Chris Rea's Tribute to Teesside's industrial heritage "Steel River". An amazing and rare live audio, performed on Dec'88 London, Wembley, framed by unique vintage photos from his hometown Middlesbrough, referring to Teesside's steel industry and life over the decades.
Chris Rea summed up his memories of Middlesbrough and Teesside in the song "Steel River". This song (written in 1985) is an indictment of the state of decline in shipbuilding and heavy engineering on the Tees. The river itself and the physical environment of Teesside have improved substantially in the last 30 years but the steel industry has declined and finally closed in 2016. The heavy industrial base of the Teesside economy is gone forever.
The song "Steel River" compares the old polluted Tees with the later clean river, there being salmon, but no industry.
Steel River appears on 1985 Album Shamrock Diaries, 1988 New Light Through Old Windows: The Best Of Chris Rea and 1995 The Very Best of Chris Rea.
Chris Rea has acknowledged that several of his songs were "born out of Middlesbrough", his hometown. The verse "I'm standing by a river, but the water doesn't flow / It boils with every poison you can think of" from "The Road to Hell", the songs "Steel River" which refers to a nickname for River Tees, and "Windy Town, reflect Rea's feelings about the industrial decline of Middlesbrough and the re-development of the town centre while he was out of the country touring through the years: "I went back to see my father after my mother had died and the fuckers had knocked the whole place down. I'd been gone three years, hard-touring in Europe. I literally went to drive somewhere that wasn't there. It was like a sci-fi movie. The Middlesbrough I knew, it's as if there was a war there 10 years ago."
"I miss the bits of Middlesbrough that aren't there anymore. It's very hard to accept that Ayresome Park no longer exists. I know I sound very old when I say things like that. Those terraced streets are no longer there. But I miss the old character of the place, the guys with the fruit barrows and all that".
Lyrics: I was born and raised on steel river I see it all like it was yesterday The ships and bridges they were all delivered From Sydney Harbour to the Cisco bay And I met my love down on steel river We served our dreams and spent our childhood days In rainy streets, we'd kiss away the shivers And hide from fear inside the latest craze Dancing to Motown Making love with Carole King record playing And oh how I loved you Say goodbye steel river Ten thousand bombers hit the steel river And many died to keep her running free And she survived but now she's gone forever Her burning heart is just a memory And I ran away from life on steel river Luck or not I gladly took the break The odds were low the chances nearly zero A chance it was I had to take Say goodbye…
Original sources: https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/ Dr Tosh Warwick presentation on the Tees Valley's iron, Industry, heritage and regeneration: the 'steel river': http://socialhistoryblog.com/from-an-infant-hercules-to-the-death-of-teesside-steelmaking-history-and-heritage-along-the-steel-river-by-tosh-warwick/
This video has been published with absolute respect and admiration for Chris Rea's music !