Scottish Roots Rock
The Electrics was started by former members of Infra Penny and The Victors. Sammy Horner was the bassist and vocalist for Infra Penny, and Paul Baird was the guitarist. Infra Penny started around 1980 and lasted until about 1985; when that band was about to end Horner started writing his own songs. Horner teamed up with Baird and they decided to record some songs together.
The Salvation Army in High Blantyre, Scotland, had an eight track studio that let them record when they weren't recording brass bands. This meant sessions that started at 10:00 PM and lasted until 5:00 AM. The pair had to use old drum machines since neither of them could play drums. They recorded a six-track EP called The Electrics.
That EP opened doors for several live appearances, including an impromptu session at the Impact Festival. But Horner and Baird felt the drum machine was too limiting. So they persuaded ex-metal drummer Davey McArthur to join, and then after a session with the band, Alan Hewitt (keyboards, accordion, and woodwind) also joined. Originally The Electrics were going to be kind of like Scotrock.
In 1989, they recorded another demo called Views'n'Blues, also in Blantyre. Their early music was described as all different styles - Horner was a big country music fan, Baird was a rhythm-and-blues man, McArthur came from the heavy metal scene, and Hewitt was into jazz and funk. Listening to bands like The Waterboys and Runrig helped them to focus their style.
In 1990 at Scotland's Impact Festival, the band met Cross Rhythms' editor Tony Cummings. Cummings was impressed with their live show, and knew that Split Level was already covering one of their songs (“Mercy Mercy”). Cummings was in the process of forming a new record label and management company called Full Circle with ex-Nutshell manager Paul Bennett. Because of their show at the Impact Festival, The Electrics were asked to sign to Full Circle and recorded their next album Visions and Dreams at the Glasgow Music Studio.
The recording of Visions and Dreams ran into financial trouble, and the band had to go on a greuling tour schedule to pay back the money that MacArthur's Mom had given them to pay the bills. But the album did get distributed through Word Records, and the band started getting phone calls from Germany and France. They eventually even played the Christmas Rock Night in Ennepetal, Germany.
In 1992, Horner began to establish a solo career by releasing two pivotal albums. One was a Celtic Praise album called With Every Blessing through Kingsway Music and other was the first of three children's albums with The Wonderkids called Obey the Maker's Instructions (ICC).
The Electrics went into Ca Va studio (where Runrig and Deacon Blue had recorded). They recorded four tracks with Kevin Key (producer for Deacon Blue at the time). But the studio was expensive, so they had to limit their time. These sessions were released in 1993 as the cassette-only Unplug EP. But some of those songs we re-recorded for the next album.
Because of their appearances at German music festivals, Pila Music took notice of the bands. The company had been at their first festival appearance. Pila had also just signed Split Level, a band that was good friends with The Electrics. Sensing the opportunity to do a double bill tour, Pila offered the band a recording contract. The Electrics tool a while to decide, but eventually signed. They then recorded 1993's Big Silent World.
At some point after Big Silent World, Allan Hewitt left the band and was replaced by Heather Negus on accordion and keyboards. Kris McEwan also joined the band on fiddle and mandolin, turning the band into a five-piece. In 1994, the band played Greenbelt Festival, where the band also let Buddy Miller borrow one of their guitars to back-up Julie Miller (the airline had lost his guitar). They didn't know who Buddy or Julie Miller were, but Buddy did stay to watch their set.
The next year, Buddy and Julie Miller were going to do a big tour of Holland and headline Greenbelt. They felt they couldn't do this without a backing band, so they asked The Electrics to be their backing band. The became good friends with the band, and this led to The Electrics flying the entire band to Nashville, Tennessee to record their next album The Whole Shebang! with Buddy Miller. The band had a great experience recording with Miller, and the resulting album “defined our sound a lot better” according to Horner.
The Electrics were getting noticed in the United States, so they soon signed to 5 Minute Walk / Sara Bellum Records. Their first album for their new label was a 1997 self-titled album that was mostly re-recordings of several older songs of theirs. That album was engineered and produced by Masaki Li (The Lonely Now, Dimestore Prophets, etc). Their next album for 5 Minute Walk was 1998's Livin' It Up When I Die. That album was produced by Phil Madeira and engineered by Jordan Richter (This Train).
