Sunday, September 30, 2012

time out of mind

Bob Dylan rose reinvigorated and began a new creative renaissance in his career with the dark and dense sonic textures of this murky magnum opus. Dylan considers: "The 'Time Out of Mind' record, that was the beginning of me making records for an audience that I was playing to night after night. They were different people from different walks of life, different environments and ages. There was no reason for these new people to hear songs I'd written thirty years earlier for different purpose. If I was going to continue on, what I needed were new songs, and I had to write them, not necessarily to make records; but to play for the public. The songs on 'Time Out of Mind' weren't meant for somebody to listen to at home. Most of the songs work, whereas before, there might have been better records, but the songs don't work. So i'll stick with what i was doing after 'Time Out of Mind', rather than what I was going in the 70's and 80's, where the songs just don't work...It should connect with people. The thing about it is that there is the old and the new, and you have to connect with them both. The old goes out and the new comes in, but there is no sharp borderline. The old is still happening while the new enters the scene, sometimes unnoticed. The new is overlapping at the same time the old is weakening its hold. It goes on and on like that, forever through the centuries. Sooner or later, before you know it, everything is new, and what happened to the old? It's like a magician trick; but you have to keep connecting with it."

Dylan went back to producer Daniel Lanois, who had helmed his 80's comeback 'Oh Mercy'. Lanois remembers: "Bob had the songs written beforehand, because he comes from that world: he writes the songs ahead of time, and then he brings them into the studio, more or less complete. We put 11 people in the room with him, and that worked out well because in that case there was no mystery about things; Bob was not about to change the chorus or write a new angle for the song – everything was pretty much carved in stone ahead of time. Maybe we would modify a riff or give it a certain musical identity on the day, but we never went into the bedrock and changed it. When you have the luxury of the song being already written ahead of time, the job at hand is to serve the song and to come up with as cool and as soulful a vibe as you can. There’s also an automatic depth of field that you get by having 11 people playing together in a room. Every microphone is open literally to someone 50 feet away, who’s going to sound literally 50 feet away through the vocal mic. As a result, 'Time Out of Mind' is dripping with ambience. It paints such a picture that you can really feel the presence of people in the room, and that’s an exciting sensation. It’s like hearing a great Miles Davis record, where you know that everyone was doing it in the room at the same time."

The sessions at Criteria Recording Studios in Miami, Florida included Dylan on guitar, harmonica, piano, vocals, production; with Bucky Baxter on acoustic guitar, and pedal steel; Brian Blade on drums; Robert Britt on Martin acoustic, and Fender Stratocaster; Cindy Cashdollar on slide guitar; Jim Dickinson on keyboards, Wurlitzer electric piano, and pump organ; Tony Garnier on bass guitar and upright bass; Jim Keltner on drums; David Kemper on drums; Daniel Lanois on guitar, mando-guitar, Firebird, Martin 0018, Gretsch gold top, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, production, and photography; Tony Mangurian on percussion; Augie Meyers on Vox organ combo, Hammond B3 organ, and accordion; Duke Robillard on guitar and electric l5 Gibson; Winston Watson on drums.

Dickinson admits: "I haven't been able to tell what's actually happening. I know they were listening to playbacks, I don't know whether they were trying to mix it or not! Twelve musicians playing live—three sets of drums,... it was unbelievable—two pedal steels, I've never even heard two pedal steels played at the same time before! ... I don't know man, I thought that much was overdoing it, quite frankly. "

Dylan explains: "I lose my inspiration in the studio real easy, and it's very difficult for me to think that I'm going to eclipse anything I've ever done before. I get bored easily, and my mission, which starts out wide, becomes very dim after a few failed takes and this and the past, when my records were made, the producer, or whoever was in charge of my sessions, felt it was just enough to have me sing an original song. There was never enough work put into developing the orchestration, and that always made me feel very disillusioned about recording. 'Time Out of Mind' is more illuminated, rather than just a song and the singing of that song. The arrangements or structures are really an integral part of the whole...We just opened up that door at that particular time, and in the passage of time we’ll go back in and extend that. But I didn’t feel like it was an ending to anything. I thought it was more the beginning...The high priority is technology now. It's not the artist or the art. It's the technology that is coming through. That's what makes 'Time Out of Mind'... it doesn't take itself seriously, but then again, the sound is very significant to that record. If that record was made more haphazardly, it wouldn't have sounded that way. It wouldn't have had the impact that it did.... There wasn't any wasted effort on 'Time Out of Mind' and I don't think there will be on any more of my records.”

