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Bill's Pete Townshend Pages › Scoop 3 Liner Notes

Scoop 3 Complete Liner Notes

IN THIS COLLECTION of new and old recordings we have broken with tradition a little. I offered my editor and producer Helen a lot more recent material than usual. It was mainly instrumental. Listeners who are visitors to my website will be familiar now with the experimental piano writing on which I began to concentrate after a cycling accident in 1991. Much of this work has led me into many open-ended orchestration exercises.

But I have not lost focus. Nor have I lost creative energy. I write as much or more music than I ever did. Without a 'commission' from The Who (or for my own solo career) I simply write less songs. Those songs I have written lately I want to keep unpublished for a while in case I do record again with The Who or solo.

So the recent instrumental tracks are peppered mainly with various song demos from the fertile days when I had to write songs for The Who AND myself. At one time I had two parallel contracts requiring me to produce songs, record them, perform in videos, do pre-publicity, tour, do radio promotion for 8 albums over a 5 to 7 year period, and be husband and father and a loyal friend to various mates. It wasn't possible for me (I have no idea how Phil Collins managed it). Some of the song selections here are from the period when I collapsed under the strain - and it is clear that even then I was still enjoying writing and recording. I had several studios, plenty of money, lots of support. I lived a good and wild life and had plenty of sinister subject matter.

I have often said that in the first 10 years of my writing career I needed to find characters in The Who's audience or to create fictional characters - to use as subjects for my song writing. I couldn't find what I needed in myself. From 1978 onwards I had no time to look at the characters around me, no time to create new ones, I became the central character in my own dark (but amusing) rock opera. The songs included here are mainly taken from that era. Many of them didn't serve The Who or my solo career very well. But they serve here very well.

I occupy myself today almost entirely with musico-dramatic writing. I still feel there is new ground to cover, and I don't mind being accused of attempting to progress pop music, a form that resists progression; in essence it often seems hat pop cannot be progressed without corruption of its very bone structure. That is the challenge for me and always has been. So, much of the instrumental music here was inspired by plays, poems or prose I might have been working on at the time. That is not to say there is a story behind each piece, but where there is some context I have provided it in the detailed track notes.

I hope this collection works for you. It is not a journey through my history. It is not a selection of my finest moments. It is who I am today, and what I do. It is all I do. There is - as I write - nothing more. Well there is plenty more of course, but it is not different to what you have before you now. It is enough - for now.

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CAN YOU SEE THE REAL ME This was recorded in Spring 1973 at my home studio in London on a 3M 8-Track machine using Dolby A systems to reduce hiss. The tabla sound was cooked up on my ARP2600 synthesizer.

What is a bit of a give away here is the verse about 'rock and roll' doing 'me an evil wrong'. The subject is meant to be Jimmy of course, or one of his facets, and this line belongs to the Godfather who is yet to be introduced into the tale.
The Who's version of the song was terrific, like everything we did on Quadrophenia, but this demo has its own style. I played everything on this.

DIRTY WATER  Recorded on cassette in my country house. December 1979.

I was living alone at the time. I spent a lot of time at my big kitchen table, looking at the River Thames flowing by outside my windows. I used to knock out little songs like this, or short stories that I later published in Horse's Neck. I know the finished demo of this was included on Scoop, but I really like this little fragment. It shows exactly how I work up my material. This was the first version I recorded, making it up as I went along. The next step was what appears on Scoop. That was a demo done at AIR studios in London, but no finished version of the song was completed.

COMMONWEALTH BOYS  This was an experiment for White City Recorded 14 December 1984. When I was in the studio at the time I would often have Bill Price do me a rough mix of a backing track done in the studio. Instead of taking it away to listen to on normal cassette, I had him mix it down to two tracks of a 4 track Portastudio cassette machine. This allowed me to try out different vocals, refine lyrics, and even practice guitar solos prior to overdub sessions What you have here is a mix of a portastudio cassette.

