By Warren Kurtz
Thomas “Dean Ford” McAleese, known as the vocalist and co-writer of “Reflections of My Life” by The Marmalade, passed away on December 31, shortly after releasing his final double CD This Scottish Heart, which concludes with a new version of that iconic song. We have published a memorial in our new March 2019 issue of Goldmine and reached out to Dean’s daughter Tracey for this Goldmine Giveaway article.
To win Dean Ford’s This Scottish Heart double CD, see details at the end of the page.
GOLDMINE: We offer our condolences to you and your family. My wife Donna and I drove around with your dad’s new CD, listening to his new 50th anniversary gentle version of “Reflections of My Life.” This is a song we have loved since it debuted in the U.S. in the ‘70s, the decade in which we met, dated and married, and is one of those songs that everyone I have talked to over the years also loves. Your dad was so talented.
TRACEY McALEESE-GORMAN: Thank you so much for your kind words. My dear dad was an amazing man, a gentle soul, an extremely talented musician and a great father and Pop Pop to his only grandchild, my son Connor. They spent a lot of quality time together. His music was his life and will now be his legacy forever, as will Connor and me. I will carry him in my heart every single day for the rest of my life. His gift to me was life and his gift to the world was his music. Here is a newspaper photo for the Goldmine readers (below) of me and my parents that I didn’t know existed until my cousin Karen in the UK sent it to me last month and a photo of the gold record for The Marmalade’s “Reflections of My Life” that my dad gave me years ago, which I have always have proudly displayed and now more than ever. Thank you again for remembering my father.
From the late ‘60s through the early ‘70s, The Marmalade achieved several hit singles in the UK including a 1969 cover of The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
In April of 1970, this Scottish band debuted in the U.S. Top 40 with “Reflections of My Life,” co-written by the group’s guitarist Junior Campbell and Dean Ford who sang, “Take me back to my old home,” during a time when the group had relocated to England. The following month saw The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” and The Marmalade’s single in the Top 10 simultaneously. The Marmalade’s melodic “Rainbow” followed that summer, with Dean Ford opening the song on harmonica, in a folk-rock style much different from the prior hit single. It peaked in the U.S. at No. 51. Their next charting single in the U.S. came the following year with the beautiful orchestrated “My Little One” with Dean paying tribute to his young daughter Tracey, “My little one you must be tired with all the fun and games you had today. I lie awake and dream about you and what you’ll be when you’re as old as me.” Its flip side “Is Your Life Your Own?” boasted strong harmonies in the chorus, on par with what The Hollies brought to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” during that era.
Dean Ford’s final album, This Scottish Heart, includes “Little Man,” about his grandson Connor, following the path of 1971’s “My Little One” for the next generation of his family including the lines, “Little man, you’re my joy. I give my heart to you. In your eyes, little boy, the sun comes shining through. You make my light come true.” Dean’s gentle vocal and acoustic guitar delivery flows musically, like what Jorma Kaukonen brought to the 1989 self-titled Jefferson Airplane reunion album with “Too Many Years.” There are plenty of acoustic Hot Tuna-like moments on this thirty song double CD, with all songs written or co-written by Dean. The electric numbers “Running Out of Time” and “Glascow Road” recall the sound of fellow Scot Gerry Rafferty. “Nineteen Fifty Three” features a Paul McCartney-like melody. There are elements of a Ray Davies storytelling style on some of the numbers, especially true on “Bonnie Mary,” the Queen of Scotland and France. There’s a touch of an early folk era Tyrannosaurus Rex (pre-electric T.Rex) sound on “He’s an Angel” about painter Keith Haring. “Butterflies in June” has a beautiful harmonious folk sound. His Christmas song “Precious Little Boy” sounds like it could have fit on the classic Kingston Trio ‘60s Christmas album The Last Month of The Year. It is preceded by chants of praise on the brief song “God Is.” Playing these songs back to back will make for a six minute holiday celebration for years to come. “When Will it End” is one of the most beautiful of his recordings since recording Jimmy Webb’s “Crying in My Sleep” on his mid-‘70s self-titled solo debut, produced by Alan Parsons, a few years before Dean was part of The Alan Parsons Project Pyramid album in 1978. The final song is the touching new version of “Reflections of My Life,” given a gentle treatment with harmonica and acoustic guitar, in line with what we first heard on “Rainbow” in 1970.
To win This Scottish Heart by Dean Ford (above), all you have to do is put your email and address in the boxes below by March 1, 11:59 p.m. You will immediately be entered in the Goldmine Giveaway and as a bonus you will receive our informative weekly eNewsletter from Goldmine (collecting news/tips and exclusive articles and interviews with your favorite classic artists). We will randomly draw winners from the entrants. Shine On Records has supplied us with two copies of Dean Ford’s final CD, so your chances are doubled.