The Beautiful Changes

Booklet Note by Pete Atkin for the Cherry Tree CD reissue

Julie was a major inspiration for Clive James and me when we were starting to write songs together in the Cambridge Footlights in the late 1960s. From the very beginning, her voice and her talent shone out and had an effect on audiences that we wanted to hitch our wagon to if we could. It never stopped being a thrill to hear her bring a new song to life.

By the time we graduated, we'd managed to produce a couple of privately-pressed vinyl LPs of our songs, and the fact that Julie sang half of them can't have done our prospects any harm when hawking the songs around music publishers.

It was one of those publishers — Don Paul at Essex Music — who did indeed pick up on her singing on the demo of 'The Magic Wasn't There'. He took it and Julie to EMI, and they bit.

Getting to go to the recording sessions — at Abbey Road, for heaven's sake! — was a huge excitement, blasé as we might have liked to appear. The resulting single had pretty good airplay, but sadly it 'didn't trouble the charts', as they used to say. It did attract quite a bit of attention, though, and it led to this album. The fact that Julie chose to include yet more of Clive's and my songs was of course another major boost for us, as was the chance for me to arrange and play on some of them.

One curiosity was 'He Just Don't Appeal To Me', a 1929 song I'd heard on a Scandinavian LP of early jazz rarities. It was by Ozzie Ware & The Whoopee Makers, a cover name for musicians moonlighting from the Duke Ellington band, and it was written by Porter Grainger, a pianist who had accompanied several great blues singers, most notably Bessie Smith. I thought immediately that its wide-open melody line would suit Julie well, and so it proved. I spent ages transcribing the original arrangement from amongst all the hiss and crackle, including all those little trumpet fills.

The Beautiful Changes has been hard to find for many years. Copies have sometimes gone for improbable sums on eBay, so I was delighted to hear that Cherry Red were going to make it readily available again after all this time. I'm proud and grateful to have been involved with it, not least because it shows above all how very, very good Julie was right from the beginning.

March 2012

The CD booklet also contains notes by Julie Covington, Don Paul and Don Fraser, plus track-by-track comments from Julie herself, and complete lyrics.

See also Pete Atkin's booklet note for the 1999 See For Miles CD reissue.

Pete Atkin

back to Pete Atkin Discography