Alan Clark’s Backstory: forty years of piano solo
04.05.2021, by Marco Castellani
Backstory retraces the last forty years of Alan Clark’s career, revisiting his main collaborations and recreating them as piano solo pieces.
We all went through the age in which a harmonica was important, wrote Pier Paolo Pasolini recalling the years of his youth. When rock’n’roll was young, on the other hand, the most important things were the electric shivers of a Fender Stratocaster, or the bangs and clashes of a full drum set, clearly not made to live in an apartment. But 69 year old English musician Alan Clark, a follower of the rebellious spirit of rock and roll and the riotous vitality of Hunter S. Thompson, as well as a sailing enthusiast and a lover of the winds that make boats fly over the fearsome waves of Northern seas, chose to devote himself to the most remote instrument of all. He bound his destiny to the mast of a musical vessel that symbolized the palest, most intellectual music: the classical piano. This made him an outlier in the world of rock and roll, an environment where the rules were few and the exceptions were many. But it also made him the ruler of these exceptions.
His success was extraordinary: he joined Dire Straits in 1980 as their first and main keyboardist, which earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Then, over the course of the years, he collaborated with several giants of rock music, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, the Bee Gees, Tina Turner, Sting and Rod Stewart, to name but a few.
In his new album, aptly titled Backstory, Clark retraces the last forty years of his career, revisiting some of his main collaborations and recreating them as piano solo pieces. A compelling peek behind the scenes, as exhilarating as close-hauled sailing. Simple, regal, and thrilling.