Preview by Paul Nelson
CLIVE James (the songwriter) is embarking on a major UK tour.
Yes, I am talking about THE Clive James, Australian-born
poet, novelist, journalist, critic, creator of the 'postcard'
series of travelogues, and TV personality with a passion for the
Not many people know that more than 20 years ago, Clive wrote
lyrics for six albums of songs with his Cambridge Footlights mate,
Pete Atkin. Now, Clive and Pete are getting together again on
stage for a 30 date national tour, Clive James & Pete Atkin:
Words and Music, and Clive will even sing!
The collaboration of James and Atkin has been revived by the
relaunch of their albums over the internet this year.
On the road, their new double act is a laid back recap of their
adventures in the music industry since the late 60s when, as members
of the Cambridge Footlights, they forged a friendship that resulted
in six albums in the 70s.
Pete sings songs on guitar and keyboards in their acoustic form,
the songs fall between Pete Seeger and Alan Price.
Some serious, some funny, they touch on Apollo 13, jazz pianists,
westerns and one about gangsters, The Joker, which would
not look out of place on a Scott Walker CD.
Clive, meanwhile, intones poems on pieces of paper, with offerings
that didn't make it to lyric form, and even takes a stab at a
vocal number. Meanwhile The Book Of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered
shows the Australian wit in fine acerbic form.
The tour takes in most of the country, but for Londoners and
commuters, the salient dates are Harlequin Theatre Redhill
(May 9), Ferneham Hall, Fareham (May 25), Queen Elizabeth Hall,
London (June 6), and Millfield Theatre, Edmonton (June 7).
Full details of Pete and Clive's songs with soundclips can be
accessed at the weblink opposite.
Clive James was born in Sydney in 1939.
He was educated at the University of Sydney, where he was literary
editor of Honi Soit, and wrote for various university magazines.
He was a contemporary of Germaine Greer and Robert Hughes. After
graduating, he worked for a time for the Sydney Morning Herald,
before departing for England in 1962, where he has lived ever
James attended Cambridge University and gained a second degree.
After that, he earned his living as a journalist, poet, novelist
He is the author of some twenty books as well as three volumes
of autobiography. As a television performer, he has appeared regularly
for BBC and ITV.
Pete Atkin's songs earned him the respect of some of Britain's
best rock and jazz session musicians.
He was joined in the studio and on tour by a number of them,
notably Chris Spedding, Herbie Flowers, Alan Parker, Barry Morgan,
Kenny Clare and Ray Cooper.
Though remaining largely unknown to the popular record buying
public, he has built up a huge following on the college circuit.
After his sixth album, Live Libel, he and Clive abandoned
the struggle for fame and Pete's musical career entered the 'legend'
phase. Compilations of his work have been issued on LP, cassette
and CD, but these are now deleted.
Now, through a thorough grounding in light entertainment production
for BBC Radio 4, he has established himself as Head of Network
Radio, South and West.
Although now working as a freelance he is still mostly in production
for the BBC, for whom he created the epic series This Sceptred
Isle, written by Christopher Lee and narrated by Anna Massey.
All of Pete's back catalogue (with the exception of one or two
tracks) has now been reissued on CD, including his first new album
in 26 years, the 2-CD set, The Lakeside Sessions.