Winter – Music
The band recorded a 2 tack demo in 1988, produced by Lawrence Thomson at Level One Studios, which included Close Your Eyes and Reflections On The Water [MP3 included on this page]. This was produced in cassette format only. The song Close Your Eyes, taken from this inaugral demo, was submitted to Tommy Vance as part of the BBC Radio 1 Battle of the Bands feature and won through to the final. In the final, Winter missed out on winning a week of recording, at Maida Vale Studios in London, by less than 100 votes. But Tommy Vance was impressed enough to play Winter tracks on a number of occasions during his Friday Night Rock Show, from 1988 thru 1991. The 2 track demo also aired on several occasions on BBC Radio Ulster, Downtown Radio and Cool FM.
They then recorded Across The Circle’s Edge, which was released on their own label, Circle’s Edge Records, in August 1990 in vinyl format, this was a 6 track E.P. The recordings were engineered by superb musician and producer, Lawrence Thomson and recorded at Level One Studios, Newtownards and Dove Studios, Belfast. The artwork was created by Phil Murray and was deliberately left to appear like a rough, first draft image, since the E.P. was effectively a first vinyl demo designed to attract record company attention. The idea was that once a recording contract was in place, the artwork then to evolve into a fully illustrated final piece for the inaugral Winter album.
The artwork was completed but never used because when the songs were re-released by SI Records, Holland in 1992 in CD format, the band line up had changed and they decided to use a different image for the cover art. The original master tape from the vinyl recorded was re-mastered for the CD version.
By the time of the CD release, WINTER had a different line up and other musicians were credited on the sleeve notes for the album. In fact all the songs on the CD were written and performed by Beggs, Lennie, Loyer, Murphy, Murray – the new members of the band had no part in the recording at all. Beggs and Murphy were not credited on the CD but they had performed on every track.
- Side 1:
- Technocracy [4:27]
- The Betrayal of Reason [4:38]
- Close Your Eyes [4:56]
- Side 2:
- Evengate [2:33]
- Toybox [8:46]
- Winter… [4:23]
SI Music released a compilation CD of various progressive rock bands, titled Progressive and Melodic Rock, which included the track CLOSE YOUR EYES by WINTER.
A Recording Deal?
Across The Circle’s Edge was intended as a demo really, to attract record company attention and hopefully to help secure a recording contract. There were elements of the tracks, particularly some keyboard parts, that Murray omitted or altered, which he admitted afterwards was a mistake, because the general consensus in the band was that the songs were stronger with the original keyboard parts intact. The plan was to use Lawrence Thomson’s amazing production skills to re-record and remix the E.P. along with several other songs, therefore becoming the 1st official full length album, once a recording deal was in place – unfortunately this never happened. However, for the first time, the MP3 versions of the songs on this site, have been updated to include Phil Murray’s additional keyboard tracks that were missing from the original mix.
The E.P. did receive good reviews from many rock and progressive rock critics at the time with Toybox being cited as the strongest track and a good example of Lennie’s lyrical prowess and vocal dexterity, in Progressive Rock magazine. John Murphy’s sensational and flawless drum tracks attracted much critical acclaim in music press like Kerrang, Metal Hammer and Rythmn Magazine. Kerrang also praised Beggs for his guitar solo in the instrumental track ‘Winter’ and for Rick Loyer’s inventive and rhythmic bass style.
Winter also enjoyed airplay on the Tommy Vance Rock Show on BBC Radio1 alongside the likes of Rush and Pink Floyd. The E.P. also aired on several occasions on CityBeat Radio, BBC Radio Ulster, Downtown Radio and Cool FM. Murray and Murphy recorded interviews for CityBeat and Downtown Radio around this period.
As a live band, Winter were noted for some fine performances and benefited greatly from the sound craft genious of Bill and Walter Armstrong who looked after the live sound and mixing desk for most shows. They would commence most shows with ‘Winter’ by Vivaldi and play a mix of original songs and covers. We hope to post some live recordings on the site.
Some of the notable live shows included perfomances at
- The Baggot Inn, Dublin
- The Errigle, Belfast
- The Limelight, Belfast
- The Rosetta, Belfast
- The Mandela Hall, Queen’s University, Belfast
- The University of Ulster, Jordanstown and also in University of Ulster at Belfast
- The Queen’s Hall, Holywood
- Special showcase at Ards Leisure Centre in 1990 [playing support to local rock band ‘Emerald’]
Winter Beyond 1991
During 1991, having not secured a recording deal, the band decided to attempt a tour of Holland rather than record new material. Murray and Murphy felt that the band should concentrate on writing and recording more songs, as the best means of securing a deal, so they decided to leave. Rab Beggs did tour with Winter in Holland but left after a few gigs and later formed rock groups Mr. Jinx and Native Sun with Phil Murray and renowned rock singer Stevie K. A new keyboard player, Tony Brady, joined the band for a period of a few months until they set up base in London and a new 4 piece Winter line up emerged, centred around Loyer and Lennie, with Tim Wilson on drums and Andy Ryan on guitar. They finally called it a day in 1997.
Rab Beggs continues to play live and write as part of a couple of heavy rock and blues bands. Murray still writes and records from home. Johnny is the Classical Music Editor for TimeOut magazine. John and Rick are not actively involved musically these days due to work commitments.
Across The Circle’s Edge … Beyond 2012
In January 2012, Winter re-released and updated version of Across The Circle’s Edge in digital format. These MP3 versions of the songs now include Murray’s additional keyboard tracks that were missing from the original recording.
There are plans to release a limited edition version in Vinyl and CD formats in 2014. [Possibly including Reflections On The Water from the Demo recorded in 1988 and other live recordings].