30 FRAMES A SECOND

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

One of my absolute favourite Simple Minds songs, musically and lyrically. This, for me was where we came into our own. Atmospheric, Menacing, Rhythmic to the point of Voodoo….and downright Weird….

I remember when we wrote 30 Frames, and playing it over and over at the Old Mill House at Rockfield Studios in South Wales. Charlie asked me how I came up with the bass line, and I told him that I was writing letters on the fret board while I played..

 

This song was a ‘Y’…or so the Muse in my head told me….later, in the song Twist, Run, Repulsion..I played a series of the letter ‘X’…I must see a Psychiatrist...I must see a Psychiatrist…etc etc

THIS FEAR OF GODS

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

Trance like genius. We were so in tune with each other at this time. The chemistry of the original band , will never be beaten. Simply Mysterious…

We would wake up, breakfast ready on the huge kitchen table, eat what you could, before the inevitable food fight would start, then transfer ourselves into the studio to commit our talent to tape.

 

I have recreated Gods on my album, simply because I love the track, and it definitely set us up as one of the most exciting bands on the Planet..I found out , during my new recording, that the key in the album is D flat, as John Leckie, our Producer of the highest order, must have slowed the tape down..he did work with all the Beatles , to be fair

TODAY I DIED AGAIN

Recorded Tuesday 10th  of November 2015 

I had brought my old drum machine to the Studio, so we turned it on , put some coal in it, and created the drum track.

 

I then added guitar, and bass next. Andrea had me play Tabla’s and lots of percussion. This was closely followed by me on full drum kit. I had a drum kit since I was 18, and have played full sets on drums in my youth..usually when the drummer was too pissed to play.

 

The first vocal I put on was dreadful..so we had a plan…

I remember writing Today I Died Again at Rockfield…John Leckie asked me to bend some notes on the bass, as I played, and it worked a treat. I used to say “the suit I am wearing dates back to 1956”..inspired by Monty Python…I was delighted when I heard the second line of the first verse..Lyrically, Jim was untouchable during these creative years of the band, when only the music mattered….

FACTORY

 

Recorded Tuesday 10th  of November 2015

Another of my all time favourite Simple Minds songs. It has a haunting melody, which typified the mystique of the band, in the early years.

 

We played this for the Old Grey Whistle Test in Hurrah’s, New York NY. In 1979..it was our first time in America … Iggy Pop was in front of me for the whole show..that is why I am smiling and smirking…I had just sung with David Bowie on Iggy’s album that year…he wanted Simple Minds  to be his band for a

Tour, with Jim on comb and paper😉I recorded my solo version using a Stylophone for the

main melody…it sounds great, right?

LEAGUE OF NATIONS

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

As the drum machine was out and ready, along with my fretless bass, I decided to record ‘League of Nations’..

 

It never took me long to record the bass, probably one take, as I am not bad at the bass playing. I got to use Ian McCulloughs ,(from Echo and the Bunnymen), Black Fender Stratocaster, because it had a whammy bar, and it let me bend the notes of the keyboard melody part. I decided not to sing all the way through, but leave it till the very end instead…I can remember playing this song at Glasgow Apollo in years gone by..great early Minds track , and no mistake..

ROOM

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

THE AMERICAN

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

I put Tabla's onto a  drum machine pattern that I recorded the night before.

 

I put guitar on , and then bass. We wrote ROOM in the BBC Studios in Delaware Road, London, for a John Peel session..the producer was Budgie from Mott the Hoople, We were at the end of the session, and Budgie asked if we had any more songs, as we had about ten minutes left..we said no, but hang on…then Jim, Charlie and myself, hurriedly worked out a new track, and that was ROOM..Mick and Brian joined in, and the song made the album, almost exactly as it was in the Radio show. That is why Simple Minds made the grade..we had a telepathic grip on song writing..Great Minds, and all that….

Andrea was working on a drum loop in the control room, so I went into the ‘Live’ room, and sat down at the piano.

