On this episode of the Paul Weller Fan Podcast, I am joined by Singer, Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist and Producer, Robert Howard, aka Dr. Robert of The Blow Monkeys.
We take a journey through his youth and his discovery of punk, politics and The Jam whilst living in Australia in the mid to late 1970s… He returned home in 1981 and formed the band, leading to so many fabulous albums and singles – their debut Limping for a Generation, that breakthrough LP Animal Magic and their hit singles Digging Your Scene, It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way, Choice – right up to their brilliant 2021 album release Journey To You…
On the podcast, we hear so many personal stories , never told before , about his friendship and collaborations with Paul Weller.
Whether it’s recording at Solid Bond, being part of Red Wedge, an Honorary Councillor for the final The Style Council live shows, co-producing Dee C. Lee’s Slam Slam project and playing on each others early solo albums.
Robert added some wonderful contributions to recording sessions from that debut Paul Weller Solo album to Stanley Road… and even joined the band on tour as a bass-player around that time too.
Paul did the same for Robert’s stunning debut solo album Realms of Gold with contributions on four of the songs.
We also chat about Rise Up Singing – the Monks Road Social collaboration that saw Paul and Robert come together for a new song together in 2022…
Click your preferred podcast platform to listen…
EP170 – Robert Howard / Dr. Robert – The Blow Monkeys – Paul Weller Fan Podcast : Desperately Seeking Paul
2023 – The Blow Monkeys – Time Storm – Greatest Hits Vol. 2
In 2008 after an 18 year silence, The Blow Monkeys returned with a glorious new album – Devils Tavern. 5 further albums have followed since then, with the latest being the fabulous Journey To You in 2021.
Time Storm collects the best songs from this period on one lovely vinyl package. Released on October 27th, on both yellow and blue vinyl.
1989 – The Style Council Live in Japan
The Style Council hosted three ‘Revue’ shows in Japan in the Summer of 1989 leading up to their final full live show at London’s Royal Albert Hall a month later…
The show included seven new songs, one from Cafe Bleu, a couple from The Cost of Loving and 3 from Confessions of a Pop Group.
The band included Paul, Mick and, Dee but no Steve White (Richie Stephens was on drums) with Camelle Hinds, Brian Powell, Omar and Dr. Robert who sang Now You’re Gone…
Here are some highlights from the show – look out for Robert in his snazzy suit !
The Paul Weller Solo
You can hear Robert on the tracks below…
Into Tomorrow – Guitar and Backing Vocals
Kosmos – Robert plays bass with Camelle Hinds and Dee C. Lee on backing vocals.
Bull-Rush – Backing Vocals with Dee C. Lee
Country – Acoustic Guitar
The Changing Man – Bass + Backing Vocals with Steve Cradock
Porcelain Gods – Bass + Backing Vocals
Time Passes – Bass
Whirlpools Ends – Bass
“And loads more, I was too drunk to remember!”
1991 – Slam Slam – Free Your Feelings
Robert and Dee C. Lee co-produced Dee’s Slam Slam album.
Robert and Dee wrote the opener and single Move (Dance All Night) together and Robert also contributed Depth Charge – which had featured in the final TSC shows.
The album included 5 songs written by Paul Weller – Something Ain’t Right, Giving It Up, You’ll Find Love, Round & Round, Tender Love and a couple of co-writes Nothing Like It , by Paul and Dee, and What Dreams Are Made Of by Paul and Mick Talbot…
Dee also wrote Free Your Feelings with Marco Nelson…
1990 – The Blow Monkeys – Let The People Dance
Robert tells me that Paul played on this song from the album Springtime for the World
Incidentally, you’ll also find Honorary Councillor, Barbara Snow on trumpet (with a credit for the arrangement) on Be Not Afraid from the same album…
1986 – The Blow Monkeys – Digging Your Scene
1987 – The Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
1987 – The Blow Monkeys – Some Kind of Wonderful
1994 – Dr. Robert – Realms of Gold
Dr. Robert’s debut solo album, Realms of Gold, is a masterful fusion of diverse musical influences – folk, world, country, rock and electronic – and poetic lyricism that transcends conventional boundaries. Released to critical acclaim, the album presents an intricate blend of ethereal melodies, pulsating rhythms, and profound introspection, captivating listeners with its evocative storytelling and enigmatic soundscapes. Robert delves into the depths of human emotion, weaving intricate narratives that traverse themes of love, loss, and the enigmatic nature of existence.
