Well, it's been a long time but I've actually found something on the Senators. How long has it taken, I hear you ask? Well, how long is a piece of string? How long has the internet been going? When was it that I saw them live supporting, I think, the Cutting Crew at the Town and Country Club, (or could it have been Hall and Oates?).
Never mind I'm here now! And it's been a pleasure, I was just telling a guy at work that I have never found any substantial info on this great band this afternoon, and now!
I bought ''I Don't Care About the Past'' CD single, as it seems most people did, in one of those famous bargain bins. I have this recollection of someone in Our Price playing it and I remembered the name and cover, I could have imagined it, but it sounds good to me.
I must have played it so much, especially 'Torn in Two', because it doesn't work now - the only CD I've ever had to not work in anyone's player at all. Where I got 'Ordinary Heartbreak' from is a mystery, but 'Thankyou', wow. It's always been a favourite that it hardly leaves the 'playlist ' for a week.
I used to work for WH Smith's and did order the album ''Welcome to Our World '' on CD but never bought it, if I could turn back time!
Live, they were great and I do remember trying to get my hands on other stuff in the days, weeks, years since, to no avail - yet last year, found 'Port in My Storm' on Secondsounds.com - but not impressed so far, must've been the shock of finding it! Will have to dig it out later.
Well must print the lyrics for 'Thankyou' out and get a copy to the guy at work, who plays guitar, might have won a new fan???!!!!
Thanks for the time you took to put the site together, I am happy - no, much happier - no astounded - no....thank you!
& E-mail Me
This page has grown considerably since I started this site, thanks to various contributions from a number of people. If you have time on your hands, you can scroll down manually and read the entire page at your leisure. Alternatively, look at the list below, decide what interests you, click on it, and you'll be magically transported to that part of the page. Enjoy!
For those who don't know, The Senators were a British band who were around in the late 80s and early 90s, and consisted of two brothers - Mick and Jim Kitson. Their music is not always easy to classify - I've heard it described as various things, from pop to soul to folk, and in truth there are Senators songs which fit into all of those categories. Unlike a lot of music from that period however, their records don't seem horribly dated today, so if it didn't sound so toe-curlingly pretentious, I'd describe their music as 'timeless'. (It's at this point that most people decide to skip this introduction and move on to the Trivia section.)
I first came across The Senators in 1990. There was a weekly TV programme called 'The Concert', which showed highlights of gigs from the Town & Country Club (a music venue in London). At the time, I was a fan of a band called The Railway Children, and I discovered they were due to be featured on 'The Concert'. The programme was broadcast in the middle of the night, presumably to protect small children from the evils of mainstream pop, so I recorded it, but was disappointed to find the next day that the second half was taken up by a band I'd never heard of - The Senators. The remote control was out of reach, and I couldn't be expected to leave the sofa, so I decided to watch the first few minutes of this band, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Twelve years later, I still have the video of that programme. It was only six songs and lasted less than 25 minutes, but it was 'love at first listen', and was enough to get me straight down the local record shop the next day, looking for more. A visit to 'Adrians' in Wickford, Essex, which I believe at one time claimed to be the largest independent record shop in the UK, immediately produced 3 singles, and (somewhat cruelly) left me with the impression that Senators records were going to be easy to find! That didn't prove to be the case, and I never quite managed to follow the band as closely as I would've liked, often only hearing of single releases when they turned up in bargain bins, and never managing to catch them live. The band split up in 1992, but I still play their music to this day, and continue to wonder why they never achieved the success they deserved.
The Senators' great strength is, in my opinion, their songwriting. You won't find dazzling guitar solos, showy arrangements, or rock star vocal performances on their records. What you'll find is one of the strongest (and most prolific) songwriting partnerships I've ever come across. Intelligent, heartfelt lyrics, and music to match.
The following facts are from the songsheet which was given away with the 10" Limited Edition of 'Ordinary Heartbreak'. If you have any biographical or other information you'd like to add, or any thoughts/opinions/rumours/blatant lies about the band you'd like to share, please e-mail me. Thanks!
Born: Newport, Gwent, 3/9/60
Educational Qualifications: BA (Hons)in Creative Arts - Newcastle Polytechnic - Failed
Hobbies: Assuming everyone wants to hear what he thinks about it all, Gardening, DIY, Writing letters to the council about the litter problem and the state of the shopping precinct, Currently writing a book on "The Power Tool in Twentieth Century Fiction".
