Cool River  (Ryan)

From the album 'One Person Queue' 2003

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In 2003 I released my first studio album in nearly 25 years - 'One Person Queue' with 'Cool River' being the first single.The reasons for such a hiatus are varied but the main one is that as I've grown older it's become harder for me to write. My take on this is that as one ages, your taste accelerates at a greater pace than your abilities, making it more and more difficult to please yourself.

So '1PQ' was like a debut album for me. I had two decades of glacially written material to choose from!

Now we have all heard from acts who acclaim their most recent efforts as "the best thing I've ever done" and we usually take these comments with several enormous grains of salt. Because really, what else are they going to say?

But before I go down that road, let me give you some context.

It was never my intention to become a professional singer. Sure, I loved writing and playing but I felt my future, if I wanted to meander into the music industry, was as a record producer. I couldn't be a Beatle but I might get to be George Martin. So when I moved from my hometown in Albany to Perth, I was fortunate enough to land a job as an audio operator at STW Channel 9. Whilst there and with the gracious blessing of my employers, after hours, I recorded an album entitled 'Homemovies' - an unintentionally comical, teenage-angst-ridden piece of work which was for me, an exercise in producing an album rather than seeking to launch a writing or performing career.

But this was 1972 and 'indie' acts hadn't even been invented yet. So based, I assume, on the novelty of the album, I started to get some local radio airplay. This gave me enough of a profile that I was offered the Perth support spot to the legendary Roy Orbison. A terrifying experience that I managed to pull off with enough humour (I began my set by apologising for being there) that the show's promoters invited me to open for Roy for the rest of his Australian tour.

As a direct result of that tour and in a blur of good fortune, I gathered great reviews and a recording contract with EMI; The Beatles' label. Imagine that.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I suddenly and accidentally became a successful recording artist without having paid any obligatory dues (as they say). That came later.

The four albums I recorded for EMI gave me the opportunity to work with many talented people and to learn the art of songwriting and performing - with the downside being that many of the songs I wrote and recorded were frankly, works-in-progress or creative links to better songs. Don't get me wrong - there's much there that I'm proud of. But there are also bits that are like reading one's teenage diaries - complete with smudges, poor penmanship, pretension, bad grammar and spelling mistakes.

Which brings us back to 'One Person Queue'.

I decided - with no concern for the marketplace - that I wanted to record an album that allowed me to make use of whatever skills I'd developed over the years as a writer, singer and producer. And after co-producer James Feldman and I finished our first mix - 'Cool River' - I knew that the project was indeed my best work to date.

There - I've said it.


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