The album was recorded with the backing of Japanese label Pony Canyon (mirroring Paul’s debut solo album) with Paul performing on 4 tracks on the album.
We get backing vocals on The Coming Of Grace… Paul plays Gibson Firebird Guitar on Comfort of the Clan, Piano on Circular Quay and provides vocals, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, percussion with Robert on vocals, acoustic guitar and percussion for the wonderful Have No Roots.
1984 – The Blow Monkeys – Limping for a Generation
1986 – The Blow Monkeys – Animal Magic
1987 – The Blow Monkeys – She Was Only A Grocer’s Daughter
1988 – The Blow Monkeys – Whoops! There Goes The Neighbourhood
1990 – The Blow Monkeys – Springtime For The World
1994 – Dr. Robert – Realms of Gold
1995 – Dr. Robert – Bethesda Part One
1997 – Dr. Robert – Other Folk
1999 – Dr. Robert – Flatlands
2001 – Dr. Robert – Birds Gotta Fly
2007 – Dr. Robert & P.P.Arnold – Five in the Afternoon
2008 – The Blow Monkeys – Devil’s Tavern
2011 – The Blow Monkeys – Staring at the Sea
2012 – Dr. Robert – Flutes and Bones
2013 – The Blow Monkeys – Feels Like A New Morning
2015 – The Blow Monkeys – If Not Now, When?
2016 – Dr. Robert – Out There
2017 – The Blow Monkeys – The Wild River
2021 – The Blow Monkeys – Journey To You
Monks Road Social
Curated by the Robert, Monks Road Social is an ever-evolving collaborative outfit.
February 2019 saw their first album release – Down The Willows – a unique and special project of inspiration, friendship and craft.
Helping Robert was Weller alumni aplenty, from The Style Council’s Mick Talbot, Steve White and Steve Sidelnyk, to solo band members, Ernie McKone, Damon Minchella, Jacko Peake and Matt Deighton…
We even get Stone Foundation on a stunning version of The Coming Of Grace…
With no genre boundaries and just 10 days in the studio, Dr Robert and his compadres creating a truly unique album. Effortlessly veering between soul, jazz, folk, blues rock, ambient, baroque and more. All held together with a passion and belief in the ethos of Monks Road founder, Richard Clarke, who wanted to create a world where artisans, poets and musicians are celebrated for their craft.
2nd album – Out of Bounds – followed in just over 6 months later with more delights, including Kathryn Williams joining for stunning versions of Matt Deighton’s May You Give It All Away and Robert’s I Ain’t Running Anymore.
2020 saw the collective’s 3rd album release – Humanism. Highlights include a Mick Talbot instrumental called New Arrivals to open proceedings. Robert singing and paying with Matt Deighton on Egyptian Magic, with Mick Talbot on organ… album closer Sunny Side Up written by Robert, on which he features on bass and vocals, with Crispin Taylor on drums, Steve Sidelnyk on percussion, Matt Deighton on rhythm guitar is another stunner…
For Monks Road Social’s fourth album – Rise Up Singing – Wonderfulsound’s Miles Copeland navigated the vibe alongside Robert… The album featured Paul Weller on the title track along with Matt Deighton, Mick Talbot, Stone Foundation frontman Neil Jones, Arthur Melo, Ernie McKone, Crispin Taylor, Steve Sidelnyk, Leah Weller, Jacko Peake, Romy Deighton, Angelina, Orphy Robinson and, of course, Dr Robert & Miles Copeland.
Find out more on the album through my earlier blog here and buy the album here.