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presence of beauty 2

One of the joys of writing a daily blog is sending a few hundred words out into cyberspace and seeing what happens.

Sometimes, nothing happens.

But if you check out the ‘Recent Comments’ section on the homepage, and also my Facebook page, you’ll find responses to my post ‘Presence Of Beauty.’

‘Presence Of Beauty’ – 24th January 2012

I’ll leave you, dear reader, to fill in the dots…..

25 years after I went to interview Mike Ward about his song ‘Weak In The Presence Of Beauty,’ I thought it was about time that the piece I wrote was published.

So here, thanks to my shoe box filing system, is the article I unsuccessfully touted round the national papers and music press in March 1987.

 

It’s been a good week for Mike Ward.

A song he wrote two years ago after bumping into his ex-wife called ‘Weak In the Presence Of Beauty’ has entered the UK top ten, courtesy of Alison Moyet.

With the record also destined to be released as a single in America, the song’s success will, Mike’s been told, earn him ‘a lot of money.’

All of which is good news for someone, who’s had more than his fair share of misfortune, thanks to the fickle nature of the music business.

He originally wrote ‘Weak In The Presence Of Beauty’ for his own group, Floy Joy – a soul band tipped as the next big thing to come out of Sheffield after The Human League, ABC and Heaven 17. But it never quite happened that way.

‘The critics loved us, but we never sold any records. That in the end is what it’s all about,’ he says.

For a man still in love with Sixties soul music, the re-appearance in the charts of artists like Ben E.King, Jackie Wilson and Percy Sledge makes him feel 16 again.

He’s actually 33.

During the Sixties, Mike grew up listening to soul music and played saxophone in the Sheffield clubs where you could hear black groups.

‘I was the only white boy in one group I played in, and at school people were always taking the mickey. I carved “SOUL” on my desk and by the next day, it had become “ARSE SOUL,” he remembers.

By the time Mike and his brother Shaun had graduated to writing their own songs, it seemed natural to head for the spiritual home of soul music.

Naming their band Floy Joy after the Supremes hit, they went to Detroit in 1983 and recorded an album called ‘Into The Hot.’

So hot were they that the sessions attracted many of the musicians and arrangers, who’d made their name with Tamla Motown.

‘That was a great experience. When you’ve worked with people of that class and that talent, you want to do it all the time.’

After a lot of hassle, the record was eventually released to rave reviews – and promptly died a death.

The band also fell apart, leaving Mike to recruit a new line-up and record another LP, again in Detroit.

Its title track was the magnificant ‘Weak In The Presence Of Beauty,’ a song Mike always had confidence in even when it failed to give Floy Joy a hit.

Then Alison Moyet heard the song, and the rest as they say is fast becoming pop history.

That hard-earned success means he’s now being approached about writing songs for other big names in the music business – a role he feels confident he can fulfil.

‘There are so many performers, who haven’t got good material. That’s what made soul music so great. The people who recorded those songs were also great writers.’

As a writer of songs rooted deep in soul music, 1987 is proving to be the right time and the right place for Mike Ward.

 

If you’re interested in what Mike Ward, songwriter, is up to these days, his Facebook page is well worth a visit.

Michael Somerset Ward – on Facebook

 

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