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A date with the press: Ray Wilson introduces Change


There is this guy on the stage. He will probably enter the history of music as the last singer with Genesis. Today he presents his new album to assorted people from the business. He also sings Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight, when suddenly he breaks off and says: “Hey folks, I got to tell you something…”

Sounds familiar? Ray Wilson had been on a Storytellers’ tour and told many an anecdote between songs. 

The InsideOut Music label had called, and many big shots from the music industry turned up. The goal was giving Wilson’s new album Change a sound financial and structural basis for the release.

So the evening was spend between lots of small talk and helping oneself at the sumptuous, almost decadent buffet. The album has to enter the charts, a guy from the record company explained. They are hoping that the single provides them a big buffer of airplay to promote the album. Everybody from the record company and the fan club agrees that there is definitely potential for it. Change is a catchy song that can stand up to any and all Mechanics’ songs – and come out victorious.

Before Ray enters the stage which has been set up especially for this event in the Galeriesaal in Cologne, Germany, we can hear the complete album through the speakers. There is a bit of everything, melodious, melancholy, relaxed, acoustic and electric music. Even old songs such as Another Day sound new. Ray Wilson’s first real solo album sounds lively and fresh. And then he is there. “I must not play so much tonight”, he says as he tunes his guitar. And begins to play a fine mixture of his tour repertoire and new Change songs. When he reached Ripples, all the business strategists put aside their coolness and gave him a strong round of applause. Another round of stories follows for In The Air Tonight: “When I was selling the Unplugged Album via my website I sent copies to the members of Genesis. After all, I was playing their material, too. I did not know Phil’s address, so I just wrote ‘To Phil Collins, Geneva, Switzerland’ onto the envelope. In autumn, I met Phil when we surprised Mike Rutherford for the TV programme This Is Your Life. Phil came up to me, embraced me and said ‘Thanks for the CD.’ ” Life can be like that. Ray is in a good mood, he exudes optimism. “My brother wrote this next song about me. It’s called You’re So Handsome.” Laughter all around, Ray just knows how to entertain business people. Still, he proceeded to play Along The Way from his new album. A couple of years ago he released the Cut album and Ray explained that he was going to play a song from it. A solitary cheer was heard and Ray drily commented: “There’s the one person who bought it.”
The set of his brief acoustic show is studded with Genesis and Gabriel solo and Collins solo material. The complete set list runs as follows: Gouranga, Ripples, Change, Cry If You Want To, In The Air Tonight, Another Day, Along The Way, Don’t Give Up, Not about Us, Inside, Beach, Yesterday, Mama, Ghost, I Can’t Dance.

Ray talked to us about Change straight afterwards.

rayliveit: Why did you rerecord Another Day?

Ray Wilson: Excellent question. It’s mainly for commercial reasons. The trance remix with Armin van Buuren is doing well and it is in the top ten of almost every club chart. I wanted to give people a chance to find the original when they go looking for it. It will be easier for them to do so on a Ray Wilson album than on a Cut album. Our new version is arranged slightly different. It is also shorter. Perhaps we will release it as a single.

it: here are two versions of the album, one of which has three bonus tracks. Strategic reasons?

Ray: Yes, basically. The thing is, the style of Cool Water and Gouranga is slightly different from the rest of the album, so the bonus track version is justified. I also wanted to release these songs. We also put Dark on it, a Cut song…

it: ...that can be found on the German promos of Sarah and Millionairhead.

Ray: Right, but has those? I like this song a long and wanted to release it. This was a good opportunity. 

it: Change could turn out a hit. The whole album makes a very strong impression.

Ray: Thank you! I am very happy with the album. I also like the politics of the record company. They do not put so much pressure on me like Virgin did with Cut. I’ve got time to build it all up. But we all hope, of course, that the album and the single will be a success.

it: You are going to tour with Saga. What are your plans for the next year?

Ray: With Saga, I play the acoustic guitar alone, without Amanda and Steve, for 30 to 45 minutes. It is of course a promotion thing for Change. There are plans for a full band tour in autumn. 

After this chat we also had the opportunity to talk to Ray’s new manager. He told us that Ray will perform in Hamburg for a special occasion on June 21, 2003. We will keep you informed as soon as we find out more. We were also told that Stiltskin’s bass guitarist James Finnegan will be in Ray’s live band.

Finally, everybody at InsideOut are happy about an excellent Ray Wilson album. There is even another member of the Genesis camp who will command our interest later this year. Steve Hackett is going to relese his new album at InsideOut, too.

Apart from his work with Ray, Steve Wilson works with Amanda Lyon who is also building a solo career of her own.

Ray’s career seems to be on the right way. Change is a musical liberation for him. And Genesis fans of the early years will discover very interesting elements on the album.

Go here for a comprehensive review of the album.

Though Ray sings “No I don’t think that I can change” his musical career is better described by borrowing a Genesis quote: “All change!”. We are looking forward to it. 

Report, photos, interview and transcription by Christian Gerhardts
Translation (and re-translation of Ray’s interview statements) by Martin Klinkhardt

Ray Wilson


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