This experiment didn't really fit the story. The backing track was developed further and became 'Come To Mama'  on the finished White City album. White City was an ambitious project for me. I wrote a film script with the editorial assistance of Claire Bland (who appears briefly in a pub scene in the film. My manager Bill Curbishley liked it and encouraged me to write songs inspired by the script.
SYNOPSIS 1: A violent young man ends up in a wheelchair after a drunken car crash. He descends into anger and self-pity after driving away his wife with acts of violence. She takes up a job in a woman's refuge on the multi-racial While City estate on which they live. The young man has a friend who takes him to various local pub gigs. At one of these gigs he attempts to perform, wearing a daft transvestite's outfit and a lot of make-up. He starts well, but booze gets the better of him. He has a terrible row with his mother who runs the pub. In the middle of the row he suddenly remembers some childhood trauma involving his mother and rushes to consult his estranged wife who is training some young swimmers at the local swimming baths. She is planning a special event to raise funds for the Refuge.
 At the pool the young man comes across a rock star - myself- who had gone out with his wife before they were married. I have offered to perform at the fund-raiser. My obsession at the time is with South Africa and The curse of Apartheid. At every chance I get I engage people (possibly bore them?) with the issues there, attempting to alert people who really don't need to be reminded to the fact that racism is everywhere. During the rehearsals I find myself attracted to my old girl friend and there seems to be a chance we might reunite.
The young man, believing himself to be on the brink of redemption with his wife, is infuriated by me and storms out of the baths. Later that night, while I am on stage performing, he arrives, dressed absurdly somehow managing to walk, and to my chagrin convinces his wife to go back to him.
I sulkily leave town, back on the road, hopeful I can find love and help Mandela to rescue Soweto.
Richard Lowenstein, the director of the film found my script 'pretentious' (That word crops up so often in my creative life) and simplified the story greatly. He made a really good film even though he ran out of my money before he'd quite finished. But I still think the songs from White City work better if you imagine the young hero is disabled, and drunk....

THEME O15 This 'variation in G' was composed sometime before I logged this take (with about 30 others)
on 1 June 1987, therefore it was probably recorded in March of '87. I had recently taken delivery of a large Synclavier synthesizer. The harmonica sound is actually produced on the FM side of the Synclavier.

One of the first things I did on my new Synclavier at this time was conduct a series of exercises round the 'Siege' canon 1 composed on sheet music the year before while I was working on the demos for White City. I had hoped to complete a symphonic piece based on the canon, but really such a task was - and still is - out of my scope. But I produced a large number of simple variations. One of the most harmonically satisfying for me is the one that serves as the middle eight for Ask Yourself which appears on Another Scoop.

MARTY ROBBINS Recorded on a very weary cassette machine in June 1984. My mastering engineer Jon Astley wanted to clean this up a lot more, but I refused.

I LIKE IT THE WAY IT IS Jon Astley thought he could hear wow and flutter on this but it is actually the action of an  Antares autotune device I used to try to tidy up the vocal. This orchestral piece was one of a group already featured on Another Scoop, and is the only one not released. The others were 'Brooklyn Kids', 'Praying The Game' etc. Ted Astley arranged the orchestra which was recorded in 1978 by Glyn Johns at the incredible and wonderful Olympic Studios before Richard Branson brought it and turned it into a Japanese airport waiting room with microphones.

It is hard for me to listen to this song today. I could not attempt a new vocal on it, which is why I used the autotune gadget.
Essentially it a about my inability to stop drinking during the mid-seventies. My drinking sprees were increasingly leading me into situations humiliating to me and hurtful to my wife. In those days I could use will power to stop drinking for really long periods. (Eventually, between 1982 and 1993 I  managed an eleven year stretch 'clean and dry'). I think when I drank on the road I became deeply and foolishly romantic, probably driven by loneliness. But it saw me crashing around having occasional sexual affairs that I found impossible to justify.
The lyric here is portentous. 'I'm going to change my life,' I sing. 'I promise this'. I go on with a warning:
'.....  the only trouble is, I think I like it the way it is.' A sadly prophetic song that I have suppressed for many
years. Now it is clear that the music is more important than the proprieties of those involved, and I very rarely write material of this strength and honesty

THEME 016 Another 'Siege' variation logged on 1st June 1987. This one is identical to Theme 015, but a different 'harmonica' performance.

NO WAY OUT ( However Much I Booze) Recorded in 1975 by Dick Hayes at my Goring studio (the big one in the barn where I mixed Quadrophenia). Phil Chen played bass and brought his friends the brothers Andrew (drums) and Phillip Bailey (keyboards) along. They were a joy to play with.

