It’s been a little over a decade since Brian Cadd’s last studio album and, to mark his 50th anniversary in the industry (and 70th birthday), the legendary singer/songwriter has released the aptly named ‘Bulletproof’, an album that is good old rock and roll, just the way Brian and The Bootleg Family Band always played it and just the way he always wanted it to be. I had the pleasure of catching up with Brian recently to hear how the album came about. “It was the Bootleg Family’s 40th anniversary,” he explains. “And we started celebrating it by talking about the idea of a reformation. Doug Brady whose studio we recorded it in said ‘Oh just come in and just play it! We’ve got nothing to lose and if it works, it can be done.’ So, anyway, we went in and after we stopped Coxy from telling the same old jokes again, we played a couple of songs and then we just stopped and smiled at each other. It was like we’d never not been together. We did five days in the studio and we played most everything live. We had all the players in the same room except Coxy and it was almost like being live on stage as opposed to how records are made nowadays which is usually where all parts are done separately but in this case, most of what we did happened live.”
We discuss the obvious benefits of advancements in recording technology but we both agree that there is nothing quite like the energy created from the players being in the same room at the same time; the personal interaction. “I absolutely believe that now,” he confirms. “The difference in some way; the energy, the absolute energy. They look at each other’s faces while they’re playing and they see what is going on. The other thing is that we only allowed three takes of any song. The first one, we try to figure it out. The second one, we got a lot better at it and usually by the third one, you were ready to go. But the fact that we did that, nobody could relax because we sort of made this rule that whatever happened in the third take, we’re going to try to keep that and that gave the player the impetus to just be ‘on ten’ all the time, in terms of energy and I think that showed on the record.”
This album is much more of a rock and roll record than the sound we have become are used to hearing from Brian. “That’s exactly right,” he agrees. “and that was a big motivator for me to do a studio album. I had this metaphorical drawer full of songs that were all rock songs. Over the years, I sort of put them aside and said ‘One day I’m going to do a full-on rock band album!’ But the irony is, even though the hits we had in the 70s with things like ‘Ginger Man’ and ‘Let Go’ that were pretty much ballads or that barely got anywhere past medium tempo, when we were on stage, we were a full-blown rock and roll band. It was a loud, kind of raucous rock show and I always thought that once I had ‘Ginger Man’ as a hit that from then on, that’s how people would categorise me and that’s exactly what happened. Radio always sort of expected those kinds of songs but the band itself always wanted to rock so I thought, better late than never! We’ll take a couple of those songs out of the drawer and we’ll throw a couple of those other ones in and we’ll add a rock band in and turn it up a level and see what happens! The nucleus of the band is still the same. The machine, if you like, was always Tony and me and Gus and Coxy. That was sort of the engine that ran everything so, in essence, it is pretty much how it was.”
There are three tracks on the album that Brian wrote for other artists. ‘I Still Can’t Believe It’s True’ was written for Joe Cocker. “He recorded it and I was very thrilled with that.” The Pointer Sisters recorded ‘Love is Like a Rolling Stone’ which Brian co-wrote with L.A. songwriter and friend, Jean Ann Chapman. And Bonnie Tyler recorded ‘Yesterday Dreams’. “An English producer, an old friend of mine, said Bonnie’s looking and she wants a song like that so I wrote it especially for her,” Brian explains. “And in those instances, they were all things that I really liked but it didn’t particularly occur to me that I would record them. But when we started talking about tracks for the album, I thought ‘I really like those songs and I think I can record them all right.’ So I threw them in the mix and fortunately they are good versions of all three of those songs so I’m very happy. In the case of the Bonnie Tyler song, that was on her ‘It’s a Heartache’ album so that was 38 years ago! And the Pointer Sisters’ song was about the same time. So, it’s good to see them come out and give them another run again.”
“This is my 50th anniversary in the industry,” Brian tells me proudly. “We were trying to get out for our 40th but that didn’t work out so now, to coincide with my 50th year on the road, and my 70th year on Earth, I reckon ‘Bulletproof’ is a pretty appropriate title!” Can’t argue with that. And in those fifty years, there are too many memories and highlights to mention but he narrows it down to two moments that he says stand out above the rest. “It’s a bit of a toss-up,” he admits. “When I was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, that was a pretty amazing night and a fantastic feeling. And the other one was when the Bootleg Family Band was in Los Angeles and we were appearing on The Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack. At that stage, it was the biggest rock and roll show in the world by miles and no Australian had ever been on it. We got to Los Angeles and they asked us to perform on it and that was amazing. It was an incredible night and all those memories sort of flood back now that we’re doing it again. Brian says that many of those memories are good ones but concedes that no job has a score of 10 out of 10. “There will always be those moments when you wish you’d never got out of bed,” he laughs. “But they’re few and far between. I’ve been very lucky in my life to play with some wonderful people and to play to some wonderful people as well and long may that continue.”
‘Bulletproof’ is released today through MGM.
By Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved
Last updated by Rock Club 40 Nov 20, 2016.