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With the welcome re-packaging launch of Andy Bown’s solo album Unfinished Business, by NoCut, it seems timely to post a wee blog about the making of the promo video for it; Rubber Gloves.


When Andrew asked me to produce a promotional video for the album, it wasn’t clear which track or tracks were to be featured. On first listening, one of the standout tracks for me was When The Lights Went On, a paen to the unforgettable Live Aid concert at which Andrew’s piano intro to Rocking All Over The World were the first notes played at biggest gig in history. Without any ado I suggested to Andrew that we seek permission to film a promo for the track in a deserted Wembley stadium after dark, with football spotlights casting long shadows of the band across the pitch. Maybe we could afford to license some crowd clips from the actual day that we could ghost on to the terraces? {I did hope to squeeze in Andrew’s Roger Waters mask from his live appearances on Pink Floyd’s The Wall but it just didn’t happen).

Andrew’s Roger Waters mask from his live gigs performing The Wall. Despite Andrew’s many enjoyable years with Status Quo, he often cites The Wall gigs as his most memorable experiences as a musician.

As discussions took place Andrew decided he wanted a promo for Rubber Gloves, preferably one that could be filmed in the studio where he recorded the album, State of the Ark Studio in Richmond, Surrey. This brought its own challenges, not least of which was a relatively small floor area which would make it difficult to get long or wide shots. But it also brought some advantages, the main being a wonderful array of retro kit and equipment with screen appeal.

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Andy Bown Rubber Gloves Produced & Directed by John Keeling.

Ironically, Rubber Gloves is a song about how over-production (in the technological sense) can rob a track of its original creative spark, rendering it dull and meaningless. And it was pondering the idea of surgically castrating a song in the recording studio that led to the treatment that was eventually filmed.

I envisaged Andrew and his band donning lab coats and sunglasses, and brandishing rubber gloves in a manner fit to cause alarm to any man with a prostate problem or haemorrhoids (I’m sure this was subliminally sparked by recalling the old Dr Feelgood logo). But the notion of deranged Frankenstein-like mad professors going nuts in the studio seemed to fit the track like a glove, if you’ll pardon the awful pun.

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The Mad Doctor is ready to see you now…Andy Bown in Rubber Gloves…

Andrew was happy to give it a try and accordingly we bundled into the studio on Wednesday 6th July, 2011. Andrew’s band (for the video) would be Mick Rogers, guitarist with Manfred Mann, Henry Spinetti, drums, Hugh Gilmour, bass. and backing vocals from Juliet Roberts and Sylvia Mason-James. Along to help was album Producer Mike Paxman and engineer Chris West.

To demonstrate how barking mad the treatment was, here is the props list:

6 x White Lab Coats – Microscope – Stethoscope – Stillson Wrench – Power drill – Saw – Claw Hammer – Kitchen sink – Metal-handle scalpel (spare blades as well) – Tape/Spool – Rubber Gloves x 100 – Magnifying glass – Garden shears – Surgical masks x 3 – Tweezers

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Henry Spinetti plays the kitchen sink!

This amalgam of horror-film props was required for the latter part of the shoot. First there are passes of the Andrew and the band performing the track in normal garb, filmed through a standard lens. During a break, Andrew had to answer a phone call so I nabbed his guitar and enjoyed an impromptu performance of Status Quo’s Down Down & Rolling Home, accompanied on drums by the wonderful Henry Spinetti and watched in utter bemusement by Mick Rogers.

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Director John Keeling has a quick jam with Mick Rogers and Henry Spinetti (don’t tell Andrew Bown I played his prized acoustic)

In the afternoon its time for the lab-coat performances. Andrew and the band were fabulous, riotously camping-up their performances. It was a side to Andrew I had not seen in Status Quo; he is a natural and flamboyant performer. Especially in the cutaways,  sticking the stethoscope to his head, stretching his rubber glove like a manic Tex Avery cartoon, and brandishing a pair of garden shears with the furious glee of a horror movie psychopath.

I was pleased to offer further assistance to the promo campaign by securing a TV interview on DJ Mike Read’s show, and an interview on Henry Scott Irvine‘s radio show. When the shoot was finished, I had all the performers sign the lab-coats to be used as promotional giveaways for competitions etc. Sadly, they disappeared (the lab-coats that is).

Interesting to note: Andrew was fascinated by the post-production process of the video and visited the studio as the promo was being colour-graded – I think it’s the first time I’ve had an artist turn up to see the work done.

I’m not going to share all the kind comments he made about the finished product, save one: I was delighted that he called it, among other things, “unhinged.”

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The magnifying glass was my late Father’s and it made him smile to see it in the promo and on the back sleeve of the original DVD – Bless you Dad. Andy Bown Rubber Gloves Produced & Directed by John Keeling.

For anyone who doesn’t have the album Unfinished Business, I highly recommend it (you don’t have to be a Status Quo fan to enjoy it).

Oh, and if anyone knows where those autographed lab-coats are…?


With thanks to Director of Photography Laurence Blyth.