Thursday, December 31, 2015

don't you (forget about me)

Simple Minds worked through their troubles and doubts to achieve their greatest success with the adolescent angst of this artful anamnesis.   The Scottish group had developed over a half dozen albums (Life in a Day  and  Real to Real Cacophony in 1979,  Empires and Dance in 1980,  Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call in 1981,  New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84) in 1982,  and  Sparkle in the Rain in 1984) from post punk  to experimental art rock to electronic dance to new wave with increasing visibility and sales in Europe and Australia; but they had failed to break through in the United States.  

Lead singer Jim Kerr says the band was at "a crossroads. There's loads of reasons why, but you just can't compare 1981 to the age of MTV. The game had changed and so had we. Once we'd gone to America there was a sense of: 'You know what, why don't we just break it here? Why can't we?'"

The opportunity afforded itself with a song written by producer Keith Forsey and arranger Steve Schiff, who had worked together on Nina Hagen's Angstlos / Fearless album.   Forsey had been the drummer on Donna Summer's  Bad Girls, had produced Billy Idol's first two albums, and  co-wrote the smash hit "Flashdance... What a Feeling".   Cy Curnin, Bryan Ferry, and Billy Idol were all approached to record "Don't You (Forget About Me)" for the soundtrack to John Hughes' coming-of-age film The Breakfast Club; but they all refused.  Then Schiff suggested Simple Minds.  

Kerr reveals:   "We were not [keen to record it]. It was presented in the wrong fashion. This cassette came our way. The song wasn't bad. It didn't resemble in any way the record that you know, but the melody was there, the words were there. It wasn't bad. But I've got to be honest, it didn't feel up to scratch with what we were working on of our own stuff ... So we turned it down a couple of times, and they kept coming back at us, the record company, the film company. And then once we met both the producer, Keith Forsey, and the director, John Hughes, and spoke to them, we then understood the context of it and were a lot more free to the idea of doing it ... The big bad record company - were saying, 'You don't understand, this is going to be the movie of a generation, and he's the Zeitgeist and all that'. We were like, 'Really?'...It wasn't that even they cajoled us, because we were sticking to our ground. But the fellow who produced the song, Keith Forsey, he came up to Glasgow and said, 'I know you're not going to do it, but can I hang out, because I'm a fan of the band, and maybe we'll work together in the future?'...We said sure - we were working, he said, 'Let me hang out for a week'. We liked Keith more than we liked his song. You know when you like someone and you're in the pub...He was very clever. He said, 'Why don't we do it... if it's good, great, if it's not, it'll get the record company off your back'. So we did in a drafty studio in an afternoon, and thank God we did."

"Don't You (Forget About Me)" became an international smash hit going to number seven in the UK;  six in Australia; four in Germany;  three in Ireland and New Zealand;  two in Belgium and Italy; and number one in Canada, the Netherlands, and the US.    The song was not included on their album Once Upon a Time released later that year, and, by that time, bassist Derek Forbes had left the band; but the momentum from their hit single made it the best selling release of their career.   The flip side was that they were accused of selling out by some fans; but they will forever be tied to John Hughes' iconic film.

Kerr considers:  "I'd hate to seem begrudging of success, but at the same time I'd like to be honest enough to say maybe we shouldn't have cashed in all the chips. It's a bit overwhelming when your band is no longer your own, you become an industry within an industry, but I'm very wary of going 'poor us'. C'mon, it's what you dream of. We wanted to be a great band and take it around the world, that's still what we work for ... I've got to say that ["Don't You (Forget About Me)"] fit beautifully [with the movie]. I don't know if it was coincidence or what, but you've got to say that it really worked. I mean, the song and the film are almost iconic to certain generations, especially in America. So it's great when things come together and work so well. It's been a pleasure to see how much joy that song gives to a lot of people ... But musically I think when you hear it coming on the radio, I think we put our Simple Minds heart into it. It'll never be one of ours, but in a way it's a song that belongs to everybody now. It's not bad to have one of them either."