 

I started to play the American, and I worked out some different chord changes for it. I wanted it to sound like my great, sadly missed friend, Mick Ronson, and treat it in a similar way to his piano parts on ‘ Lady Stardust’. Andrea put four microphones the open front of the upright piano. It sounded amazing. I put some Jimi Hendrix style guitar in the middle section, then came back in with the chorus..followed by a military American Civil War style snare drum, where  I played ‘Rally round the Flag’ on recorder, and ended with ‘Dixie’ with the banjo…but subliminally quiet…There is no bass on the new track, as I wanted a totally different take of the original… Dortmund was The Americans finest hour..I will never forget that day..or my special bass line🎸

KING IS WHITE AND IN THE CROWD

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

NEW GOLD DREAM

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

It’s now 11.20 in the evening, and we are starting ‘King is White’. I wanted to do this as a slide guitar track, in the style of Robert Johnson, and Ry Cooder..it also tipped  it’s hat to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bron y aur Stomp’.

 

I tuned my 1957 Gibson LG1 to the key of ‘E’, and proceeded to play with a glass bottleneck slide. I sang along as I played, and later did the main recording of the voice. I put in a kind of, what we call in musical land, a middle 8, which wasn’t in the original song.Andrea loved it, so she had me repeat the part and spread the two takes left and right..it sounded killer. I put on tambourine, bass drum and banjo. And by 3 in the morning, it was finished..job done. On the original, when we played it  at the Volkshaus in Zurich, Switzerland , Jim was so happy about his engagement to Chrissie Hynde, that during a very atmospheric part of a verse, he jumped into the air, and sang “I’ve got a luvverly bunch of coconuts”…it will never be beaten, nor heard again...

I put down drums to a click track, and left all the drum machine programming to Andrea.... She picked out everything she could, and it sounds authentic. I remember recording the original at The Townhouse Studios in London’s Shepherd Bush.

 

I was  in The room with my bass all fired up, and Mel Gaynor and Mike Ogletree were facing each other on two drum kits . We had a guide track to play too o the light turned red, and we started..it was like an aeroplane taking of..a wondrous cacophony of magical rhythms and bad ass bass…

On my new version, there are no keyboards at all…I did all Micks parts on 12 string Danelectro DC59 …it shows what could be done with a guitar band, with no keyboards.

 

Mission accomplished..it sounds the same, but different…

PLEASANTLY DISTURBED

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

FILM THEME

Recorded Saturday 14th of November 2015

We put down a backing track for PLEASANTLY DISTURBED.

 

I put loads of drums and guitars down, including the string parts using my Gibson Les Paul with a WEM Copicat and a violin bow..exactly like my hero Jimmy Page. I backed it up with an EBOW. The original version was recorded at Abbey Road in 1979, with a full orchestra playing Charlie's violin parts with a string arrangement by Haydn Bendall.

 

My bass runs at the end were echoed by the Cello players, which made the track so much more grandiose, and anthemic…we spent 2 weeks at Abbey Road..I went on to do 6 months at Abbey Road with Propaganda…Thank the Gods for The Beatles dooooooo  🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶

We started very late at night, trying out guitar parts and Fender Rhodes piano parts..sounded good, but too tired for a performance... So, in the morning, we went straight into arranging FILM THEME.

 

I used my Gibson Songwriter acoustic and then went on to the Fender Rhodes piano. I then put down the Drums. It sounds very Strawberry Fields like. I put a Mellotron part on it, and it sounds fantastic. I then got my Fender Dragon Telecaster with a Wah Wah, and Andrea reversed the Drums…The original was recorded at Rockfield Studios in South Wales. Brian recorded the drums in the corridor..sounds ace. Mariella Frøstrup was the tape operator for the first 2 albums, as she worked with the Rolling Stones Mobile, which we used on the first two albums, along with the Buzz Mobile…it was about this time that Charlie would sit with a pen and draw on pieces of bread..Jim and I christened him ‘ the man wha’ painted breed’….

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