun. I’ll make no apologies. All music skirts around sex, sometimes very directly. Ours doesn’t. In our music, sex is either implied or referred to semi-jokingly, but it’s always there.”

In 2005, a tribute album called Killer Queen: A Tribute to Queen was released and featured 16 different acts performing a Queen song, mostly hit singles and Bicycle Race was performed by the Nashville garage band Be Your Own Pet whilst Fat Bottomed Girls was submitted by the lesser-known all-female all female rock band Antigone Rising.

Galway Girl (Ed Sheeran)

One of the biggest talented UK singer/songwriters in recent times is undoubtedly Ed Sheeran. Appealing to all ages and collaborating with artists from all types of genres understandably gives him mass appeal. My late friend Larry quite often said me, “I don’t get Ed Sheeran. He’s not to my liking, but I understand his appeal,” And that’s understanding rather than dismissing someone as ‘rubbish’ or worse. Galway Girl is one of his most catchy songs and, unlike many songs today, instantly recognisable. What is the song all about? Let’s find out.

One of the main reasons is that Irish music is very catchy and this Irish-folk-pop song comes in cold. It has no intro and therefore just hits you instantly. Steve Earle, alongside Sharon Shannon, also recorded an entirely different song called Galway Girl which was just as catchy but nowhere nearly as bigger hit as it should have been. It stalled at number 67 in 2008 and that was only after it was used in a Magners beer TV advert.

The song’s opening is based on a real story but some of the facts had to be changed, not to conceal the identity, but to make the words flow. As for the rest of it, it’s fictitious as Ed explained in an interview with The Irish Times, “It was based on the fiddle player in Beoga called Niamh Dunne. She’s married to an Irishman, a friend of mine. I had the band in my house for an extra day so I was like, ‘what can I write about? She plays the fiddle in an Irish band… right, cool, let’s write a song about that.’ She inspired the first line but the rest of the song isn’t about anyone, I just made up a story.”

Where the changes came in are as follows, Dunne is actually from Limerick, not Galway, but it doesn’t flow as well. So as not to get confused with the Shannon/Earle track Ed said, “I actually tried to find another lyric. I did Wexford Girl and Clonakity Girl and Cork Girl, but none of them worked. The whole point of folk songs is taking inspiration from the past and making something new – so people will just have to deal with it. Galway is a really beautiful place,” he said in a different interview, “I have a cousin and an uncle who live there and it’s like cobbled streets, it’s quintessential Ireland.” One of the inspirations for this song was from a Van Morrison album called Irish Heartbeat which was recorded with The Chieftains and is one of Ed’s favourites.

As usual the record company have to hinder the artist. When you’re Ed Sheeran and have sold as many records as he has, they should have let him get on this it and trusted his judgement, but, no. In this case the record company were dead against including this song on the album ÷. “They were really, really against it, because apparently folk music isn’t cool.” Ed said to The Guardian. “My argument was always well, the Corrs sold 20 million records. The label would say, ‘Oh the Corrs, that was years ago,’ but who’s tried it since the Corrs? There’s a huge gap in the market, and I promise you that in two years time there will be a big folk band that comes up that’s pop, and that will happen as a result of labels being like: ‘Oh shit, if he can put a fiddle and uilleann pipes on it, then we can try it as well.'” He went on to say, “There’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not. You meet them in America all the time: ‘I’m a quarter Irish and I’m from Donegal.’

Niamh Dunne explained how she got the gig, “It was all down to Foy Vance who is a mutual friend of Ed’s and Beoga. “They were on tour together and they played some of Beoga’s tracks in the van together and Ed liked it, so when he was making his new album he emailed us and asked if we would be up for doing some recording.”

The accompanying video sees Ed in Galway with Saoirse Ronan who is not really a Galway girl as heart although she was raised in Dublin. “When we were filming it, I meant to get a tattoo of her handwriting saying ‘Galway Girl,'” he said. “It actually says Galway Grill. Like, full on, she really took the piss out of me with this one. It actually says Galway Grill. G-r-i-l-l! “I’m actually kind of proud of her,” he said “It’s the kind of thing that I would do.”

“This is a love-it-or-hate-it song, and many hate it,” Ed claims. “I’ve never put out a song before that’s polarised people so much,” he explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “People really, really hate it! It, like, offends them that the song exists. But I do think, in five or 10 years, those same people will be dancing to it on St. Patrick’s Day, drunk at the bar.” After all, the song was number one in Ireland in England it spent five weeks at number two behind…. Shape of You by…. Ed Sheeran. Is he bothered if people don’t like it?!

