I wrote the Carlisle United football song & it started a record label

In 1975 my local football (soccer) team achieved the pinnacle of sporting success. At the time my flat mate and his dad were avid fans and season tickets holders so what could I do? I wrote a song to commemorate it with him and a musician friend. Since I was unable to get any record companies to release the record and distribute it I teamed up with a another friend and decided to start a record label.

Looking Good A side (1)

So then this is the story of how our first release emerged from the struggles of raising money and finishing the writing and production. We did manage to release three more singles (including one from a group that nearly won Opportunity Knocks buy got beaten by a talking dog). I think after that defeat we decided to part company. I simply went solo and started a new record label which still trades today called Loose Records

So here is more detail of the football team who were (and still are) Carlisle United. They are an English (soccer) Football Team from the county of Cumbria (N W England)

They play at Brunton Park in Carlisle itself and were formed in 1904 with the merging of two existing clubs. They currently compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system and have reached the final of the Football League Trophy six times, more than any other team. They won the title once in 1997.

Back in the 70s English football fraternity hardly knew that Cumbria (Cumberland?) actually had a football team and they were going places with the then manager Alan Ashman. In the 1974/5 season they actually rose the top of the league, having won their first three league fixtures in the old Division One (now Premier Division). Sadly it was short lived but I had the pleasure of watching them play Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham (twice) as well other “big” names that season. We decided to issue the single at the Tottenham home match in Carlisle itself.

So the club released an official anthem called “Looking Good (we’re Carlisle United). The record was released on 7inch (45 rpm) vinyl in a picture sleeve cover designed by Bernie Vick, an old friend of Rick (Grumpy Old Men) Wakeman who, at the time was drumming in the pits at West End theatres. The song idea itself was thought up by Andrew Titcombe who was friendly with the Carlisle United Chairman, Mr Sheffield. It uses the John Peel song tune as its main verses and the words were written by Tim Barker, the Silloth based, actor.

The song was demoed in a North London studio then master recorded in London’s Gooseberry Sound Studios in Gerrard Street W1 which as you may know is the centre of London’s Chinatown. It was engineered by Mark Lusardi who had worked with many big-name groups across all genres of music especially punk & reggae.

Mark Angelo Lusardi is the brother of Linda Lusardi, the famous glamour model. He was a pioneer of UK dub who’d honed his shills in London’s Gooseberry Studio recording with the likes of Dennis Bovell, Creation Rebel and Prince Far I in the late 70s. He would later set up his own Mark Angelo Studios which, amoungst its other clients, included the leading Reggae label Greensleeves, with Lusardi working, most notably, on Clint Eastwood & General Saint’s ‘two Bad DJ’ (1983). Lusardi also worked with P.I.L and The Pistols – a good example of the links between punk and reggae at that time.

John J Murphy the lead guitarist / backing vocalist suggested that a rousing chorus was essential and proceeded to help with writing one which became the basis for the finished song. John, now a presenter on Castlebar Community Radio , is hopefully still supporting Carlisle United. from their website I see his interests are more musical than sporting – in Bluegrass and American Music.

The Moog synthesiser riff in Looking Good was worked out & played by Mark Titcombe who was then bass guitarist with Little Bo Bitch, EMI Recording act. He now manages the Crucial Music Club which helps upcoming acts get live gigs in London.

We had hoped to get the whole team into the studio for recording but sadly their schedule did not allow them any time.

In addition to John Murphy, on guitar and backing vocals and Mark Titcombe, bass guitar and synthesiser, the musicians included Bernie Vick the designer on drums, Luke James on keyboards. Tim Barker and Andrew Titcombe also added to the backing vocalist team (comprising of ALL the previous named musicians) as The Carlisle United Singers. Tim Barker’s lyrics included reference to Alan Ashman the manager and the team members although none of them appeared on the recording.

An unreported quirk of the recording was the crowd cheering in the background. In those days a live recording of the crowd was too difficult to organise so we had to revert to borrowing a sound effects record (yes! these were the days of the vinyl long player). It was initially tried out in the demo recording in a small studio in Hendon called Hendene Studio (where amongst many others The Vibrators used to record. Unfortunately the football crowd recording was definitely under-par and, in the end, the recording engineer decided that the bull fight crowd cheering was the best which is why, if you listen carefully, you can hear Ole Ole on Looking Good – and not many people know that. Even Tim Barker, himself, recently confessed that he had no idea this had happened!

And the record lives on. I heard that they are back playing the song at Brunton Park and it may be played in front of the crowds at a¬†Wembley final! BUT it will NOT be the vinyl version It is now available as an iTunes/CDBaby download. Ah well that”s progress