Self indulgent ramblings, plus a few biographical facts to justify this page's title.
Born: Newport, Gwent, 2/2/62
Educational Qualifications: BA in English Literature - University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Previous Employment: Labourer, Forklift Driver, The man who counts the frozen chickens in a big fridge in Milton Keynes.
Hobbies: Running on empty, Living for kicks, Being too fast to live and too young to die, Macrame, Defining the human condition in terms of the absolute, Posing rhetorical questions, Saying "I must give up smoking", Buying things he doesn't need and can't afford, Regretting foolish purchases.
Questions put to The Senators by e-mail in September 2001.
The following are various facts I've stumbled upon myself. I present them for you now, in a transparent attempt to
1. The guitar which Jim is pictured playing in the first photo on the Home page (taken from the cover of the 'Lovely' album), is a 1950's Hofner model 461/S acoustic archtop guitar. Hofner produced a model of guitar called the Senator, which may be where Mick and Jim got their name. [But in fact isn't.]
(i) The Senators' early releases were produced by Jon Kelly, who around the same time was producing Deacon Blue's first album. He also worked with Kate Bush, The Beautiful South, and The Damned, to name but a few.
(ii) 'Port in My Storm' was produced by Mike Hedges, who has produced records for numerous top bands, including U2, Manic Street Preachers, Texas, Travis, and A1 (who I'm sure some people consider to be a top band).
(iii) 'Best Friend' was produced by Pat Collier, who has produced bands as diverse as The Wonderstuff, Primal Scream, and Katrina & The Waves (including the immortal single 'Walking on Sunshine'!).
3. The copy of Viz magazine which can be seen lying at Mick and Jim's feet on the cover of the 'One More Chance' single, is the April/May 1988 issue! And if you want proof, click here! The Hopes and Bodies I-Spy Award for 2002 goes to Steve Berrington for pointing this out. :o)
make myself look knowledgable.
Did you grow up writing songs together?
Jim: No, not really
Mick: Not really. I think we wrote some punk rock songs in our teens together.
Were either of you in other bands before forming The Senators?
Mick: Jim was in alot of hippy bands, including one called Lazy after the Deep Purple song. We were both in a band in our teens.
Jim: Before we became the Senators we were called Brothers in Rhythm and played Cliff Richard and Tom Jones songs around pubs in London and Newcastle.
When did you form The Senators?
Mick: In about 1985, but we were called Brothers in Rhythm.
Jim: One day in about 1988 (I think) we were playing at the Three Johns pub in Islington when a man from Virgin came along and inexplicably offered us a record deal.
What made you choose that name?
Jim: We had a drummer (sometimes) called Gary Hart.
Mick: We had a drummer called Gary Hart and it was the US presidential election and the Senator Gary Hart was running for the Democratic nomination until he got caught shagging some woman on a boat. Also it was the name of Tom Jones' first ever backing band.
When and where was your first gig?
Mick: First gig together was in about 1978 I think at a working mens' club in Luton.
Jim: The first gig as the Senators was at a club off Sauchiehall St in Glasgow.
And most memorable gig?
Mick: Playing on board a Virgin inaugaral flight to Los Angeles in about 1988, there were loads of movie stars and models there, and I nearly got in a fight with Mike Yarwood.
Jim: Loads, among which are: Reading Festival, Hammersmith Odeon, Duke of Yorks theatre supporting Mary Margaret O'Hara, Somewhere in the San Fernando valley outside Los Angeles with Mike Yarwood with Tony Hawkes on drums and Imran Khan in the audience, busking in Boston, outside a department store in Tokyo, University of London student union, in a tent with Neville Wanless, the Wheatsheaf in Corbridge, the 3 Johns in Islington. Loads.
How did the partnership work when it came to song writing - would one write the lyrics, and the other the music, or was it a more collaborative process?
Jim: Sometimes. We rarely co-wrote, we arrived with songs we'd done individually and then argued.
Mick: We wrote separately then worked on things together and changed them once the song was written.
How long did it take you to land a recording contract, and how difficult was it?
Jim: Hardly anytime and laughably simple, I had tried for ages with other bands, but as Mick and I were trying to break into the cabaret circuit playing obscure covers and it was the last thing on our minds it was perhaps inevitable we should get offered a record deal.
Mick: It was pretty easy. We had a residency at a pub in Islington called The Three Johns. Over a few weeks we got a bit of a buzz going there every Friday and eventually some bloke from Virgin publishing came to see us and about two weeks later we signed a deal. Getting a deal is easy, getting a hit record is the hard bit.
