Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Autograph hunter

So we've set a date of 30 June to finish recording our new album. The last song we've been working on used to be called Autograph Hunter. That was until last week when Fili rewrote the words and they seemed to fit. The song has a kind of blues thing going on but it's mostly played on distorted synthesisers. Gordy laid down a good 16 second glam rock loop back in November and that's us only getting round to recording it. I was trying to think of the slapback effect to put on the drums and I said to Jimmy "you know like "Rock'N'Roll part 2" by Gary Glitter. We both looked at each other and it was strange because he's kind of become"the performer who's name you musnt mention". So I said "Y'know like Blockbuster by Sweet" and we quickly moved things on. I spent a couple of hours just making up loops of distortion to put behind the synths. A guitar with some humbucker pickups and loads of pedals and just turned all the buttons to 10.  I cant wait for Fili to get her thing going on the song and then we'll be nearly there.

The traffic lights they are a changing

So the wheels of the media went mental last week to tell us Bob Dylan was now 70. Lots of big shot intellectual music critics were wheeled out and gave the world their tuppenceworth. There's a guy at a University writing a thesis on "Knocked Out Loaded" (from 1986) probably. He gets a call from Radio 4. He talks for 10 arsey minutes. I felt like I'd been covered in foam and buried alive in a garden of nettles. Thi s other guy came on (Greil Marcus?) and said "John Wesley Harding" had the best bass playing of any rock record ever, with considerable authority in his voice, as if to say "I know exactly what I'm talking about" even though he's not a bass player, sound engineer or record producer. He may as well have been dressed as a clown and have been throwing silver paper over the radio when he said that. He also said my favourite Bob album "Nashville Skyline" was hated by the critics and was rubbish. There's me been listening to it for years and loving Bob's funny Yogi Bear voice when he's singing "Lay Lady Lay". Maybe I should have checked with the experts before I decided I liked it.

I was kind of wondering whether Paul Westerberg of the Replacements will get the same treatment when he's 70. For me he's made just as many great records (probably more) that Dylan. But no one really has noticed. In fact his last few solo albums which have sloppy drumming, bad out of tune singing (at times) two  scruffy guitars (at the most) are total classics. They are basically shabby little demos and everything is a first or second take but the lyrics and melodies are amazing-and everything is spur of the moment. Plus Westerberg did a whole bunch of brilliant albums with the Replacements which are pretty obscure as well. I suppose him and Dylan have the same experience of touring with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Except the Replacements got drunk and decided to dress up in the Heartbreakers wife's clothes and went onstage in an arena somewhere to see what would happen. They were chucked off the tour the next day. Unfortunately Paul has bust his hand up trying to get wax off a table with a screwdriver. That seems to have put the shackles on his music career. Greil Marcus wont be writing any 950 page books on Paul Westerberg solo albums anytime soon. Thank christ.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Have trenchcoat will travel

Have Trenchcoat will travel
We’ve been recording this song this week.   Fili wrote the words about a Goth she knows who “plays trombone in a marching band” and “drives around in a Micra dressid in lycra". I had an electro type backing track lying around and when we put the 2 together it sounded pretty fine.  The drums come off a little Korg drum machine and the synths are all from the one Roland SH201. I think the marching band bit sounds good because the little drum machine sounds like a mechanical drummer marching along in front of an army of synthesizers, all heading to their electronic park somewhere for a transistor festival .
I’m never too bothered about whether it’s real drums or pretend drums. Drum loops or sequencers- it’s just rhythm. However  I cant honestly remember the Hussy’s using a synthetic drum. It’s always been Gordy or Chris and their playing is of such a high standard that you don’t ever feel like tightening it up. The only loop we’ve used is Greatest Living Actress.  That’s a 16 second sample of Chris playing his drums in the big room at the Byre, repeated endlessly. We were trying to get that Kate Bush 80’S thing and once Jimmy had processed the drums through a set of effects as long as a length of garden hose it did sound like we’d bought a loop of the Cadbury’s Gorilla laying some beats down in his Malibu studio.
Also been reading a book called Mixerman about a guy recording a band on a major record label in California. He put it up as a blog every night and the whole thing was so amusing that eventually the president of the record company that was trying pathetically to get some kind of record out of the muppets in the band started reading the blog and decided it would be a great PR tool for the band. Dead funny.



Noel Edmunds appears wearing a gorgeous grey pinstripe suit with a carnation. His hair is perfect and he has a little beard-just like always. Did he have that beard as a 4 year old? I notice his microphone looks like a silver Berol  Handwriter pen.

Mud are first. They are dressed in bright green teddy boy drape suits. They look like Hibernian Marchers who’ve lost their way and just decide to give Top of the Pops a twirl anyway. They are singing a disco song that sounds uncannily like “Cant get you out of my head” but the singer keeps breaking into that Teddy Boy dance you always see in 70’s documentaries about British Leyland. It’s  “50’s disco”. The bassist has black fingerless gloves with little studs and he has that look which says “I wish I’d left these in the dressing room”.

Noel Edmunds reappears and seems to disapprove. He’s almost saying telepathically “you had your hits in the early 70’s now F**k off mud”.

Next up it’s Frankie Valli. He’s left his Hoseasons behind in New York. He’s got a medallion round his neck like a bin lid from Top Cat. The song’s about a Fallen Angel.  Frankie seems preoccupied with what he’s having at the Indian Restaurant after recording finishes. Pianos and strings.

Noel makes a sarcastic comment about the tragedy of the fallen angel. It’s meant to be funny but maybe he’s seen the future?

Then it’s the Stylistics singing the old Elvis song " Cant help falling in love" . It’s not them though. It’s some dancers called Ruby Flipper.  The Stylistics version of the song passes and disappears into a distant sun on the other side of the universe. There’s a clock on the wall and it says 20 to 8. Pianos and strings and a disco beat.

Noel then introduces Barry Manilow. He’s wearing a white leather jacket that looks like he bought it in that shop opposite TJ Hughes in Argyle Street. For any non Glaswegians, this shop has been there for years and seems to sell leather stuff. I cant remember its name. Barry kind of half stands/half sits on his seat, like he’s got the tag nut blues. There’s a lot of pianos and strings. Cant remember the song’s name. It’s quarter to 8 and I’m thinking have I pumped up the tyres on my bike?

Cliff Richard sings Devil Woman. Things are looking up.

Noel introduces a guy in a green suit with a lovely green shirt. He has the Berol Handwriter microphone as well. I don’t catch his name as a call centre from India calls me up about buying some telecoms. I tell the guy to call back later as I’m in 1976 and they didn’t have call centres then.  He’s confused but agrees. The guy in the green suit looks like the guest in Fawlty Towers that hides the lady in the room. In fact I’m sure he’s got a tiger’s tooth fertility symbol round his neck. Pianos and strings.

Then it’s a guy called JJ Barrie singing a spoken word country song about a kid invoicing his mother 5 dollars for cutting the lawn. Fair enough I think and I’m just about to phone my Mum and ask her for £3.50 (allowing for international currency fluctuations).He spends the next 3 minutes reciting all the tasks the mother did for the little boy as he was growing up while the words “no charge” keep getting mentioned. JJ Barrie is angry and making a moral point . I shout “no one forced her to have kids “ at the screen but he’s in 1976 and doesn’t hear me.

Finally Noel announces the number 1 record. It’s ABBA with Fernando. ABBA’s worst song by quite a distance. Why couldn’t it be SOS or Mamma Mia? They reach the end of the first chorus and it’s back to Noel. He’s looking in a mirror and kissing himself.

Please don’t bring back Top of the Pops BBC.