Don't You (Forget About Me)

Hey, hey, hey ,hey

Won't you come see about me?
I'll be alone, dancing you know it baby

Tell me your troubles and doubts
Giving me everything inside and out and
Love's strange so real in the dark
Think of the tender things that we were working on

Slow change may pull us apart
When the light gets into your heart, baby

Don't You Forget About Me
Don't Don't Don't Don't
Don't You Forget About Me

Will you stand above me?
Look my way, never love me
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down

Will you recognise me?
Call my name or walk on by
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down, down

Hey, hey, hey, hey

Don't you try to pretend
It's my feeling we'll win in the end
I won't harm you or touch your defenses
Vanity insecurity

Don't you forget about me
I'll be alone, dancing you know it baby
Going to take you apart
I'll put us back together at heart, baby

Don't You Forget About Me
Don't Don't Don't Don't
Don't You Forget About Me

As you walk on by
Will you call my name?
As you walk on by
Will you call my name?
When you walk away

Or will you walk away?
Will you walk on by?
Come on, call my name
Will you call my name?

I say
la la la la
la la la la
la la la la la la la la la la

extended remix

Live Aid in Philadelphia with new bassist John Giblin

The Breakfast Club 

four minutes


full soundtrack

1. Don't You (Forget About Me) - Simple Minds
2. Waiting – E.G. Daily
3. Fire in the Twilight – Wang Chung
4. I'm the Dude (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
5. Heart Too Hot to Hold – Jesse Johnson & Stephanie Spruill
6. Dream Montage (instrumental) – Gary Chang
7. We Are Not Alone – Karla DeVito
8. Reggae (instrumental) – Keith Forsey
9. Didn't I Tell You? – Joyce Kennedy
10. Love Theme (instrumental) – Keith Forsey

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

arc of a diver

Steve Winwood saw a chance and took it with the transfixing translation of this dramatic do it yourself do over.  The celebrated star of major groups like The Spencer Davis Group,  Traffic,  and  Blind Faith had been reluctant to record a solo album; but Island Records insisted on new material.  After the disappointing response to his self titled debut, he was looking to buy his way out of the music business; but first, since Jim Capaldi had moved to Brazil, he needed a new songwriting partner.  

Winwood relates:   "Will Jennings and I have been writing together since 1980, and we met really through kind of an uninteresting way, through publishers. We started working on the Arc of a Diver album, and we just hit it off from that point...I think he'd read something in a rock 'n' roll yearbook of 1970 that said some rather unpleasant things about me, so he didn't really want to get in a car with me, and I couldn't really understand what he was talking about, cause I hadn't really read the book at the time, and it was only quite a while after that he told me, it was like a year or two after, he said 'By the way, that first time we met, I read this thing about you in a rock 'n' roll yearbook,' which shall remain nameless."

Arc of a Diver was produced, engineered and mixed by Steve Winwood at his own Netherturkdonic Studios that he had built in the Gloucestershire house he shared with his wife Nicole.  Winwood played all the insturments himself:  acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, bass, drums, percussion, drum machines, keyboards, synthesizers, organ, lead & backing vocals;  with only additional engineering by John "Nobby" Clarke.    The process was not effortless; it took two years.   Winwood quips:  ""I'd sunk nearly all my money into my home studio, so I could work at my own pace. I thought it would be quick, inexpensive and easy but it turned out to be slow, expensive and difficult...The record company was almost embarrassed to ask how it was going. I knew that if the album didn't make it, I'd have to sell up, maybe move to a little flat or join a gypsy caravan...I figured I'd continue doing some things that I like doing and enjoy life as best I could in diminished circumstances."

It was well worth the wait.  Arc of a Diver became a worldwide smash hit, charting at number thirty three in Sweden; twenty six in Germany; twenty four in Norway; thirteen in the UK; six in the Netherlands; five in Australia; three in France, New Zealand, and the US; and number one in Canada.

