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Album Review: The Misers

"The Misers are a band from England, consisting of singer/songwriter Neil Ivison and Hammond/Rhodes player Adam Barry. The Misers name came about because the joke was that Neil was too tight to pay a band!"



img1  Amplified Life Stories by The Misers



Born and raised in Herefordshire, Neil is blessed with a soulful, passionate voice and the gift of being able to tell a story in a song. Along with Adam, The Misers deliver them in a unique style that draws inspiration from The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The Misers specialise in the truth. Songs about friends, drinking, brushes with the law, love, broken relationships, fights, jobs. Real songs about rural life and country people played in a simple, direct and honest way.





The Misers debut album 'Amplified Life Stories', recorded at Rockfield Studios with producers Ian Morgan & Tom Oliver (Proclaimers, It Bites, Roy Harper) and engineered by Matt Butler (Paul McCartney, John Martyn) is a concise and focused collection of 10 unadorned gems, mixing Soul, Americana and Folk.


It starts off with 'Take Me Down' drawing comparisons with Ryan Adams in his clearer moments, and maybe even a bit of the Folkfather Neil Young too.

Next is 'Give It Up For Love', which is drenched in bluesy attitude and reminds me of pubs (in a good way!).

'Shoot The Breeze' is a gentle number, showcasing their singer/songwriting prowess, before 'Call Anytime' starts where 'Give It Up For Love' left off.

'Spinning' is a cruisy slowie bordering on the epic and then 'The Long Walk Home' kicks-in, much in the same vain as it's predecessor, before 'Lord, Shufle My Feet' stokes-up and seems really influenced by the sound of The Faces.

Next up is the superbly titled and sung 'Bantam Weight', which is another gentle number.

The last two numbers are probably my favourites and definately the best lyrically in my view.

'Don't Let Go (Song For Lee)' and 'Dead Before My Time' are full of gritty realism, and are perfect album enders.


'Amplified Life Stories' is a decent debut and should just about cover every ground for the discerning music lover out there.

The vocals are heartfelt and added with the classic old Hammond Organ, then you can't go too far wrong.

A lot of it reminds me of Bernard Fanning's (Powderfinger) solo album in it's feel and textures, and on some of the rockier moments, even a bit of Ian Hunter.









Tracklisting:  img2


1. Take Me Down        

2. Give It Up For Love        

3. Shoot the Breeze

4. Call Me Anytime        

5. Spinning

6. The Long Walk Home

7. Lord, Shuffle My Feet

8. Bantam Weight        

9. Don't Let Go (Song for Lee)

10. Dead Before My Time




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Neil Ivison and Adam Barry, otherwise know as The Misers, are 28 years old and have been working together for 10 years.

They share a house but above all they share a passion for their music.

What is fascinating is their influences are much older than you would expect. They enthuse about Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones, Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly to name but a few.


Proud of their Herefordshire heritage, they revel in keeping the connections alive in their music.


Neil, (singer/song writer) has a really evocative soulful voice and has been playing in bands since he was 14, combining it with various day jobs. He always

knew what he wanted to do but found that his qualifications as a sound engineer were not in great demand. "The opportunities were few and to pay the rent I ended up in an agriculture engineering place. It became a choice between music and tractors; no choice at all really."

There was always music in the house when he was young. His Dad, Geoff Ivison, a well known local DJ, was always playing him different songs, encouraging him to listen. "It was quite bizarre, all the music I listened to when I was growing up was 20/30 years behind where I should have been. When everybody was into Oasis I was finishing with the Beatles and going onto the 70's Glam thing."

There was vinyl everywhere. His Dad let him take over the pig shed as a rehearsal room. "It's where we have rehearsed ever since; where we have written all our songs. Even now, after we have been to Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire to record our album, there's a little bit of magic when we go back there to our roots."


Adam (vocals/ keys) got into music in his early childhood. When he was a naughty boy his parents would punish him by banishing him to the ‘pink room' (You remember, that ‘front' room that was rarely used). To stop him crying his Dad would put on records such as The Kinks, Buddy Holly or the Everly Brothers.

"I wasn't allowed to come out until I had got over my tantrum; I had to ‘come out happy'. In the end when they put me in there I would be gone for hours because I loved the music. I still spend my Saturday mornings listening to Radio 2 Sounds of the Sixties. The first record I ever bought was a 60's Mix and my record collection ended about 1972. It has always been the mid 50's straight through to the end of the 60's for me. I always found it hard to mix with people my own age; I was much more comfortable chatting to my parents and their friends. My favourite records of all time are Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum, The Beatles Revolver album and Bye Bye Love by the Everly Brothers."

