The life of singer-songwriter Steve Tilston is a cautionary tale of how the best laid plans of record industry big-wigs can fall very wide of the mark, irrevocably harming the artist's chances of success far into the future.
In 1972, Tilston was signed by Nat Joseph?s pioneering Transatlantic Records, home to a couple of his influences, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn.
Touted as the label?s Next Big Thing, he was locked in a studio with respected American producer Sam Charters. Sadly, the resulting LP, Collection, suffered from kitchen sink syndrome, while the gatefold cover pictured our hero in a variety of colourful costumes.
But, the press thought him over-hyped and it took him 30 years to get his career back on track. Pity, he could easily have been another Nick Drake or Al Stewart. On the bright side, his record was released by MCA in the States, earning Steve enough money to buy a house.
He became the journeyman troubadour, criss-crossing the continents to keep himself busy, until the release of 2003?s Such & Such, for Peter Muir?s Market Square outfit, which saw people sit up and take notice at last.
This belated interest in Steve Tilston has caused several of his earlier recordings to be reissued, notably 1976?s Songs From The Dress Rehearsal and Life By Misadventure from 1987.
At Bromsgrove Folk Club, he played to a capacity audience. As a guitarist, he showed an impressive command of traditional, classical and jazz styles, but this 55 year-old musician wore few of the debilitating scars you?d associate with someone who?d been plying their trade on the folk scene since the mid-1960s.
On the contrary, Steve Tilston had the air of the area sales manager who goes on before David Brent at the Office Christmas party, to sing Streets Of London.
You see what happens when you lead a clean life? Nobody takes you seriously. Maybe there?s something to be said for sex, drugs and rock ?n? roll after all.