'Time Out of Mind' went to thirty-six in Spain, twenty-eight in Finland and the Netherlands, twenty-four in Australia, twenty in Switzerland, fifteen in France, twelve in Austria, eleven in Belgium and New Zealand, ten in the UK and the US, six in Germany, five in Sweden, and number two in Norway. The album won Grammys for Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk Album, and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.

"Cold Irons Bound" 

"Love Sick" 

"Dirt Road Blues" 

"Tryin' to Get to Heaven"

"Not Dark Yet" 

'Time Out of Mind' 
full album:

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

1. "Love Sick"   5:21
2. "Dirt Road Blues"   3:36
3. "Standing in the Doorway"   7:43
4. "Million Miles"   5:52
5. "Tryin' to Get to Heaven"   5:21
6. "'Til I Fell in Love with You"   5:17
7. "Not Dark Yet"   6:29
8. "Cold Irons Bound"   7:15
9. "Make You Feel My Love"   3:32
10. "Can't Wait"   5:47
11. "Highlands"   16:31

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Peter Gabriel poured his personal pain into the diverse introspection of this pop fusion of world music with art rock. 'Us' draws heavily from Gabriel's own experience:   "I think there's a lot of me in the music, particularly the last record came after divorce and the breakup of another relationship; so there's quite a lot of that in it...I think music is partly exorcism, partly trance, and it's also fun...There's always been a division in our society: these people are the clever ones, the creative ones; and these people have to do regular jobs and they're not creative - which is bullshit. We're all born with curious, imaginative minds and capable of expressing ourselves creatively."

The sessions took place at the brand new Real World Studios from October of 1989 through June of 1992 with Gabriel co-producing with Daniel Lanois. Lanois recalls: "It's true that Peter likes detail, but he also likes performance a lot. Having watched Peter for a long time now, I know that this is the aspect of recording that he enjoys the most: giving it hell and jamming it out with the band. His attention to detail generally goes into the area of sonic creativity. He likes to break new ground sonically and I encouraged him to spend time on that."

David Bottrill was the programming engineer. He remembers the genesis of Real World Studios: "When Daniel went over to the UK in 1985 to work with Peter Gabriel on his album 'So', he called me halfway through it and I went over to assist the project. When we had finished, I stayed and worked for Peter and then he bought the property for Real World Studios. I helped him with ideas, a bit of the design and what I thought would be good to have in the studio...Those years were unparalleled for me. I learnt so much in so many different areas—it was a fantastic education. I learnt how to build a studio, but I also learnt about different styles of music; we worked on music from Africa, Pakistan, India, and all kinds of world music."

Gabriel explains: "I was never able to make records quickly. Having paid enough recording costs to purchase several studios, it suddenly occurred to me that I should get some setup that allowed me to spend whatever time I wanted recording. We built Real World the way that I'd always wanted a recording studio to be. Most studios at that time were cellars with disco lights. That wasn't an environment I found very easy or comfortable to work in. We built what I think may still be the world's largest control room so we could put a lot of musicians in the control room together rather than in the live room or a recording booth. From the word go the musicians were part of the process, although that can make life difficult for the engineer sometimes. But there's a general sense that it's a good space. We have good acousticians who control the environment. It has lots of windows that fill the studio with natural daylight. The studio is on the edge of a river, so we pointed the control room out at the water so we're looking at swans or an occasional otter rather than an irate drummer. We were getting musicians in from all over the world, so we tried to make them feel comfortable and even get the food right. Although it's in the countryside it's located by the main London to Bristol railway line. Trains often shoot through at high volume, so it cost a lot more than I anticipated to soundproof the studio...We've had these wonderful recording weeks where we would hijack a lot of the musicians from the WOMAD festival and bring in songwriters, poets, and producers. It was like a big dating agency for creative people from around the world. We kept a café going 24 hours and encouraged people to explore interesting ideas or noises and get together. It was effectively a bring-your-own studio party. Unfortunately we never found a way to make it pay for itself, so that concept died recently...I think there are two forms of creative energy. One is 'energy A', which is an analytical energy where you layer things up track by track, then zoom in and work on little details. The other is 'energy Zed', which is a Zen-like performance energy that is spontaneous and improvised and produces a different animal. Both are useful and important. The smart process involves harvesting performances then analyzing them and layering them up. Initially you might just look at rhythm, then maybe you look at melody, then harmony, then timbre. Each time you put down a layer of performance you slow it down and analyze it. Musicians need to be aware of how they work. Sometimes you just need to flip it and do it the other way and see what happens. Working backwards is an exploratory process. I love diversions and I keep on following them, which makes the process a lot longer."

