Preview: Dr John Cooper Clarke and Hugh Cornwell – This Time It's Personal
Debut album celebrates the duo's early influences
'No one knew he could sing,' says Hugh Cornwell of John Cooper Clarke, who's taking to the mic as lead vocalist for the first time in his 67 years. 'When you tell people, they go: "are you kidding me?"'
It's an understandable reaction to JCC, snarling, motor-mouthed performance poet that he is. An awkward collaboration with the Invisible Girls a few decades ago is the closest we've come to anything remotely related to music from Cooper Clarke, but Cornwell, singer-songwriter and founding member of the Stranglers, has brought him round. 'I was drunk and listening to "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris, and I thought: "Wouldn't it be weird, John, with his very distinctive voice, doing this song?"'
Weird, perhaps, but it works. After mastering 'MacArthur Park', the duo decided to go the whole hog and banged out ten hand-picked songs for an album, This Time It's Personal, a celebration of the classic British and American pop songs the pair grew up with. Think, alongside Harris, the likes of Lieber & Stoller, Richie Valens, Ricky Nelson and Conway Twitty, all given a new aural aesthetic by these most likely of admirers. Their shared influences might raise a few eyebrows, but it's not like the duo could give a shit.
'These are great tunes,' says Cooper Clarke, 'and we've done our very best to respect them and bring them back to life.'
This Time It's Personal is released Fri Oct 14 on Sony Music.