I hauled out the16 track master reel and remixed it for this collection. I may have compressed it a bit too much, but I am a compression junkie. If a decent vintage compressor appears on the Pro Audio section at I have to bid, I have no choice. Who fans will recognize this is a song from the Who album Who By Numbers.

COLLINGS Recorded on 21st December 2000 and offered free on my website as an mp3. Helen included it
here and I am glad because I am especially proud of it; I wanted you to hear it at a higher sample rate. It was recorded in mono to my Synclavier hard disk system at 48khz in my present home studio control room using a Neumann U87 mike. You can hear a single skip edit in there (which I did deliberately to mark where I had removed a large chunk of clumsy mistakes).

The guitar is a special, but quite recent, Collings made in Austin, Texas. It actually played this little piece itself I feel. I used a tuning here that is quite new to me. Reading recently about Bert Jansch one of the guitar heroes of my youth I saw reference to 'DADGAD': a tuning that allows unskilled folk players to knock out three chord trick using a single finger. I tuned the lowest A down to G, and DGDGAD is the result. A very useful tuning I find.

PARVARDIGAR (German version) When I recorded the Parvardigar prayer on 31 August 1971 for the album Who Came First, some one suggested I should do versions in several languages. An Austrian follower of Meher Baba, Hilde Halpern, did the translation, working literally from my own free adaptation of Meher Baba's Universal Prayer. There was no official release of the result. I mixed a backing track from the 8 track English language master down to stereo without the vocals, then bounced it onto a fresh real of 8 track tape and added the new German vocals. The quality was not great. When I came to this album I decided to rebuild the master, combining the original backing track with the German vocals on a hard disk so that all the parts would be of the highest possible quality. This was a complicated job. One variation on the first is that this new one combines some backing vocals in both German and English languages creating a lingual counterpoint.

SEA & SAND A demo for Quadrophenia this was recorded onto 8 track at my home studio in Twickenham on 1 November 1972.The vocal is compressed using a technique I developed when recording the Thunderclap Newman band for their first album Hollywood Dream. The mike goes through a channel, quite heavily EQ'd. Then it is heavily compressed and then returned through another channel using exactly the same EQ settings. The second EQ pass has the effect of upsetting any level control action in the compressor, but it makes an interesting noise. It's great on bass drum, creating a huge sound from quite a small drum.

When writing Quadrophenia I was inspired by the acquisition of a splendid new Bosendorfer 7'4" grand piano which I still have today. It was squeezed into the tiny room I used then, but it sounded extraordinary, still does. This demo demonstrates how well my songs for the story work (harmonically speaking) without any of the frills I started to add when we recorded the songs with the Who.

971104 ARPEGGIO PIANO This piece was recorded to DAT tape at my home in London on 4th November 1997. When I first moved into the house in London in which I now live I chose the tiniest room (an ante-room off the main living room) and set up a Kurzweil MIDIboard 88 note heavy action keyboard on which to practice and compose. Built into it are a wide number of arpeggio 'algorithms'. I used the keyboard everyday for about a year. recording to DAT tape or cassette. When Helen Wilkins started in compile this collection I completed some of these pieces by editing them on Synclavier and orchestrating 2 the result on the computer.

THEME 019 Another variation on the Siege canon. The notes in my log for this say; SIEGE written variation in Eb. Chart 'Theme 014'. (B substituted for Bb in opening chords for some reason). Trombones, then oboe/flute/pipes take up a folk refrain over lush strings. This was recorded entirely within the Synclavier sequencer with a mixture of sampled and FM voices.

The working title for this variation was 'Siege-Scottish'.

I AM AFRAID This was a demo attempted on banjo. 11th December1990. Recorded to cassette I think.

I like this version of the song. It must have bean one of the very first demos I roughed out for Psychoderelict. To begin with I was not working on a musical play I was writing songs for a conventional solo album, which - I had bean warned by my manager and record label - had to be a 'real' rock record. At the same time I was writing a novel called Ray High and the Glass Household. Part of This book was complete enough to send a first draft to my editor Robert McCrum.
The two projects became predictably entangled and my CD play released in1993 was the result. Halfway through I was sacked by EMI who had bought my UK label Virgin to get hold of The Rolling Stones and a few others. I signed to East West, who were associated with my US label Atlantic. They gave me much greater creative scope. The birth of my son Joseph, then only two months old, inspired the future phobia I refer to in this song.

