After over 30 years in the music business – and with a credit list longer than both your arms – in 2008 Henry Priestman (having not sung since 1981!!) reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter, and finally released his debut solo album. Entitled “The Chronicles of Modern Life” it’s the sound of a man who’s seen the music world explode from punk (he supported the Sex Pistols in 1977..and the Who in ’78 on a European tour) through to pop (three million albums with The Christians; a top five single for Take That’s Mark Owen) through to the digital age (soundtracks for James Bond/Xbox, BBC’s Wildlife on One and production duties with the likes of singer/songwriters Amy Wadge and Sarah Cracknell ) and still has something worth singing about.
So in this age of genre’s, niches and “tribes”, where does Henry fit in? Amazon.com seem to think he’s folk (“Chronicles…” topped the Amazon “Folk and World” charts on it’s release), Radio 2’s Johnnie Walker describes Henry’s new direction as “music for grumpy old men”, The Daily Mail said he is “a master of the rueful observation”, and elsewhere the phrase “post-punk-folk-protest” has been bandied about. Says Henry: “I’m just trying to write scruffy songs of pith, wit and poignancy…with the emphasis on scruffy,” (referring to the fact that he played almost everything on the album himself). We’ll let Bob Harris have the final say: “brilliant…he’s found his voice!”
Henry Priestman’s “got form,” his “previous” including Yachts (described in Gene Sculatti’s U.S. book The Catalog of Cool as“Cole Porter Punk”!), Bette Bright’s Illuminations (alongside Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and Suggs), It’s Immaterial, The Christians (writing all songs on their 1987 triple-platinum debut), and sharing a mic and a number one single with Paul McCartney. To say nothing of a roll call of sessions for fellow North West luminaries including Lightening Seeds, Johnny Marr, Ian McCulloch, Pete Wylie, Ian McNabb and Echo & The Bunnymen, plus vocals on Jools Holland/Tom Jones’ 2004 CD.
In late 2008, Island Records (home of Amy Winehouse and Sugababes) picked up Henry’s album from Stiff making him at 53, the oldest-ever artist to be signed to a major label for a debut solo album! The track Grey’s The New Blonde was playlisted at Radio 2 and further singles “Don’t You Love Me no More” and “He Ain’t Good Enough for You” also picked up extensive Radio 2 airplay.
Henry is currently working on the follow up to “Chronicles…” interspersed with a new-found love of livework which is taking him all over the UK.