Never Closer

by Raphael Doyle

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about

In 1969 Raphael Doyle left County Antrim for England. The troubled 15 year old had clashed once too often with with the conservative, Catholic environment of his upbringing, and fetched up at the Finchden Manor community in Kent, run by visionary teacher & healer George Lyward.

The boy who showed him round on his first day there was called Tom Robinson. The pair quickly bonded over a mututal love of Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Ray Charles and the blues of Buddy Guy and Robert Johnson. They formed a band and begand writing songs together. When bluesman and broadcaster Alexis Korner (himself a Finchden old boy) came down to visit, Raphael and Tom played him their songs. Alexis became a friend and unofficial mentor.

By 1973 Raphael and Tom had left Finchden, moved to London and teamed up with their mutual friend Hereward Kaye to form an acoustic trio called Café Society. They were discovered playing at The Troubadour folk club by Ray Davies of The Kinks who subsequently produced the band's self-titled debut album.

Support tours with The Kinks, Leo Sayer, Alan Hull and Barclay James Harvest followed and in 1976 Café Society expanded their lineup to build a following on London's burgeoning pub rock scene. A second album was already underway when Tom Robinson abruptly left the band after seeing The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club, and Café Society slowly ground to a halt.

Raphael formed a band of his own, but his confidence was shattered. Stage fright, dealing with the music industry and the stresses of bringing up a young family led to an increasing dependence on drink. His wandering years included touring Europe with Ignatz; recording gospel rock in the USA with Giant Killer and playing electric blues gig with guitarist Paul Davey, which won a strong following across South London.

Raphael's Pied Piper storytelling and songs in schools took kids and adults alike to other worlds - but through all the wild, tempestuous times, family life provided a constant emotional anchor. His youngest son Louis Doyle began making a name of his own on the London indie scene - first with The Cadets, then Slides and most recently as The Spare Room.

When Raphael was diagnosed with serious illness in early 2016 his son Louis and old friend Tom Robinson urged him to record a definitive solo album, and once Anglo-Irish musician/producer Gerry Diver [Youth, Van Morrison, Christy Moore, Shane McGowan] offered to come on board, the whole project clicked into place.

As the songs took shape at Gerry's South London studio, others stepped up to lend a hand. Recording engineer Daniel Moyler [Brody Dalle, FKA Twigs, Björk] oversaw the additional sessions with Louis at Miloco studios. Mastering legend Barry Grint [Prince, Madonna, David Bowie, Radiohead etc) sprinkled his sonic magic over the mixes. And on hearing those, Martin Goldschmidt - boss of leading indie label Cooking Vinyl - offered to release the album.

The finished record is titled Never Closer after a poem by Seamus Heaney ["When all the others were away at Mass"]. It tells the story of what Raphael himself calls 'a messy life'. Driven by Louis's inventive guitar work and Gerry's celtic-flavoured playing and widescreen production, the songs range from the hypnotic lullaby lilt of "Kerry" to the stark, confessional spoken-word opener "I Come From Ireland".

credits

released January 27, 2017

Never Closer by Raphael Doyle
℗ & © 2017 Raphael & Louis Doyle under exclusive licence to Cooking Vinyl Limited. COOKCD659
Focus date: 27 January 2017

Engineered by Gerry Diver and Daniel Moyler
Produced by Gerry Diver and Louis Doyle
Mastered by Barry Grint at Alchemy
Executive producer Tom Robinson

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about

Raphael Doyle Saltburn By The Sea, UK

First discovered by Alexis Korner, Raphael Doyle formed the acoustic trio Café Society with Hereward Kaye & Tom Robinson in 1973. Ray Davies of The Kinks produced their debut album in 1975.

4 decades on Raphael has recorded his definitive solo album Never Closer with help from his son Louis Doyle, producer Gerry Diver and old friend Tom Robinson. It was released on Cooking Vinyl in January 2017.
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Track Name: I Come From Ireland
I come from Ireland,
Calm and lovely,
Unsteady and unsettled.
Paisleys boys had drawn the lines, Bernie Devlin was still in plaits.
But accommodation was made.
You walked unhindered, but wary.