The sessions included Gabriel on vocals and keyboards; Tony Levin on bass; David Rhodes on guitar; Manu Katché on drums; The Babacar Faye Drummers on sabar drums; Doudou N'Diaye Rose on drum loops; Chris Ormston on bagpipes; Daniel Lanois on shaker, guitar, hi-hat, dobro, horn arrangements, and vocals; Richard Blair on additional verse keyboards and programming; Levon Minassian on doudouk; Hassam Ramzy on tabla and surdu; Daryl Johnson on hand drum; William Orbit on programming; Bill Dillon on guitar; Wayne Jackson on trumpet; Mark Rivera on alto saxophone; Brian Eno on additional keys; Shankar on violin; Caroline Lavelle on cello and string arrangement; Will Malone and Johnny Dollar on string arrangements; Richard Evans on additional engineering, mix engineer, and mandolin; Gus Isidore on bridge guitar; Richard Chappell on bridge section mix; Leo Nocentelli on guitar; Tim Green on tenor saxophone; Reggie Houston on baritone saxophone; Renard Poché on trombone; Wayne Jackson on trumpet and cornet; Kudsi Erguner on ney flute and shaker; Malcolm Burn on horn arrangement, additional synth cello, and additional production ideas; Mark Howard on horns recording; Babacar Faye on djembe; Assane Thiam on tama and talking drum; John Paul Jones on surdu; Adzido Pan African Dance Ensemble on additional percussion loop; Manny Elias on Senegalese shakers; with technical support from Brian Eno, Mike Large, Sue Coulson, and Brian Gray; and vocals by Sinéad O'Connor, Ayub Ogada, Peter Hammill, Marilyn McFarlane, Richard Macphailand the Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble.

'Us' went to number eight in the Netherlands; seven in Norway; six in New Zealand; four in Canada; three in Italy; two in France, Sweden, the UK, and the US; and number one in Germany.

The psychotherapeutic 'Digging in the Dirt' clawwed its way up to number fifty-two in the US, thirty-nine in the Netherlands, twenty-five in New Zealand, twenty-four in the UK, twenty-three in Australia and Germany, ten in Italy, and number one on the US mainstream rock tracks chart. The video won a Grammy in 1993 for Best Short Form Music Video.

The funky sledgehammer-esque 'Steam' rose to number forty-eight in Germany, thirty-two in the US, twenty-nine in Australia, twenty-seven in the Netherlands, ten in the UK, seven in Ireland and New Zealand, two on the US mainstream rock tracks chart, and number one in Canada. In 1994, the video won Gabriel the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video for the second year in a row.

The duet with Sinéad O'Connor 'Blood of Eden' ebbed at number seventy-three in Canada and forty-three in the UK.

'Kiss That Frog' hopped to forty-six in the UK, thirty-six in Canada, and number eighteen on the US mainstream rock tracks chart.

'Come Talk to Me' describes Gabriel's struggle to communicate with his daughter.

Peter Gabriel - Come Talk To Me - Secret World Live from Delfin on Vimeo.

'All About Us' is a "foray into the thinking and the technology that lies behind the most popular tracks from Peter Gabriel's US album".

The 'Secret World Live' video won Gabriel another Grammy for Best Long Form Music Video in 1996.


full album:

All songs written by Peter Gabriel.

"Come Talk to Me" – 7:06

"Love to Be Loved" – 5:18
"Blood of Eden" – 6:38
"Steam" – 6:03
"Only Us" – 6:30
"Washing of the Water" – 3:52
"Digging in the Dirt" – 5:18
"Fourteen Black Paintings" – 4:38
"Kiss That Frog" – 5:20
"Secret World" – 7:03

"Plus From Us"

Friday, September 28, 2012

strangeways, here we come

The Smiths expanded their sound and came to the end of the road with the grim and glorious pop accomplishments of their sad and strange swansong.  'Strangeways, Here We Come' was recorded at the Wool Hall in Beckington, Somerset with Morrissey on vocals and piano; Johnny Marr on guitar, keyboards, harmonica, autoharp, synthesized strings and saxophone arrangements; Andy Rourke on bass guitar; and Mike Joyce on drums. Stephen Street provided additional drum machine programming and string arrangements. "Orchestrazia Ardwick" is listed for performance of the strings and saxophone arrangements; but this was merely Marr and his synthesizer. Marr, Morrissey, and Street co-produced the sessions with Steve Williams as assistant engineer.