How did you decide which of you would record the main vocal on each song?
Jim: The idea was that Mick would do them all but in the end for whatever reason it didn't work out like that. I think I may have sulked a bit.
Mick: I think we always sang our own songs.
Did you ever disagree on which songs to include on an album?
Mick: Yes, but mostly with the record company, particularly over single releases
Jim: Yes, but there's nothing on any of the albums that we're horribly unhappy with, I've never liked 'Little Italy', but that's about it. I'm sure Mick loves all my songs as they're great.
Were there many songs which never made it onto record?
Mick: Quite a few.
Jim: Oh yes, mainly because they weren't up to much I think.
Which do you consider to be your best album, and best song(s)?
Jim: I like 'Lovely', and also 'The Little Things' as Mick wrote it and I'm not on it anywhere so I'm not worried about it.
Mick: Best LP 'Hopes and Bodies', best records - 'Crying Wolf' and 'Best Friend', best song 'East of Here' but I hate the version on 'Lovely'.
'Lovely' has quite a different feel to it than the other two albums. Was that a direct result of you producing it yourselves?
Mick: Yes and the fact most of it was recorded live in one take with a band.
Jim: Yes. We made it between deals for no money by going into a large recording studio in Finsbury Park and attempting to do the whole thing live in one take while the engineer soiled himself. When we signed to Go! Discs we used it as the basis and got Mike Hedges and Pat Collier to do some singles.
These days, it seems that every band who release an album have a fan club address listed on the sleeve. Why was there never a Senators fan club?
Mick: There was for a little while run by two guys in Milton Keynes. No idea where they are now.
Jim: There was but the bloke who ran it absconded to the Cayman Islands with his vast profits.
Am I right in thinking that 'Brown Eyed Girl' was your most successful single, and if so, how did you feel about the fact that having written so many original songs, your biggest success was with a cover version?
Jim: None of the singles were very successful so I'm not bothered really.
Mick: We just wanted a hit and liked the song, I was pretty happy with it.
Why did you leave Virgin after two albums, and why did you only release one album on Go Discs?
Jim: Virgin got bored with spending lots of money and not getting anything back and showed us the door. The Go situation was more acrimonious and involved a split with our manager as well.
Mick: We packed it in after Lovely becasue we were both getting a bit old for touring and buggering about in recording studios.
Can you tell me what chart position any of your releases made it to?
Jim: No, I'm afraid not.
Mick: No , I think the first single went to number 86.
When and why did the band split up?
Mick: In about 1992. Why? I think we both got fed up of it.
Jim: We, (especially Mick), got fed up with it, and we'd sort of forgotten why we'd started in the first place. I also felt that having been a major international pop phenomenon it was time for me to take the theatre world by storm.
What have you done since?
Jim: Apart from taking the theatre world by storm, I formed a band called Shrink with three blokes called Dave and we did a single on our own label. Mick started the Terry Love Orchestra and did a Mini Album. I also played a bit of bass and mandolin on Brianna Corrigan's solo album.
Mick: I went into journalism which is what I still do. Jim became an actor so he still hasn't managed to get a proper job.
Do you have any music related plans for the future?
Mick: Some. I have alot of songs I'd like to record.
Jim: I'm just finishing an album which I plan to make available over the internet as that's what all the young people are doing these days.
Do you have any regrets about your Senators career, or things you wish you'd done differently?
Mick: Loads. We should have done loads of things differently. We should have released 'Good Morning World' as a single, gone to the USA to make an album when we had the chance, we shouldn't have been so cooperative with the record company and we should have behaved alot more badly. But we did have great time and get to go all over the world and shag loads of women so it wasn't all that bad.
Jim: I wish we'd paid more attention at the beginning, and I wish we'd done loads more gigs.
Have you written any songs for other artists, or collaborated with any other songwriters??
Jim: We did some writing with Feargal Sharkey which ended up as a single called 'Women and I', and 'Quiet life' was covered by a band called 'And All Because the Lady Loves' who were big in Switzerland at one time I believe.
Mick: Yes. I worked with Feargal Sharkey on his last LP, I've written lyrics for various rap artists as well, including a fantastic record called "Best to be a girl" by MC Syndee which was released in 1988 and was the first ever "girl power" record and was great, I'd love to know what happened to her or if anyone has a copy of the record (It was NME's Single of the Week in about June or July 1988). I think someone should re-release it.
