Pete Atkin - Music Career

Music Career

Atkin made his first recording in 1967: a private pressing of 160 copies of While The Music Lasts. Next year he was taken to EMI with Julie Covington to record the most popular number from the 1967 Revue Show: the complex Duet, which had appeared on his first album. At six minutes, it was too long to be a single and has never received commercial release; the tape has since been lost. Atkin released another privately pressed album in 99 copies entitled The Party's Moving On in 1969.

Essex Music funded the recording of fourteen tracks in 1969. The producer, Don Paul, was a friend of the disc jockey Kenny Everett, who played, amongst others, the song Master Of The Revels which is the first track on his first album Beware Of The Beautiful Stranger. The lyrics to this, and all but two of the other tracks on the album, by Atkin, were written by Clive James who met Atkin whilst they were both members of Footlights.

Before the release of Beware Of The Beautiful Stranger in 1970 Atkin, Covington and Dai Davies recorded a series of twelve 15-minute programmes edited by James for London Weekend Television. These shows, also called The Party's Moving On, each featured three songs and were broadcast only in London late at night. They led to the commissioning of the larger revue format series What Are You Doing After The Show?

Atkin did, and still does, write his own lyrics, but it was the collaboration with Clive James that produced his most famous songs. Pete Atkin and Clive James recorded six albums in the 1970s, as well as writing an album for Julie Covington, best known for her number one hit Don't Cry For Me Argentina in 1976. However, despite Atkin's popularity on the college performance circuit the records did not sell in any great numbers. When singer Val Doonican recorded a cover version of the song "The Flowers and the Wine" the royalties from that alone exceeded the total from all album sales. For Atkin, touring provided a respectable but not luxurious income.

The release of the fourth album, "The Road of Silk" was accompanied by a promotional tour with a backing band featuring the guitarist Chris Spedding, in contrast to Atkin's usual solo tours. Despite the investment this implied, Atkin and James became increasingly dissatisfied with their handling by their record label, RCA. After the release of the next album "Secret Drinker" they had no wish to continue the relationship, and to fill their contractual obligations they concocted the album "Live Libel", a collection of humour pieces which Atkin had used over the years to lighten the mood in concerts. Paradoxically this album resulted in their most successful tour to date, as Clive James joined Pete Atkin on stage for an evening of song, satire and poetry. Clive James read from the first of his epic poetic satires, "The Fate of Felicity Fark in the Land of the Media" while Pete Atkin sang songs from the latest release and previous favourites.

To their dismay, the offers from other record labels did not flow in after the tour ended. Clive James returned to his blossoming career, while Atkin, after trying to make a living as a carpenter, responded to a Situation Vacant notice from the BBC, and thus embarked on the next phase of his career.

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