Joyce remembers:  "Obviously Johnny had some riffs he'd been working on and Morrissey always had his notebook of lyrics on the go, but it was all on the hoof. Most of 'Strangeways' was written in the studio through a lot of jams coming together. 'Death Of A Disco Dancer' was one of the first. I remember playing away with Johnny, really excited, looking at me over the drum kit spurring me on, saying, 'Carry on, more, more!' We'd got to that point as musicians where we just played together brilliantly, whatever we did."

Rourke attests: "Everybody thinks we were falling apart, but we weren't. 'Strangeways' was the best time the four of us ever had as a group."

Street explains: "All this crap about it being the last album, that it must have been depressing. Well it wasn't. It was a fantastic session and a fantastic time. 'Strangeways' was just ... just a laugh!...They were going through a big 'Spinal Tap' phase at the time. Mike, Andy and Johnny could play anything from the 'Spinal Tap' soundtrack. They'd suddenly launch into 'Big Bottom' - but again, only when Morrissey wasn't in the room. They used to keep building Stonehenges with fag packets, dotted around the studio. There's videotape of it somewhere as Johnny had just bought himself a camcorder which was cutting-edge at the time. He must have hours of footage...There was a bit of a crack-up in the studio when we were doing overdubs on 'I Started Something I Couldn't Finish'. I'd spent an afternoon working with Johnny, doing bits and bobs with guitars, and I took a cassette of it across to the cottage attached to the studio, where Morrissey was watching TV. I played it to him and he started complaining, 'Oh no, I don't like that bit' and 'I don't like this bit'. So I took the tape back to Johnny and said, 'Mozzer doesn't like these things.' And Johnny flipped. He snapped back, 'Well, fuck him! Let him think of something!' I think he was getting exhausted always having to be the one to come up with musical ideas. It was weird because I'd been working with them for three years and that was the first time I'd ever seen a crack between Morrissey and Johnny...That aside, I always remember that session as great fun. I think there was a feeling within the group that they were making a fantastic piece of work, that they were still together after everything that had gone on the year before. But there was this thing looming in the background. This Ken Friedman situation...Johnny was obviously sick and tired of managing their affairs, having to be the person to do all the hiring and firing of people, and rightly so. Ken Friedman was supposedly going to be their manager so he turned up at the studio. And that's when it became quite obvious to me that Morrissey didn't want Ken around. He didn't like him, whereas Johnny felt that Ken was somebody who could come in and clear up all the affairs and take a bit of pressure off him. He just wanted to get on with being a great musician, he didn't want to deal with the hassle of all this stuff. I think Johnny felt like Morrissey was being unreasonable."

Marr focused on the completion of the album; but when it was finished he called a band meeting at Geales fish 'n' chip restaurant in Notting Hill

Rourke remembers, "We actually split up in a chippy."
Joyce adds: "Johnny told us that he wanted some time off, but it was obvious he just wanted to leave. And I said, 'Can't we just do one more album?' I don't think he was prepared for that. He wanted back-up, but we wouldn't give him any. It was out of the blue. None of us wanted to split the band up."
Rourke interjects: "But even if Johnny had decided to stay, everybody knew that he wasn't happy - so it was bound to fall apart anyway. But Morrissey was devastated. We all had private lives whereas Morrissey really didn't. The Smiths was his life. Mind you, it was all our lives. I didn't know what to do with myself for years. I still don't."

Marr said at the time:  "I'm not denying that there weren't certain problems involving the band, and it's also very true that a group like The Smiths can begin to take over your whole life and all your energy. That's certainly happened to me, but the major reason for me going was simply that there are things I want to do, musically, that there is just not scope for in The Smiths...I've got absolutely no problem with what The Smiths are doing. The stuff we've just done for the new album is great, the best we've ever done. I'm really proud of it. But there are things that I want to do that can only happen outside of The Smiths."

Morrissey admits: "To a certain extent I'm upset and it's quite harrowing, but it's really just something I have to live with. I'm certainly not going to lie down and die, not by any means. Sorry. Most of what I ever felt about The Smiths came from within me anyway, and it can't really be touched by, shall we say, any comings and goings. It was brewing for a long time, and although many people didn't realise it, I certainly did. It was less of a blow really... not terribly surprising..."

