Origin Story Album Pre-Order Project

by Mike Ross in Brighton, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 29th July 2021 we successfully raised £3,223 with 70 supporters in 28 days

A pre-order campaign to help fund the production and release of a brand-new album of old songs from my back catalogue!

by Mike Ross in Brighton, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

If we could reach the stretch target then I plan to use it to fund production of a limited edition 12" picture disc album record of jam band type instrumentals titled "Peach Jam". 

Earlier in 2021 I successfully crowdfunded for the remix and restoration of an unreleased album (Lay it Bare by my old band Taller Than).  Encouraged by the success of this project and the overwhelmingly positive response of fans to the old material I wrote back then I've decided to put together another album of previously unreleased recordings.   This time I've gone back to my archive of cassette and DAT tapes, CD-R's and 1/2" tape masters to curate a collection of songs that have lain mostly undisturbed and unheard since 1997.   Digging past this treasure to find assets to support the Taller Than project reminded me of the great material from bands that I've been a part of as far back as 1994 and it is from there that the idea for this record was born.  

All my life I've been blessed to work with exceptional musicians, albeit mostly in bands that you've probably never heard of!  To help with context I've put together a timeline and a potted history for you - 

1994-1996 Afterglow

1996-1997 Mother Sugar

1998-2006 Taller Than

I first joined Afterglow in the winter of 1993/94.  The band was comprised of singer Chris Meikle, organist Simon Dent, bassist Andy 'Sharky' Clark and drummer Ash Staff ) whose family owned a plot of land which had on it an old caravan 'the caravan of dreams' that we used to rehearse in.  After an fantastic first rehearsal we very quickly put together a set of great tunes which we played all over the North East before organist Simon and I eventually departed to form the band Mother Sugar with his brother Paul and my brother Graeme along with pianist Dave James and drummer Tony Bimbi.  This was a really powerful outfit with great songs and a lot of potential but after a year the pressures of navigating personal relationships as well as sonic space in a six piece took their toll on Graeme and I so we chose instead to leave, teaming up with drummer Mick Kelly to work on a more streamlined sound.  Work by the resulting power trio Taller Than will be familiar to my previous crowdfunding exploits (thanks to the restored Lay It Bare album project) but there were many other early tracks which didn't make it onto that album for whatever reason and are well worthy of inclusion on a new album.  Both Afterglow (later renamed Modeliste) and Mother Sugar went on to gain further success (and notoriety!) after my personal departure from them and I urge you to try to track down their later material as some of it is really fantastic stuff!

After much consideration and reviewing of the old material available I've decided to choose a total four songs from each band for this album, three from each band.

The main difference between the Lay it Bare record and this new Origin Story project is that I've chosen to re-record the songs (with MRB stalwart Darren Lee on drums).  The decision to do this was twofold, let me explain - 

Firstly, unlike the Taller Than album I don't have the original multitrack tapes of any of the sessions, just a rather motley collection of tapes and stereo masters, so working with the original audio is out of the question.  Although I do actually have studio recordings of some of the songs the quality is sub-standard due to equipment shortfalls back in the day as well as physical degradation of the media so restoration isn't really an option. All that remains of some of the other songs are scratchy, low quality recordings made in rehearsal rooms or bedrooms which are quite unreleasable in any form really but which have served their purpose well in that they've held their remembrance of the songs safely until the moment where they might see new life! 

Secondly, although the songs are of what I consider to be a high standard, some of the arrangements (and performances - including some of my own!) could certainly be improved on so where necessary I've re-arranged the material into what I now consider to be 'ultimate' guises.

Afterglow are represented by a set of tracks that span my lifetime within that band,  beginning with the most blues wailing Universal Swing (that I remember playing at our first rehearsal) and ending with the brutal riff and uplifting chorus of the Dent/Meikle composition Seabirds.  Also to be found on Origin Story will be the Doors-influenced Sunshine Thru The Rain and possibly my favourite song by that band Acceptance - the chorus of which I've been haunted by for over 25 years!

Fans of the songs Loveslide and Hammer found on previous releases of mine are in for a treat - four more unheard songs from that master songwriter, Mother Sugar frontman Paul 'Den' Dent.  His compositions absolutely burst with soulful grooves and powerful lyrical reflections, Ships Pass Me By and Broken Angel are the undiscovered siblings of Hammer & Loveslide and I'm gloriously happy with our 2021 versions.  The Weller-esque strut of Pale Blue Skies and the uber-soul of Right Through The Seasons round out this collection of stellar songs.

Some rare Taller Than material is well represented here, one of which (Die Trying) is a complete undiscovered gem as it was never played live or recorded other than in rehearsal.  Chinese Eyes (the 'grandparent' of my solo song Leviathan if you like) is another fave of mine from those times and the new version just bristles with menace - chock full of growling Hammond organ and soaring vocals.  It Grows On You can be found as a bonus track on the digital release of my first album Spindrift but it was originally intended to be full of aggressive electric guitars which I've greatly enjoyed layering up on the new version. Lastly, The Little Man (which is an ode to Mother Sugar manager Colin Clough) finally gets its whirling Leslie guitar sound and a mix which reprises the feel of Hammer from my album The Clovis Limit Pt.2.