What are your favourite bands/musicians?
Mick: Um....Marvin Gaye, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, The Clash , Four Tops, Al Green, Squeeze....loads of people.
Jim: This could take a while. Everyone in the world including in no particular order, Led Zeppelin, Tom Waits, Aretha Franklin, the Cocteau Twins, Bon Jovi, Eddie Head and his Family, Del Amitri, Huey "Piano" Smith and his clowns, Deep Purple, Leftfield , T Rex, the Pharcyde, Wayne Smith, Lee Morgan, Toots and the Maytals, Smokey Robinson, Jnr Walker, Green Day, Macy Gray, Charles Trenet, Budgie, De La Soul, X Ray Spex, Yes, The Collins Kids, Thrum, the Back Street Boys, Teenage Fanclub, Mary Margaret O'Hara. How long have you got?
Is there any chance of the two of you working together again?
Mick: I hope so but we both have hundreds of children who seem to take up all our time.
Jim: Yes, I'm planning to divide some rooms upstairs and I could use a hand cutting plasterboard.
Huge thanks to Mick and Jim for taking the time to
Other people's experiences and memories of The Senators (whether real or imagined).
I was recently able to make contact with Mick and Jim themselves, and both were kind enough to agree to answer a number of questions I put to them via e-mail. Their complete replies follow below...
Note: Mick and Jim answered the questions independently of eachother, hence the occasional repetition and crossover of their replies.
I first encountered the Senators around May 1989 whilst at Trent Poly in Nottingham. I bought the 12" of Man No More / Quiet Life from the bargain bin in Selectadisc (50p - even though it had only just been released). I can't actually remember why I bought it as I'd not heard either song. I may have read about it in the music press or it may just have been a whim. On playing it however...and here we get my "the rest as we say is history" line. Anyway I bought the "Welcome to our World" LP straight after and became a committed Senators admirer - like you say great tunes, excellent lyrics - honest, passionate, great music.
They appeared on The James Whale Show on TV round about this time. This would have been late one Friday night - just the two of them with guitars and I'm pretty sure they played "Hey Girl don't bother me" - but this was after a night out and I only caught a bit so I can't remember alot I'm afraid. They played the Reading festival that Summer - I didn't go but remember seeing the name on a flyer (I think "And All Because The Lady Loves" apppeared on the same bill).
Didn't hear anything then till "Hopes and Bodies" came out (September 1990). The album got an excellent write-up on Ceefax of all places I seem to remember. In the October of that year they were being championed by Nicky Campbell when he had the late week night slot on Radio 1. He was very impressed by "Good Morning World" (and I could have sworn that was released as a single) and he dared Simon Mayo to play it on his breakfast show, particularly with the line "the good morning dj's so wacky and fun and I'd shoot that bastard if I had a gun"
I thought then, given this publicity, and with GMW being such jaunty 7" single material that they would "make it" - still. Nicky Campbell had them in for a session soon after and I think they played GMW and some sea shanty type about pirates or smugglers although I've not heard of it since. I don't know whether this session was recorded at all (and more to the point why I didn't record it!).
Another couple of years and "Lovely" came out. It had a reasonable write up in Q (which I'll still have somewhere and I'll dig it out) and another good one on teletext ! (It may have been the same reviewer as they made the point that H&B was a great album whilst this one was just a good album - or something like that).
And then nothing !
I contacted Go Discs! A&R department a few years after to see if they were still going and got a note saying they were no longer signed to the label but try contacting them care of "Goldscleugh" or somesuch at an address in the North East. Tried but heard nothing.
And that was it till I found your website. I regret never having seen them live. They played support to Hue and Cry in 1989 (I had a flyer from Rock City in Nottingham but they'd played a week or two before I'd heard about them). They also played support to the Lilac Time in 1990 (round about the time H&B came out). A friend of mine saw them and enthused about this unknown suppport band called the Senators. He raved about "Naked with you" in particular.
And that's it. For my own preference I'd rate the three albums in order of release. "Lovely" was a great record (particularly "Port in my storm") but it didn't quite match the first two. "Hopes & Bodies", has in the last three songs, "Little things", "Just like me" and "For asking" the best ending to any album ever (oops that probably sounded a bit gushing). "Welcome to our World" however just shades it overall - even though I've only got the taped version of the vinyl to listen to. I found the CD versions of the other two years later in second hand shops but haven't found WTOW yet.