Mike Joyce considers:  "I sometimes think about it, and the way I see it is that maybe it had just run its course anyway. Instead of asking who was to blame, I think The Smiths and the relationship between Johnny and Morrissey was too intense to have any longevity. That's why Johnny didn't want to do it any more, because ultimately what used to make him happy was making him sad. Maybe we'd done as much as we could have done. Maybe after 'Strangeways' we just didn't have anywhere else to go. I'd rather it did have an end than let it go sour, so maybe with 'Strangeways' we went out the way we should have. On top."

Marr muses:  "I don't want to get too over-emotional about this but I really am massively proud of all the things that The Smiths have done and achieved and so from that point of view, of course, it's all really sad, especially for the group's fans who've always been brilliant. But on the other hand, I'm looking forward to doing new things, and to hearing what Morrissey will come up with. I think the change will actually do him a lot of good. I certainly hope so. But, in the final analysis, the thing that used to make me happy was making me miserable and so I just had to get out."

Morrissey attests:  "'Strangeways' perfects every lyrical and musical notion The Smiths have ever had. It isn't dramatically, obsessively different in any way and I'm quite glad it isn't because I've been happy with the structure we've had until now. It's far and away the best record we've ever made."

'Strangeways, Here We Come' went to number fifty-five in the US, thirty-three in Germany, twenty-eight in Australia, twenty-seven in Canada, twenty in the Netherlands, fourteen in New Zealand, thirteen in Sweden, and number two in the UK. It has been certified gold in the UK and the US.  "Strangeways" is the name of a large prison in the Smiths' hometown of Manchester, England.  The cover photo is Richard Davalos, on location during the filming of Elia Kazan's 'East of Eden'.

"Girlfriend in a Coma" languished at number thirteen in the UK and twelve in Ireland. 

Girlfriend in a coma, I know
I know - it's serious
Girlfriend in a coma, I know
I know - it's really serious
There were times when I could
Have "murdered" her
(But you know, I would hate
Anything to happen to her)
Do you really think
She'll pull through ?
Do you really think
She'll pull through ?
Do you...?
Girlfriend in a coma, I know
I know - it's serious
My, my, my, my, my, my baby, goodbye
There were times when I could
Have "strangled" her
(But you know, I would hate
Anything to happen to her)
Do you really think
She'll pull through ?
Do you really think
She'll pull through ?
Do you...?
Let me whisper my last goodbyes

"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" ended up at number twenty-three in the UK and thirteen in Ireland.

"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" went to number thirty in the UK and seventeen in Ireland. 

"Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" only charted at number ninety-one in Australia.

'Strangeways, Here We Come'

full album:

All tracks written by Morrissey and Johnny Marr.

1. "A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours" 3:00
2. "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" 3:47
3. "Death of a Disco Dancer" 5:26
4. "Girlfriend in a Coma" 2:03
5. "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" 3:32
6. "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" 5:03
7. "Unhappy Birthday" 2:46
8. "Paint a Vulgar Picture" 5:35
9. "Death at One's Elbow" 2:01
10. "I Won't Share You" 2:48


Thursday, September 27, 2012

forever now

The Psychedelic Furs dealt with the loss of two members by going into the studio with Todd Rundgren to create the slick and synthesized sophistication of this transitional pop classic. With the departure of saxophonist Duncan Kilburn and guitarist Roger Morris, the remaining quartet went to Woodstock, New York to record with Todd Rundgren at Bearsville Studios.

Richard recalls: "I think it was a suggestion of Vince's, our drummer. He was a big Todd Rundgren fan, and though I wasn't a fan, I did like the Patti Smith album and the New York Dolls album he had done. And the idea of recording in America was pretty appealing. And also, Steve Lillywhite had said at that point he would do two albums but he wouldn't do three. So we were at that point looking elsewhere. And also because we wanted to put cellos and things in. It was a lso to do a lot with the mood in England at the time. After the big punk rock thing - the purity of guitars and everything - music was starting to have more synthesizers in it. People like Soft Cell were interesting, so it was like, Okay, let's try and get somebody with a synthesizer to do some stuff. With 'Forever Now', everyone said Todd Rundgren is the sort of person who'll sneak in and play things himself and he'll push you in this direction and he's very dictatorial in the studio, and we went in and everyone said 'Look what Todd Rundgren's done to the Psychedelic Furs, he's done this and this'. . .But when you listen to the demos we did for the album back in London before we even met him, there were cellos on it and marimbas. It wasn't that he pushed us in that direction, it was rather that we chose him because we needed up going in that direction and we thought,' Ah, Todd's a good person to use for that.'"

