David Longdon - Wild River (Fern Green & Daffodil Yellow 2LP)
Wild River, the first solo album from David Longdon, the late lead singer of Big Big Train, has been re-mixed, re-mastered, expanded, and will be released digitally and on CD on 20 October. LP versions will be released on 10 November.
Wild River was originally self-released in 2004 and, at that time, only a minimal quantity of CDs was produced. Whilst it was briefly available via the Big Big Train website, it has long been out of print. David had always intended to remix and repackage it. However, his sudden death in November 2021 meant that his plan never came to fruition. In a final act of remembrance by his long-time colleague Rob Aubrey, Big Big Train’s engineer since 1994, David’s wishes have now been fulfilled. The album packaging has also been redesigned by Longdon’s friend and collaborator Steve Vantsis.
Sarah Ewing, David’s partner, recalls why he was so keen to revisit Wild River. “David was really proud of those songs,” she says. “He produced and engineered the album himself, but always felt that the recording, the production and the mix never quite met his expectations. Over the years he became much more skilled at his craft, and had he been alive now, he would have been able to deliver the album the way he always wanted it to be. He’d also always wanted to improve the cover art, but at the time he’d spent all his money on the recording and mixing.”
Wild River represented a transitional period for David, both artistically and emotionally. His father, Eric, had passed away in 1994. He had been through a divorce and he’d auditioned to be the lead singer of Genesis following the departure of Phil Collins. However, after a protracted audition-cum-rehearsal process, he was immensely disappointed to lose out on the role. Which, with hindsight, was a blessing in disguise.
Around this time, XTC guitarist Dave Gregory was playing a session where he first met David. Between XTC projects, Gregory had been recording a version of the Genesis epic Supper’s Ready and David, a big XTC fan, offered to sing on it, adding, “I really need to do this.” Gregory was astonished at how quickly David recorded the vocal parts: “Soup to nuts in an afternoon and an evening.” Rather than accepting payment for the session, David invited Gregory to play guitar and Mellotron on the work-in-progress Wild River. Gregory recalls, “The Genesis experience galvanised him. He was saying, ‘Look, this is what I can do. And I’m gonna f*cking show you’. That was a huge motivation for him. He felt rejected, so had to work a lot harder.”
Big Big Train’s sound engineer and David’s friend, Rob Aubrey, was asked to remix the album earlier this year. “It still fills me with sadness that he’s gone, but Wild River needed to be made available again as it is such a strong album.” The last word on Wild River goes to Sarah: “I don’t think it sounds like an album that’s 20 years old; it sounds very immediate and contemporary and that speaks of David’s talent,” says Ewing. “It’s hard for me to be objective, but I hear the younger David and in that regard it’s a beautiful time capsule.”
The vinyl formats of the album feature four songs recorded live in 2004, while the CD format features nine live songs. The vinyl and CD formats all feature a bonus studio track not available on the 2004 edition of the album, while the CD format also includes an extended version of one song from the studio recordings.
- Honey Trap
- About Time
- Wild River
- Loving & Giving
- In Essence
- This House
- Falling Down To Earth
- On To The Headland
- Beyond Belief
- Every Silver Lining (Live)
- April Fool (Live)
- Can I Come With You? (Live)
- Pipe Dream (Live)
Format: 2LP Fern Green & Daffodil Yellow Vinyl
Artist: David Longdon
Release Date: November 24, 2023