When Chris was held up at gunpoint in his studio in Wood Green, and lost the majority of the record while backing it up, he'd have been forgiven for throwing the towel in right there and then. Never did an album offer so many obstacles: several label and publishing deals that went up in smoke when either the label went bust or the A&R got fired; Whitfield Street being closed mid recording; a studio flood; the robbery; the label running out of money - you get the idea.
But finish it he did, alongside friend and producer (grammy nominee) Dave Anderson, and longtime collaborators Mike Rowe, Chris Farrell and Tim Weller. He went on to make a record with Moloko's Mark E Brydon ('Moths'), a collaboration with Matt Deighton (the critically acclaimed 'Bench Connection') and cowrites with a host of knowns and unknowns - including Chris Difford, Linda Thompson, Chaz Jankel, Steve Nieve, Marti Pellow, Josh McCLorey, Paul Aiden, Linda Lewis, Neil MacColl, Kathryn Williams; and recording with the likes of Dennis Bovell, Chris Helme, Bill Fay and many more. With comparisons at the time to Del Amitri, Elbow and the usual glut of singer songwriters, the Sunday Times lauded him for writing "the kind of high ceilinged anthems Coldplay might if you gave them a good slap and a lesson in rock history..."
Never short of a story, he caused a sensation in Finland when the whole of Helsinki stopped in their tracks for a day to find Jenni - the subject of a song 'Waiting For Jenni'- an un released demo written after a trip there, that somehow ended up on the radio. And find her they did, though it turned out she was married. And there was the playing Johnny Cash covers and acoustic versions of Who songs with Matt Deighton and Roger Daltry in the luggage area of the Queen Mary 2, at 3am, in the middle of the Atlantic.
The first solo record is weaved with a social commentary the hides beneath the delivery - the lyrics are those of a young, irked writer not happy to accept the status quo of a celebrity obsessed consumerist world where people are defined by their jobs or their material aspirations - in Pickpockets (Your heroes never stick around/the wind picks up, they blow away... again, they put one in your pocket and they take out ten/when it's all going well everybody's your friend/get these pickpockets away from me..." and To Wonderland "A whole generation of aching thumbs/blowing heads of people every button push/slaves in a line ruined by credit cards/keep the pop gun to your heads... but the threat is not real..." There's the self doubt of the writer in 'Small Words (in big clothes) and Not Just You; to the heartbreak of The Projectionist - a break up song dressed up around the analogy of a 1930's Projectionist struggling to write the story for the next part of the film as it happens, knowing that he'll never get the chance, and that inevitably it will be another who finishes her story.
The newer stuff reveals a love for the Spirit of Eden era Talk Talk, the hard panned, harmony laden production of Big Star, and the lyrical lilt of Ron Sexsmith or Mark Hollis. While technically unreleased, Goodbye Cruel Circus continues to live on like a ghost in the memory of a small core of music fans who bought it at shows, and is now available for Sync. A second solo record 'Raiders of The Lost Spark' is due at the end of the year.