Rundgren played keyboards and saxophone and brought in the in-house horn section of Gary Windo and Donn Adams, cellist Ann Sheldon, as well as vocal duo Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan). Richard Butler sang lead vocals, John Ashton played guitar, with Tim Butler on bass, and Vince Ely on drums.

Tim Butler considers: "My personal favourite is 'Forever Now'. Musically I think those songs have extremely interesting arrangements and use both horns and strings very inventively, while still maintaining the energy and attitude of the earlier albums. And the lyrics are the best, from the best...The reduction in members had its good points and bad points. Less members meant less arguments, and also decisions could be made quicker and easier. Although arguments can sometimes be constructive, for us, it was becoming less and less the case. Having less permanent members also meant more space for more inventive arrangement and instrumentation."

'Forever Now' went to number eighty-three in Canada, sixty-one in the US, forty-nine in Australia, thirty-five in Sweden, twenty in the UK, and number four in New Zealand.

Richard reflects: "I sometimes wonder what would have happened or how we would have sounded if we had been the same group of people. I don't think there would have been the radical change that there was with 'Forever Now'."

"Love My Way" was the only single from the album to chart, going to forty-four in the US, forty-two in the UK, twenty-three in Australia, and number nine in New Zealand.

Richard: "I wasn't that keen on the idea at first. He wanted to use Flo and Eddie who had worked with Frank Zappa and also done a bunch of stuff with T Rex. He was only bringing them in for a couple of days; he said 'They're very quick workers, if you don't like it, don't use it,' and it's hard to argue with that. So we tried it and liked it. They're on 'Love My Way' most noticeably. As soon as Todd heard 'Love My Way,' he saw that as being the single...John and I were working together, and not wanting to go round to his place with no ideas - I'd supposed to have been working on a song which I hadn't done - so on the morning I was going round to his house I had one of those stylophone things and I had this 'dadadadadadananananananan' just those two changes, I think I'd been listening to 'Scary Monsters', that must have informed it a bit, and came up with this vocal melody and all the words within the space of about an hour, and he absolutely hated it and didn't get it. We put it down and then Ed Bueller, a friend of ours, came round with his keyboard a and put the marimba part on, it by which time John went 'wow, this sounds great now' and we sent it off to Todd who said 'well the vocals sound a little bit angry, why don't you try singing a little bit more,' and having been through that already with Sister Europe I was like, Yeah, okay."

There's an army on the dance floor
It's a fashion with a gun my love
In a room without a door
A kiss is not enough in
Love my way, it's a new road
I follow where my mind goes
They'd put us on a railroad
They'd dearly make us pay
For laughing in their faces
And making it our way
There's emptiness behind their eyes
There's dust in all their hearts
They just want to steal us all
And take us all apart
But not in
Love my way, it's a new road
I follow where my mind goes

"Forever Now" 

a banker in a tired suit
is counting in his head
he's standing in your overcoat
he's lying on your bed
president gas is tap dancing
for the banker he's a thief
he isn't very honest
but he's obvious at least
you and i are walking past yeah
having lost our way
we don't count our money
we are giving it away
yeah giving it away

this policeman is just sitting down
in sunglasses and dirt
undercover now at least
so nobody gets hurt
they go through this pantomime
they do it everyday
they'll be back again tomorrow
but they don't play for free
you and i are walking past yeah
having lost our way
we don't count our paper
we are giving it away
yeah giving it away

doesn't this remind you
of these things we've done before
like counting all the times
we've seen ourselves in other scenes
everybody's busy
listening and pulling blinds
this is all so stupid
we're just shouting i want you
you and i are walking past yeah
having lost our way
we don't count our money
we are giving it away
yeah giving it away
let it stay forever now


'Forever Now' 
full album:

All songs written by Richard Butler, John Ashton, Tim Butler and Vince Ely

Side A:
"Forever Now" – 5:35
"Love My Way" – 3:33
"Goodbye" – 3:55
"Only You and I" – 4:24
"Sleep Comes Down" – 3:51
Side B:
"President Gas" – 5:35
"Run and Run" – 3:48
"Danger" – 2:37
"No Easy Street" – 4:04
"Yes I Do" – 3:54