MAXIMS FOR LUNCH Recorded 2nd September 1983 on Tascam 4 track cassette portastudio. The bass is produced by a Prophet 10 synthesizer. The drum box is a Roland 808.

A play on words; I might have bean a little too smart for my shirt. Maxims (as the 'truth' or 'principle') doubling as the name of a famous French restaurant. In this song the scene is set: two lovers meat for lunch and throw clever ideas around, get drunk, then - presumably - belch and fall asleep. Nothing much else seems to happen.

WISTFUL Recorded directly to Technics portable DAT using a SONY stereo mike in The Cube home studio1991. I planned to use this piece of guitar as an incidental underscore for some dialogue in Psychoderelict. The hero Ray High. is playing the guitar while reflecting the joys of not touring. It was set aside with a lot of other stuff when I elected to release a single CD.

EMINENCE FRONT Recorded in Aug Sept 1995 in The Cube home studio. I had a single stereo mike setup, and recorded this in a single past. But I was using my Yamaha piano that sends MIDI. This was sent to a KORG Rhythm 'accompanist'. This provided the cocktail bar drums bass and acoustic guitar part in the mid-back-

I was preparing at this time for a solo appearance at The Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of a benefit by and for Paul Simon and his charity The Children's Health Fund on Sept 10 1995. Agreeing to appear, I picked up a guitar and realised that since the middle1992 I had probably spent more time home playing piano than guitar (I was recovering from a serious wrist accident and keyboard practice was more useful physiotherapy). So it seamed to me I should play piano in public for the first time. On this occasion the Wynton Marsalis orchestra, some of the best jazz musicians on the planet, were in attendance. I was nervous. But I did well. This demo was to help me get idea of how I might sound on the night.

LONELY WORDS A half-completed studio recording was made in February 1985 onto 32 track digital tape by Bill Pace at my large Oceanic studio in Twickenham. On these sessions Rabbit (John Bundrick) played Hammond, Clem Burke played drums, Phil Chen played bass. I played guitar. Later two sub masters were created, one to half-inch analogue 16 track, another to 4 track cassette Portastudio. I recorded some new 'Bender' guitars on the 16 track and a demo lead vocal on the Portastudio. To create this mix I decided not to go back to the digital master, but to combine the two sub masters.

1 The original script I wrote is now partly lost I'm afraid. But I may publish on my website what I have salvaged.
2 The term used in the movie industry is 'Synthestration'. Not one of my favourite new words.

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PRELUDE 970519 This was recorded on my birthday 1997, the location was 'The Cube', my home studio from 1985-1997. I had in there a six-foot Yamaha Conservatory Grand piano that was equipped with a MIDI send. So many of the pieces I recorded to cassette or DAT tape in that period had pseudo-orchestral sounds mixed in with the piano. The piano part was later tightly edited by me (early in 2001) and I then added synthesised strings and flute.

This piano 'prelude' was intended to evoke serenity, calm, and ultimately- in a very short space of time-readi-ness to sleep. Soft is intentionally soporific and light. Occasionally, for a month at most, I would try to record at least one piece every day as part of what I called my 'Daily Project'. This idea was inspired by my reading of THE ARTIST'S WAY, and the course work I did on the 12-week programme of creative stimulation the authors recommend. If I didn't record any music I might instead try to write a short essay or poem of some kind.

IRON MAN RECITATIVE This was recorded around October 1993 on the studio Synclavier I still use for the majority of my composing work. With a few tricks one can record a MIDI keyboard track and live vocal tracks at the same time. I could work in short sections and then edit them together later on. (This is something modern sequencing software manages easily today). I read from the first two or three pages of Ted Hughes's book of THE IRON MAN and simply made the chords and melody up as I went along. The string sounds are synthetic of course, mainly from the Denny Jaeger library for Synclavier. Around this time the studio I was using was a converted Dutch barge called 'Grand Crue'. It had once carried live eels) which I thought was amusing because my company is called 'Eel Pie'). The mixing desk was an old Neve which was later sold and is now somewhere in the USA. The barge is still berthed out-side my large studio in Twickenham, and is used at the moment by my old mate Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seeds. (Ian was the guitar player of The Original Mirrors who-with The Clash - were my favourite group during the '80s.

