Tuesday, 12 February 2008

1970 and all change again...

The Melody Maker contest at the Lyceum was a bit of a laugh, tho it proved quite a learning experience.

The day started early with a trip to Orange Recording Studios - a grandiose title for a couple of small rooms - with a couple of numbers cut for a demo for EMI. This was the first visit to a recording studio.

Later, the group moved on to the Lyceum. Having played at similar sized venues, the place did not intimidate the gang.

My, there were some serious people there. Bands with noses stuck up in the air, other quite happy to chat and discuss guitars and amps, and bossy organisers trying to muster the hairy mob into some kind of order.

Most bands were actually very very good, and the group felt somewhat inadequate in the "image" department. Poor we were with no cash for glitzy stage gear, so we appeared in our old bluesy stuff instead.

I cannot recall all the numbers we played but we did end with "Vehicle", an Edge song in fast 3/4 time written in October 1969 (not the CTA song of the same name that appeared about time of the contest).

Above: Steve with his trusty Telecaster...

Our "Vehicle" had a heavy drone on D, which allowed some searing guitar harmonics to be placed alongside. The harmonies were once unkindly likened to Pearl and Teddy Carr (if you can remember them you are old), and the song had some sweet quiet bits which then erupted into v-e-r-y loud swooshing, and an almost classical ending. Went down quite well that one, even if I say so myself!

We came second. and were offered a contract with Decca. Heard "Vehicle" on the Orange tape much later - volume way up, loads of bass and...wow.

Gigs on the college circuit began to roll in. In Coventry, the band supported Fleetwood Mac, who still had Peter Green (still rated as my favourite blues guitarist), and who were probably the friendliest group the band met.

Before the recording session, I went to "Tin Pan Alley" to work out the strings and brass arrangements with Richard Hartley, the musical director destined for our album. I had mixed feelings cos I felt good in such exalted surroundings, yet it seemed a bit "cosy" and weird to a country boy.

The recording session for "Preflight" took just one day (some now say it was a two day job) in the old Decca studios in West Hampstead. I recall restringing my trusty Telecaster before the session. And it did sound good.

Most songs went down first or second time. Double tracking on some harmonies and extra guitars also. The studio guys were most patient.

There were some songs recorded that didn't see the light of day...what happened to those tapes?

Above: Photo shoot with Dezo Hoffman

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