IS Ian Prowse correct to believe his latest album Here I Lie is better than any up for the annual Mercury Prize?
The firebranding Liverpudlian was well within his rights to at least ask the question after the typical annual list of albums destined for coffee tables all over the country — save for Idles and a couple of others — was released.
The Pele and Amsterdam frontman, staying true to his promise to create passionate music for the right reasons and with a message, is rightly proud of Here I Lie and is bringing its songs to Sheffield along with his incendiary six-piece band.
He’s never let up to be fair, from debut single Raid The Palace, which stood out like a Foodbank user at a Tory conference, to the recent All The Royal Houses, which graces Here I Lie, alongside recent single Something’s Changed.
Ian, who grew up on a council estate in Ellesmere Port, says: “It’s a reaffirmation of the pledge that I made with Pele with Raid the Palace as our first single. People might think that is something you do or write about when you are young and when you get older you mellow out, but that’s not the case with me.
“All The Royal Houses is probably one of my favourite songs on the new album. Raid the Palace was on the A-List on Radio One and no-one ever really talked about the lyrics whereas with All The Royal Houses it’s unbelievable. Older people now are all on social media and it’s amazing how many people feel like this about the royals.”
Despite being overtaken by others in a non-existent race for success, Prowse hasn’t let that bother him and is delighted to keep on making music that matters for a still-growing and very loyal fanbase.
Earlier this year he toured the 25th anniversary of Fireworks and came to Sheffield to play a show with just a violinist for company. This time a full band will put across his songs of life, love, loss, death and Liverpool.
Over the years he’s written some classics — Fair Blows The Wind For France, Home, The Journey, Nothing’s Goin’ Right and the anthemic Does This Train Stop On Merseyside — and the new album has at least four in Something’s Changed, American Wake, All The Royal Houses and Ned Maddrell.
He said: “The album interconnects the past, present and future, but the main influence was my last album Companeros, on which I did songs by long forgotten songwriters. It was like a greatest hits of songs you hadn’t necessarily heard like My Name Is Dessie Warren and Derry Gaol, so when I came to write Here I Lie that was what I put myself up against. We had to match those songs.”
As well as playing, Ian runs an open-mic club for musicians and comedians at Liverpool’s Cavern every Monday night, which has been going for eight years, and is busy on Twitter pushing social justice, righting wrongs and explaining why many Liverpool fans (he himself is a Tranmere supporter) do not sing the national anthem.
He has no intention of stopping either, and adds: “I don’t get musicians and artists like that who just stop. Why do they do that? I just can’t stop. It’s not something you just do until you’ve got enough money or like Mumford & Sons forming a band in a gap year.”
A mercurial talent well worth a watch and a listen.
* Ian Prowse plays Sheffield Greystones on November 1. Tickets are priced £16 and are available at www.mygreystones.co.uk or www.wegottickets.com/events/469825