After years of touring with an Ellesmere Port seven-piece band, Amsterdam frontman Ian Prowse has made his first solo album.
The singer, who now lives in Liverpool city centre having been raised in Little Sutton, says that Amsterdam are still going but that he has written a collection of songs that he wanted to record for a solo project. The album will be called Who Loves Ya Baby .
He said: “This is my first solo album so it kind of frees you up to do anything you want musically.
“Amsterdam will always continue – we did three great shows in Liverpool last year – but it seemed to make sense because this record has a bit of everything on it.
“There are big Celtic soul songs, some Gil Scott-Heron inspired stuff, some total rockers and a couple of very bleak numbers.
“It reflects what I’ve done for the past six years since the last Amsterdam record Arm in Arm . Some of the songs are directly inspired from me doing a degree in modern history and then a masters degree in Irish studies.
“It’s a world full of nuances and things are very rarely black and white, however you do realise that at higher levels of academia people’s hearts and minds are there to be won which lead to me writing about some specific historical subjects on this record. The First World War, racism, the Cuban revolution, the NHS, it’s all there.
“Of course there’s plenty of the personal too. I thought doing an MA was the hardest thing I’d ever do until I became a dad. Any parent will tell you nobody quite explains how hard it is to you before you do it.”
Lots of the songs are inspired by Liverpool, and Ian recruited Does This Train Stop On Merseyside, producer Tony Kiley, to work his magic again.
“Tony encourages me to just write without worrying about anything,” Ian says.
“We did it all at the Motor Museum here in Liverpool and it’s come out a treat.”
The album follows last year’s Very Best of Ian Prowse compilation.
“All my best songs with Pele and Amsterdam were on one CD sort of drew a line under where I’d got to,” he says. “So this had to be special, a new beginning and I think we did it, the opening song God and Man, for example, sounds like nothing I’ve ever done before.”
The album is being put out by IRL Records and has been funded by Ian’s fans.
He says: “We did a pledge for the recording costs – always the biggest outlay if you’re making a proper band record and the one thing record companies can’t afford – and my fans responded brilliantly. God bless them.”
How does a pledge record differfrom a traditional record company funded one?
“There wasn’t a big difference in recording this album to my others really,” he reflects. “It was the same basic team as myself – my cousin Johnny Barlow and Tony Kiley laying down the basic tracks and working through the songs.
“It will come out as an Ian Prowse CD but our Johnny has put in his best ever work including everything he’s done in Amsterdam. I couldn’t do it without them. I’m not that good at recognising which of my songs are the ones people will love the most.
“When the album comes out I’ll be taking the full Amsterdam band out on the road to promote it. I really can’t wait to play I Did It For Love and Anger Mountain to our audience.
“I’m doing a solo show at the Rodewald suite but that’s already sold out so we’re putting together a really big gig in May with the full band and a brass section so we can do some of those old Pele numbers justice as well.”
Prowse talks through the new album track by track
God and Man
This is a real Liverpool song for a real Liverpool girl. Written about the day my daughter Rosalita was christened down in St Nicks, the sailors' church by the Pier Head.
I’m an irreligious so-and-so but I squared it with myself by thinking she was getting baptised in the Mersey, that and he fact we took her straight to the Cavern for the knees up and a rock and roll ceremony straight after.
Coming Up For Air
From a man trying to escape his dying hometown to a girl getting out of an abusive relationship this song is about getting the hell out of there and realising you only get one go around the track.
We Were Men
I have a theory that the final act of growing up is when our parents pass away, with that in mind I wrote this song for some of my oldest friends who have had this unbearable experience of late.
The music itself in this song also contains great hope and belligerence against the inevitable. A sort of ‘sod it, we can still have a drink and a damn good laugh’.
I Did It For Love
Che Guevara said love is the motivating spirit for any true revolutionary so this song is in honour of him. The opening verse also raises the age-old question of how legitimate it is for people to fight back using guerrilla methods.
Musically the song is a homage to Gil Scott-Heron, one of my musical heroes.
Lest We Forget
It’s almost 100 years since the Great War came to pass. For working class lads the war has always loomed large in our psyches, we know it’s a ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ situation.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from doing two degrees in the past seven years, it’s that all history is contestable and someone somewhere will assert that World War I was a good and just fight.
Michael Gove MP has just picked that fight and this song is there to tell him the truth about what really happened on the green fields of France between 1914-18.
This one is about falling out with friends or watching them go through extreme emotional upheaval, it’s a plea for reconciliation once the upset has subsided a little bit. All set to a soul backing.
Bring On The Healing
We got the Amsterdam Celtic soul section up for this one, a stab at soothing a fouled and confused world, if only for a little bit.
Lift Up Thine Eyes
A song for Liverpool, with a union in crisis and national identity in a state of confusion, Merseyside seems to know exactly who it is and where it’s from.
Academics are still arguing over whether the British Empire was essentially a good or bad thing. Did it plunder indigenous resources to line the pockets of the colonialists or did it spread civilisation into a backward and savage world?
The Murder Of Charles Wootton
I came across the awful story of Charles Wootton whilst doing my first degree in Modern History at JMU. Also the Casa on Hope Street is a great place to have a drink and learn something about our city from your fellow drinkers.
Those fine academics Mick Boyle and Ron Noon furnished me with the raw detail of Charles Wootton’s murder here in Liverpool in 1919 and the part played by institutionalised racism.
The second verse deals with straight forward casual street racism that horrifyingly took the life of Anthony Walker in modern times.
Raising Up The Clans
This song was inspired by the demonstration that took place in Manchester in September of last year to save the NHS. They came from everywhere to try and save this country’s greatest ever achievement.
There were six specific camps built by the Third Reich in early 1940s Poland to industrially murder an entire race of human beings. This song was directly inspired by a rise in Holocaust denial.
Who Loves Ya Baby is out on March 17. For details, visit