This was a real joy to record. Steve Ellis = WHAT A VOICE! What a lovely fella. It’s fair to say that he loves a chat too and it was a real delight to spend time in his company (albeit over the world wide web and Zoom) to chat about his career and work & friendship with Paul Weller.
Steve is one of a select group of outstanding of British soul singers and Mod icons and the quintessential rock & soul artist.
As lead singer with the 1960’s chart-topping Mod-Soul outfit Love Affair, Steve’s vocals had the kind of powerhouse range that made you sit up and notice.
He was one third of the holy trinity of ‘Steve’s’- the other two being Marriott and Winwood – who emerged out of the mid-1960s UK rhythm & blues scene and became three of the best blue-eyed soul vocalists of the entire decade, and there’s no better example than Love Affair’s ‘Everlasting Love’ which went to number one in February 1968 – resulting in them becoming the biggest selling band in 1968 after The Beatles!
As you’ll hear on this podcast, Steve and Paul Weller are great mates – a friendship formed back at Solid Bond in the early 80s when Paul was in The Style Council – and Steve talks about Paul being like a brother to him.
50 years further down the line from that smash-hit 1968 single, Steve recorded a new album called Boom Bang Twang! – a mix of new songs and some heartfelt covers with guests and long-time friends including Paul (who also produced the album) along for the ride.
We dig in to the album, which has loads of lovely Weller connections – with band-members Andy Crofts and Ben Gordelier (The Moons), Steve Pilgrim, Steve Cradock and Charles Rees (Black Barn Engineer) all playing on the LP.
Former Podcast Guests, Andy Lewis and Neil Jones (Stone Foundation) also pop up, along with COW (Mark and Maxine Boxall), Manfred Mann’s Mike D’Abo and Kevin Wallbank.
Dive in to the podcast to hear all about it – and read on below for more information and performances from Steve with Paul…
EP69 – Steve Ellis – Love Affair – Boom Bang Twang! – ”Yes, it feels like it‘s gonna last…” – Desperately Seeking Paul : Paul Weller Fan Podcast
Steve Ellis and Paul Weller first recorded together in 1998, with a song called Step inside Love that raised money for the NSPCC. Available here on Spotify.
Their paths would first cross on stage in April 2001 when they performed together at the Steve Marriott Memorial Concert. You can find the YouTube Playlist here
Later in the same, Steve Ellis joined Paul & Steve Cradock on stage in Croydon, as part of the Days of Speed Tour, to play Everlasting Love and Broken Stones. A record of that live version of Everlasting Love pops up on Steve’s 2015 album release The Best of Days. Available here on Spotify.
In 2004, both performed at the Ronnie Lane Memorial Concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. You can find the YouTube Playlist here which also featured Sam Brown (Podcast Ep 55)
2022 Update – Steve Ellis: Finchley Boy Boxset
As an update to this page and the podcast chat with Steve. The boxset that he mentioned is now on pre-order. Called Finchley Boy, it is a career-spanning 10 CD Box Set including albums by The Love Affair, Ellis, Widowmaker, as well as Steve Ellis solo albums and recordings with Paul Weller. Also included is a 36 page booklet with the full story of Steve’s career, written by Jon ‘Mojo’ Mills, editor of Shindig! Magazine, and based on extensive recent interviews with Steve himself. The booklet features all the credits, and photos from Steve’s own archive. The boxset features the new track that Steve mentioned on our podcast. It’s called Just To Simplify and it was co-written and produced by Paul Weller.
You can order the boxset here.
The Album – Boom Bang Twang
Steve’s latest album, released in 2018, Boom Bang Twang was recorded at Weller HQ (Black Barn Studios) and produced by Paul Weller, Charles Rees and Steve.
Paul is on piano for covers of Tim Hardin’s Black Sheep Boy (a song Paul played live regularly in sessions around Wild Wood time) and Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying, and on guitar / backing vocals for Sitting In Limbo, Tobacco Ash Sunday and I Forgot To Be Your Lover (a song that Paul played on Jools in 2009).
Paul and Steve also co-wrote a couple of stonking new songs – Lonely No More and Cry Me A River – the latter featuring Weller alumni Andy Lewis on bass too!
You can buy the album here
Paul Weller writes some lovely words on the sleeve notes which I have included below…
Maybe if we live long enough, we grow into what we always wanted to be.
Maybe? Just maybe, if we stick at what we love, it’ll come round and come good.
Steve Ellis has earned the right to sing the Blues if he wants. And sing it he does!
I think back to seeing him on Top of the Pops,
him as a little kid with a big voice, to all these years later (50! I was ten at the time, it’s true I tell you!) when the same little fella is still singing (with a big voice!).
Through all life’s trials and let downs, pain, loss, mistakes, circumstances, love, happiness.
We’re all looking for the good bits! Here’s some for you.
PAUL WELLER 2018.
P.S. He’s my mate and I love him dearly
Here’s some more info from the sleeve notes which give context to the whole project and Paul’s involvement too.
Steve Ellis is a man who believes in not resting on his laurels. He is always looking to record something new. When the decision was made to record what has become this very album, conversations were had as to which studio or studios were to be used. The discussions came to an abrupt end, when Steve’s longtime pal, Paul Weller, suggested he use his. And so it was that, aside from a couple of songs from outside contributors, including Mike D’Abo, the album was recorded with a core group of musicians, drawn from the ranks of Paul’s band, The Moons, COW and The Dream Foundry. These musicians, under the direction of Steve and Paul, worked up individual parts and arrangements and, after a few run throughs, recorded them, playing as a group, so as to capture the immediacy of a band playing live in a room. Backing vocals and any additional overdubs were added, where necessary, but the album has the air of a band playing songs for you, rather than it being a collection of deft studio techniques that would somehow disjoint the effect of the performances.