Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Just Who is Dick Cuthell?

For a man whose horn sounds are so ubiquitous on many seminal ska, reggae and pop music recordings, there is a dearth of information about one Dick Cuthell. It turns out his talents also extended to the production side of the recording studio as well as he has been behind the board on many well known reggae recordings.

After a fairly exhaustive search for anything I could find about Cuthell (he of the trademark bushy mustache) on line I have had to settle for the Wikipedia entry which is below. That said there is a lot more to the man who will likely join a reunited version of The Speccials if/when they play together laster this year.

The short story is this: Dick Cuthell is a British musician. He plays flugelhorn, cornet, and trumpet, amongst a range of other brass instruments, including tenor horn and valve trombone. Cuthell is best known for his work with The Specials and Rico Rodriguez. He also collaborated with bands such as Madness, Eurythmics, Fun Boy Three, XTC, and The Pogues. In addition to a range of horns, Cuthell also plays bass, keyboards and percussion and is a composer and arranger.

Dick Cuthell was part of the second wave of bands that developed in Liverpool, following the success of the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and other bands referred to as 'Merseybeat'. This second wave looked to the United States and jazz and soul artists for their influences.

The band with which Cuthell reached a national audience was The Washington Soul Band.Once he was based in London, Dick Cuthell worked with a wider range of musicians, both as a horn player and a recording engineer at Island, and other studios.The Washington Soul Band changed its name to Selofane when it became based in London, and its repertoire became more pop-oriented.

During the next few years Dick Cuthell was a member of a number of bands, including Rich, Grimes and Babylon and Trifle. Work at Island Studios in both Jamaica and London brought him into contact with reggae and ska musicians, and these became a constant theme in the music he played and produced. As the 2-Tone bands gained success in the United Kingdom Cuthell’s involvement with them grew. Despite this, his repertoire and range of playing encompassed an eclectic mix: pop, reggae, ska, 2-Tone and jazz. Will dick go on to play with The Specials now they are getting back together

His relationship with some bands was longer lasting. He played, engineered and produced tracks for Amazulu, China Street, Rico Rodriguez, The Boothill Foot Tappers, The Deltones, The Happy End, The Members, The Potato Five, The Special AKA, Visionistics. One iconic track by Special AKA was ‘Racist Friend’, which Dick Cuthell co-wrote and on which he played bass and piano, in addition to the usual range of horns. Cuthell also worked with Harry J and Jack Ruby

Here are some videos of bands that feature Dick's smooth cornet playing. He was mostly seen together with Rico Rodriguez with whom he developed a long working relationship performing and in the studio.

The Specials - Rudi (A Message To You)

The Special AKA - Free Nelson Mandela

The Special AKA - Racist Friend

1 comment:

Peter Maynard said...

I have just been listening to John Martyn's album "Glorious Fool". Dick Cuthell plays flugel horn on the album. Check out the tracks "Hold on my heart" and "Didn't do that" particularly the latter, which is amazing. I was so impressed with the sounds Dick Cuthell produces from his horn that I had to find out more about him. Thanks Marco for the information you have put together. Peter Maynard