During the tour for Livin' It Up When I Die, Horner found out that the opening act The Smiley Kids was not making enough money to pay for hotel rooms or food. Horner called up the label head to ask about this, but found the label would not budge on how much money they were keeping of the band's sales. The head of the label claimed it was a fair deal. Horner threatened to tell the audience at every show about this and let them decide if it was fair, and that was the end of the relationship between The Electrics and 5 Minute Walk.
The next album by The Electrics was 1998's Danger Live Electrics - a live album recorded at Christmas Rock Night in Germany. The festival was going to record two songs, but they recorded the whole set instead. Horner was not totally happy with the way the recording came out, due to the fact that the audience was not recorded well.
The Electrics started playing fewer and fewer shows in the UK, but they still had a strong German fan base. This led to the band signing with a German record company called Pleitegeier Records. Their next album (2001's Reel, Folk 'n' Rock 'n' Roll) was also produced by Phil Madeira and engineered by Jordan Richter (This Train). Tim Cottrell was now playing fiddle for the band, so a lot of that album was fiddle driven.
Pleitegeier Records had signed the band to a three album deal, but backed out after the first album (which was barely distributed according to Horner). Therefore, the 2005 album Old, New, Borrowed & Green was released through Horner's independent Tameyourtongue label.
Also in 2005, a Festival in Norway asked The Electrics to come and headline for them. Money was tight and so, as part of the performance fee they offered the band a week in a beautiful old farmhouse dwelling and studio time plus an engineer. The Electrics recorded a song a day and just never got around to releasing the tracks. Almost 10 years later, they remastered the music and released it as The Norway Sessions in 2014.
As Sammy Horner became more and more busy as a solo artist, the activity of The Electrics has decreased. Now there are just occasional get-togethers.
|1989||Views 'n Blues|
|1989||Belfast Town / Hope and the Pain|
|1991||Visions and Dreams||Full Circle|
|1993||Big Silent World||Pila Music|
|1995||The Whole Shebang!||Pila Music|
|1997||The Electrics||Sarabellum Records|
|1998||Livin' It Up When I Die||Sarabellum Records|
|1999||Danger Live Electrics||ICC|
|2002||Irish Invasion (compilation)||Pila Music|
|2001||Reel, Folk'n'Rock'n'Roll||Pleitegeier Records|
|2005||Old, New, Borrowed & Green||Tameyourtongue|
|2014||The Norway Sessions|
Six songs EP, including:
Had 10 or 12 songs
1991 Myrrh Records (MYRCD1282)
Sammy Horner - Vocals, bass
Allan Hewitt - Accordion, keyboards, woodwind
Paul Baird - Guitar
David McArthur - Drums
Neill Forrest - Mandolin on “Disciples of Disaster,” “Justify Your Love,” and “T-Hule Beannachd (The Blessing)“
Dave Fitzgerald - Saxophone on “Wishing on a Dream” and “Free,” whistle on “T-Hule Beannachd (The Blessing)“
Joanne Quigley - Violin on “Justify Your Love”
The Divine Choir featuring Tracey Riggan - Backing vocals on “Mercy Mercy” and “Free”
Sammy Horner - Acoustic bass, mandolin, vocals
Allan Hewitt - Acoustic guitar, accordion, piano, whistle, Hammond, BVs
Bairdy (Paul Baird) - Twelve string guitars, six string guitars, acoustic guitars, mandolin, BVs
Davie McArthur - Drums, bodhran, BVs
1993 Pila Music (271922)
Sammy Horner - Lead vocals, bass guitar, mandolin, bodhrán, backing vocals
Allan Hewitt - Keyboards, Hammond organ, accordion, whistle, acoustic guitar, tambourine, backing vocals
Paul Baird - Acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, backing vocals
Davie McArthur - Drums, percussion, backing vocals
(…to be continued…)