How did I end up in this golden age? Walking under the banner of entitlement?
Money spilled out of the USA like opium
And spread the dream that we could have it all,
New and fresh and better and Ours. And riding on its box cars we pinned our colours
To the album covers and poetry books of the new beat.
And believed this wind would blow us all
To the shores of plenty and pleasure. A new Eden.

I threw my troubled knapsack through those rolling doors
And never learned to walk or build,
But ran and jumped and played in infantile certainty.
Would that I could tell you that in the ports of my calling
I grew and learned and honed a fruitful skill.
But no.
Like many of my ilk I learned to flash my badge,
A phoney ID, a backstage pass to shows I had no hand in.
A sneer or a smile, which ever would win regard, admittance,
To take the seat of privilege,
To sit by the head of the table
While others bought and cooked and served.
And as time went by, a new skill,
Of excuses, justifications, pleas and promises
Until the whole threadbare coat fell off in tatters
And the world had moved on.

I come from Ireland.
My dear sister Pauline
Walked the childhood paths
To mass, to school, to birthday parties.
Her presence as familiar as the hedgerows.
She, dazzled by my new clothes, wanted more.
To step into my rocket and burst upwards into the new day,
A shower of coloured stars spraying back down on the upturned faces.
But I would have none of it.
She was not of the inner circle. When I surged off on my glory train to nowhere
She started to hunt for a secret entrance.
The sweet girl. The good girl. died with her head in the oven.
The collapsing walls of a sham endeavour piling onto her bruised body.
God will not let that pass. I will stand before that agony until I feel every inch of it's truth.


I come from Ireland.
The Bay of Biscay tests the careless venturer
But then the seasons were kind.
My friends and I sang under star-filled nights.
The hard edges of Britain were stones under my jacket-pillow
As I slept between bodies at the Bath festival.
English gentility offered me respite from familial distress,
But my engine was broken.
The bodywork buffed up well, but I was going nowhere.
England became my default setting and I became a pretence.

We called him Uncle Ray.
On the promenade in Whitehead Paddy Zeoli and I sang
Dead End Street and
Where Have All The Good Times Gone.
Now the puppet master took us in on a sunny afternoon,
Morphed into the demon headmaster
And left us on the pavement
In a broken Waterloo sunset.
It is what it is. Nobody's fault but mine.
I see him now
Doing duets with some current star on the Royal variety,
Palpably trying not to obtrude,
On best behaviour,
Like the elephant in the back seat.
I wish him well. Paddy and I loved that stuff.

My peers are checking their pension pots.
This far I've come.
The letters arrive from Zürich or Prudential
To tell of prospective incomes.
Mine are a bad joke from an old cracker.
They say life is not a rehearsal. Carpe Diem.
I never got past the script review. Nobody's fault but mine.

I come from Ireland.
Drinkers we were. Loud noise in smoky places.
When Mammy died my cousins took me
To Jimmy D's on the harbour.
An upstairs room with dark brown music
And their friends wanting to comfort this waif.
A line of Guinness pints spread across the table
and snaked out into the future.

Music and a drink. Nobody's fault but mine.


A fine girl. A good girl. A sweet girl. This story should
have miscarried too
But her tenacity held the day,
And many days. Too many days
Of draining strength and still she'd not let go.
And in the glasshouse she moulded I was given prestige and devotion undeserved,
comforts and companionship. Chance after chance.
And children. Amazing, unexpected,
World upon world.
My best and truest friends.
Two girls, two boys and their mother on a driverless coach. Nights of collision and grief that
Even in this luxury of pen I cannot look at.
The pain I caused. Nobody's fault but mine.

But by her heart and toil the years have passed.
The Elastoplast held. The children grew
To beauty - no hesitation - to beauty.

My cracked bowl filled with healing grace.
No heavy hand, sorting and rejecting damaged goods,
But a rescue.
Seen and known.
To stand on good ground.
To see through clear eyes.
To affirm in turn this wellspring.
Nothing is lost.