It has been really great to find this website and I particularly appreciated the recent interviews. I was hoping to find that I'd missed a fourth album or that there is now a record company compliation available on mid-price. As a consolation I now know that the line in "Forty nights" is not "Come back before that bread you like turns blue" - I always thought that sounded silly.
The idea of this section is to allow Senators fans to share their memories of the band, or indeed voice any Senators-related opinions or thoughts. So whether you saw the band live, caught them on TV or radio, followed them across the country via the bargain bins of record shops everywhere, or merely bought the odd album at a car boot sale, this is the place to let everyone know what your experience of the Senators was. E-mail me with your recollections, and I'll put them here.
First up is Steve Berrington of Manchester...
Big thanks to Steve, Dave, Judith, Gavin, Josh, Jon and Andy, and if anyone else would like to contribute to this section, you know what to do...
I bought my first mini CD single from Jumbo records, Leeds just after I'd bought my first CD hi-fi. I've always been a bit behind the times. It was called 'One More Chance' and consisted of 4 tracks - good value for 50p I thought. I was very impressed with all 4 tracks and bought another single a few weeks after. This was also a mini CD called Man no More/Quiet Life. The second track was amazing and I just had to find out more about the band. I read Q magazine and the review was excellent so i went out and bought the album. It didn't disappoint. Every song stood out and every song held my attention in a way that few other songs did.
I saw that they were supporting at a gig at Leeds University and my wife and I went along. We only stayed for The Senator's spot and it was excellent. Just the two of them - I had been hoping for a full band but if I remember right the tickets were only £2 and you can't expect too much for that kind of price.
I remember buying the second album and was amazed that the tracks sounded even stronger. Like Steve, I think the last three tracks are probably the best ending of an album I've ever heard. The album has never been out of favour. I remember many nights abroad with the headphones on listening to Hopes and Bodies.
I bought Lovely and looked forward to listening to their latest offering. The recording style was not quite what I expected. It had a great live feel but the songs lacked some of the depth that I had looked forward to. Nevertheless, the quality of the songs was superb. I didn't really understand the inclusion of Simple Game but that aside I was very impressed and bought some of the singles that were taken from the album.
I have taped the albums for friends and everyone who has heard them has been impressed. So much talent and so hard to find in the shops. I was surprised to see that Q magazine had reviewed Hopes and Bodies less favourably than the first album. The reviewer had clearly not given the songs time to grow. He clearly hadn't listened to the final 3 tracks!
The only sad note was when I had Hopes and Bodies stolen from my car whilst on holiday in Holland so it's been quite a while since I've been able to enjoy my favourite album. Still, I have plans to buy it again once I find it.
I only wish that they had had the success that their talent deserved. I'm sure they're not the first band to disappear unfairly from the music scene and not have achieved recognition but they must be the most talented of those who have.
I worked in a London radio station in 1988-89. We were uncommercial and consequently didn't have many listeners but the ones we had were loyal. Which is just as well as we foisted all sorts of acts on them, bands who didn't have a hope in hell of charting. We were allowed not to care about that. Of course the station was closed, you can't get away with that for long.
Anyway, the Senators were favourites of ours at the station, especially of the station's token Indy girl, which was me at the time.
We always playlisted their singles. And I always crashed the playlist committee meetings even if I wasn't invited so that I could playlist their singles. The other reason we loved them is because they were amenable. Once, when a guest cancelled, a producer put his head round my door and said "who can we get in at really short notice and who'll play live?". And they said yes even though they'd been to the station, I think, twice before, we must have sounded desperate, it was the middle of the afternoon, we didn't pay for appearances and they weren't plugging a single at the time.
The other thing I remember is they sang acapella in the station's reception area for fun, and they signed my vinyl.
Go! Discs publicity photo, supplied by Steve Berrington.
The hope for this section is to build up a collection of Senators 'cuttings' from magazines, newspapers, etc. This may not prove to be easy, since we're talking about a band who ceased to exist ten years ago, and didn't receive a great deal of media coverage even then! But anything's possible. So if you still have boxes full of old music magazines in the loft, flyers from music venues or festivals, or anything similar (dated from around 1988-92), have a look through for those all too brief mentions of The Senators. And if you find anything, e-mail me!
To view each cutting, click on the cover of the magazine and the article will open in a new window.
Thanks to Steve Berrington for contributing these first seven pieces!