"While You See a Chance" was the breakthrough solo hit he was seeking, going to number forty-five in the UK, twenty-eight in New Zealand, sixteen in Australia, seven in the US, and number three in Canada.  The instrumental introduction to the song was composed after Winwood accidentally erased the drum track.  

Winwood remarks:  "Thankfully there weren't too many of those kind of accidents...'While You See a Chance' was the first song I wrote with Will Jennings, who's been my chief lyricist. I met him through my publisher at the time, Island Music. I'd said I desperately wanted to somebody to write songs with, and they said, 'Oh, there's this bloke ...' ... Will just came up with the lyric, and it was right for me, right for him, and right for the song."

Jennings says:   "It's like writing... if you're writing a play, you're writing for a particular persona, a particular character, and you try to feel as deeply inside them as you can - where are they coming from and what they've been through. It's the same with Steve, 'While You See A Chance,' because he was coming out of a whole period with Spencer Davis and Traffic, and then where else do you go? I was up there at his place in rural England, and I was in his life so to speak, and trying to see through his eyes as well as mine. And that's what all those things were about, all the songs we wrote ... When Steve played me the music that became the song 'While You See a Chance', it was like looking right into his soul ... We didn't talk about what the song was about ... 'While you see a chance take it, find romance, fake it, because it's all on you'" - the lyric of the song is about realizing that you are all alone in this life and you have to do with it what you can - it was written around 1980 in a certain part of my life when I realized it was all on me to do, the lyric inspired by Steve's transcendent track....The next line explains it: 'Because it's all on you.' There's an old English expression called "Fake it till you make it." If you don't have romance in your life, meaning in the broader sense, really, something to make life interesting, just imagine it until it's there."

Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning
Are you still free? Can you be?

When some cold tomorrow finds you
When some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you

While you see a chance take it
Find romance fake it
Because its all on you

Dont you know by now
No one gives you anything?
And dont you wonder how you keep on moving?
One more day your way, oh your way

When theres no one left to leave you
Even you dont quite believe you
Thats when nothing can deceive you

While you see a chance take it
Find romance fake it
Because its all on you

Stand up in a clear blue morning
Until you see what can be
Alone in a cold day dawning
Are you still free? Can you be?

And that old gray wind is blowing
And theres nothing left worth knowing
And its time you should be going

While you see a chance take it
Find romance fake it
Because its all on you

While you see a chance take it
Find romance
While you see a chance take it
Find romance

"Night Train"

Steve Winwood - Night Train by jpdc11

Arc of a Diver
full album:  

All songs written by Steve Winwood & Will Jennings except where noted.

Side one
"While You See a Chance" - 5:12
"Arc of a Diver" (Winwood, Vivian Stanshall) - 5:28
"Second-Hand Woman" (Winwood, George Fleming) - 3:41
"Slowdown Sundown"- 5:27
Side two
"Spanish Dancer"- 5:58
"Night Train"- 7:51
"Dust" (Winwood, Fleming) - 6:20

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

first and last and always

The Sisters of Mercy saw their kingdom come and go with the mechanized misanthropy of this dark obsessive opus.  Andrew Eldritch and Gary Marx started the project in Leeds in 1977 and released the single "The Damage Done" / "Watch" on their own Merciful Release label before expanding the lineup to include bassist Craig Adams, guitarist Ben Gunn, and drum machine Doktor Avalanche.   They put out two extended plays  (Alice  and  The Reptile House E.P.   in 1983)  and another single "Temple of Love" before Gunn left the band to be replaced by Wayne Hussey (who had played guitar with Dead or Alive) for their third EP  Body and Soul  in 1984.  

It was at this point that the band signed with Warner Records for the recording of their full length debut First and Last and Always.  David Allen produced the sessions which started at Strawberry Recording Studios in Stockport (during which time, perfectionist Eldritch didn't leave the studio for the entire five weeks they were there) and then continued at Genetic Studios near Reading.  The release date for the album was delayed after Eldritch collapsed in the studio from a combination of malnutrition, exhaustion, and amphetamine logic.  