Wild World (Cat Stevens)

In a recent quiz, I presented a connection round where the artists had successfully changed their name during their career, Snoop Doggy Dogg became Snoop Dogg, Hannah Montana became Miley Cyrus, Shane Fenton became Alvin Stardust and Cat Stevens became Yusef Islam etc. Cat is the subject of this week’s Single of the Week as I look into the story of Wild World which has been a UK hit four times, twice top 10 and two other versions which failed to make the top 50, one of them being the its author.

Yusef or Cat or even Steven Demetre Georgiou, as he started life, was born in a flat above his parent’s shop in London. His father was Greek and his mother Swedish. He grew up learning piano but once the Beatles came along he quickly developed an interest in the guitar and decided to take it up. Being in London he began playing in many of the coffee bars that were available to him, firstly as a member of a band, but then preferring to entertain solo.

He first graced out chart with I Love My Dog, a song about a real dog he found tied to a lamppost outside is home in London and followed it with Matthew & Son which was inspired by a sign he had seen in a shop window whilst travelling on a bus in London. In 1970, Stevens released two albums, Mona Bone Jakon which opened with his sixth hit single, Lady D’Abanville – written about his then girlfriend, the American actress Patti D’Arbanville. By the time of the second album, Tea for the Tillerman, in November that year he had split with Patti. The third track on side one was Wild World which hundreds of sources cite as also being written about Patti, but it wasn’t. Let’s sort this out.

Cat had started recording his version of Wild World when the reggae artist Jimmy Cliff heard it and wanted to record a version. When Stevens heard about it and realised it was going to be in a reggae style, he offered to produce it. Once done, Cat returned to finish his own version thus meaning that Jimmy Cliff recorded it first.

Stevens wanted to find peace and happiness in a mixed-up world and that’s what inspired the song. “I wrote the song about himself. I was trying to relate to my life. I’d done my career before, and I was sort of warning myself to be careful this time around, because it was happening. It was not me writing about somebody specific,” he revealed in The Chris Isaak Hour, a talk show he presented on the Biography Channel in 2009. “Other people may have informed the song, but it was more about me,” he continued, it’s talking about losing touch with home and reality – home especially.”

In a different interview, Cat talked about the song’s lyrics saying, “It was one of those chord sequences that’s very common in Spanish music. I turned it around and came up with that theme – which is a recurring theme in my work – which is to do with leaving, the sadness of leaving, and the anticipation of what lies beyond. There is a criticism sometimes of my music, that it’s kind of naive, but then again that’s exactly why people like it. It goes back to the pure childish approach of seeing things almost for the first time. A kid can say things like, ‘Why is a cow?’ You shouldn’t put those words together! But if you do, then it makes you stop and think.”

So, how come Jimmy Cliff came to record it first? In in Mojo interview in 2012, Jimmy explained all, “I felt an affinity with Cat Stevens. They tried to market him as a rock act and like me, he was more than that and one day I went to the publisher and he played me this demo of Wild World and he told me that Cat had written it but he didn’t like it. I loved it right away so he called up Steve (as Jimmy knew him) and put me on the phone to him. He asked what my key was, I said and he started playing guitar down the phone, he said we have to record it together so he went in and did the track and I went in the following day, helped put on the backing voices with Doris Troy and then it was time to put my voice on and Steve directed me to sing the high notes. He was a really good producer and it was a big hit.”

Cat’s hits in the seventies included Moon Shadow, Morning Has Broken (with Rick Wakeman on piano), Can’t Keep It In, a cover of Sam Cooke’s Another Saturday Night and his final hit was (Remember the Days of the) Old School Yard with Elkie Brooks on backing vocals. In 1977, Cat officially converted to the Muslim faith and changed his name the following year to Yusuf Islam. He gave up music and married Fauzia Mubarak Ali in Regent’s Park Mosque in September the following year. Together they have a son and four daughters who have given them nine grandchildren.

In 1988, Maxi Priest covered the song and took it to number five and in 1993 a rock version by Mr Big stalled at number 59. After 25 years out of the limelight, Islam was enticed back to music with some encouragement from his religious friends and re-recorded his song Peace Train for a new compilation. His first live appearance came at the Nelson Mandela 46664 concert. In December 2004, he teamed up with Ronan Keating to record a new version of his song Father and Son which went to number two.

In April 2007, the BBC, as part of a BBC Sessions series, broadcast a concert by Islam at the Porchester Hall in London. He sang a mixture of new and old songs including Wild World which resulted in it being downloaded enough times to finally become a hit for the author where it peaked at number 52, but at least it was a hit.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of Tea for the Tillerman and Islam has celebrated it by releasing a brand-new album called Tea for the Tillerman² which features the same 11 songs done in a new and re-imagined style and hit the chart three weeks ago at number four.