Martha Rafferty remembers her father singing to her when she was growing up in West Scotland in the 1970s.
She listened to the melodies, loved the way they were instantly memorable, and was captivated by the fascinating way her father brought them to life.
âI grew up with songs like Rick Rack and Look Over the Hill and Far Away and when I was a kid I always thought they were folk songs or nursery rhymes,â he said. she declared.
“It wasn’t until later that I found out that they were written by my father and that there was just this feeling that music was a very important part of our lives from an early age.”
It was certainly an inspiration for that proud parent, Gerry, who went on to become one of the most respected and successful singer-songwriters in his homeland.
And now, 10 years after her death in 2011, Martha has completed a long cherished mission to bring her 11th album to the public, ensuring Rest in Blue will finally be unveiled in September.
Anyone who knows Scottish music will know all about Gerry Rafferty’s place in canon, whether he was working with Billy Connolly and John Byrne during the rise of the Humblebums in the late 1960s, or teaming up with Joe Egan. and Rab Noakes in Stealers Wheel from 1972 to 1975.
They were acclaimed on the charts with Stuck in the Middle with You, a song that was later a staple in Quentin Tarantino’s film Reservoir Dogs, and were even invited to record with legendary American producers Jerry Leiber and Mike. Stoller.
However, reputations never meant much to Gerry.
Trace your own trail
Iconoclastic with an unwavering determination to forge his own path as he pleases, without seeking publicity or wooing the media, he decided early on that music matters and he was never happier than when he was in the recording studio. or that he was making a happy noise with loved ones.
The results were transcendent in 1978 when he delivered the lavish album City to City, which still sounds as fresh today as when Raphael Ravenscroft’s famous saxophone solo on Baker Street first hit Top. of the Pops.
It was the prelude to Rafferty’s creation of a series of hits in a distinctive Paisley motif: including Right Down the Line, Home and Dry, Take the Money and Run, Days Gone Down, and Get It Right Next Time.
It received a myriad of applause and applause around the world and City to City and Night Owl sold millions of copies, both in Europe and America, but again it was almost a unwelcome distraction and, as he put it, in one of his rare interviews: “My life does not hold or fall by the number of people who buy my records.”
Yet behind the scenes, as Martha revealed, he worked diligently on a disparate collection of songs for the rest of his life: an idiosyncratic mind with no interest in pursuing charts at the expense of quality control.
She said: âThe majority of his songs were a work in progress, and he had pieces of songs in motion, sometimes for decades.
Work still relevant today
“Maybe it was 40 or 50 years ago, but he was deeply aware of what was going on in the world and he had a social conscience, so the work he created is still relevant today. and in some ways I think he was ahead of the curve.
âIt took a while for this album to arrive, but we are determined to see it through and I think he would be happy with the results.
“My dad released 11 albums, but is sometimes seen by people as a successful wonder [for Baker Street]. But he always said he valued being the watcher and that if you get too famous then you become the watched.
“For him, that was a working definition of hell!”
War and climate change
âThis new work contains songs such as Lost Highway, which deals with the legality or otherwise of wars in the Gulf, Iraq and elsewhere, and it still seems relevant today.
âThen there’s Sign of the Times which deals with climate change and my dad was concerned about that, and of course this becomes one of the most important issues we all need to address for future generations.
âI had heard excerpts from these songs for many, many years, but I was just waiting for the right moment to find the time and space to give them the attention they deserved.
âI am also delighted that John Byrne, who was there with Dad from the start, contributed his unique artistic talents to this endeavor.
âIt always seems astonishing that people like him and Billy [Connolly] and my dad all came together when they did, all from the working class, and remained close friends even though they all had totally different careers.
The Big Yin has already offered a warm testimonial for the new CD, which contains 14 tracks.
In addition to many new originals written by Gerry, it features popular traditional folk songs such as Wild Mountain Thyme and Dirty Old Town.
It also includes a cover of It’s Just The Motion by Richard & Linda Thompson. And the work culminates with a re-recording of Stuck In The Middle With You, recorded in the 1990s, which gives the track a fresh, country-inspired interpretation.
The result is a body of work brimming with raw emotion like a quintessential collection of blues, rock and folk. Some of the demos date back to 1970, many of which were chosen as potential tracks for his new album.
This is a fitting testament to Gerry’s prodigious gifts and we only wish he was always there to take him on the road. But, while he left us too early at 63, one of Martha’s major accomplishments reminds us of her father’s superb vocal talent and she pulled out some songs to reveal a thrill of vulnerability and warmth.
It brought out a rich tinge to many of his lyrics and Connolly responded, âI’ve never heard Gerry sing so well. It never fails to amaze me.
His daughter is naturally delighted to have completed the project and especially given the power of the material.
Most of the demos left by Gerry included several layers of synths, which Martha meticulously removed to showcase his immense vocal ability and she explained her desire to remind listeners how he continued to produce classy material long after he had quit. to appear in the UK charts.
“The songs deserve a larger audience”
She said: âEveryone knows the songs from the 1970s, but I really hope these new songs will persuade people to go back and dive into his catalog because he has continued to produce great music throughout. throughout the 80s and 90s, which deserves a larger audience.
“It’s a work that should be better known and one of my favorite songs is The Right Moment [from the 1982 album Sleepwalking, which was later recorded by Olivia Newton-John and Barbara Dickson].
âIt wasn’t a sure shot, but it was never the stallion that bothered him. And maybe that’s one of the reasons the songs have lasted so long and why a new generation is discovering and enjoying their music.
It’s a powerful message and there is something heartwarming about the way Martha talks about her beloved father sitting with his guitar and singing Look Over the Hill and Far Away to his baby girl all those years ago.
And finally, the music still sounds as timeless today as it ever has been: convincing proof that Gerry Rafferty could have gone to the big studio in Heaven, but that he still has the ability to surprise and surprise. ‘inhale in equal proportions.
Rest in Blue will be released on CD and digitally on September 3.