|3,000 people don't think|
John Miles is just a dumb blond
|BARRY CAIN is one of them|
|JOHN MILES is - uh - blond. Cutie - pie blonde, Clearsail blond, cabin boy blond and (now) curly blond. It's also not unknown for him to be regarded by some as a dumb blond.|
Each to his own.
Me? At the risk of sounding extremely patronising I simply find him blond. Natural blond. In fact, he's probably the most natural blond I've ever encountered (actually, I used to think a certain tasty Californian bird was the most natural blonde I'd ever met until I got to know her better . . . )
Being a natural presents all kinds of problems ? like you find it difficult to be anyone else. You can't impress with your custom - made charm if you ain't got none to start with, you can't be over zealous and you're easy meat for carnivorous critics.
The only thing a natural can stick to is what he's good at.
John Miles happens to be good at music. He sticks to that. He realised long ago that he was neither gregarious nor talkative; that he was prone to giving boring interviews, that he was the unfortunate possessor of a faceless image - not even a man in the iron mask mystique.
But he also realised that he was a great musician and an above average singer with a penchant for writing pretty toons. And that almost compensates for the aforementioned.
I say almost because rock people devoid of a solid image rarely become frame devouring Goldwyn Mayer Lion superstars.
Miles may yet prove me wrong. His quiet adroitness and tip - toe talents have already brought him a number of accolades. He has yet to make a bad album. Indeed, the new one 'Zaragon' displays a notable progression from 'Stranger In The City'. He's had four hit singles, three in the 10 (Decca would never hype) and achieved a degree of success in the sacrosanct US chart / disco domain with 'Slow Down'.
He told me as much over a cascade of burgundy, a pool of port, and a fountain of brandy - all in the back of a Granada.
OVER BURGUNDY: "I am not trying to consciously project an image. That whole James Dean thing made me very wary. I just couldn't live up to it cos it wasn't me, I was so naive. Sure, I'd been in the business for a long time but never at that level.
|"Okay, so maybe me not having an image is of detriment to my career. But there's not much I can do about it at the moment. Sometimes I try and think of something out of the ordindary to be but I just don't know what.|
"But I've got a lot to fight against. Like, if people never see me live they probably picture me sitting down at the piano (at night) and singing pretty songs. Fair enough, I do. But there's also a lot more to me than that. "
OVER PORT: "I'm aware that in the past my on - stage personality has been pretty weak. But it's really up to someone to tell me that. I don't have sleepless nights over it.
"Sometimes, after an interview I kick myself for not saying something I should have."
Do you often get lost for words John? . . . John?
"Er, yes, I guess I do. Again, on stage I've always tended to rush through with the modicum of audience communication. I'm trying to correct that and you'll notice a difference on the new tour. It's not a thing that just suddenly comes to you, you have to work on it, develop.
"But as I said, I've got an uphill struggle. There's people in the music press who just want to destroy (Nonsense, Sheila Prophet). If your face doesn't fit they just say f ??? the music. My face doesn't with a lot of people and that's because of the initial James Dean image. "
OVER BRANDY: "I'd put it down to music if I failed in this game. I may be old fashioned but I still think people buy records because of the music - not because of the hype.
"I saw Frampton play in the States. After a guitar solo he started on the drums and all these mugs in the audience were saying 'Wow,can he play'. Crap. My 10 - month - old son can play drums better than him. Frampton was the American dream. The face and not a lot more.
"Same with Essex. Sure he was okay on ditties like 'Hold Me Close' but then he started to get over - ambitious and it just didn't work out.
"Gary Glitter was never a musician, from a musician's point of view. His songs were terrible. But maybe people don't know too much about music. It gets so frustrating when you look at these people making a living out of image while all the while professing to be musicians. It eventually destroys your faith in human nature.
|"I just push music and it doesn't bother me what people think about my image or lack of it. I'm happy with the way things are going. I've made rnistakes but I've had a good time. "|
IN THE GRANADA: "I feel sick.
He does have a tendency to dry up. To trot through a statement without dwelling on conclusions. To fall into an inarticulate abyss half way through a sentence. Let's face it, he ain't no George Bernard Shaw or Al Clarke and it becomes increasingly annoying when he doesn't bite. But I don't mind seeing him play any day.
So how come the drink, car and spiel? John has got a new album, single, tour to push. So he does the 'circuit' - a nationwide promo tour involving interviews with newspapers and radio stations.
I joined him at the beginning of his three day tour. Thursday: breakfast in Glasgow with reports from The Sunday Mail and the Evening News, morning coffee at Radio Clyde, lunch in Edinburgh with a guy from the Evening News and someone from Radio Forth, tea in Newcastle with the local radio station, dinner in Stockton, bed in Leeds. And that's just the first day.
Breakfast is a desperately mundane affair. John appears in shades and a hangover nearly as heavy as the ones both reporters appear to be suffering from. The questions (minus notes of any kind) border on the inane. More a case of passing pleasantries than interviewing.
At the radio station the questions take on a different hue. "You've developed your very own guitar sound haven't you John? " It's one of those neon American / Celtic DJ voices that unfortunately sound rather effective on radio.
With the conclusion of the interview the DJ almost apologises. 'See John, you have to remember Mrs Woman doing her ironing and listening to this show. . They don't really care about the intricacies of music. If it starts getting too complicated they'll see what Simon Bates is up to. "
On to Edinburgh for a congenial chat over dinner with John saying very little. and the journalists dominating.
Finally, a taped interview for radio in Newcastle, a quick chat about the intricacies of perming, a swift three pints aad home (for me).
Somebody just told me 'Zaragon' has already sold over 30,000 copies. 30,000 people don't think John Miles is dumb.