Eldritch would express:   "I've got the scars to prove it.  There are various views on what happened to me, but, naturally, mine's the only one that counts.  I thing I just started working too hard and, at th end of last summer, my body said 'No thank you. This has gone far enough. It'll end in tears.'  So I've calmed down a bit although...I enjoy it so much, being strung out for a very long time...I'm told you can't do it for that long ... I don't think the band's particular pleasures are destructive.  It's horses for courses.  At our age, you generally know what's good fo you and what isn't and, most of the time, you stick to what's good for you. None of the songs on the album are about being the victim of one's own pleasures except in the case of getting emotionally involved with people who aren't very good for you."

First and Last and Always features Andrew Eldritch on vocals, sleeve design, and mixing;  Craig Adams on bass guitar;  Wayne Hussey on guitar and vocals;  Gary Marx on guitar;  and  Doktor Avalanche on drums.   The album reached number twenty-three in Sweden and fourteen in the UK.   

Eldritch:   "I think we've conveyed the sense of importance.  It sounds like a very important record.  Even if, when you listen to it, you're not quite sure why...Some people find our sort of noise inherently gloomy.  Maybe they associate it with social decay, I don't know...I think the title track is gloomy, but not the others.  They may not be tremendously optimistic...I find listening to pop records incredibly depressing.  As long as our songs sound intense enough, important enough, then gloom goes out the window.  'Cause gloomy and doomy suggest an air of apathetic resignation, which I don't think we're prone to."

First and Last and Always
full album:

side A
00:00 - "Black Planet"  Eldritch / Hussey
04:27 - "Walk Away"  Eldritch / Hussey
07:52 - "No time to cry"  Eldritch /  Adams / Hussey / Marx
11:54 - "A Rock and a Hard Place"  Eldritch / Hussey
15:30 - "Marian (version)"  Eldritch / Hussey
side B
21:12 - "First and Last and Always"  Eldritch / Marx
25:14 - "Possession"  Eldritch  / Adams / Hussey
29:54 - "Nine While Nine"  Eldritch / Marx
34:03 - "Amphetamine Logic"  Eldritch / Marx
38:56 - "Some Kind of Stranger"  Eldritch / Marx
46:17 - "Poison Door"  Marx
50:00 - "On the Wire"  Eldritch 
54:22 - "Blood Money"  Eldritch / Hussey
57:34 - "Bury Me Deep"  Eldritch 
01:02:19 - "Long Train"  Eldritch 
01:09:49 - "Some Kind of Stranger"  Marx

01. 00:00  First and Last and Always
02  04:08  Body and Soul
03  07:43  Marian
04  12:45  No Time To Cry
05  16:39  Walk Away
06  20:23  Possession
07  24:53  Emma
08  31:12  Amphetamine Logic
09  35:22  A Rock and  a Hard Place
10  38:57  Floorshow
11  42:49  Alice
12  47:00  Fix
13  49:41  Knocking on Heaven's Door

Monday, December 28, 2015

idle moments

Grant Green let things wander into the smooth and soulful serenity of this laid back lounge daydream. He had first played guitar professionally at the age of twelve in his native St. Louis; and by the time he was thirty, he had appeared on dozen of albums with various jazz heavyweights and recorded seven albums (along with material that would make seven more)  as a bandleader (Grant's First Stand  and  Green Street  in 1961,   Sunday Mornin'   and   Grantstand  in 1962,   The Latin Bit  and  Feelin' the Spirit  in 1963,  and  Am I Blue  in 1964)  by the time he went back into the studio with sax man Joe Henderson in November of 1963 at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.   

Idle Moments features  Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone,   Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone,  Grant Green on guitar,  Duke Pearson on piano,  Bob Cranshaw on bass,  and  Al Harewood on drums.  It was recorded during two sessions with producer Alfred Lion and engineer Rudy Van Gelder.  During the first session, the recording of the title track was intended to be shorter to fit the time they had left that would fit on an album; but Green got lost in the song and played his solo for sixty four bars instead of the planned thirty two.   Henderson and Hutcherson did the same and the song went twice as long.  They rerecorded it; but found it couldn't match the feeling that they had captured on that first take.  

