Rob Clarke is really one of our local heroes. Although his solo career took him all over the country, he is one of our own. That solo career included playing live and involved in sessions for Pretenders, Fischer Z, The Truth and Peter Hammill. He returned to Liverpool after teaming up with A Flock Of Seagulls' Paul Reynolds and Frank Maudsley in the band, Almighty Atmosphere.
His later solo work included three acoustic albums before the Telecaster Psych blitz of 2014's The World Of The Wooltones. There followed an Alt Country album, 10 Country Greats And 1 Other, which you can listen to and buy here.
It is however the development of The Wooltones that caught most people's attention. It's a 60's Psych Pop noise that just grips you. The World Of The Wooltones was repackaged as a compilation with two extra tracks and a bonus disc on my great friend Ray Gianchetti's Kool Kat Label. The resultant, Are You Wooltoned was reviewed on I Don't Hear A Single here.
The new album, Big Night Out has just been released. Kool Kat have a bonus disc with a Quarrymen connection which you can buy here. You can listen to the album and buy the download version here. There will be a full review on IDHAS after the IPO Liverpool Previews are done.
Rob cites amongst his influences, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Neil Young and The Tornados. His aim is to "broaden The Wooltone brand, trying to take some of the good stuff from the 60s particularly the way things were done. The aim is to look at it from the standpoint of today without losing too much of the innocence along the way."
He explains, "There was a lot of naivety in the 60s, but it was also mixed with some extreme intelligence and a lot of people maybe did have some inkling or perception of how things were going to go."
Clarke thinks "IPO is different from almost every other event locally as it draws bands who aren’t necessarily very well known from all over the place, especially other parts of Europe. That alone gives it a completely different flavour."
"People go to it and like it for what it is so it tends to have a wide audience who are thrilled to be where they are and to enjoy it and to soak up the atmosphere of the Cavern. Which makes it fun to do. The whole thing feeds off the energy of David Bash, who puts on IPO events all over the US and Europe on a seemingly never ending tour."
Rob's research shows that "Our audience is primarily 45-54 year old men." So "Everything from now on will be scientifically assessed, so as to appeal to them and them alone." I think he might be joking, but I'm also surprised by the audience feedback, because the DIY Psych Pop feel of Wooltones' albums should really appeal to the more hipster market.
Rob Clarke And The Wooltones play The Cavern Club on Wednesday 16 May and The Cavern Club on Monday 21 May. For those interested in Rob Clarke's earlier solo work, you can listen to and buy it here.