Memories of Shades of Liberty
Shades of Liberty was originally released by EMI Records in 1984 and has been re-released digitally for the first time by Warner Music.
Silent Running lead singer and principal songwriter Peter Gamble shares his memories of making and promoting ‘Shades of Liberty’
“Like all bands first albums, Shades of Liberty was a mixture of our best songs written over the previous 3 or 4 years, and songs written specifically for the album.
Songs like ‘Home is where the Heart Is’ were written after Richard Collett came up with the bassline in his bedroom and I thought it was a good starting point for a song about my early cynicism of the music business; when you realise it is a business, and the occasional loneliness of London.
‘One in a Million Day’ was written by Tony, myself and Richard in Tony’s house. Tony just started playing the guitar riff and we were off. I think that was maybe in 1982. I wanted to write something positive about Northern Ireland in the darkness of The Troubles and so reflected on a sunny day spent on the North coast and the Glens of Antrim.
‘Shades of Liberty’ is probably one of the oldest songs on the album. People think it’s about the troubles but it was about my hatred of my Victorian-type grammar schools and their deliberate process of crushing any individual thought or artistic craving.
‘Crimson Days’ started off in a football changing room in Ormeau Park (there was literally nowhere to rehearse at that time). Ian Gault our drummer wrote the keyboard riff on a little synth and I thought it would work as a theme for a song about The Troubles which were in full flow. I tried to express my frustration and sadness at the situation but more specifically how I thought and still think integrated education was the way forward. People fear what they don’t know or understand.
‘Go For The Heart’ I wrote about the struggle of Silent Running to get anywhere; the frustration of being invisible.
‘That’s Life’ is about feeling lucky to be given the chance to follow my dream. I used to live beside an unemployment centre and watch people I knew going to sign on – life in the real world!
We got signed by EMI in Nov 1982 and spent 1983 writing, touring on our own and with Robert Palmer – our first professional tour. We also relocated to London and once we had the time and support to focus on the music and professional rehearsal facilities, the songs came easier. ‘Emotional Warfare’ and ‘Sticks and Stones’ emerged from band jams and I just sang over top. Alex White had joined on keyboards and he added a whole new musical dimension to the band.
‘Young Hearts’ was an old song I had written called ‘Days of Hope and Glory’ which we played around with and had several versions before settling on the version we recorded for SOL.
Towards the end of 1983 we felt we had enough material written to plan the recording of Shades of Liberty. EMI acquired the services of Pete Walsh as producer and Richard Branson’s Manor studios were booked for a couple of weeks to record the drums. They had a great stone room and it a wonderful experience. Once the drums were recorded, we relocated to Abbey Road studios which was just down the road from where we lived at the time. Unfortunately for technical reasons beyond my understanding it didn’t work out and we weren’t sure what to do next. Fortunately, someone suggested Windmill Lane in Dublin and so we headed across the Irish Sea. Windmill Lane was a great experience musically and socially and we all loved it. I seem to remember we headed out on tour with Simple Minds the next day after the recording was finished.
Critically the album was generally well-received and gave us the chance to tour and develop a fanbase who still follow us to this day, and we got to tour a lot of the world. We toured the UK and Ireland with Simple Minds including 8 nights at the Hammersmith Odeon and 4 or 5 at Barrowlands in Glasgow helping us develop a following. We also toured the UK extensively on our own and also represented BBC Radio One at a festival in Nuremberg and played in North America. We finished 1984 by touring all over Europe with Talk Talk during September, October and November . We still have Italian and German fans who saw us on that tour.
A fantastic experience for us all.”
Silent Running are currently working on their fourth studio album scheduled for release in early 2022 and have announced a gig at Voodoo, Belfast on April 29th, 2022 when they’ll be playing songs from ‘Shades of Liberty’ and their other albums ‘Walk on Fire’ and ‘Deep’, as well as a batch of new songs including recent single ‘Live Right Now’
Tickets for the gig at Voodoo Belfast are available now and this will be followed by further gigs across the UK and Ireland in summer 2022.
Available now on Eventbrite
Sample Track Listing
Shades Of Liberty