Aside from Darren on drums and some piano work from Dave James (original pianist in Mother Sugar) the rest of instruments have been played by me at my Tonecan Studio and I can't wait for you all to hear the results!

If you have time to watch the full length interview conducted by Adam Hayward as part of his 'Narrative in Motion' series then you'll get a much deeper sense of the background of this campaign, you'll find it here 

The worldwide COVID pandemic continues to harass & harry us all and musicians in particular have struggled to make ends meet during these debilitating and disheartening times.  I've been incredibly grateful for all the support I've received from my friends, family & fans over the last 18 months and I hope that you will choose to support what will hopefully be the last of my 'lockdown-era' projects.  That's not to say I won't continue to release music of course.  The hidden gift of the past year and a bit has been that it's given me time to curate and re-present some of the most important landmarks in my musical past and they greatest reward of all for me is the joy I hear reflected from your experience of the music I create.  All of the songs I've chosen for inclusion on this album have special significance to me, be it musically or lyrically (or both!) and I'll be telling more of my stories about the songs as the project unfolds. 

The funds raised from this project will go towards the production and manufacture of the final recording, essentially this a pre-order campaign that will allow me to finally give these songs the high quality representation that they've been denied of for so long!


This project offers rewards in return for your donation

£30 or more

36 of 100 claimed

Origin Story vinyl & CD album bundle

Deluxe set of one vinyl 12" album & accompanying gatefold CD (with bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere). Reward also includes a digital copy of the album in the form of a download code for use on the Bandcamp music platform. To show appreciation of the support, the names of all pledgers selecting this reward will be added to the liner notes for the CD version of the album.

£10 or more

'Origin Story' digital album

One digital only copy of the 12 track 'Origin Story' album. Reward will be delivered in the form of a download code for use on the Bandcamp music platform.

£15 or more

Origin Story CD

One 12 track CD with gatefold sleeve. Comes with a code for a high quality digitial version of the album.

£20 or more

10 of 12 claimed

Origin Story handwritten lyric sheet

A lyric sheet handwritten by Mike. Limited to 12 pieces, one for each on the album, and will include a brief handwritten story detailing Mike's special connection to each of the songs. To show appreciation of the support the names of any pledgers selecting this reward will be added to the liner notes for the CD version of the album.

£25 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Set of 'Origin Story' bass guitar strings

One full set of used bass guitar strings taken from my Fender 62RI Precision Bass which was used for all the bass parts on Origin Story!

£25 or more

2 of 10 claimed

'Egremont Arch' by James Hunter art print

One top quality print reproduction of the original pencil line drawing by James Hunter (J.Huntsman) specially commissioned for the Origin Story project.

£35 or more

3 of 100 claimed

Peach Jam 12" Picture Disc Album & CD Bundle

Peach Jam will be an album of jam band instrumentals presented on an picture disc in a clear vinyl sleeve with an accompanying CD of the same material with the same core art on the CD body supplied in a plain wallet.

£75 or more

Live stream show

We'll meet up on Zoom and I'll play you a solo acoustic show of at least 45 minutes! To show appreciation for the support the names of any pledgers selecting this reward will be added to the liner notes for the CD version of the album.

£75 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Mike Ross Band/RHR stage 'vibe rug'

This oriental patterned rug (mostly red) measures approx 2m x .6m and has been used countless times onstage by Mike both with his solo band and with RHR. It's travelled everywhere with the bands, from northern Sweden to southern Spain and on countless circuits around the UK. If you've seen Mike or RHR play anywhere in the past 5 years then this rug will have been there! Can be signed on the back if you wish.

£100 or more

3 of 12 claimed

I will write a song for you!

I will write, record and supply you with a digital copy of a song based on your brief. The more info on topic, feel etc. the better so that I can get close to the idea in your head. We can converse via email or Zoom meeting (or face to face if practical) to discuss before I begin the writing. To show appreciation for the support the names of any pledgers selecting this reward will be added to the liner notes for the CD version of the album.

£250 or more

Face to face acoustic show (UK only)

I'll travel to your home (or other place of your choosing) to perform a solo acoustic show for you and your friends, ideally while on my solo UK tour planned for September/October 2021 but if not then we can work something else out. Invite whoever you like and we'll have ourselves a hoedown! To show appreciation for the support the names of any pledgers selecting this reward will be added to the liner notes for the CD version of the album.

£25 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Set of 'Origin Story' electric guitar strings

One set of used strings taken from my 1974 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop guitar and used all over the new album. Comes with signed packaging!

£25 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Set of 'Origin Story' acoustic guitar strings

One set of used 80/20 bronze strings removed from my Gibson Gospel acoustic and used all over the Origin Story album!

£50 or more

4 of 4 claimed

Origin Story 12" album TEST PRESSING

one of four factory test pressings of the 12 track 'Origin Story' album. To show appreciation of the support, the names of any pledgers selecting this reward will be added to the liner notes for the CD version of the album.

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