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

urban hymns

The Verve rose revitalized from their own ashes to produce their most successful album with this sprawling celestial paean to new possibilities.  Just as their album 'A Northern Soul'  was beginning to take off, lead singer Richard Ashcroft broke up the band only to reform it weeks later without guitarist Nick McCabe. They worked briefly with Suede guitarist Bernard Butler before bringing in former schoolmate Simon Tong. They recorded a few songs with Martin "Youth" Glover producing; but the sound wasn't working for Ashcroft and he decided that they needed to get McCabe back into the fold.  Simon Jones recalls:   "After a few months it became very apparent that there wasn't much point recording the music without Nick, because people would be asking `So what are you going to be called?'." Ashcroft adds:  "Instinctively the time came to ring Nick up and say let's do it. I knew I was right...because in a week we were in a room, laughing about it all."

McCabe looks back on the separation and Ashcroft's insecurity: "Everybody in Wigan had heard all this stuff and I hadn't heard anything. People were sort of protecting me from it. But everybody had all the tapes from all the sessions so far. Basically what I was hearing from people was that it was like very song based, almost like a country rock thing...He needs somebody to be either more stressed out then him or to argue with him. So I'm thinkin, 'He's got this record here and he thinks it's a big stadium record and it's got to be weirder, get the weird bloke back in. You know, he made all those funny noises and people will think we're crazy and experimental.'  So he gets me back and it's some sort of convoluted attempt to inject a bit of creditability in it. Then it's a really weird drugs record...then the record came out and he got all these accolades and slaps on the back and he's like, 'Well, what was I worrying about?'"

Ashcroft admits: "Oh yeah, I mean we had our problems, no one's denying that. When the group split up I knew that we needed some breathing space, I just didn't know quite how things were going to work out. We weren't communicating at all: things just weren't going to plan...the point is, we had to split. I couldn't lie any more. I don't like living a lie and we had to do it. When we were recording Northern Soul we went into the scary zone, to places where it takes a long time to come to terms with what went on there...and that time away, that 18 months or whatever it is has given us the strength to last another 10 years. It's helped beyond recognition. I tell ya, it's been the longest fuckin' road I've ever been down. The thing is, I love Nick McCabe, and I never want to be in a band if he's not playing the guitar. I hope he thinks the same way about me. We just needed that time to realise it... The point is, now we're back in this situation and the only thing to do is infiltrate it and take what's ours...There's a darker side to this country, and I'm its flag-bearer."

They switched producers to Chris Potter and spent seven months at Olympic Studios in London re-recording most of the tracks with Ashcroft on vocals and guitar, McCabe on lead guitar, Jones on bass guitar, Peter Salisbury on drums, and Simon Tong on guitar and keyboards. McCabe considers:   "The best stuff we did really was spur-of-the-moment stuff. Because I've got a thing about rooms, I think a lot of stuff that we wrote was influenced by the very room that we were in. I got sucked into them. Two months later I thought, 'That's why the record doesn't sound right, because we can't get the room anymore.' We've got like fifty grand worth of reverbs and Mexican shit...I spent like seven months on the record. Basically the key tracks were recorded from scratch, but some of them were already there...Chris Potter was just a classic gentleman, a nice bloke. Sometimes he gets a bit touchy, though."

Jones explains: "It's simple: when we play live, we'll be jamming -- we can play together. We're not musos but we have got an instinctive way of playing music together. The chemistry is massive. We know having broken up and gone through all that... the 18 months in the wilderness gave us some perspective on how important music was to all of us, y'know, we all had to come to terms with The Verve split-up. None of us could come to terms with it. That's why we got back together, because we knew how important it was."

'Urban Hymns' went to number twenty-three in the US; sixteen in the Netherlands; fifteen in Canada; thirteen in Switzerland; eleven in Belgium and Germany; nine in Australia, Austria, and France; four in Finland and Norway; and number one in New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK.

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" was a worldwide smash, going to number thirty-seven in Germany; twenty-one in Belgium; sixteen in France; fifteen in Austria, Switzerland, and New Zealand; fourteen in the Netherlands; twelve in the US; eleven in Australia; ten in Sweden; nine in Norway; six in Finland; five in Canada; four on the US alternative chart; three in Ireland; two in Italy and the UK; and number one on the Canadian alternative chart.

Ashcroft says it's about: "The whole idea of how much can we break outside the code which we have been given by our ancestors, family, where we're born, our environment, how far can you get out of that. Is it inevitable that all my father's traits are going to start coming out of me in any given situation. It's just about that feeling of sometimes being completely and utterly trapped and having your life written for you."

