It’s hard to upstage a true pop goddess like Kylie Minogue. But back in the late 80s, when ‘Aphrodite’ was still the girl next door from Aussie soap Neighbours, that’s exactly what Sussex acoustic folk brothers Clive and Mark Ives did.
Collectively known as Woo, the album that earned them more stars in The Independent than Kylie’s debut LP, has just been re-released as the brothers’ extensive back catalogue of what’s broadly – and insufficiently – termed ‘relaxation music’ finds a new generation of fans.
And not just in Clive’s therapy room – although, over the years, clients of his shiatsu massage clinics may have been unwittingly Woo’d.
A qualified practitioner and teacher, Clive was working towards a diploma at the British School of Shiatsu-Do and laying down synthesizer tracks through the night when the kid from Down Under burst on the scene.
“Both Mark and I were elated to find ourselves on the same page with Kylie in the Independent – we’re so happy our music is reaching a wider audience”, says Clive.
It wasn’t the first time Clive had been close to a musical deity in the making. While working for A&M Records in a graphic design studio in the King’s Road, not far from where he’d originally trained at Chelsea School of Art, his boss told him to come up with a poster for a new band. It was to feature just two big characters – U and 2.
“He told me I’d be telling my grandchildren about this,” says Clive. “If I had any, he’d be right!”
Over more than 30 years of recording, Clive and Mark created hundreds of tracks of various styles, virtually all without vocals.
It’s been described on the one hand as the kind of music your mother might find soothing and on the other as sublime as a beach scene in a Fellini film – the two being hard to equate unless you listen, which an increasingly number of people are.
In March, label Drag City released the enigmatically titled When The Past Arrives, a collection of tranquil tracks that never made it on to a disc. One reviewer described its effect as the aural equivalent of a cat dozing in the warmth of the sun, which is the same sublime state that Clive aims to achieve in his clients – although with shiatsu there’s no nodding off.
A combination of kneading, stretching, rubbing and direct, fingertip pressure to the meridians - or energy rivers - of the body, the ancient Japanese therapy of shiatsu aims to support the body’s own power of healing by rebalancing the energy flow and releasing blockages. In fact, Kylie herself is a regular at a celebrity well-being clinic offering shiatsu in Spain.
Also qualified as a hypnotherapist and a Reiki master, Clive is currently expanding his shiatsu practice beyond regular sessions at Steyning’s Body Matters and Crowborough’s Vitality clinics.
Clive said: “I read the word shiatsu in a magazine and immediately knew it was for me. I love the process of helping someone find the peace that is inherent with us all”.
Woo’s first 1982 album and re-released last year, was titled Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong. Thirty-two years later, he knows he’s going right.
For more information on Woo’s latest album, go to www.woo-music.co.uk/.
For more information about shiatsu, go to www.shiatsuhealing.co.uk/
Report and picture contributed by Lea Graham Associates.