It gives me really great pleasure to present, what Mark stresses is a test for his new single ‘The Garden of Mepal “Forever Fallen”‘. Mark’s Grandfather was Jack Bell, Navigator with Ronald Gordon’s crew, one of 3 aircraft lost on the 20th November 1944 on one of the trips to what is widely recognised as 75(NZ) Squadron’s ‘bogey’ target, the Fischer Tropsch oil refinery at Homberg.
Mark and I first spoke some months ago and the information we were able to swap, I held at the time with a view to making a post closer to the release date of the single. Events have, it seems, overtaken us a little. Last week I was contacted by Anthony, whose father was a Flight Engineer, also lost on Operations. I must confess, that when Anthony and I first spoke, because of the amount of research he had gathered, I was prepared to just wait to receive it. Having received it today – I realised that ‘Gordon’ rang a bell – and of course after the ‘lead penny’ dropped, I put 2 and 2 together and realised that Mark’s grandfather and Anthony’s father were in fact both in Ron Gordon’s crew. I have, obviously put them in contact with each other – an unplanned, but very satisfying by product of this blog.
In 1987, Mark he moved to Manchester and became manager and co-owner of Manchester’s celebrated music store Fat City Records, before releasing an E.P. for Tony D on Grand Central music label, which held a place at the top of the UK’s independent music scene until 2006. During this time, Rae stacked up releases with Steve Christian under the ‘Rae & Christian’ guise, and worked with artists like the Pharcyde, Jungle Brothers, Bobby Womack and The Congos. He also co-wrote with Mr Scruff and produced hundreds of remixes of artists including Jay-Z and Bob Marley. His music has been featured on TV shows that include So You Think You Can Dance (US), Sex and the City, Six Feet Under and Come Dine With Me, as well as various films.
Mark released two studio albums with Steve Christian as Rae & Christian. He also performed producing, remixing and DJing duties for a number of other artists, and occasionally co-wrote tracks with Mr. Scruff. Rae & Christian hit the festival circuit with full force and performed at some of the most prestigious events in the world such as Glastonbury, Roskilde, V Festival and Rae opened for Madonna with Texas at the Brixton Music Academy.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Mark stresses that this is not the final version of the song – It’s not the Abbey Road master or the finished edit – but he agrees with me that the 75(NZ) community probably deserve to hear it first, even if not in it’s definitive version, so they can spread the word – 10% of sales of the song will go to the Mepal Memorial Garden.