The song sampled an orchestral arrangement of 'Last Time' by the Rolling Stones and their former manager Allen Klein sued for all royalties. Jones says: "We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split, and then they saw how well the record was doing. They rung up and said we want 100 per cent or take it out of the shops, you don't have much choice." Ashcroft adds: "Obviously at first my reaction...I wanted to smash a few doors down. But then you think at the end of the day that song, whoever owns it, we know it's us...We've got to go beyond that and realize that song has opened up many doors around the world for us, where people don't know our story about breaking up, they just connected with it."

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life

Try to make ends meet
You're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet yeah,
No change, I can't change
I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
But I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
Well I never pray
But tonight I'm on my knees yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airways are clean and there's nobody singing to me now
No change, I can't change
I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
I can't change
I can't change
'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
Try to find some money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the things meet yeah
You know I can't change, I can't change
I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
I can't change my mold
no, no, no, no, no,
I can't change
Can't change my body, no, no, no
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down

Have you ever been down?

"The Drugs Don't Work" went to eighty-seven in Germany, seventy-two in France, sixty-one in the Netherlands, twenty-two in Australia, eighteen in Sweden, thirteen in Norway, ten in New Zealand, nine in Finland, three in Ireland, and number one in the UK.

"Lucky Man" hit eighty-nine in Germany; eighty-eight in France; sixty in Australia; thirty-eight in New Zealand; twenty-five in Canada; sixteen in Ireland, Finland, and the US alternative chart; and seven on the Canadian alternative chart and in the UK.

"Sonnet" charted at eighty-three in Australia, seventy-four, and forty-three in New Zealand.

'Urban Hymns'

full album:

All songs written by Richard Ashcroft, except where noted. Produced by The Verve and Youth, except where noted.

1. "Bitter Sweet Symphony"  (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ashcroft)  5:58
2. "Sonnet"  4:21
3. "The Rolling People" (The Verve) produced by The Verve and Chris Potter      7:01
4. "The Drugs Don't Work" 5:05
5. "Catching the Butterfly" (The Verve)  produced by The Verve and Chris Potter   6:26
6. "Neon Wilderness" (Nick McCabe, The Verve)   produced by The Verve and Chris Potter 2:37
7. "Space and Time"  produced by The Verve and Chris Potter   5:36
8. "Weeping Willow"   produced by The Verve and Chris Potter   4:49
9. "Lucky Man" 4:53
10. "One Day" 5:03
11. "This Time" 3:50
12. "Velvet Morning" 4:57
13. "Come On"   (The Verve)  produced by The Verve and Chris Potter   15:15
"Come On"
"Deep Freeze"

"Bitter Sweet Symphony" (Ashcroft) – 0:00

"Sonnet" (Ashcroft) – 5:58
"The Rolling People" – 10:19
"The Drugs Don't Work" (Ashcroft) - 17:22
"Catching the butterfly" – 22:27
"Neon Wilderness" (McCabe/Verve) - 28:53
"Space and Time" (Ashcroft) – 31:31
"Weeping Willow" (Ashcroft) – 37:08
"Lucky Man" (Ashcroft) – 41:58
"One Day" (Ashcroft) – 46:51
"This Time" (Ashcroft) – 51:55
"Velvet Morning" (Ashcroft) – 55:46
"Come On" – 1:00:43
"Deep freeze", (hidden track) 1:07:17


"Life's An Ocean" (live) 1:09:31

"Lord I Guess I'll Never Know" (Ashcroft) 1:15:04
"Country Song" 1:19:58
"So Sister" (Ashcroft) 1:27:52
"Echo Bass" 1:32:04
"Three Steps" (Ashcroft) 1:38:44
"The Crab" (Ashcroft) 1:43:50
"Stamped" 1:49:29
"Never Wanna See You Cry" (Ashcroft) 1:55:03
"MSG" 1:59:36
"The Longest Day" 2:06:58
"drugs don't work" (demo) 2:14:19

00:00 "Bitter Sweet Symphony"

05:59 "Sonnet"
10:21 "The Rolling People"
17:23 "The Drugs Don't Work"
22:28 "Catching the Butterfly"
28:55 "Neon Wilderness"
31:32 "Space and Time"
37:08 "Weeping Willow"
42:00 "Lucky Man"
46:52 "One Day"
51:56 "This Time"
55:47 "Velvet Morning"
1:00:45 "Come On"
1:07:20 (silence)
1:13:45 "Deep Freeze"