The piano was also in the ‘pink room' and he would sit and teach himself to play along with the records. His great grandfather was the only member of the family who played piano and when his grandfather bought him a book on how to read music he never looked back.


The first record Neil ever bought was Little Pig Little Pig by an American band called Green Jelly

He says, "I went to Woolworths in Hereford with my Dad, it was a limited edition 7"on pink vinyl, it cost £1.97. I've still got it."

When I asked what his favourite three records are, Neil struggled to get beyond Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter being one of his idols. He said, "Three versions of All the Young Dudes". When pressed he added, All Right Now by Free and A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum.


I asked about the song writing process, Adam explained, "We have been together for so long that we can be very honest with each other. I am a bit of a sounding board. I'm the first person who hears it".

They did spend some time apart when Neil was touring with other bands for a couple of years looking after their sound. 

It was then they had a period were they would be writing songs on their ‘phones.

"I'd sing a bit and send it back. Usually Neil writes the song but we are never precious about ideas and try different things out. Neil ends up with it and works his magic and eventually we come out with something we are both really happy with."


I found it significant that for both of them their grandparents have been extremely influential in helping them to achieve their dreams. 


Neil's grandma Phyllis was passionate about them. She was a regular listener to ‘The Friday Session' on BBC Hereford & Worcester to make sure they were mentioned and she scanned all the papers to check on their gigs. She was so proud of them and used to call them to wish them luck before each gig. When she died aged ninety she left Neil some money.

She said, "I am going to leave you some money to put aside for your house deposit but I know you won't spend it on that, you will spend it on your music. Just make good use of it."


The first album they made was a big production, it was massively over produced and they where just not happy with it. It didn't sound like them. After trying a remix they realised that nothing was going to work so they ditched it. A very brave decision, considering that this was their first album and it had taken a lot of time and money to make.

The bottom line was that they wanted it to be an honest portrayal of their work. They didn't want Neil's soulful voice and Adam's playing to be lost in a load of technical wizardry.

Neil's lyrics will strike a chord with many listeners. In the track ‘Bantam Weight' about relationship problems, his line "We only talk about the things we haven't done, let's spend more time doing them" and   the recurring "Who blames who?" certainly made me think.


It was at this point that they sought the help of some local but internationally experienced talent in the shape of Tom Oliver and Ian Morgan, Matt Butler and Clive Jenner. They stripped the whole thing right back and performed live, sharing their pure sound without all the trickery.

Tom Oliver, co-producer of the album says, "There was an instant bond between me and Neil when we first met. We shared almost exactly the same likes and dislikes about music, we hit it off great as friends. Neil and Adam have very strong ideas on how it should be. It's a case of taking the song and just making them be themselves. We are not trying to put them into any era or any particular context.

The songs are the culmination of their experiences and the album needed to sound like we were putting them down to be listened to in any situation, any environment now and in the future. The songs would still shine and they wouldn't be dated.

My favourite track is Lord, Shuffle my Feet. I rarely take on board lyrical content, but I like a tune and this one puts a smile on my face and I have a good day. Imagine how I felt after 35 years phaffing about in the music business to finally go into Rockfield and produce a record there. For me it was an incredible honour that they asked me."

Tom Oliver may consider that he ‘phaffs about' but many musicians think otherwise. As a tour manager and sound engineer he travels the world with some of the best, being responsible for major concerts for the likes of The Proclaimers and Elton John.


Ian Morgan, Supervising Sound Editor on films such as, My Best Friend's Wedding, Alien vs Predator and television series NYPD Blue, co-produced and played bass on the album: 

"It was a great experience, I had done bits and pieces at Rockfield but never had the chance to produce an album in its entirety. Tom was the lynch pin, he's great at putting the right people together. I initially worked with Neil in my own little studio that used to be in the dairy (on the family farm in Hereford. Ian now has a studio in his own house). We played with ideas for arrangements and I felt my role was to observe the world and do the opposite but Neil and Adam had the final say. We recorded all the backing vocals and worked out the arrangements here. Our goal was to make a timeless classic. If you were to play this album in twenty years time it would still sound fresh. Their songs fit that mould; that made Tom's and my life easier. When we got to Rockfield Studios we knew exactly what we wanted to do. Clive Jenner, the ultimate professional drummer, had been in my band many years ago. He is anotherHerefordian who made good. He has toured with the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Groove Armada and been a session drummer all over the world.

Matt Butler the engineer, with unbelievable credits, is also a friend of mine from Hereford and a natural choice."


For those that remember the sixties and ‘Mersey Sound' and how well that went down, with a 100% Herefordian input AMPLIFIED LIFE STORIES could be the soulful rural album that starts the ‘Sounds of Cider'.



Wincey Willis from Wye Valley Life