Early in 19921 contacted the Youth team at The Young Vic theatre in London, to ask whether they would help me put up a children's version of my complete opera The Iron Man. When we came to work on it the first problem was that it was not quite complete. In my own working script I had arranged for a Prologue to set the scene for a woodland gathering of various animals-an Owl, Fox and others who witness The Iron Man first rising from the sea. I had not yet written this Prologue when I presented the songs to the Director David Thacker instead I had recorded narration by the radio actor Fraser Kerr who read the actual text of the necessary pages. David suggested that I prepare music to run underneath these chunks of narration, and during an early creative meeting it occurred to both of us that it might be possible to use Ted's prose as recitative. We thought I would have to make many changes to the text to make it musically rhythmic. In fact when I first sat down to try it, I sang right the way through the first few pages line by line without a break. Ted's prose - probably because he was a poet-had musical rhythm that was perfect for an operatic libretto.
I felt I was a natural at this, and had discovered a new talent. Lovers of my Scoop series will have become used to references to The 'Siege' Theme, a simple canonic bass fine which I later adopted as the leitmotiv for the Iron Man. I also composed a number of experimental harmonic exercises around this canon, which I will publish one day as part of a complete score and book for my own small operatic version of The Iron Man. In the play what immediately follows is the song Over The Top, sung by a phantom chorus of ghostly soldiers of whom The Iron Man had once been an ancient ally. The Iron Man had been designed to fight in some now forgotten field of battle, but somehow programmed only to fight alongside foot soldiers against machines built to destroy man. In this respect he worked according to Azimov's Laws of Robotics.

TOUGH BOYS I recorded this onto a half-inch analogue 8-track Tascam tape machine in 1979. I had no proper studio at home in London anymore and had put together a temporary and transportable rig around this machine. Great sounding machine usually, but in this case I was simply chucking down a very quick demo of a strange sound I'd managed to cook up by combining a Roland guitar synthesiser (which was polyphonic) with an ARP Avatar (which was monophonic). I used the ARP on just the lowest string of my guitar, creating a rather erratic bass line. The chord sustain noise is from the Roland, and you can also hear the strings being strummed from a mike I put near them. In the studio (Wessex) when I recorded the track properly I fed each output of the two synthesiser into a separate amplifier, creating a monstrous and wobbly wall of sound.

This demo was all I had when I went into the studio to start working on Rough Boys for the album Empty Glass. The lyric came together in the studio, a rant about the British punks (like Sid Vicious) I had come across in recent years who wore outfits I had come to know in New York as the apparel of 'rough' gays. Not sure why or when the title changed.

DID YOU STEAL MY MONEY? This was recorded at my small upstairs studio in Soho in 1980.At this time I ran two successful fully commercial recording studio complexes. The building in Broadwick Street was also used by my book publishing company, and as the base for The Face magazine for a while. The room upstairs was equipped with a small Neve which is now in a San Francisco studio used by Tom Waits. It was a 16 track recording. I think recorded onto an Otari MTR9O without Dolby. The drum box is that True Great the Roland 808. I play the bass harmonica. In fact on this one I play everything, including a robust latin piano part. The guitars are obviously influenced by Andy Summers whose work with Police around that time was seminal I think. My engineer for this session was Chris Ludwinski.

The true story behind this doesn't make anyone look good-especially me. It is not the time to tell it.

CAN YOU REALLY DANCE? Bill Price recorded this at my Oceanic Studio on 28th July 1988 on Mitsubishi 32 track digital. I then made several 'slave' reels on Fostex16 track analogue machines for various other musicians to work on. Clem Burke was on drums, Pino Palladino on bass, Rabbit on piano, me on electric piano-Billy Nichols and his singers did the vocals. The members of KICK HORNS developed this particular version of this song which is why it is so brass oriented. This 'second unit' project was engineered and mixed by Ashley Alexander. 

During 19881 was recording a follow up album to WHITE CITY. Chris Thomas was producing for an album that was intended to support a series of story videos that I was planning that would have come out very much like that wonderful movie STRICTLY BALLROOM had I the talent of its director Baz Lurhman. However, my father died during the sessions and I had to let the idea go. There were a number of tracks recorded at this time, ALL SHALL BE WELL and LONELY WORDS are worthy of a mention. There is even another song from these sessions with the same title which has a tango heat. The subtitle of this song was 'Real Word', and I used the idea later in a different form as a song for Iron Man.

