photo credit: Paul Blake
8th January 2012 - Drumfire records to release Carmel back catalogue
Drumfire is delighted to announce that we are working on creating new reissue packages of the six albums by Carmel recorded for London and East West Records between 1984 and 1995. All will feature lots of bonus tracks including many b-sides from 7" and 12" long unavailable. These releases will now be scheduled for early 2012
5th December 2011 - Carmel's new album Strictly Piaf is released on iTunes
A new single called 'Sous Le Ciel De Paris' from the forthcoming new album 'Strictly Piaf', is now available on iTunes - preview it now by clicking here.
Visit our discography page for a free MP3!
Lots of old Carmel and even vintage live available on youtube.
CARMEL the band was formed in Manchester 20 years ago. It was an interesting time, punk had lost steam, and change was in the wind. Two students with music in their soul, Carmel McCourt and Jim Parris got together and with drummer Gerry Darby (Jim's cousin) began a long career of defeating definition.
Their first single - "Storm" - reached No 1 in the independent charts and CARMEL was signed immediately to London Records. Their first album "The Drum is Everything" (produced by Mike Thorne) drew praise for the fiery passion of all three members. Parris and Darby remarkably conjured the effect of a full ensemble backing to McCourt's powerful vocals and were able to alternate between soulful ballads, gospel, blues and stomping jazz. The singles "Bad Day" and "More More More" both went Top 20 in the UK. The following album, "The Falling" (produced by Brian Eno, Hugh Jones, David Motion) made CARMEL one of the biggest names in France achieving Gold status as well as charting in Belgium, Germany and Holland. "Sally" the first single lifted from the album sold 500 000 copies in France alone. With the critical and commercial success awarded both "The Falling" and the next album "Everybody's Got A Little Soul", producers were queuing up to work with CARMEL.
1989 saw the release of "Set Me Free", with the likes of Brian Eno and veteran R&B producer Pete Wingfield adding their individual touches to the broad range of CARMEL material. The critics were bowled over with a Five Star Q review describing the album as "incendiary". 1990's best-of compilation "Collected" put the band's career into perspective culling songs from all their albums and highlighting the breadth, depth and vitality of their sound, while 1992's "Good News" saw CARMEL moving to East West with Jim producing. In 1997 Ronnie Scotts provided the venue to record their last album, "Live at Ronnie Scotts", which was a collection of their work and some previously unreleased material.
Live performance has always been central to CARMEL'S work and they are highly successful on the European touring circuit. They have drawn the highest praise from the critics for their live performances as well as their recordings which have explored a musical palate that encompasses swing, reggae, R&B, jazz, blues and a definite mix of African beats.
Their richly layered music has consistently defied categorisation and has sometimes found greater appreciation on the continent than it has done in the UK. In France they are revered, (the French even christened McCourt the new Edith Piaf) and in Italy she won the accolade of Best Jazz vocalist at the Messina Festival. Yet in their native Britain whilst they enjoy something of a cult status with a hard core following, they have sometimes found it hard to find their slot. Not that this bothers them. "We avoided labels, we never identified with any single category. We wanted freedom," says Carmel.
"It was a freedom that held us back commercially," says Jim. We were ahead of our time in some ways. Now it's taken for granted that musicians and DJs can use all types of influences. That seemed a problem in England then. It was easier to make it in France."
But in the last 6 years with the band members living between Barcelona, Paris and Manchester it was hard for them to work together and so they pursued other musical projects. Jim created the band Nzi Dada with Paris based multi media artist Xumo Nounjio, and Carmel has been working on various projects as a singer, writer and teacher.
But now firmly back on their home turf of Manchester Jim and Carmel are back in the studio and working on material for new album with legendary drummer Brice Wassy. A successful tour in Autumn 2002 showcased some new material alongside classic CARMEL favourites, and the band plan more gigs for 2003 as well as the release of a DVD of classic CARMEL tracks. Performing is clearly something Jim and Carmel love. Says Carmel, "It's a curious medium, the stage, but you develop all the time and I love it. It’s that direct communication to people, it's so instant, so powerful. It does take time to develop though. You're undoubtedly a better performer at 40 than 22."
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