In 2023, IAN DONALDSON, former frontman of the Scottish new wave band H2O, is celebrating 40 years of the classic single “I Dream To Sleep”.
In commemoration of this landmark anniversary, Donaldson has reconfigured the band’s breakthrough hit with fresh arrangements to create a new version of the song for 2023 that’s as nuanced as it is nostalgic.
Speaking about “I Dream To Sleep” reaching this significant milestone and returning to the track all these years later, Ian Donaldson says:
“It would be a shame not to celebrate I Dream to Sleep’s birthday. The song has become an old friend, not only to me, but to many other people over the last 40 years. A re-release or remix would have been the easy options. I felt it deserved more. A new recording using different colours. So … I experimented with harps, acoustic guitar, piano, cello and a fresh vocal. I’m happy with how it turned out. I hope listeners old and new will like it too.”
The debut single from H2O, ‘I Dream To Sleep’ became a smash-hit upon its release in 1983. Transforming them from Glasgow scene dreamers to Top of the Pops-starring household names, the track would peak at number 17 in the Official Singles Chart and spend a total of 16 weeks in the UK Top 40. Reflecting on those times and their iconic TOTP performance, Donaldson adds:
“I remember when H20 were invited by the BBC to perform I Dream to Sleep on Top of The Pops. The biggest Music TV show in the world at the time. A programme I had watched religiously since I was a child. Thrilled doesn’t come close. Just before the show went out live I went to the makeup department to have my face freshened up only to find Elton John already there. He said Hello and told me he loved I Dream to Sleep … then … he sang the first line of the chorus to me. As memories go, it doesn’t get much better.”
With “I Dream To Sleep” remaining a classic of the Scottish pop songbook to this day, in recognition of its 40th Anniversary Donaldson has revisited the track to create a wistful and dreamy new version befitting of its title. Creating lush and delicate new layers with the assistance of seasoned players Derek Fleming (Guitars), Gordon McNeil (Drums), Drew Phillips (Piano/Synths), and Stephen McGourty (Bass); Ian’s daughter Emma burnishes the track with its longing Cello arrangements, while Mair Sethi & Alison Homes add angelic Harp arpeggios. Produced by Ian Donaldson with engineer Gordon McNeil, the 2023 rework was recorded at Stella Sound studios in Clydebank.
Ian Donaldson’s new single is being released under the watch of current manager Alan McGee (founder of Creation Records), with the pair having built a significant history together before now. After Ian placed an advert in a local music shop in 1978 reading “Singer needs musicians to make Modern Muzik”, Alan responded and would go on to play bass in an early incarnation of H2O; with other respondents including Andrew Innes (later of Primal Scream) and Neil Clark (later of Lloyd Cole’s band). Parting ways before the turn of the decade, Alan moved to London where his destiny with Creation Records awaited (Oasis, Jesus & Mary Chain), whereas Donaldson would sign to major label RCA and take H2O to new heights with their official debut single “I Dream of Sleep” in 1983. Notching up a string of hits (notably “Just Outside of Heaven” and “Blue Diamond”), constant support from legendary DJ John Peel, and a landmark debut album ‘Faith’ in 1984; H2O’s would burn bright and fast, with the band announcing their split in 1988 due to creative differences. Spending the interim years producing and writing for other artists from his base in Scotland, Donaldson has begun releasing material under his own moniker again in recent times. Authoring an acclaimed novel in 2016 (‘A Rainbow in the Basement’), it was swiftly followed by his debut solo album ‘From Stars We Came’ two years later and sold-out residency of shows in Glasgow.
Reconnecting with Alan McGee all these years later, last year Ian released two new singles “The Alchemy of Us” and “All I Have Is Forever” on Alan’s It’s Creation Baby imprint. Now managed by Alan, the pair continue their creative partnership with the release of this majestic rework of “I Dream of Sleep”, which will be released on 5th May via Alchemy.
With further new releases planned throughout the year, plus plans for his first live shows in over five years – standby for much more from Ian Donaldson in 2023.
“I’m in a good place” says Ian “My love of songs and singing has never diminished. I’m ready for whatever comes next…”
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