Thursday, February 26, 2009

John Miles - Zaragon

Originally a pupil at the Jarrow School, Miles was a member of a local band called The Influence (which also included Paul Thompson, later drummer with Roxy Music; and Vic Malcolm, later lead guitarist with Geordie.) He also formed The John Miles Set before starting his solo career in 1971.

During the 1970s he issued eighteen singles and four albums, including Rebel (1976), Stranger In The City (1977), and Zaragon (1978). However, Miles had most success with singles; in addition to "Music", he also charted with "Highfly" (1975), "Remember Yesterday" (1976), and "Slow Down" (1977).[1] Most of his songs were co-written with his bassist, Bob Marshall. "Slow Down" was also featured in the 1979 movie Players starring Ali McGraw and Dean Paul Martin.

In 1976 and 1977 he made several appearances on the British pop TV show Supersonic.

In the 1980s, he continued to record and tour. In 1983, a new radio station in the South of England, Radio Mercury, used parts from the song "Music" for their link jingles. The song itself also received extensive airplay on the station.

Miles has toured with Tina Turner since 1987, often filling in for Bryan Adams when the latter was unavailable to join her on tour for their duet. Miles is also a frequent guest vocalist on albums by The Alan Parsons Project. He also appeared on Jimmy Page's 1988 album Outrider.

Throughout the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Miles was the music director to Tina Turner on her various tours, and played on several of her albums. He also played Hammond organ on Joe Cocker's album Night Calls (1992). Today he is still making music, which he famously refers to as his "first love".

In 1990, Miles participated in the UK heat of A Song for Europe with the song "Where I Belong", which came second.

In 2002 he issued the DVD John Miles - Live In Concert.

In 2007 Miles performed in Gelsenkirchen, Germany with the German band Pur and sang two songs. One of those songs, "Abenteuerland", Miles sang with Pur in German. The concert is available on the DVD, Pur-Friends-Live-Schalke-2007.

In October 2008, Miles began touring once again with Tina Turner. Turner had an extensive American-European Tour, stretching from October 2008 to late April 2009.

The release of Zaragon followed an extremely successful period in the career of John Miles who, during 1976 and 1977, had enjoyed two hit albums (Rebel and Stranger In The City) and four successful singles. Decca remained Miles' record label in the UK but, for the US release, Arista paid $500,000 to buy out his contract with London Records. An advance of $500,000 made this into a million-dollar album before release.


In a change of direction from his earlier material (most notably his signature single Music), Miles decided not to use orchestral backing on Zaragon. Miles played guitars, keyboards and synthesisers on the album, with Barry Black on drums and Bob Marshall on bass.
The opening track, Overture, was a rock epic in which keyboards took the place of the orchestral backing on his earlier material. The track is notable for an outstanding guitar solo by Miles. The long, three-part Nice Man Jack - a song about Jack the Ripper - was the centrepiece of the album, whilst the title track was science fiction orientated.

Album and Singles

Zaragon reached 43 in the UK charts, a respectable showing given that musical fashions were moving away from "epic-rock" towards punk and disco. The album was not released on CD until March 2008, thirty years after Zaragon first appeared.

The only single release in the UK was No Hard Feelings which the New Musical Express described as "an agreeable ballad". The b-side of the single was Mitre Square, the second part of the Nice Man Jack trilogy. In Spain, the order was reversed, with Mitre Square the a-side.


All songs written by Marshall/Miles

1. "Overture" - 8:15
2. "Borderline" - 4:56
3. "I Have Never Been In Love Before" - 5:07
4. "No Hard Feelings" - 3:22
5. "Plain Jane" - 8:09
6. "Nice Man Jack": - 7:45
1. Kensington Gardens
2. Mitre Square
3. Harley Street
7. "Zaragon" - 5:31


* John Miles: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Synthesisers
* Bob Marshall: Bass
* Barry Black: Drums


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