Title - A Step in the Right Direction: Singles, Demos, etc
Artist - The Truth
For those not in the know here in the States, The Truth were formed by singer/guitarist Dennis Greaves after the demise of his previous band Nine Below Zero back in 1982. Featuring guitarist Mick Lister, ex-NBZ bassist Brian Bethell, drummer Gary Wallace and organist Chris Skornia (Fabulous Poodles), where Nine Below Zero were an out-and-out R&B band, The Truth were a more soulful entity.
Signing with WEA's Formation label, The Truth charted with their debut single, the vibrant and uplifting 'Confusion (Hits Us Everytime'), which reached #22 in May 1983. The follow-up, 'A Step In The Right Direction', peaked at #32 that August. A third single, 'No Stone Unturned', was released in February 1984 with their debut album, Playground coming out in 1985 via Infinity Records.
The band then signed with I.R.S. Records and in 1987 released their sophomore album Weapons Of Love (which made it to #115 in the US albums chart), and followed that up with Jump in 1989. Sadly, after this last album The Truth disbanded, but in 2012, lead singer Greaves reformed The Truth and even played at London's Borderline in October 2012. The line-up is the original 1983 line-up of Dennis Greaves, Mick Lister, Chris Skornia and Brian Bethell, with Steve Phypers and they still play to this day, along with Greaves' prior band, Nine Below Zero.
And thankfully for all us The Truth fans, Cherry Red Records (UK) have just released an incredible (no other word for it) 3CD complete retrospective entitled A Step In The Right Direction - Singles, Demos, BBC Live. Indeed, very few of the dozen or so The Truth tracks here on these 3 CDs have EVER been reissued on CD. Until now!
A Step In The Right Direction is the first-ever retrospective of The Truth's early recordings, boasting not only their entire output for Formation but also two further discs of live material and a handful of previously unheard demos! Disc Two combines two BBC concerts which were broadcast at the time. Disc Three finds The Truth in full effect at the famous Marquee, a venue which Nine Below Zero had made their own.
Many of these concerts boast songs which the band never issued on vinyl. Dennis Greaves and Mick Lister have been involved with this worthwhile release, with sleeve notes by Mojo's Lois Wilson. The package is housed in an attractive card wallet as a fitting tribute to one of the key Mod bands of the period.
The first track is the stand out toe-tappin' pop single, 'Confusion (Hits Us Everytime),' and that's backed by the Jam-esque 'Me And My Girl.' Another of their hit singles is next and it is just so great to hear it, in this crystal clear clarity form. Indeed, 'A Step In The Right Direction' has always been my favorite song of theirs and it flashed me immediately back to 1983, to what I was doing when I first picked up the 7" Single and couldn't stop playing it thereafter!
Indeed, tapping into the vibrant Mod Revival scene on the back of aforementioned The Jam's demise in late 1982, The Truth's own musical landscape drew parallel lines to Paul Weller's infamous band, but always managed to (just) steer its own course for their fans. The fun pop of 'Beat Generation' is next and is backed by both the drum-tastic hipsway of 'What You Want Me To Say' and the uptempo 'Second Time Lucky.' The quite delightful Motown bounce of 'No Stone Unturned' is next and they follow that with the joyful 'Flesh And Fantasy' and then the mid-tempo love song 'Don't Tell Me.'
This first disc then splits up into some live tracks and some demos. The live tracks come first, with a stunning 'Love A Go-Go' bursting forth first. Even the crowd know all the words as they sing the chorus in fine collective form and that is followed by the live club sound of the frenetic 'From the Heart.' "That's lovely stuff. Alright, come on, sing now" Greaves extorts, as they then launch into the drum-led 'Nothing's Too Good for My Baby' before the live set rounds out with the French-introduced 'I Get So Excited.'
The first disc the comes to a close with five demos from that era, including the anthemic 'Come on,' a track that could quite literally be an actual demo rally backing chant, and then both the melodic 'If I Ever Find Love' and an 'Instrumental' that Dennis intro's as "Wrong Door, 5th of October, 1982, Peter." The slower balladish 'Look My Way' and then the more bullish R&B of 'Sweet Sensation' wrap up the studio side of things in fine style.
The second disc is a pairing of two live BBC shows performed by The Truth. The first is a 10 song set from the Paris Theatre, London (19/11/83), the second an 11 song set from Goldfingers, Chippenham, UK (broadcast 14/01/84). The former kicks off with a rousing 'Exception Of Love,' which then quickly gives way to both 'Listen To What I Say' and 'Always On My Mind.' "This one is sung by Michael," Greaves intro's and then we get the wonderful 'Is There A Solution' which is followed by ("This is a song you all will have heard before if you bought the single last month<" Dennis announces. "It's the B-side and is all about beatniks") 'Beat Generation' and 'The Sweetest Feeling.'
Dennis then intro's the bass slap funk of 'You Play With My Emotions,' and backs that with the rockier 'Second Time Lucky,' before the live show finishes up with ("Right, I want to thank everyone for going out and buying this one for us," Greaves says to the applauding crowd) 'A Step In The Right Direction' and then some slap bass, and the introduction of Gary O'Brien serves up the fast-paced 'I Just Can't Seem To Stop.'
The latter live BBC show on this disc is from Goldfingers, Chippenham, UK (originally broadcast 14/01/84) and kicks things off at a stuttered pace, initially, for we seem to come in halfway through the hit single 'Confusion (Hits Us Everytime),' sadly. Moving on, and after we get an intro from UK VJ Steve Blacknell ("Welcome to a brand new series called Sight & Sound in Concert ... and up now is one of the countries leading live bands ...") the band launch into 'Exception Of Love' and back it up with both 'Listen to What I Say' and the Motown bop of 'Always on My Mind.'