VARIATIONS ON DIRTY JOBS. This was recorded on piano on 7th November 1997 and completed in February 2001. I fully orchestrated it earlier this year. Although the chords are similar to Dirty Jobs from Quadrophenia it is an entirely original composition. It is intended to demonstrate the kind of tonal effect I could achieve should I develop a lull orchestral version of Quadrophenia. The piano was recorded on a Kurzweil sequencer and later 'quantized' to a DAT machine. I then copied the DAT to my Synclavier hard-disk system and tightened it up, then added the orchestral parts using all synthetic sounds.

The opening cascade of the piece is written in 7/8 time. It intentionally created a chaotic but processional sound. Later it becomes more conventional, but the piano arpeggios in the middle are difficult to play if you don't happen to use my particular 'three fingers on the right one finger on the left' two-hand technique. All though the piano sounds as though a computer has produced it, in fact all that has happened to my free part that it has been 'quantized'. That means any out of time notes have been brought back into time, it gives it a real concert-pianist feel, but it's partly a bluff. It is, by the way, only the middle part that is 'quantized'.

ALL LOVERS ARE DERANGED (Pete's version). I recorded this in January 1983 at my Soho studio. Russell Webb (ex-bass player of The Skids) engineered. It was taken to 24 track 30 ips no Dolby. I played all the parts. The drums were programmed on a Linn Drum, the bass was a hybrid Fender/Gibson given me by John Entwistle. The electric piano is a bit special because it is produced by a Yamaha GS-1 (now very rare indeed).

Another lyric based on a true story. Two people attempt to conduct a love affair over the telephone, from different sides of an ocean. Not to be recommended. Dave Gilmour set the same lyric to his own music for his 1984 album 'About Face.'

ELEPHANTS This was taken directly to a Tascam cassette portastudio. August 1984. It is a really good example of the fiery and bizarre Hammond-like sounds you can get out of synthesizers if you (like me) know what you're doing. The keyboard here was the incredible Prophet 10, introduced some time in1977 I think. Essentially two Prophet 5 keyboards ganged together, the double layer of related sounds created the most extraordinary movement and harmonic complexity. It you are a keyboard player and you see one of these  for sale at under $5,000-buy it. It will tale you to a piece of heaven reserved for Hammond players who have taken to much acid. It is also very easy to programme your own sounds. The 10 had a simple step sequencer built into the lower keyboard. It is the sequencer creating the relentless blues pattern over which I played some stock Ray Charles organ tricks. You can read some details about the Prophet 10 on

WIRED TO THE MOON (Part 2) More piano in my London home studio The Cube, recorded 12th January 1997. I added the strings and the vocal line early in 2001.

I have experienced a number of strange attacks in recent years that I call 'dream attacks'. I fall into a state in which I remember dozens of recent dreams. In fact they start to rerun like several movies, but all at once. The first time this happened I wrote a piece called Wired To The Moon which is available on my website as a free mp3.This piece is an epilogue to the first.

HOW CAN YOU DO IT ALONE? This was put together in a variety of locations while I was gathering songs for the first Warner Brothers Who album, recorded after Keith Moon's death. That turned out to be Face Dances. It began with a Yamaha E70 organ backing track which I recorded through eight separate outputs and then re-routed through various echo delays, dubbing in Reggae style. It is that process that creates the bubbling sound, but also all the interesting percussion 'scattering' sounds over the real drums which were added by Kenney Jones at AIR studios in London one night. The strange bass lilt was created by using the organ's internal drum-box on some quite conventional latin setting, but starting the bar halfway through. The organ track was made at my largest studio, Oceanic in Twickenham. In my studio in Soho I did a real bass guitar part, some handclaps and backing vocals then took the master reel to Burbank where Mo Ostin (chairman of WB) had arranged for me to use a small room in Amigo studios in North Hollywood. Them I added a jazzy guitar or two and mixed it. My  'secret' handclap sound can be heard here. Take a figure of eight microphone and place it with one side of the capsule facing a window or mirror. The other side must face a relatively empty room, it doesn't have to be an echoey room though. Place yourself between the mike and the mirror, turn the mike up until it distorts a little and clap. Depending on how far away from the glass is the mike, and how distorted it is, you will sound like a small, tight group of very funky handclappers.

