Grand Slam Week: Laurence Archer And The Influence Of Phil Lynott

I first saw Grand Slam at the Kerrang! Wooargh Weekender in Caister-on-Sea, in 1984. That day, they were a really formidable live band, and the material they had written looked and sounded special.

“At that point, we were really gaining ground as a live act,” Laurence Archer told MetalTalk. “Phil was really happy. He was in a different place. It was really vibing, and nobody could quite understand why we hadn’t immediately signed a deal. Obviously, there are other backstories to that.

“But, I’ve got good memories. I still remember that weekend because I knew Lemmy a little bit. I think Motörhead were on the show. Back then, we used to stay in the caravans and all that. One of those big holiday camps. It was good times.”

There was so much great material. I say it must have been a frustrating time that they did not get signed. Phil had a nickname, I believe at the time of drill sergeant. When Grand Slam were in practice they really worked hard and everything was really down.

Photo of Phil Lynott of Grand Slam
Phil Lynott

“I’ve said this many times,” Laurence says, “that Phil influenced me a lot. Not that I was that much different in my approach to writing, recording, rehearsing. Phil certainly was a sergeant when it came to rehearsing and also every live gig. We used to record every live gig off the desk. We would stick it on in the bus or the limo or whatever we were in going back to the hotel and analyze it. Every single part of it. That was because we wanted it to be perfect.

“We were on a trajectory to be as perfect as we could possibly be regarding the songs and the performance. But I learned a lot from Phil in that respect, I must admit.”

Things didn’t quite work out, unfortunately, with Grand Slam. They all went their own separate ways. Phil was looking at reforming Lizzy, now that long before he passed. Was Laurence in the frame to be one of the guitarists?

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“Yeah,” Laurence says. “I hadn’t lost touch with Phil. I had a small issue with the management company because we just came back… I had been out in America with Huey Lewis… By that time, I had a whole batch of songs. Some which were were gonna be in the Grand Slam camp and some were more solo or other project type of material.

“When I came back from America, Phil wasn’t in a great way. He wasn’t performing very well, and that was due to his health. I said to the management, I really would like another outlet. Do you want to be part of it or help me do something else, whether it’s a solo project or a project where I invite other people on to do an album or whatever?

“They were just intent on using the new songs I had to get a deal for Phil. So there was a little bit of an imbalance there. But I never fell out with Phil. Right up until his last days, we were still in contact.

“But I had made waves. I had signed a Japanese deal to do a solo album. I had that which I was concentrating on it at the time in that last period of ’86. But yeah, there was speak of reforming Lizzy basically at that point. I know Robin [George] very well, and I know Robin was in the frame as the other guitar player.”

Grand Slam - Great British Guitar Festival - July 2018. Photo: Eric Duvet/MetalTalk
Grand Slam – Great British Guitar Festival – July 2018. Photo: Eric Duvet/MetalTalk

Things didn’t quite work out. But I was thrilled when it was announced Laurence was getting a version of Grand Slam back together again to put out that material.

“The whole thinking behind it is that it took me nigh on 30 years or whatever to get to the point where I could record an album and find the answer and get it to the point where… I’d become quite unhappy that a few people… When, unfortunately, Phil died, a few people had gained access to the studio. The little studio. Our writing studio at the back of his house.

“Master tapes from studios that were not mixed and various other things. Lots of work-in-progress tracks which eventually got released on YouTube. Certain people ended up selling these things to record companies and making ongoing releases from them.

“I was never happy with that. I wasn’t part of that, and I didn’t think it was fair to release those songs because I don’t think they were complementary to the song, and they weren’t finished items.

“So it was always my goal to give the people, give the fans, give the real fans, the proper, respectful renditions of the songs that we would have ended up doing, as a proper recording as an album.

“It would be more of an authentic recording and output than hearing these little sort of half cock demos that we did. A lot of the time, Phil and I would go into his little studio and we put stuff down. We would use drum machine. We would try out different things.

“One day, he would put a vocal down, and the next day, he would wipe it and then put another vocal down. Sometimes, you mix bits and pieces together. They weren’t finished product and it wasn’t really fair.

“It’s just like somebody coming along and stealing your song when you’re halfway through writing it. So I wanted to put the songs out in the way that I respectfully think that we would have wanted them to sound like. 

“But, in a real manner. A proper manner. Be recorded properly. It took me a while to do it, but I did get around to doing it.”

Grand Slam, Wheel Of Fortune, is out now via Silver Lining Music. For more details, visit https://lnk.to/GrandSlamWheelOfFortune.

To read more about of our Grand Slam feature, click here.

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