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History Repeats for Stephen Cummings

For Stephen Cummings history does repeat itself. First came The Sports double-CD compilation album "This Is Really Something: The Complete Anthology". Now we have Cummings' own 18 track collection "Puppet Pauper Pirate Poet Pawn and King". Both releases show the different sides of this acclaimed songwriter and his development over the past twenty years.

Brian Wise and Jeff Jenkins caught up with Cummings on Off The Record and quizzed him about his music. The starting point? The new Bob Dylan album "Time Out Of Mind", of course.

BW: Do you get any inspiration when you listen to albums like this as a songwriter, do you sort of take any inspiration from it? Because the lyrics are quite amazing aren't they?

BW: Does the title [of the new compilation] sum up your life?

BW: And interestingly enough, just recently there's also been a Sports compilation out. So there are two collections on the market at the same time?

Jeff: A couple of years ago when you put out another compilation - "Rollercoaster" which was a mix of Sports and solo stuff, you said to me, 'Look Jeff I'm sick of writing new songs, I'm just gonna re-package all the old ones until everybody's heard them.' I thought you were joking at the time...but no. You're giving everybody a good chance to hear them which is quite good.

Jeff: It's a bit of a compilation with a difference too because it's not just all the singles and you have really put this together. The two bigger solo hits - "Gymnasium" and "Hell" are not on this record.

BW: Anybody who bought both those compilations would get a pretty interesting contrast in the way in which your music has changed over the years. Fairly dramatically I might suggest.

BW: Do you feel that you have your own voice now? Because the people listening to the last few albums - with the songwriting and the instrumentation - would recognise immediately that it's Stephen Cummings, wouldn't they?

BW: The other thing is that you've had so many influences coming to bear on your music early on. I suppose you've got to work through that process don't you? Getting all that out of your system as well.

BW: What's your favourite song of all time?

Jeff: There are three new songs on the new album. "Somewhere you wrote with Bill McDonald didn't you...the bass player in your group and Four Hours Sleep. That's his project which was a sadly overlooked record from last year but hopefully you'll make another Four Hours Sleep album.

BW: You're playing rhythm guitar aren't you?

BW: Chris's performances at the Continental were quite incredible. He had this really interesting stage personality. He really threw himself into it, didn't he? I think a lot of people were taken aback. I also think a lot of people were also pretty surprised at the voice.

Jeff: You'll have your second book out early next year as well? "Stay Away From Lightning Girl"...semi-autobiographical is it?

BW: I heard that your record deal is it coming up for re-negotiation?

BW: Have you decided yet?

BW: When do you think you'll make a decision?

BW: Is there a new studio album to come out?

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