Danny & The Champions Of The World
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Danny & The Champions Of The World

Band Americana Folk


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"Delights with its tweedy, rustic, big-checked shirts and corduroys charm..."

Stop the speculating, quit your guessing, set aside your worries; now we know what Danny George Wilson has decided to do after leaving Grand Drive: become a superhero and hook up with The Champions of The World.
As a celebration of 'brotherhood, good times, collective yesness and cosmic yee-haa', this first and eponymously titled collaboration with musical chums culled and collated from The Brakes, Electric Soft Parade and Goldrush proves to be a small but perfectly formed gem of an album, spilling over with all manner of good things.
That it sounds as if it was made up on the spur of the moment seems altogether right and adds to the charm of it all. And slender though its eight-track offering may be, that's still a song for every day of the week and a bonus for the weekend.
Among the stand out offerings are the trembling I Still Believe which seethes with all the rough-edged, gut-knotting punch of a bedsit confessional about it, and The Ghosts and Me revelling in its let's-put-the-show-on-right-here delirium. The Truest Kind (co-written with Ryan Adams sidekick Neal Casal) takes a becoming joy in the moment that will make you regret you weren’t there at the recording until you’re old and forgetful and plagued by incontinence.
Wilson's soft soulful voice has an affecting, puppy-dog sincerity that echoes Roddy Frame (whatever happened to him?), a gift for a memorable turn of phrase and an ability to be introspective without being indulgent and ecstatic without be irritating. Imagine Black Mountain Army shacking up with the Polyphonic Spree somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains and you won't be far wrong.
Homespun and hillbilly it all may be, but it also delights with its tweedy, rustic, big-checked shirts and corduroys charm, and where's the harm in that? - The BBC


Self titled LP (2008)
"Still Believe" Single (2008)

(previously as Grand Drive)

Road Music (1998)

True Love and High Adventure (2000)

See the Morning In (2002)

The Lights in This Town Are Too Many to Count (2004)

Everyone (2007)



Danny George Wilson’s ninth album as a recording artist, and his second fronting his loose and wonderful country/soul/folk collective Danny & The Champions, opens with the aching, contemplative ‘Henry The Van’, a tenderly-delivered lament for a busted tourbus that muses upon both the romance of the road, and the hard-won wisdoms you learn from occasional detours to the kerbside. Although one of his best, ‘Henry The Van’ is by no means the first ‘road song’ Danny has penned. The boy knows a thing or two about traveling, having emigrated from Australia to the UK with his family when he was barely out of nappies. And he knows a thing or two about ‘the road’, too, having spent over a decade as a full-time touring and recording singer/songwriter/musician. He sings songs drawn from his life, with an unerring honesty and truthfulness that means they’re your songs too, burning with a hopeful passion you can warm yourself by when everything seems cold.

You could call Danny one of music’s ‘lifers’. When he was ten years old, his dad snuck Danny and older brother Julian into their first rock’n’roll concert, a show by New Jersey rock’n’roll legends and buddies-of-Springsteen, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. Seven years later, with Southside Johnny again touring the UK, Danny and Julian popped down, uninvited, to the Bayswater hotel where he was staying, with a sheaf of self-penned songs they thought he might want to perform. They didn’t make a sale, but they did get to hang with Johnny and his band for a night.

By then, Danny and Julian were already playing in their first group, Soul Green, marrying the fury of hardcore punk with the melancholia of early Uncle Tupelo. Rehearsing with schoolmate Ed Balch on bass, out in the South London suburb of Sutton where they lived, they had moxie in abundance, but couldn’t hold it together long enough to make it into the recording studio.

No, the Wilson brothers didn’t make their debut on vinyl until the Autumn of 1997, with the release of ‘Tell It Like It Is’, the first single released by their new group Grand Drive. Although they took their name from a non-descript stretch of tarmac that linked Sutton with another nearby suburb, Raynes Park, there was nothing parochial or prosaic about Grand Drive. ‘Tell It Like It Is’ left behind their frayed punk-rock influences, instead drawing upon the warm emotiveness of deep soul, the melodic ache of country music, and a gift for choruses that left a lump in the throat, and glowing embers in the heart.

As they began, so Grand Drive continued. More singles followed: the hopeful country-rock of ‘On A Good Day’, Danny’s vulnerable vocal rendered heroic by the swell of brother Julian’s Hammond organ; the hushed, elegiac campfire song of ‘Wrong Notes’, a testimony to unlikely dreams, and the doomed romantics who cling to them. These tracks were collected together for their first full length, 1999’s excellent Road Music, on Loose Records.

Their debut album proper, True Love & High Adventure, followed a year later, weaving together swooning strings, bittersweet carnival sounds, deft touches of psychedelia and moments of profound but understated poignancy, to deliver a true masterpiece that belied its shoestring budget. Three more albums followed – 2002’s See The Morning In, 2004’s The Lights In This Town Are Too Many To Count, and 2007’s Everyone – building a songbook swollen with sweet wisdom; and while these songs might’ve sounded like they rolled along with the tumbleweed or washed up on the shores of the Mississippi, the Wilson brothers sang from their own hearts, penning their tunes in a flat above a Barclays Bank
in South-West London.

Along the way, Danny recorded a batch of songs onto the laptop of old friend Simon Alpin of labelmates Willard Grant Conspiracy. Released as his first solo album, 2005’s The Famous Mad Mile, they eulogised a stretch of tarmac in Surrey beloved by boy racers with all the romance of Bruce Springsteen rhapsodising his New Jersey youth. “When I was a teenager, we’d ride around in our older friends’ cars, drinking tins of Royal Dutch lager and blasting Black Flag and Suicidal Tendencies out the window,” he laughs. “Lots of head-banging. Very Wayne’s World."

Touring the album, Danny performed a set at the 2007 Truck Festival, held at Hill Farm in Steventon. During the weekend, he recorded a track at the studio based on the farm, backed by a loose aggregation of members of Oxford’s Goldrush (whose Bennett brothers run the Truck Festival) and other musician friends. “We recorded one tune,” he smiles, “but it sounded so good we decided we had to make an album.” Cut at the Hill Farm studio, that album, the very wonderful Danny And The Champions Of The World, was released in 2008. Immediately, Danny And The Champions began playing live, setting up a monthly residency at Brixton’s The Windmill for their Still Believe club-nights, an ongoing series of joyously messy evenings featuring performanc