I come from the hour before dawn
I will step out into an approaching night, gladly,
And lift my face to the vast, luminous dark.
Track Name: We'll All Get Together Again
If the winter has caught you on the low
And the sun ain't the same one that you know
And your mind is getting worried by the cold
And your happiness seems fading and old

Then we'll all get together again
And sit in a circle in the wind and the rain
With our friends all beside us to hold back the pain
And we'll sing to the sun, and the sun.... will come again

If the head you've held so high up to the stars
Is hurt by growing thoughts of ageing hours
And the song that we sang seems incomplete
And the dance that swayed so free just hurts your feet

Then we'll all get together again
And sit in a circle in the wind and the rain
With our friends all beside us to hold back the pain
And we'll sing to the sun, and the sun.... will come again

If you're losing track of all the hopes we had
And your dreams are turning frightening and bad
And you feel you've failed, your head is bowed in shame
Well don't you know, we've all felt just the same

So don't worry if you feel your heart is weak
And the words of love are difficult to speak
For the world is full of trials to overcome
And the song will sound again - and even louder when we've done

Then we'll all get together again
And sit in a circle in the wind and the rain
With our friends all beside us to hold back the pain
And we'll sing to the sun, and the sun.... will come again
Track Name: Feet On The Floor (feat. Hereward Kaye)
Feet On The Floor

It was one of those days you can't judge anything
I didn't know if it was Autumn or Spring
Was it something beautiful born
Or something beautiful dying
I was walking down the road and my head was too light
I didn't know what had happened last night
But if I couldn't recall it I couldn't swear I was trying

'Cause I'm putting my feet back on the floor
It never hit me this way before
And though I felt my spirit soar
I'm putting my feet back on the floor
I'm setting my soul upon the ground
And walking away without a sound
Except for you closing the door
Got my Feet On The Floor

You don't mess around with the status quo
You don't rock the boat that you're trying to row
And when the water gets rough
It's women and children first
But if you slide from your seat in some kind of a daze
You might be excused a little heartfelt praise
For the ministering angel
Who comes to quench your thirst

Still I'm putting my feet back on the floor
It never hit me this way before
And though I felt my spirit soar
I'm putting my feet back on the floor
I'm setting my soul upon the ground
And walking away without a sound
Except for you closing the door
Got my feet on the floor

It took me days in my mind
Wrangling and chiding
And saying 'Boy don't be a fool'
To remove from inside the idea that I
Was in love with you
In love with you

It was one of those days you can't judge anything
I didn't know if it was Autumn or Spring
Was it something beautiful born
Or something beautiful dying
I was walking down the road and my head was too light
I didn't know what had happened last night
But if I couldn't recall it
I couldn't swear I was trying

Because I'm putting my feet back on the floor....
It never hit me this way before
And though I felt my spirit soar
I'm putting my feet back on the floor
I'm setting my soul upon the ground
And walking away without a sound
Except for you closing the door
Got my feet on the floor...
Except for you closing the door
Got my feet on the floor.
Track Name: Bob Dylan's Dream
Bob Dylan's Dream

While riding on a train goin' west
I fell asleep for to take my rest
I dreamed a dream that made me sad
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon
Where we together weathered many a storm
Laughing and singing
Till the early hours of the morn

By the old wooden stove our hats was hung
Our words were spoke and our songs were sung
And we longed for nothin' and were satisfied
Joking and talking about the world outside

With hungry hearts through the heat and cold
We never much thought we would get very old
We thought we would sit forever in fun
But our chances really
Were bout a million to one

As easy as it was to tell black from white
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right
And our choices they were few
So the thought never hit
That the one road we travelled
Would ever shatter or split

Now many a year has passed and gone
And many a gamble has been lost and won
And many is the road taken by many a first friend
And each one - I have never seen again

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
That we could sit simply in that room again
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat
I'd give it all gladly
If our lives could be like that