Idle Moments
full album:

"Idle Moments" (Pearson) – 14:56
"Jean De Fleur" (Green) – 6:49
"Django" (John Lewis) – 8:44
"Nomad" (Pearson) – 12:16

1. Idle Moments 00:00
2. Jean De Fleur 15:00
3. Jean De Fleur (Alternate Version) 21:50
4. Django 30:01
5. Django (Alternate Version) 38:47
6. Nomad 52:01

Sunday, December 27, 2015

stephen stills

Stephen Stills came into his own with this gospel infused blend of rhythm and blues, latin jazz, and folk rock.   He had grown up in a military family living in such diverse places as Florida, Louisiana, Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador developing formative musical experiences:  "There’s a little piece of [the nighttime Zulu parades in New Orleans the night before Mardi Gras when you were six, being surrounded by salsa music when I was a teenager, and the discovery of old blues music with my best friend] in everything I do. All those blues records that we sat around listening to, we learned to play to Jimmy Reed, which is where everyone should learn to play lead. I found that I had that in common with my British guitar master idols; they all learned to Jimmy Reed, because that was the first thing you could play and it taught you how to keep a groove."

He performed in numerous groups during the 1960's.   Stills was a part of three seminal concerts of the decade, playing at the Monterey Pop Festival with Buffalo Springfield, and both Woodstock and Altamont with Crosby, Stills Nash & Young:    "I was there [at Woodstock, Monterey and Altamont]. David Crosby and I virtually thought of Monterey. We were just yakking about why not do a festival where they have the jazz festival in Monterey and someone overheard that and all of a sudden it was on and I had to talk myself on to the bill because Neil [Young] had quit the band. It was quite an interesting time, everything moved very very fast."

While he was still with the Buffalo Springfield he appeared on the ‘Super Session’ album with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield before forming  Crosby, Stills & Nash, which became Crosby, Stills Nash & Young:    "The noise that we make when we open our mouths is a gift from God...That was true from the moment it happened in Cass Elliot’s house. I mean, it’s a combination of neurological accidents. I mean, [Graham’s] North of England Celtic thing with my little gravelly whatever the fuck it is and David’s Glenn Yarbrough smoothie sort of California crooner thing that all just sort of worked together instantaneously...When the reality of [the success following CSN and CSNY] hit, I ran like a scalded cat. I went back to the racetrack and started galloping horses, just for something else to do, to get away from all those people who were so obsequious. It was a little teeny version of what The Beatles went through, but it was weird. Everybody was weird. Joni Mitchell wrote a great line about it in “Both Sides Now”…it’s about that moment when you look over and you’re famous and your friends aren’t."

The supergroup splintered as each member focused on solo work.  Young went on to record his third solo album After the Gold Rush while the other three put out their debut solo albums on Atlantic Records' "Superstar" series:   David Crosby did If I Could Only Remember My Name  and Graham Nash came up with Songs For Beginners , but it was Stills' eponymous debut that came first.  