Record Mirror, April 1st 1989.
Brief mention of the 'Man No More' single in the 'Releases' section.
Record Mirror, April 8th 1989.
A brief but nonetheless interesting review of the 'Man No More' single.
Record Mirror, April 15th 1989.
A short article about The Senators, following the release of 'Man No More'. I find this piece particularly interesting because the author clearly expected the brothers to go on to be huge, even stating confidently "it's gonna happen sooner or later", which seems to have been a common view. One of the comments I hear most often is "I could never understand why they weren't more successful", or "I always expected them to be big". It seems they had had no shortage of ardent admirers, but for some reason this never translated into record sales.
This article is followed by an advert for the single, containing a couple of interesting quotes from the NME and Melody Maker.
Viz, Issue 37, Summer 1989.
An advert for the 1989 Reading Festival, featuring the Senators on the Mean Fiddler stage. Listed on the same bill are 'And All Because the Lady Loves', who as Jim says in the interview above, did a cover of 'Quiet Life', so it's interesting to wonder if this is where that connection was made. The Senators were on stage playing Quiet Life, 'And All Because' were in the wings waiting to go on, they hear the song..... and before you can say "The Sound of Music", it's a hit all over Switzerland. Well that COULD be how it happened...
Q magazine, July 1992.
A review of the 'Lovely' album. The author describes Senators songs as "highly coverable". I'm not sure if that's just a polite way of saying that someone else could do them better, or at least do a more commercial version, but it is surprising to me that Senators songs havn't been picked up by other artists in recent years. I'm sure Robbie Williams would do a rousing version of Man No More, and I'd pay good money to see Darius from Pop Idol singing The Little Things.
Pete Frame's Rockin' Around Britain, 1999.
This is a sort of encyclopaedia of British locations and their musical connections. The Senators get a mention in the section on Newport, Wales. It's undoubtedly true that Mick and Jim were born there, but I was under the impression that they moved to London as young children. (Not that I'm a stalker or anything). So it may not be strictly true to call Newport "the home of The Senators".
Reviews, articles, adverts, in fact any mention of The Senators in the music press.
Copyright 2001-2008. All text, page layout & design by Phil Gardner, with grateful thanks to everyone who contributed to this page.
Q magazine, August 1990.
A review of the 'Hopes & Bodies' album. I don't think the author can quite decide whether he liked the record or not - generally praising it, but throwing in the odd phrase like "clinical blandness". He also describes 'Naked With You' as hard rock, so I'm just waiting for The Senators to be labelled as thrash metal and then I think we'll have the full set of musical genres. I'm off now to write a stiff letter to Virgin, asking why my copy of Hopes & Bodies didn't feature the bonus track 'A Crying Melody'.
Next up is Gavin Smith...
The following reviews were kindly contributed by Jim Kitson!
What's On magazine, April 15th 1992.
An interview with Mick Kitson shortly before the release of 'Lovely'. This is a good article, written by someone who is clearly a Senators fan. I was slightly taken aback by Mick's description of Ordinary Heartbreak as "the worst song on the [Hopes & Bodies] album", but perhaps that's only because it seems an affront to label any of those eleven songs 'the worst'. It's a bit like calling Elle McPherson the ugliest supermodel. The article is entitled "Primary Candidates", which surely has to take the prize for the most obscure pun on the word 'Senators'. But still.
Hopes & Bodies Reviews, Aug - Sep 1990
Three short reviews of the Hopes & Bodies album, one of which claims that The Senators are from Leighton Buzzard??? Oh well, makes a change from calling them Welsh.
Lovely reviews, April - June 1992
Not just reviews of Lovely, but some really quite lovely reviews. One inexplicably describes the first two Senators albums as "ordinary", but then goes on to fall in love with album number three, so you have to forgive him really. He was probably just a late developer. The running theme of these reviews seems to be just how much the Senators deserved to be huge. If I had a penny for every time I'd heard THAT one...
Music Week, November 3rd 1990
A short review of "I'm Always Sorry Now". The reviewer is confident that THIS is the release which will finally make the Senators' name. Yes yes yes, we've heard it all before...
Moving on to Josh...
I've literally just stumbled upon your site (after the obligatory 500 irrelevant search results) and its such a complete blast from the past. I bought Welcome to our World when I was 16, in the famous goth infested Indoor Market in Canterbury (when goths were goths mind you, and not my what my 12 year old daughter thinks they are these days), purely because of the almost continual advertising in magazines like The Face (and Sky magazine?). I was blown away by the music and dumbfounded by anyone who could incorporate phrases like 'nescafe and spam' into great songs!
