MORE than half a century after first making music together, one of the most popular bands on the 1960s South Wales gig circuit has cut its first album, with a little help from Manic Street Preachers.

Pieces Of Mind, originally a six-piece from Newport and Cwmbran but with a shifting line-up through the decade, performed regularly across the region, their blues and rhythm and blues covers - interspersed with original songs - earning a sizeable following.

Fragmenting as the ‘60s ended, they reformed in 2013 to mark their 50th anniversary, a gig in Cwmbran raising more than £2,300 for St David’s Hospice Care.

In its wake, and allowing for other commitments and geography - some members live in other parts of the UK and abroad - the reunion became more permanent.

Now comes Born At The Bosco, the band’s nine-track first album, following three days’ recording at Manic Street Preachers’ Faster Studios in Cardiff, with the latter’s long term engineer Dave Eringa.

“Adrian (Williams, Pieces Of Mind vocalist) has been in the music business for years and knows the Manic Street Preachers, and sees them sometimes when he’s in Newport,” said founder member and lead guitarist John Reardon.

“He mentioned that we’d reformed after 50 years and were thinking of recording, and they said you must use our studio.

“We needed an engineer but just before we went in, they rang Adrian and said Dave Eringa was around. He’d finished working with Wilko Johnson (ex-Dr Feelgood guitarist) and Roger Daltrey (vocalist with The Who) on their album (the acclaimed Going Back Home).

“The quote was something like 'he likes working with old men!' Dave is a top engineer and we couldn’t overlook that opportunity. We had a day’s rehearsal and went in.”

Comprising five cover versions - including Hoochie Coochie Man and I Wish You Would - and four originals including one, I Need Someone, with its roots in the band’s ‘60s heyday, the result is Born At The Bosco.

The title references the St John Bosco Hall on Cromwell Road, Newport, where the band rehearsed ahead of supporting the likes of Billy Fury, John Lee Hooker, Gene Vincent, Manfred Mann, The Hollies, The Moody Blues, The Searchers and The Who, and headlining their own concerts.

“We recorded it last March, then tried to get labels interested. But nobody’s interested in oldies like us, so we thought we’d do it ourselves,” said Mr Reardon, originally from Alway, Newport, but now living in Northamptonshire.

With help from more contacts of Mr Williams’ - who after Pieces Of Mind broke up continued in the music business and rose to a senior management position with Sony Music - the album was readied. Already available as a download, the CD goes on sale on February 9.

“We enjoyed ourselves so much we’d like to do another one, with all original songs,” said Mr Reardon.

Work has begun on those, with a couple referencing the Chartists, and there are plans to involve a male voice choir.

There is also more live work, with a gig in Abertillery next month, and more dates planned for the summer, including a return to the Caerleon Festival in July.

*Born At The Bosco is dedicated to drummer Phil Edwards, who died suddenly early last year.

A tribute to Mr Edwards is included on the band’s website at along with album and gigs details, and a copious archive of photographs and posters, many provided by long term friend and fan John Beardmore, of Newport, and a couple of which are reproduced here.