home    hits    tv    ambient    audio    podule    images    interests


















This is me talking now, and this is how Barbados came into existence.
My writing partner Jeff Calvert went on a cruise to the Carribean with his dad.
He came back with his head full of reggea rhythms and sounds, and said to me that we should write something like that.
So one rainy afternoon in Ealing, on the edge of London in 1974, I sat at the piano, and Jeff had his Martin guitar.
We started bashing out the saga of a bus driver from Brixton, who had had it with London and the UK and the rain.
He decides to go back to his Mary Jane on the island via the services of Coconut Airways and Captain Tobias Wilcock.
The song took about 2 hours to write.
Well it just so happens that Jeff's dad was one of the directors of the famous Morgan Recording Studios in Willsden, London.
So the same day we wrote the song, we sneaked in to studio 1 at Morgan, creeping passed Wally the night doorman as he slept with his heart pills at his side.

We demoed the song over night using whatever was lying around.
About 6 months later we got a 3 single deal with Gull Records, so we remade the track with "proper" session musicians.
None other than Clem Catini on drums (he was the drummer in the Tornadoes, (remember Telstar), Chris Spedding on lead guitar.
Vic Flick played rhythm guitar, yes that really is his name, Roger Coulam played piano (he of Blue Mink fame) and Frank Ricotti, the brilliant percussionist who's marimba parts brought the record to life.
Finally who could forget Herbie Flowers playing bass.
After a morning recording the backing tracks, we did violins and other overdubs in the afternoon, vocals in the evening, and a mix the next day.
Now that we had the record we needed a name. I don't remember who came up with Typically Tropical, anyhow it stuck.
The record came out in April, and started to get played straight away, after an agonising climb up the charts including two nail biting weeks at number two!
It finally made the number one slot on August the 9th 1975.
My first record release had made number one!


Artistes whose first ever record release goes to No 1 in the UK get this!







Wally, the night doorman at Morgan studios, proved to be a difficult obstacle

to sneak past on our covert overnight recording sessions.










Barbados myths that are not myths!

Geraint Hughes and Max West and Tobias Wilcock are the same person.

Geraint Hughes and Jeff Calvert are white.

"Barbados" is the same song as the Venga Boys "Goin to Ibiza".


Barbados factoids

Barbados sold about 470 000 units in the UK.

It sold just under a million globally.

The voice of Tobias Wilcock is Geraint's voice recorded at a faster speed, so on playback at normal speed he sounds "butch"!

The Bridgetown air traffic controller is Jeff Calvert.

Typically Tropical is just the two of us, we wrote, produced and performed on the record, using some of the best session players of 1974.

We were both engineers at Morgan Studios London, at the time of the hit.

Max West is a pen name used by Geraint in the early part of his career. The idea was that this name would be used for "pop" projects, and his real name for "serious" projects. Oh the innocence of youth!




Gull Records flyer for Typically Tropical and the obligatory "console shot".

but below is








Barbados lyrics

Video TOTP

Video Pan's People




I Lost my Heart to a Starship Trooper

Jeff Calvert and I wrote this in 1978, made an elaborate demo of it, and took it everywhere.
After about 20 companies turning it down, the 21st went for it, Hansa Productions.
None other than the mighty Munich based company that brought us Eurodisco.
Steve Rowland saw the potential, and he began auditioning singers to perform the song,
Literally everyone was tried, pretty much all of London's stock of session singers as well as unknowns.
Some were very good, but news came through that Sarah Brightman, who was then dancing with Hot Gossip on the Kenny Everett show, could sing.
The marketing minds at Hansa's London offices saw an opportunity here, Hot Gossip were getting tons of media coverage due to the outrageousness of their act at the time, so Sarah was recruited, along with Hot Gossip.
Hot Gossip didn't do anything on the track, but they got us the publicity, and the record sold about 700 000 in the UK and over a million worldwide.









starship lyrics

The Venga Boys!

We're Goin to Ibiza !

The 18th of September 1999 saw a wry smile spread accross my face, as I listened to the Radio One chart play back to me in
a phone box in Andalucia, Spain.
Dying from one of the worst influenza attacks ever, I learnt that our song "Barbados" had gained legs again, 25 years after it's creation.
The little critter had gone to No 1 in the UK again. Staight in this time, first week of it's release.
To say that this kind of good news acts as a sinus clearer is an understatement!
My head drained in an instant!
The dear sweet Venga Boys, bless their cotton socks, had switched the island to Ibiza.
They re-recorded it and BOOM! Second time around, without us lifting a finger, 2 hours of work one distant rainy afternoon in Ealing, had paid off big time.
It did way over a million, no thanks to the PC lobby at BBC's Radio One virtually boycotting the record. Not cool enough for the poor dears.
So much for the remit of reflecting what the public want.
Europe doesn't suffer from artistic fascism, so they played it!



vengaboys website with audio and video streams and lyrics

Judas Priest!



Sad Wings of Destiny


Yes it's true! Judas Priest's "Sad Wings of Destiny" album was produced
"Typically Tropical"!
Well almost.
Jeff Calvert and GH (as Max West) and JP to be precise.
What a turnout!

Three weeks at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales to put the tracks down, and two weeks to mix back at Morgan.
Engineering for us in London was the now legendary Chris Tsangarides, now world famous for his guitar sound.
I don't know the world sales on this album, but it's in all the major stores still.



The nightly Rockfield meals.
Glenn smiles for the camera!




Rob awaits his cue.

Jeff tweaks the eq, Engineer Dave Charles looks worried, KK listens.

Judas Priest