Unfortunately my eclectic tastes soon sped me off in different directions in an attempt to impress the chicks (for example, Serbian nationalist thrash rockers Laibach, followed soon after by Yazz and the Plastic Population, but dont tell anyone that last bit). Since then the Senators have lain resting in the memory banks, probably obscured by my drink related haziness, but then tonight they popped back up again and I found your site! Now I'm off to track down WTOW on CD....
And then there was Jon...
One of my favourite Kitson memories is unfortunately not a Senators one but is in fact only relating to Mick. Over many years, the bastard, inbred, (six fingered) half sister to the Senators was our band ‘Cary Grant’ featuring myself, Trent, Pete and Mick. Cary Grant’s remit was simple: to play self-penned, big band swing (and other suitable covers) with only Guitar, Bass and Drums. Many gigs were enjoyed with relative success and others with relative disappointment but on this said occasion the emotions Fear and Retribution were added as we had been asked to play in Manchester at a Mancunian / Italian wedding.
We had a white knuckle, white van ride up to the venue, and an afternoon sound check. As we set up the equipment an army of Italian women delivered the wedding cake to its hallowed position on the table below the front of the stage. A short while afterwards Mick seemed to lose all control of his feet and kicked over his mike stand. My slo-mo recollection of events saw Mick hook his foot around the falling mike stand and drop kick it to safety before it sliced in half many million lira of finest Italian torta and a beautiful relationship. As we took a break and tried to forget about sleeping with fishes we consoled ourselves with lager but once again Mr Kitson managed to knock over and break his guitar by removing the table it was leaning on. Sticky tape, toilet rolls and a perfectly good extension lead socket had to be butchered to fix the instrument, and apart from some glaringly obvious Health and Safety issues I would imagine that even to this day would still give its owner some sterling service.
P.S. The gig went really well, and our one and only Italian song got played a number of times and the client was so happy he even paid us! Rock n roll.
This last piece was contributed by Jon Cheshire. It's nothing to do with The Senators, but you can't get any more Kitson-related than this...
Some Local Newspaper, 1993
A review by Nathan Wiseman of 'The Unstable World of Terry Love'. Nathan gives it 8 out of 10, which considering he's virtually a member of the Kitson family, seems a little mean to me.
The Hand of Mick Kitson, Part I
A genuine piece of Mick Kitson songwriting. This is a song called 'Jeannie', written with someone named Hiscock, who sounds like a character from a Carry On film. I particularly like the way the line "you find me as appealing as a nasty stain on the ceiling" is accompanied by a genuine stain. That's what I call being true to your art. Although my favourite line is "Jeannie won't you put in your Dutch cap for me". They don't write 'em like that any more.
Polydor Records, 1992
... work which clearly meant nothing to the Sharkey. A letter from Feargal himself, writing on behalf of Polydor's A&R department, in which he inexplicably turns down the opportunity to offer Cary Grant a major record deal. They do say a good heart these days is hard to find. And as Jon Cheshire said to me, "What did Feargal Sharkey ever do anyway?"
Leighton Buzzard on Sunday, 26th December 1999
A newspaper column written by Mick Kitson on the eve of the new millennium. I'm not sure those tinted glasses were a good idea, but I'm definitely with him on the Coen brothers. They're my second favourite pair of siblings.
And finally (for now), it's Andy...
Well, where to start. Mick and Jim are the sons of a friend of mine's mum (I know, but bear with me). The friend in question, Tim, and I were extremely privileged to get backstage passes to most of the Senators' early gigs. We got to know the band pretty well too in those early days. Tim and I got the green light from their management to start an official fanclub, but for one reason or another we never got it off the ground (I was in full-time employment then and had a young family). Tim and I also went along to the filming of the video for One More Chance. It was filmed at the Prince of Orange pub in Surrey Docks. It took all day and was my first introduction to drugs in rock n roll; I went to the loo sometime during the day and there were two guys in there doing lines of coke. They were absolutely nothing to do with the band I hasten to add. Anyway, it was a great day - Keith Allen kept everyone entertained throughout. I remember that the production company bought the first round of drinks and we then either had to make it last for the whole shoot or buy our own. It ended really quite late and I think we were pretty p***ed by then! Both of us appeared in the final cut in one form or another - we were just members of the crowd, but got our moment f fame. I still have an official Virgin copy of the video somewhere.