I quite liked The Who's rendering of this song. Roger sang it really well. But it is probably one of those songs that needed my acidic tone to work without awkwardness. Whichever version is your favourite (and you may hate both of them) it's good to be able to compare.

POEM DISTURBED Playing the piano in The Cube. Probably some time in 1994. A simple piece. The Yamaha MIDI on the piano is driving some quite low strings, and a doubled synthesizer piano voice as well.

You can hear my phone ring. I knew who it was: my then girlfriend. These were strange times for me.

SQUIRM SQUIRM Fylde guitar tuned DGDADE. Recorded some time in 1990 in The Cube to DAT, then transferred to Synclavier Hard Disk, edited a little, and a tabla added.

At last, a song with a happy inspiration. One day I was holding my new-born son Joseph and singing him to sleep. It came into my mind that seen from high above we humans must look just like insects, or worms. As he wriggled in my arms I sang to him about the messages we all believe we get sometimes from above. At the time I was gathering material for Psychoderelict, which was-among other things - about the loneliness and collapse of a once famous and beloved rock star. The song seemed to contain and reflect both the peace and safety of this child in my arms, and the chaos and danger that surrounded us out there in the crazy world. The song did not work in the final album but when my friend Ethan Silverman and the actor Peter Gallagher did a workshop of Psychoderelict  in New York in 1999, this song was included. Peter sang it and it was deeply and profoundly moving.

OUTLIVE THE DINOSAUR Recorded at my worktable in The Cube on, a SONY cassette machine on its last legs. 11th December 1990.

This was the very first musical pass I made at this draft lyric for Psychoderelict. It is I think one of the smartest songs I've ever written. My hero, a drunken rock-star is living alone in his glass mansion. He takes on all the issues of ecology with a sense of duty and responsibility to our dying planet.  And yet he cannot move, cannot reach the outside world, cannot even write a cheque. The word dinosaur was of course first used to describe ageing rock stars with vicious irony and I use it here with vicious irony redoubled.

TERESA Recorded entirely in Amigo studios in North Hollywood the day after Valentine's Day 1980.
The song was written after I had been to see The Wall with my friend Bill Minkin and the actress Theresa Russell who was about to merry the film director Nic Roeg with whom I hoped to work on a new version of Lifehouse. I got drunk as usual, but I had taken my first line of cocaine that very evening before meeting her and decided I was in love. When I came to do the vocal on this the following day I was really out of my mind with frustration and grief because she didn't reciprocate. But as you can hear I was obviously enjoying myself. I respectfully changed the heroine's name to 'Athena' and The Who got a medium hit.

MAN AND MACHINES The track was constructed entirely on a 'small' Synclavier I used in my home studio in 1985. There are no real instruments at all. I did the drum programming using a tiny Apple Mac running a programme called UPBEAT I loved that little programme. It looked like a toy, but it was very powerful because it allowed many levels of random variation in feel, dynamic and tone. It was driving a Roland MT32 MIDI voice pack. The drums are only available as a single layer, but as you can hear, they make a good noise. The percussion solo was a series of about 40 two bar patterns set to vary in the most extreme way the software allowed.

The use of sound effects over strings at the beginning is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever made I think. It seems to evoke a distant blacksmith's forge or something: a summer evening; buzzing insects; calm. This song was written for the voice of Lou Reed. Lou was interested to play the part of the Iron Man, but it didn't work out. John Lee Hooker made the part his own but couldn't manage to do this particular song.

IT'S IN YA. Recorded live in rehearsal at Oceanic studios in Twickenham. June 1981. Rabbit on piano, Peter Hope-Evans on mouthorgan, Tony Butler on bass, Mark Brzezecki on drums, Jody Linscott on congas. Me on Eric Clapton's old Fender Stratocaster (sold for charity last year). Killer band. This is a typical rehearsal tape made by Bobby Pridden from a sound board set up I prefer to use for track work. I had the earphone mix set up right in the room with the musicians-like a stage mix. Then the engineers in the box could concentrate on what went down on tape. Bobby always got a really hot, heavily compressed sound that felt like you were listening over a radio.

Not much to say about this song. A woman I vaguely knew sent me a letter rightly complaining I was getting self-indulgent (after the release of the Who Are You album) and it later sparked this song about what makes the magic of rock 'n' roll. It isn't the musician -it's the listener.

And that, dear listener, is the end.

WDK 2008

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