October 1999, Radio London Rescues 'Sundance' Tape

You know, the world is just full of coincidences, and never more so than at Radio London. Look at all the offshore DJs who've come out of the woodwork since we started the website, many who just chanced by and saw that we'd got info on someone else they'd been looking for. However, this little story is not about DJs, but a record artist or two.

Back in the halcyon days of 1979, Mary and I helped to start the hospital radio station at Stoke Mandeville, in Bucks. No surprise there, I hear you say, but we didn't live in SM until later.

In January 1998, Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio was awarded a Medium Wave licence to permanently transmit on 1575kHz.When the AM licence was awarded, Mary and I were invited to its official switch-on. Although the station was just across the road from Radio London, we'd lost contact with several of the original members. One of them – Martin Kinch – was at the launch. He said that he would be interested to have a look at our studio, but no date was fixed.

It took until October this year (1999), to arrange for Martin to come round to see us! While he was here, he mentioned that he'd tried to dub a reel-to-reel tape to MiniDisc in the SMHR studio, but he'd had a problem getting both channels working. I offered to do the dub, but being a bit of a tape restorer and archivist, I didn't want to hurry it and do it while Martin was there, so it was left with me to sort out later.

The tape had four tracks in stereo, just rough-mixes, by a group called Sundance. I knew nothing about them, so Martin filled me in. He told us Mike deAlbuquerque was in the group, along with Mary Hopkin, (she of 'Those Were The Days' fame) and that Mike was bass player with second generation of Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)! Apparently he had never actually heard these rough mixes, which were recorded at the famous Roundhouse Studios in 1981.

Only one Sundance (no connection to an early Seventies band of the same name) single is mentioned in the Record Collector Price Guide. The last track on the tape turned out to be the A-side of the single, 'What's Love'. The B-side, called 'Song', wasn't on the tape. Armed with that little gem of info, I set to and transferred the original tape to the Macintosh computer, and carefully remastered the tracks. ALL the tracks are perfectly worthy of air-play in my opinion, although I can see why 'What's Love' was chosen as the A-side.

So, now what do I do? I knew nothing about Sundance, so I went off to the jolly-old Internet to see what I could find out. Some time later, I ended up at the website of Pat Richmond, a lady who is a big Mary Hopkin fan. Pat describes Mary's career in detail, with pictures from various of her live appearances, and confirms that there was only one single from Sundance with Mary Hopkin, and never an album. The most intriguing thing is that Pat mentions a rumour that the single 'What's Love', at some time had a different B-side. She thinks it was 'Take Your Time', but may only have been on DJ pre-release copies. Naturally enough, this track is on the tape! Another mystery sort-of solved. The track does exist, and is very strong, so why it didn't make it to the single, I don't know, although I admit I haven't heard the 'real' B-side, 'Song'.

Having been in touch with Pat, I wondered if the discovery had made her day. She replied that, "It's made my Millennium!"

One of the other tracks on the tape is 'So Sad', which Pat mentions having seen performed live. The fourth track is 'That's Why I Love You', the song with the memorable lyrics, "You're a party with the lights down low, you're a Friday night picture show; 'Love Me Tender' on the radio…". (Thanks to Mark Stafford from Radio Caroline, for reminding us it was written and recorded by Andrew Gold) recorded it for his first single.) For 'rough-mixes' these recordings are surprisingly good, and would sound fine if the final mixes for all of the tracks had never been finished.

Martin also said that Mike wants to rerelease his solo album, 'We May Be Cattle, But We've All Got Names', but he is still searching for the original tapes. He may have to use a vinyl copy as a master instead.

One thing I know you're dying to ask, is, "What's Mike up to now?" He has an antiques business in a local village, and in his 'spare' time, plays with a group called 'The Rubber Band', who gig just for the fun of it. Mike reckons there could be interest from local fans in copies of 'We May Be Cattle...'.

How did Martin know Mike D? As a follower of such 70s bands as ELO, Roy Wood and Wizzard, he came to know some of the members while at gigs. Martin has his own page on the Roy Wood web site mentioned below.

(Now where did I put that old tape of Beatles rough mixes I was supposed to dub years ago...?)

Pat's 'Mary Hopkin' site is at: www.temma.dircon.co.uk/society.index.htm
Martin's page is at: www.cherryblossomclinic.freeserve.co.uk.

Back to 'Kneesflashes'