'Stephen Stills' was co-produced by Stills and Bill Halverson and engineered by Andy Johns  at Island Studios in London.   The sessions featured  Stephen Stills on vocals, guitars, bass, piano, organ, steel drum, and percussion, as well as horn and string arrangements for "Church," "To a Flame," and "Cherokee";   with  Jimi Hendrix on electric guitar for "Old Times Good Times";   Eric Clapton on electric guitar for "Go Back Home";   Booker T. Jones on organ  for  "Cherokee" and  backing vocal for  "We Are Not Helpless";    Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuel on bass for  "Love the One You're With," "Church," "Old Times Good Times," "Go Back Home," and "Sit Yourself Down";    Conrad Isedor on drums for  "Church" and "Old Times Good Times";    Johnny Barbata on drums for "Go Back Home" and "Sit Yourself Down";    Ringo Starr on drums for  "To a Flame" and "We Are Not Helpless";    Dallas Taylor on drums  for  "Cherokee";    Jeff Whittaker on congas  for  "Love the One You're With" and "Old Times Good Times";    Sidney George on flute and alto saxophone  for  "Cherokee";    with  Rita Coolidge, David Crosby, Priscilla Jones, John Sebastian doing backing vocals on "Love the One You're With," "Go Back Home," "Sit Yourself Down," and "We Are Not Helpless";   Cass Elliott and Claudia Lennear doing backing vocals on "Go Back Home," "Sit Yourself Down," and "We Are Not Helpless";    Graham Nash on backing vocals  for  "Love the One You're With," "Sit Yourself Down," and "We Are Not Helpless";  Judith Powell, Larry Steele, Liza Strike, Tony Wilson performing backing vocals on "Church";    Sherlie Matthews on backing vocals  for  "We Are Not Helpless".   Arif Mardin did the string arrangements on "Church" and "To a Flame".   'Stephen Stills'  was released after Hendrix' death in September of that year, and was dedicated to him.  

Still recalls:   "It was sheer luck, though some of it was hustling. Hendrix was a wonderfully kind and generous man and he tried to show me lots of things on the guitar. But his hands were the size of an NBA basketball player’s. He’d be like, “See, you can do that.” And I’d be like, “Jimi, put your hand up next to mine.” We had some great times in Ireland just rambling about. I went this one time and we went in to this studio and I said just record everything. So I had a line of tapes the size of that couch but the tragedy is I went back to listen to them and it was just a bunch of people loitering - la la la la la la, clink clink clink. Then Jimi played one song, which was his song, and I gave it to the estate and then there’s another song he played with me. I couldn’t believe we didn’t get more than that, though, but the hangers-on kept showing up and it just never went anywhere. He was quite shy and I think for him being with me was as much about having an American voice to talk to, being a bit of a stranger in a strange land. I always felt very comfortable here and so did he to a point. But at that age in the music business, because this is a small and compact island. it was very competitive and there was a lot of gamesmanship. Sometimes I think he felt a bit like the ball in a ping-pong game. So he’d come and find me and my friend from Louisiana to sit and talk philosophy with and life and so on ... [Some producers] spend a couple of weeks putting [guitar parts] down as overdubs. If you’re me, you can do it all in a day. You know when you start, and you know how long [until] it’s gonna end, and you let it tell you, and your guitar and you become alive. And then you look at the band and say, “We’re coming down now.” As a jazz musician, that’s how you play, that’s how it’s done. It hasn’t changed in a hundred years."

"Love the One You're With"  became his biggest solo hit, going to number fourteen on the US pop chart driving 
'Stephen Stills'  to number three and a gold certification.  

If you're down and confused
And you don't remember who you're talking to
Concentration slips away
Cause you're baby is so far away
Well there's a rose in the fisted glove
And eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love honey
Love the one you're with
Don't be angry - don't be sad
Don't sit crying over good times you've had
There's a girl right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do
Well there's a rose in the fisted glove
And eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love honey
Love the one you're with
Doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo
Turn your heartache right into joy
Cause she's a girl and you're a boy
Get it together come on make it nice
You ain't gonna need anymore advice
Well there's a rose in the fisted glove
And eagle flies with the dove
And if you can't be with the one you love honey
Love the one you're with
Doo doo doo doo 
Doo doo doo doo

'Stephen Stills' 
full album:

All songs written and composed by Stephen Stills.

Side one
00:00  "Love the One You're With"   3:04
03:04  "Do for the Others"   2:52
05:58  "Church (Part of Someone)"   4:05
10:04  "Old Times Good Times"   3:39
13:44  "Go Back Home"   5:54
Side two
19:39  "Sit Yourself Down"   3:05
22:46  "To a Flame"   3:08
25:55  "Black Queen"   5:26
31:23  "Cherokee"   3:23
34:46  "We Are Not Helpless"   4:20