Rob Ryan was born in 1962 in Akrotiri, Cyprus. He studied Fine Art at Trent Polytechnic and at the Royal College of Art in London where he specialised in Printmaking.
Although he views himself first and always as a fine artist, his intricate papercut work adapts itself readily to many other mediums including ceramics, textiles, homewares and even jewellery.
Over the years, he has collaborated with the likes of Paul Smith, Liberty of London, Tatty Devine and Vogue.
His work often consists of whimsical figures paired with sentimental, grave, honest and occasionally humorous pieces of writing which he admits are autobiographical.
Rob has exhibited widely across the UK and internationally and has written and illustrated three books, ‘This Is For You’, ‘A Sky Full Of Kindness’ and most recently the first two books in his trilogy, ‘The Invisible Kingdom’ and ‘The Kingdom Revealed’.
He lives and works in London, UK.
The Newcomers – ‘The Whole world’s A Picture Show’
This beautiful record was a spin at Blackpool’s legendary Highland Room in the mid-seventies (I guess it must have almost have been a new release ) but for youngsters (ha!) like me it will always remind me of the 100 Club circa 1985-6, Mr Ian Clark at the decks: during that period it was a staple in his incredible sets (as well as Randy Brown’s ‘I’m Always In The Mood’.)
It’s a simple enough riff but combined with such great lyrics it proves the point that simplicity - if done right and with confidence - is enough to create the greatest art, it never fails to move me.
The Whole World's A Picture Show
Charlene & The Soul Serenaders – ‘Can you win’
Stax, just like Motown, had SO many heavy hitters that some of the lesser-known artists took quite a few years more to really be appreciated; this is a prime example. I guess changes in taste and tempo account for this - but for heaven’s sake how did this remain unplayed? It beggars belief because when I hear this record I simply lose myself!
Another underrated Stax number in the same vein is Roy Lee Johnson & the Villagers’ “I Can’t Stand This Loneliness” a true dancefloor killer!
In the early seventies Ian Levine compiled a Scepter Wand compilation LP for UK Pye and I must admit I played it to death; entitled “Solid Soul Sensations”, its nice to see he’s keeping the alliteration theme going strong in the new century!
Darrell Banks – ‘Don’t Know What To Do’
I can’t remember when I first started noticing that the names in the small print positioned beneath the title on a 45 didn't always relate to the artist that the record belonged to but were in fact the people that wrote the song rather than sang it, and some time shortly after I recognised the same names turning up over and over again - ‘Holland-Dozier-Holland’, ‘Whitfield-Strong’, ‘William Robinson’, ‘Ashford & Simpson’ to name a few.
But then I started grooving to those crazy sounds of the Northern Soul world - the true home of the obscure one-hit wonder and those familiar names on the writing credits start to disappear.
But wait ! Who are these guys? Bridges-Eaton-Knight? You start to notice these names seem to keep cropping up again and again. Congratulations my friend, for you have discovered The Brothers Of Soul!
I can’t express how incredible their talent was, recording themselves as The Brothers Of Soul they cut some incredible 45s - ‘Hurry, Don't Linger’, ‘Come on Back’ and ‘A Life Time’, but they also wrote and produced awesome stuff for Ruby Andrews, Chuck Bernard, Sheryl Swope, Maxine Brown (‘Seems You've Forsaken My Love’ is a genuine masterpiece!!), the Precisions etc. The list goes on and on. Believe me they are musical and lyrical geniuses of the highest order. Then combine their talent for creating gritty, heart-wrenching soul music with a man with more SOUL built into him that most people would know what to do with - and you get this - the incredible Mister Darrell Banks and ‘Don’t Know What To Do’.
Don't Know What To Do
Darondo – ‘Didnt I’
“Didn't I treat you right, now, didn't I?
Didn't I do the best I could, didn't I?
Didn't I give ya everything, didn't I?”
Where the hell have I heard those lyrics before? It haunted me for weeks and then it hit me like a lightning bolt. Its the bridge in ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Love”.
Darondo takes the mighty Levi Stubbs heart-wrenching pleading and flips it on its head and truly in this instance less is more, but the same power-packed emotional punch is still delivered. TKO!!!
George Jackson – ‘Macking On You’
Where do you even begin?
Macking On You
The Pretenders – ‘Just Be Yourself’
As much as I love Chrissie Hynde and her merry band of leather-trousered minstrels this is a completely different band all together.
It’s a beautiful early disco groover and was a big record on the early 80s northern scene that seems to be getting a few spins again right now for old fools like me to jump around to. The Carnival label had a great and varied range of soul output; a seam so rich in quality. The Pretenders’ other great track is “It’s Everything About You (That I Love)” and that, my friend, is what is commonly known as a Choon! Check it out! It’s not on the Carnival comps but thankfully it is on the latest “Masterpieces Of Modern Soul” CD.
Kenard – ‘What Did You Gain By That?’
“Play the Vic Reeves club singing record!” comes back the reply when I call out for requests in the studio. Trying to brainwash people in their twenties into absorbing pure Soul music on a daily basis I knew was never going to be an easy task - but persevere I must. Pure singalong brilliant lyrics with obvious wisdom, what more d’ya want?
What Did You Gain By That?
Sidney Joe Qualls – ‘I Don’t Do This (To Every Girl I Meet)’
You could hardly step into any Northern Soul venue in the eighties and not hear this record and sadly it fell crashing into the ‘overplayed’ category, but give a record as brilliant as this one a nice twenty-year rest and gosh how good it sounds. I love the bit when Sidney calls out “I’M A FREAK FOR YOU!”, well I’m a freak for this record - all the way!
What Sidney actually doesn't usually do (to every girl he meets) is still open to debate, but I have my theories …
Something New To Do: The Phillip Mitchell Songbook
Various Artists (Songwriter Series)
I Don't Do This (To Every Girl I Meet)
The New Holidays –‘Maybe So, Maybe No’
Drop the beat on this big, brilliant, bold, beautiful bad boy! (Move over Levine!) Crazy up and down the keyboard piano trills a few “whoa whoa whoas” and then BOOM - and we’re in!
“Could it be that your love was meant for me?” Stunning!
I spent my youth dancing to records by Tony Hester and Popcorn Wylie - “Get it Baby”, “Spaceland”, “Cool off” “Say It Isn't So” - so many magical tunes, and now 30+ years later I’m still grooving to and discovering more of their wonderful music - How great is that? Soul for Life. The gift that just keeps on giving.
Herbert Hunter – ‘Love Has Taken Over Me’
Whoever thought that HH would sing another song as good as ‘I Was Born To Love You’?
The world is indeed a surprising and enchanting place.