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Musical duo who wrote songs together at university finally release debut album after 47 years

They met on their first day of university and bonded over a shared love of music.

Heather Wastie and Andy Middleton who have released their debut album
Heather Wastie and Andy Middleton who have released their debut album

Now, 47 years after they began writing songs together, Heather Wastie and Andy Middleton, who perform as Moulin Ridge, have released their debut album, Voice on the Radio.

Many of their original vocal recordings - some going back to the late 1980s - have been used, as each, they say, captures a moment in time.

"We're both perfectionists," says singer Heather, who lives in Kidderminster, when asked why the album hadn't been released before now.

"As time goes on, technology is advancing and there are more things you can do. You can always make it better.

"Andy was working on it and I thought it was never going to happen. Then one day, he says "it's finished". I got in touch with an illustrator and she painted a CD sleeve. It all happened in a flash and now the CD is out," she explains.

When they first met as 18-year-olds back in late September 1974, Andy, who was studying maths, was heading for High Hall, a hall of residence for male students, and Heather, who was studying maths and music, was on her way to the women-only block, Ridge Hall.

Each building had its own large communal room and there was a connecting gallery between the two.

"We were both walking towards High Hall and Ridge Hall and we just started chatting. We hit it off as friends and the main link was we both liked Joni Mitchell," explains Heather.

The friends who perform at Moulin Ridge met on their first day of university

It wasn't long before guitarist Andy, who now lives in Leicester, had organised a music night in High Hall for any students who wanted to take part.

Andy and Heather performed Joni Mitchell's Little Green and Big Yellow Taxi together, and soon started collaborating on their own songs in a downstairs room in Ridge Hall.

"Andy called that first music night Moulin Ridge and the name stuck," says Heather, who is also a poet and was Worcestershire Poet Laureate in 2015/16.

They soon developed a fruitful song writing partnership, with Andy, who later became a maths teacher, writing the music and Heather penning the lyrics.

"Normally in song writing, the vocals are written first and then the music. Bernie Taupin and Elton John worked in this way. Bernie would write the lyrics and then Elton would write the music.

"The way Andy and I work is that Andy writes the music and I listen to the melody and feel of the song and I write the words. I've always known what I have wanted to write about as soon as I have heard the music. I think it's quite a special gift we've got to be able to do that," explains Heather.

"Back then we never talked about making an album, we just loved song writing and performing."

Over the decades, they have continued to work together on-and-off but hadn't done so in recent years until the album was released.

"We when first started it was just me singing and Andy playing acoustic guitar. I played the oboe at university and afterwards I took up the recorder, which is the opposite to what people usually do. A lot of people don't realise what a wonderful instrument the recorder is, there is so much you can do with it.

"We've worked with lots of different harmony vocalists, bass players and drummers and we've performed here and there," says Heather.

For Voice on the Radio, they had to transfer their old reel-to-reel tape recordings to a digital format.

"The quality had to be improved, as much as it could be. They were never going to sound the same as they would if they were recorded today but there were things we could do to enhance them.

"They were good quality recordings at the time and we're really pleased with how they've come out. It tells the story of our early song writing. The most recent song was written about 15 to 20 years ago," says Heather, who also performs theatre shows with Alarum Productions.

Listening to the recordings have brought back happy memories of the duo. "We both think back fondly to those years. Andy is a wonderful guitarist and it's lovely to have captured that on the album.

"Some of the songs I'll never sing again because they are written from the point of view of a young woman. My voice was a lot higher then. Listening to songs takes me back to that time," says Heather.

To celebrate the launch of the album, the duo performed at Ashwood Marina Clubhouse, Kingswinford.

"It was lovely to perform together again. We've got another two albums of songs so the plan is to work on the next one - and not take 47 years this time," says Heather.

Voice on the Radio is available now from moulinridge.bandcamp.com/album/voice-on-the-radio. For more information, see moulinridge.co.uk or facebook.com/moulinridge

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