- 07 Dec 20
Entitled Hidden Gems, and including contributions from members of The Zombies, Pink Floyd and Moving Hearts among many more, it is a very special career-spanning collection, which opens with a message that would have struck a chord with John Lennon himself, on ‘Outbreak of Peace’.
Francie Conway has announced the release of a new album, and the official launch is timed for December 8 – the anniversary of the murder of John Lennon.
It is an album with a difference. Titled Hidden Gems, the record brings together recordings from across a career that has seen Francie keep company with some of the outstanding musicians of his generation. The tracks were variously recorded in studios in Switzerland, England and Ireland.
Hidden Gems opens with the Lennon-esque ‘Outbreak of Peace’, which features Greg French on keyboards and backing vocals and Finbar Furey on low whistle. It is a song that should resonate deeply with fans of the iconic Beatle.
"The seeds for Hidden Gems were sown,” Francie explains, "when The Zombies were inducted to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in March 2019 in New York city. Due to this achievement, there’s been widespread interest in the band members individual projects, which include Argent, Colin Blunstone and The Chris White Experience.”
Francie has enjoyed a longstanding musical relationship with one member of The Zombies in particular – Chris White – which goes back as far the 1980’s: in fact Francie featured on three of the albums from The Chris White Experience. Those recordings have been brought home here. Among the tracks on Hidden Gems are four Chris White co-writes, ‘Today More Than Ever’ and 'Something I Heard' (both Tim Renwick & Chris White), ‘Up Against The Wall Again’ (Francie Conway & Chris White), 'Hold Your Head Up’ (Rod Argent & Chris White).
Hidden Gems is a feel good rock album, with lots of great guitar playing – and outstanding performances from a number of legendary musicians. These include Tim Renwick (Pink Floyd), Russ Ballard (Argent), John Verity (Argent), Jim Rodford (Argent/The Kinks), Bob Henrit (Argent), Vivienne Boucherat & Chris White (The Zombies), Jan Akkerman (Focus), Christy Dignam (Aslan), Finbar Furey (The Fureys), Gerry O’Connor (Joe Bonamassa/The Dublin Legends), Keith Donald and Matt Kelleghan (Moving Hearts) – and indeed many more.
Aslan fans will be intrigued to hear 'Somewhere In Heaven’, which comes across as another John Lennon-inspired track, on which Christy Dignam is the featured vocalist. It also features Finbar Furey on uilleann pipes.
'Hold Your Head Up’ is a track with a distinctive Irish flavour courtesy of Gerry O’Connor’s marvellously dextrous banjo and fiddle.
"One of the hidden gems is a first recording of a new song,” Francie says. “It’s called ’Still There’ and it was written by Paul Williams – who is an Oscar and Grammy award winning songwriter – and Keith Donald of Moving Hearts."
Arranged by Fiachra Trench, it is one of the highlights of the record – and one that might just feature widely on late might radio over the coming months. Radio programmers, please note!
Also captured from the archives is a live recording from a TV show on RTÉ back in 1974. At the time, Francie Conway was a member of the band Clutch, from Kerry, who performed a Francie original, 'Swampman Blues', on a programme that was directed by Laurence Bourne. The line-up of musicians on the track is completed by Casba O’Callaghan (drums), Liam Hartnett (Lap steel) and Com Brosnan (bass).
For more: francieconway.com