Edward James Murphy is one of Liverpool’s greatest songwriters. He remains best known for his work with Rain – but the body of work that he produced with Proper and Waste contains music that stands shoulder to shoulder with the very best. I was fortunate to work closely with Ned when I worked at The Liverpool Music House, 51-55 Highfield Street. Proper had taken over the downstairs studio recently vacated by Lightning Seed Ian Broudie and the band were happy for me to sit in on their rehearsals and recording sessions – in exchange for me making regular trips to Sayers in Dale Street or to Studiocare across the hallway when DATs were needed.
Proper were Ned Murphy, Scott Carney, Lee Watson and Leon Caffrey. They were signed to Chrysalis and released one single ‘Catch Me A Star’ in 1996. Proper toured extensively in the UK and recorded one unreleased album with producer Hugh Jones (Icicle Works, Echo and the Bunnymen, Dodgy, The Bluetones) at Rockfield Studios in Wales.
The unreleased album had a number of tracks that deserve to sit in the pantheon of Liverpool classics. My personal favourite was ‘I Woke Up’, a song which effectively distilled the essence of Ned’s songwriting: bittersweet, melancholic, melodic and hopeful.
‘Well I woke up this morning, from my hazy shade of drink and drugs and everything combined – and I’ll feel good tomorrow, my belief has come again now that the hunger is restored…’
There were many other great tunes on the album, amongst them ‘Lazy Daisy Jane’ and ‘Stay in Bed’ – but Proper were dropped by Chrysalis and disbanded soon after. Leon, a superb drummer, joined Hug Management stablemates Space – and I was happy when my brother Patrick, then features editor at Rhythm Magazine was able to put him on the cover of the UK’s number one selling drum magazine. Scott joined China Crisis and Lee would later join The Sums. Immediately after Lee’s departure from Proper, Ned, Scott and Leon continued as a three-piece for one short lived tour billed as ‘The Attention Seekers’.
After the dissolution of Proper, Ned formed ‘Waste’ and five songs from Proper’s unreleased debut album found a home on the ‘Songs You’ve Never Heard’. The best of those songs are ‘Fear Addiction’ and ‘Can You See Her’.
In the course of his career Ned Murphy has been signed to the following record labels: Columbia, Chrysalis, Jealous Records (subsidiary of London Records). If Ned was a football player he would be one whose combined transfer fee rivalled that of many other more famous contemporaries.
At the tail-end of 2016, a reformed Rain released their first new music in over twenty years. Their brilliantly titled second album, ‘Ten Belters and a Slow One’, reunited Ned and Colin Clarke and also featured Vinny James on drums, a man I had once known well from my time on the road with his former band Deep End (previously known as Jargon). The stand-out track on ‘Ten Belters’ is ‘It Ain’t Easy’. The first time I heard it I knew by the end of the first chorus that Ned had struck gold again and I played ‘It Ain’t Easy’ repeatedly over the following weeks. It made me smile to think that Ned, even without the backing of a major label, was still banging out belters (or belting out bangers) like he always had done.
In November 2017, Ned Murphy and Scott Carney, billed as Proper for one night only, took to the stage at District in Liverpool and performed a short set in tribute to Lee Watson who had tragically died the year previously.
Best of Ned Murphy:
Rain: Lemonstone Desired, It Ain’t Easy
Proper: I Woke Up, Fear Addiction, Catch Me A Star, Fly On, Lazy Daisy Jane,
Waste: Hang On, Highs and Lows, Can You See Her