The Michael-sung 'Is There a Solution?' and ("This one is our new single") 'No Stone Unturned' come next and are followed by the greatness of 'A Step in the Right Direction,' the power pop bounce of 'Second Time Lucky,' and then they slow things down with 'It's a Miracle.' The BBC live show double bill then rounds out with the trio of 'You Play with My Emotions,' the finger-snappin' 'Just Can't Seem to Stop,' and the always-brilliant B-side to their single, 'Flesh & Fantasy.'
The third and final live concert CD is taken from one of their infamous Marquee gigs in London. Always playing to a hometown packed house crowd at the venue, sadly the overall live sound of this show is muted due to its actual recording (nothing to do with the energy of the band, trust me). Anyway, after Greaves comes on, says hello, and introduces the vibrant 'Love A Go-Go,' they then follow that with both the sing-along 'Listen to What I Say' and the Hammond organ vibe of 'Me and My Girl.' After asking the crowd if they are alright, next up is 'Out of the Darkness,' which is backed by both 'Always on My Mind,' and the frenetic 'Is There a Solution?'
Next up is a brilliant-as-always 'Confusion (Hits Us Everytime),' before the Mod R&B blend of 'You Play with My Emotions,' which is backed by both the Hammond organ-driven 'What You Want Me to Say' and then "We'd like you to all to join in on this one") the mid-tempo 'It's a Miracle.' 'Don't You Just Know It' is then backed by the anthemic 'Come on,' with the upbeat pop bounce of 'Just Can't Seem to Stop' along next. You know, what, I think you can do better than that. No bullshit," Greaves inspires the crowd, encouraging them to sing louder for a quick end of song recap, before he announces that they are then going to play the last song, 'Nothing's Too Good for My Baby.'
But in truth band style, an encore ensues and we instantly get a brilliantly-rousing rendition of 'Reach Out I'll Be There' made famous in Motown by The Four Tops in 1966. Greaves then announces that The Truth will be back playing live at the Marquee a bunch of following Sunday nights, tells them that they need to come see them play, and miss The Avengers and even Church if they have to. After the banter that live Marquee set comes to a close with 'I'm in Tune,' before the actual live CD comes to a real close with two tracks from another live show: The Showstoppers' frantic guitar and drum jam 'Ain't Nothing But A House Party' and the crowd-adored 'I Get So Excited.'
As we all know by now, the original 1983 line-up of The Truth is still touring today. Helmed by lead singer, and friend of mine, Dennis Greaves, I had a quick chat with him about this new retrospective 3CD release. Here he talks about the band's music, where some of the songs were written, and even reflects back on the live shows included on this collection:
The Truth were formed after the demise of NBZ in 1982 and whereas the latter were a more out-and-out R&B band, the former were a more soulful entity. Was the musical transition an easy one to make for all concerned? "I had fell I love with the Hammond organ on NBZ's Third Degree album and it all developed from there ... and listening to Tamla Motown."
Before the release of your debut album, Playground (1985) The Truth actually charted with their debut single, 'Confusion (Hits Us Everytime)' (UK #22)and the follow up 'A Step In The Right Direction' (UK #32). What was it like for you at that time when TOTP was beckoning and PA's were abounding? "TOTP was amazing to do having grown up with it, but the only problem was we were introduced by Jimmy Savile!"
This brand new first-ever retrospective is spread over 3 CDs and includes the singles, live versions of the tracks, demos and more, along with a Live At The BBC set (1983 & 1984) and a Live At The Marquee set. What do you remember about these three live shows:
Paris Theatre, London (19/11/83) - "Can't remember too much about this one. I do remember the one in this studio with NBZ more 'cos I met Wilko Johnson."
Goldfingers, Chippenham (Broadcast 14/01/84) - "This one has zero atmosphere unfortunately, and we were very disappointed."
Live At The Marquee - "This was like a football match playing for the home team who won 5 nil!"
It's been said that both you and Mick Lister have been heavily involved with this release so did you own all the recordings, or did Cherry Red approach you with them? "I'm not sure about this, but I did get involved with the art work."
Talking about that art work, what comes to mind first when you look at it now? "F**k me we are young!! And having fun!!"
Listening to a few of the tracks from this retrospective album, tell us more about what was going on in The Truth's life when these were being written/recorded:
'CONFUSION (HITS US EVERYTIME)' - "We wrote this one in my flat in Tulse Hill. Mick lived with us for the first year or two. We would write in the morning have a toasted cheese sandwich and then go and gig."
'A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION' - "I think this one was conceived in Mick's house in Stanhope Road, Aylesbury. Again, toasted cheese sandwiches were on hand. We must have been skint!"
'NO STONE UNTURNED' - "Back to my flat for this one."
The package is housed in an attractive card wallet-style, noted as being "a fitting tribute to one of the key Mod bands of the period." I have to say, it definitely is rather lovely, so are you also happy with the way it turned out? "I'm so happy with the whole package."
Finally, as both The Truth and NBZ both reformed a couple or so years ago and are still going strong here in 2016, have you discussed writing new material for one or both bands - to release this year, perhaps? "NBZ will have a new album for 2016 and a big Autumn tour. A few gigs for The Truth in 2016, but will tour in 2017."
'A Step in the Right Direction: Singles, Demos, BBC Live, 1983-1984' CD Purchase Link