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It Happened One Night & It Never Happened at All

It Happened One Night & It Never Happened at All


~ John Wesley Harding

(Jewel Case Packaging)
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'Start strong, stay strong' could be the summary of British-born folk/rock songwriter and performer John Wesley Harding's ongoing career arc. His very first album, 1989's 'It Happened One Night,' was recognized as 'remarkable' (Creem); his latest CD, 2004's 'Adam's Apple,' was described as 'an instant classic' (Paste). In other words, the self-proclaimed 'Bastard Son of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez' has remained a master of literate, brash, insightful and acerbically funny folk, rock and pop throughout a 15-year career and more than ten albums. Appleseed's new 'It Happened One Night & It Never Happened At All' release is a musical and historical windfall for critics, fans and Harding newbies alike: the 2-CD set marries an expanded, remastered 19-track version of Harding's live, solo, acoustic debut, 'It Happened One Night,' with a second disc of 14 previously unreleased studio recordings from the late Eighties, some featuring members of Elvis Costello's Attractions. Although the man known as Wes (real name Wesley Stace; renamed himself after Bob Dylan's 1968 watershed John Wesley Harding album) expresses second thoughts in his characteristically self-mocking liner notes about the common sense of releasing a live debut, 'It Happened One Night' remains a memorable calling card, presenting such favorites-to-be as 'The Devil in Me,' the hilariously irreverent Live Aid 'tribute,' 'July 13 1985,' and the tender 'Save a Little Room for Me.' But according to Wes, 'my first album should have been 'It Never Happened At All' - a whole different album I was making in 1988/89 with great musicians . . .forgotten, dispersed all over the place, and now presented here...To me, it is my alternative first record from a parallel world where you can have two debut albums.' Including eight studio versions of 'It Happened' songs, many with full band accompaniment from members of the Attractions, Lindisfarne, Mark-Almond, and other outstanding musicians, 'It Never Happened' displays Harding experimenting with musical styles - folk, C&W, blues, that rocking Bo Diddley beat - behind his already mature songs of personal and global politics, romantic relationships, and self-effacing but universal verities. The passion, fearlessly confrontational songs, and wit of musical predecessors Dylan, Springsteen, Costello and Billy Bragg are part of Harding's background, but he has blazed his own trail throughout his career, constantly tinkering with production approaches, studio sidemen, and performance lineups (solo or with band). What remains constant is the intensity, courage, perceptiveness, vulnerability, and humor of his outlook, informed by experience, age, perspective, and the can-you-believe-it events of our daily world. About JOHN WESLEY HARDING First there was Wesley Stace, born in Hastings, England in 1965 to a mother who taught singing and a father who was a classics scholar. Then there was pop music - the Beach Boys, David Bowie - for him to listen to. And then there was Bob Dylan, whose songs changed 14-year-old Wes's life (and name). After completing his degree in English Literature at Cambridge University, Wes yielded to the call of songwriting and performance, crafting his own music and pomposity-puncturing stage presence. A subsequent move to London thrust him before larger audiences as the opening act for such diverse artists as John Hiatt, Hothouse Flowers and Ted Hawkins. Signed by the UK's Demon Records, ironically the home of Elvis Costello, to whom Harding was initially compared, Wes and his manager made the strategic 'mistake' that led to his recording premiere, 'It Happened One Night': 'I'd done a total of about thirty gigs before I recorded my debut album; the songs were live, so no one wanted to play them on the radio; I was writing a lot at the time, so I was bored of these songs by the time it came to record 'Here Comes the Groom' (his first US CD and second release overall, described in the L.A. Times as 'the first great rock album on the '90s'). On the other hand, he also admits that, 'as a record of me in the first year of my career, I like ['It Happened']. It shows me exactly as I was at a very typical show, singing (sometimes in tune), full of words, perfecting my 'strum und drang' guitar technique, doing everything very very fast.' And very quickly the CD established Harding as a worthy link in the chain of personally aware, politically conscious, literate, and acerbically observant modern songwriters that connects Dylan, Springsteen, Costello, Bragg and a shortlist of others. Critics were quick to notice: 'His eloquence can be gut-wrenching. [The album] captures something you won't find . . . almost anywhere else: the sheer joy of performing' (Creem). After recording many of the tracks that now appear as the second half of 'It Happened One Night & It Never Happened At All,' Wes signed with Sire Records in the US and found his career escalating with three consecutive high-profile CDs ('Here Comes the Groom,' 'The Name Above the Title' and 'Why We Fight,' the latter produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos), and tours of his new home, the United States, as a headliner or supporting such artists as Michelle Shocked, The Band, Joan Baez and prestigious others. 'Why We Fight' caught the attention of Bruce Springsteen, and Harding was eventually handpicked to open shows on The Boss's 1995 'Ghost of Tom Joad' solo tour - Springsteen's first opening act since 1978. Throughout the '90s, Wes stayed busy in recording studios and on the road. In 1992, Rhino belatedly released 'It Happened One Night' in the US (in it's original form, with two less songs), and 'John Wesley Harding's New Deal' in 1996. In 1998, Wes and musician/friend/'New Deal' producer Chris von Sneidern recorded 'Awake' for the Zero Hour label, before tabling new Harding originals for 1999's 'Trad Arr Jones,' a tribute to the folk arrangements of accident-incapacitated British folksinger and guitarist Nic Jones. ('Awake' and 'Trad Arr Jones' were both reissued by Appleseed in 2000 in remastered and expanded format, with 'Awake: The New Edition' gaining a 1994 live duet between Harding and Springsteen on Bruce's 'Wreck on the Highway' among it's bonus tracks.) New CDs, label alliances, TV appearances, and international tours have continued for Wes, with his most recent CD, 'Adam's Apple,' issued in February 2004 on the DRT label. While Appleseed's expanded reissue of 'It Happened One Night' and it's previously unreleased 'partner,' 'It Never Happened At All,' completes one cycle in Harding's career, he is busily preparing for an additional career as an author, his novel, 'Misfortune,' set in the 19h Century, will be published in April 2005 by Little, Brown Books. Singer, songwriter, musical interpreter, novelist - Harding's talents and intelligence assure him an audience in whatever media he chooses. Watch for him on tour, listen to his recordings, and, as one of his previous CDs suggests, trust the name above the title. In the words of his signature song, 'The Devil in Me,' Harding shares the hardest lesson in life: 'It all seems just like human behavior to me.' John Wesley Harding is doing his creative best to inspire the awareness, hope and change we so desperately need.

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Artist: John Wesley Harding
Title: It Happened One Night & It Never Happened at All
Genre: Folk
Attributes: Jewel Case Packaging
Release Date: 10/19/2004
Label: Appleseed Records
Number of Discs: 2
Product Type: CD
Catalog #: 1083
UPC: 611587108326
Item #: KOC710832