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Croxley man's music debut for MP Norman Baker's band The Reform Club
A Croxley resident has become a reluctant music star himself after writing pop songs to be performed by a transport minister.
Mike Phipps, 55, had initially only been asked to write songs for The Reform Club - a group fronted by Lib Dem MP and under secretary for transport Norman Baker.
However, Mr Phipps, of Malvern Way, was thrust into the limelight and ended up playing on the album and appearing in the ‘Piccadilly Circus’ music video after the band’s guitarist fell ill.
He said: "I would call myself a slightly reluctant member of the band.
"Really I am a writer but when Norman was putting the band together it became clear that the guitarist in the Reform Club was quite seriously ill so rather reluctantly I stepped into the breach.
"I felt a little ambivalent about the whole thing. I felt like a bit of an imposter but it was a lot of fun.
"But in retrospect I am pleased to be a part of it, even if my kids are taking the mickey out of me terribly."
The association with Mr Baker, who is MP for Lewes, goes back to the early 1980s when the two worked together in a record shop.
Mr Phipps said: "Norman and I both worked for Our Price, I didn’t know him terribly well before this project, he was my boss in the 1980s when I worked at the Watford store and he was the regional executive director.
"He would come down to the shop, shout at me and tell me I was doing it all wrong but outside of work he was always a top guy and we share the same musical tastes.
"We then lost contact for about 30 years then he wrote to me out of the blue and asked me to help him.
"I told him I was happy to help him write songs but I didn’t want to be in the band.
"He sent me some songs over email, most of them were terrible. We would send things back and forth via email until we found something we liked."
Remarkably, the journey from conception to the album hitting the shelves has taken just 12 months with most of the songs recorded after the band had managed just three rehearsal sessions together.
Despite this Mr Phipps, who runs the Politics at Work consultancy, says he enjoys the authenticity of the music.
He added: "Going into the first recording I felt really under prepared, but what you hear on the record is completely genuine.
"There is no auto-tuning, it’s just four middle-aged blokes, none of us are professional musicians.
"I quite like ‘So Much for Rosemary’ but there are also three tracks that I really don’t like. I could quite happily go the rest of my life without hearing ‘The Magician’ again."