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It was named, explains Clayton with a grin, after a chance remark: “My son said to me.
In & Out is about him learning of what he plans to be his last big job, South Of The River is about the gang who’ll do it… (a wickedly funny take of the eternal battles of the sexes) and also to the last song, Setting Son, which is about the son Barrie I lost, but will probably touch a nerve with anyone who has lost someone they love.
He’s an excellent piano player and he and I are both big Otis Redding fans, so we love that big soulful sound that he gets out of the Hammond organ.” So what inspires Clayton to write songs? Well, maybe not hate – that’s too strong a word – but annoyance, complaints. I have books full of lyrics to songs that I’ve not always finished but when an idea comes to me I don’t feel the need to reach for a notebook.
I’m a firm believer in that if an idea is good enough you’ll remember it the next morning, or when the time comes.” After three decades of gigging, the band continue to attract adoring crowds and high-profile admirers alike (at London’s Borderline in 2013 they were joined on stage by Bobby Keys – making one final UK appearance before his death – and Brian James) and deliver high-energy everyman rock’n’roll no audience ever fails to relate to.
In the early days of The Dirty Strangers he recruited both sometime Chuck Berry sideman ‘Scotty’ Mulvey to play keyboards (the Irishman is still in the band to this day) and guitarist Paul Fox (the man who made all that noise in the seminal punk outfit The Ruts, and who sadly passed away in 2007).
When the self-titled Dirty Strangers debut album was released in 1987 it featured guest appearances from Rolling Stones Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, as well as contributions by Mickey Gallagher of Ian Dury And The Blockheads.
It’s the saddest song I’ve ever written – I’m not sure I could ever sing it live – but it’s a good way to end the album, a bit of reflection.” “This is the first album I’ve made where me and Scotty are the lead players and it’s all about us rather than who we could get in to help us or do a star turn.