You’ll both no doubt recall that I have started to record some music at home, as a displacement activity while I cannot play with my regular beat combo for reasons that will hardly need to be explained. You can listen to it here, in this free-to-air link on SoundCloud, a social media app for sharing one’s own music. The set is called Locked Down and Blue. Here are some liner notes.
Average Feat (Borley/ Coleman/ Gee/ Sales/ Stevenson/ Thompson) started as a funky blues riff, at a soundcheck with the D. C. Wilson Band. We thought it was what might result from a collaboration between the Average White Band and Little Feat, hence the name.
Down By The River (Coleman/ Gee) is is a gospel-tinged tune – Dominic came up with the words and the chords just wrote themselves.
Can’t Change The Past (Coleman/ Gee) is another collaboration between Dom and myself.
Wet Dog (Borley/ Coleman/ Gee/ Sales/ Stevenson/ Turner-Hook) came from a rough song I came up with at home. I didn’t have a name for it, so for the sake of a label I named it after the first thing that came to mind… I must have just come back from the beach with the dog. Dominic took this literally when the band worked it up at a jam session. It was meant to be fairly light but during the recording I seem to have channeled Jim Steinman.
Green To Play The Blues (Borley/ Coleman/ Gee/ Sales/ Stevenson/ Turner-Hook) is another one that came out of a D. C. Wilson Band jam session that happened ‘down in the country’. This one started as a riff from guitarist Simon Sales, but I developed it to include an hommage to the late Peter Green, with whom I’d had the immense privilege of joining at a jam session — twice. The first version of the song featured faux GarageBand guitar played from a keyboard, and I wasn’t really very happy with it. However, I updated it with real guitar after having bought an Epiphone Les Paul I-P90 during the recording of this set. I think it sounds a lot better now.
The Gambler (Traditional, arr. Gee) is yet another cover of a traditional song, again done by the Limeliters, also from 14 14K Folksongs. The roots of this song are once again lost in the proverbial mists of time, but it surfaces occasionally with titles such as ‘Gambler’s Blues’ or ‘St James Infirmary’, so I felt I could give it a new title – especially as I have reworked it extensively. Perhaps the best-known version is ‘St James Infirmary Blues’ by Cab Calloway (listen here, and watch this bizarre Betty-Boop-Snow-White visuals). And here is Arlo Guthrie, performing another version.
Lockdown Blues (Gee) was something I came up with while walking the dogs. I expect many other people have written similar songs. Here I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of a jam session. The only GarageBand sound here is the stand-up bass. Everything else is ‘real’ – piano, electric guitar, two acoustic guitars, djembe drum and accordion. I did it in free time, which shows, rather. It’s much faster at the end than at the beginning.
A Change AMJ (Cooke/ Holler) is a medley of two favourites, the first by Sam Cooke, the second made famous by Marvin Gaye.
Technical Notes for People Who Like That Sort Of Thing: My recording platform of choice is GarageBand 11, which I have used on a previous project. I trigger the GarageBand sounds with a Keystation Mk3 49 USB keyboard from M-Audio. For anyone who asks, I do not intend to upgrade to Logic or any other platform, for fear of being lost in minutiae and distracted from the business of making music. Yes, it has its limitations, but I enjoy working with (and around) them.
Nearly all the organ, clavinet and electric piano sounds are from a Crumar Mojo 61 drawbar keyboard, and most of the acoustic piano sounds come from a Yamaha Clavinova CLP20.
Some of the accordion is from a tiny 12-bass Bell model reputedly once owned by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. The rest is from a great big Galotta 120-bass model I got for my 18th birthday and which still offers hours of innocent pleasure forty years later, for me, if not my neighbours.
Some of what sounds like guitar is faked through GarageBand.This includes everything that’s meant to sound like lead guitar. My capability in guitar is strictly rhythm. What passes for real electric guitar comes from an Epiphone Les Paul I-P90. There is also some real acoustic guitar (a budget 6-string with the top string removed, as I kept bumping into it) and real acoustic slide guitar (a different budget 6-string acoustic). There’s also a metal djembe drum, which supplies all the rhythm in Lockdown Blues and is the only instrument on What BB Did Next.
Vocals (as well as accordion, acoustic guitar and djembe) are recorded through a no-name microphone, and all external sounds go into a Behringer Xenyx 802 mixer, which feeds the sound into a 2009 model 24-inch iMac running OSX Lion. (Don’t knock it – it’s much stabler than my other iMac, which has OSX Catalina, and also has a handy CD slot, so I can burn CDs). Monitoring is through a Behringer Xenyx 302 mixer, Bose bookshelf speakers and Beyerdynamic DT 150 headphones. So now you know.