I think the best public gig I went to was the Virgin showcase at Ronnie Scott's in London. Fantastic atmosphere, great gig. The best gig of all was at either Tim's birthday party (or it may have been his sister's, I forget now) when they came and did a set, just for the party. Fabulous. The last time I saw Mick was in a queue in Sainsbury's, Milton Keynes. He was in the queue behind us buying his lunch. We had a quick chat and I haven't seen him since. Those were great days and I still maintain that Mick and Jim were always undervalued as both songwriters and performers.
As the Senators neared the end of their term of office, Mick formed a second band called Cary Grant. So if you think this place is hard to find, spare a thought for the owner of that fansite. According to bass player Jon Cheshire, the band's remit was simple: to play self-penned, big band swing (and other suitable covers) with only guitar, bass and drums. They began performing regularly in about 1990, and in 1992 appeared on the track 'Late Train Home' from the Senators' third album, 'Lovely'. Jon's name was spelt wrongly on the album sleeve for reasons far too complex to go into.
Following the sad demise of The Senators, Cary Grant morphed into The Terry Love Orchestra, released a mini-album, and continued to act as a vehicle for Mick's songs. 'Man Made of Stone', which can be downloaded from Jim Kitson's website, was, in fact, a mainstay of the Cary Grant live set. The band may not have been hugely successful, but they did a lot of good work for charity, managed to get Feargal Sharkey's autograph, and could have been big in Denmark. It doesn't get much better than that.*
*Unless you count money and fame.
Many thanks to Jon Cheshire for sending me the bits and pieces below.
The cassette inlay for 'The Unstable World of Terry Love', the mini-album released in 1993. If you think Mick's hat was a bad decision, check out the bottom of the Photos page. ***STOP PRESS*** You can now download this album from the Download Music page!
Leighton Buzzard Observer, 1991
Cary Grant did a lot of good work for charity, and clearly they did like to talk about it. A clipping from the LBO, proving that if there was a chance to get on the bill with Gary Glitter, they didn't need asking twice. The article mentions Mick's work with Feargal Sharkey...
Eurisko Music Production, 1995
Fortunately, not all A&R managers are as heartless as Feargal Sharkey. Three years after Feargal told Cary Grant he'd be pleased to hear from them again, Kim Meinert of Danish label 'Eurisko Music Production' proved he was willing to put his Krone where his mouth is, and offer them a deal. For one song. On an album called 'Europa Calling'. I think they turned it down. Possibly because Kim wanted to pay them in bacon.
A Cary Grant Christmas
Two tickets for Cary Grant Christmas concerts (dress: very posh) at Aspley Guise Village Hall near Milton Keynes, the mighty music venue where the Senators recorded the 'Lovely' album tracks 'Late Train Home' and 'Simple Game'.
The exploding dog featured on the evening of 8th December 1990 was created by Jon Cheshire, and apparently took out the entire venue's electricity supply in rehearsals.
The effect of Trudy and Iona, the Psychic Psysters, who featured two years later, is unknown.
The Hand of Mick Kitson, Part II
It may look like an old treasure map, but it's actually a piece of fax roll featuring the song 'Goodbye My Dear'. I'm not sure why all Mick's songs have to feature some kind of stainage, but apparently they do. Unfortunately it's not the most uplifting number. As Jon Cheshire said to me, "it's actually a really good song, but may not have mass appeal... unless hanging is the bag you're into".
The Hand of Mick Kitson, Part III
'When Old Friends Become Lovers Again'. This one's a lot more cheery. Mick might be "alone and friendless", but there's no talk of suicide.
The Hand of Mick Kitson, Part IV
'You Cast a Long Shadow'. It's essentially a song about the weather.
The Hand of Mick Kitson, Part V
'Something Else To Do'. The verses go from Am to Ab to G, which I'm sure breaks every rule in the chord progression book. Frankly it sounds like the sort of thing I'd write...
I've since been informed that this song was in fact written by Cary Grant's guitarist, Trent Baker, and not by Mick at all. I thought the lack of stains was suspicious.
The Hand of Mick Kitson, Part VI
Trent Baker kindly donated these untitled lyrics which he assures me are from the hand of Mick Kitson. And let's face it, who else but Mick could rhyme "shellfish collection" with "small infection", in between mentioning a pet shrew and a bowel condition.