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Rock legend ‘blown away’ by Wigtown band

WIGTOWN’S Bookshop Band are set to release a new album later this month produced and recorded by The Who’s frontman Pete Townshend.

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By Christie Breen
Dumfries and West
Rock legend ‘blown away’ by Wigtown band
WORKING TOGETHER . . . Pete Townshend, centre, with Beth Porter and Ben Please

The rock legend was “blown away” when he was gifted a set of Ben Please and Beth Porter’s CDs that he got in touch and suggested working together.

In the end Townshend, himself a former bookshop owner, not only produced the album and recorded it at his own studio but played on every track.

He said: “I listened to the CDs in my car as I was travelling. I was blown away, completely blown away. I got into the whole Bookshop Band technique, which is just two people making this sound like a symphony orchestra. It’s quite extraordinary. Each song was special in its own way. So, I reached out.”

The new album, ‘Emerge Return’ is a dark album of 13 songs, all written by Ben and Beth, responding to themes including the oppression of bodies, free will and free speech that are explored in books such as The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood; Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley and The Book Of Dust, by Philip Pullman.

Its title comes from a song inspired by Robert Macfarlane’s Underland, which glimpses our underworlds and morality in the scale of deep time.

Ben added: “It’s been a rollercoaster working with Pete Townshend, really exciting and not something we could ever have predicted happening.

“He brought his great musicality and experience to the recording process, doing things we’d never have thought of ourselves, offering a different perspective on the songs. That’s the value of working with a great producer.

“And the fact that he ended up playing on every track added an extra dimension – I think that fans will hear his influence woven right the way through the album.”

Emerge Return will be released on Friday June 28 alongside a podcast series of conversations with the authors of some of the books which inspired its tracks.

Plus its release will be supported with a full, 71-date UK tour by Ben and Beth in indie bookshops – starting at Glastonbury Festival with a set at Toad Hall.

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