Been a while since we did one of these archive rummagings. Did a check on July 31st and 3 different entries came up.
The earliest is 1994 with “What The F*** Is This? Master” That sure brings back a few memories. It was the third “album” project I recorded with my pal Derek following on from earlier “albums” released in 1989 and 1992. We started work on this project in February 1994 and the pair of us were into our one take “random” phase. We were both listening to odd music and getting into all manner of strange ideas like in one instance, we took some weird surreal cartoon picture Derek had done… and translated that into music.
I was coming up with downright nonsensical flights of fancy, most notably “Wibble Wibble Wibble, Oooerk There’s A Sinatra In My Toilet” which had the opening line “That iguana’s eaten all our All Bran again” and was simply me tossing off a whole load of nonsensical lines about absolutely nothing. To complicate matters, I wanted each section of the song in completely different musical styles so it went from Bob Dylan folk style to Ska to Funk… and more. There was even an overdub of toy bagpipes which was a disaster as they kept deflating in record time and Derek kept laughing… so I left that in the mix.
We raced through around 30 tracks and made one grave mistake. Apart from very early on, we made no reference rough mixes of these pieces. So, on the night of July 31st, Derek came round to my house and we mixed and edited the entire album in one evening and in most cases it was the first time I was hearing the songs since we’d recorded them so we had no idea how to mix them, ensure levels remained fine, what to mix out and so on. Talk about a manic race against time. The whole thing was a sprawling 90 minute… well, I can’t say disaster but maybe mess might be a little kinder.
There even exists a few minutes of video footage shot during the session. Of course, the album ended up being way too long filled with too much random nonsensical filler. I was also very unhappy with how most of the mixes sounded as some of the songs were very complex and required much finetuning which wouldn’t be possible until years later when I went all digital and since then, about half the album contents have been given new digital mixes.
In spite of all that, the whole aim was to have FUN and we sure had plenty. One session had me, Derek and his girlfriend huddled around a mike continually pounding our chests… why? We were recording horse gallops as background to some parody horse race sequence and the effect worked surprisingly well. I know that was my idea and suggested I’d been listening to too much Joe Meek hence coming up with daft ideas for effects.
I last listened to that album in 2012 when I did a digital transfer of the original mixdown tape. The tape still sounded in good shape… a shame about the actual contents which strangely enough had me wondering what the f*** I was thinking back in 1994.
Fast forward 13 years to 2007 and we have a rehearsal session tape by my ex-band. It’s 46 minutes of utter crap. Strangely enough, in the file folder the audio files are simply numbers yet oddly there’s a screencap containing this, which lists what was recorded this day…
By this time, I’d had enough and was fed up, wanting to leave the band. It was causing me too much stress and misery as by now I was no longer getting along with leader Nick. I just had a quick listen to snippets of it… oh dear. Not one of my better recordings and one can hear I’m bored to death. There is a lengthy sequence involving a newly purchased bass guitar that Nick and Alex bullied me into buying. I bought the thing then they looked surprised when I refused to take it home with me. I knew they were hoping I’d learn it but this was out the question as I was intent on leaving the following week. So, they wasted a lot of time with this bass which Nick took on.
I do remember feeling depressed at this session and deciding enough was enough so I would quit the band the following week by email. Come the morning I sat down to write that mail, I was beaten to the post by an excited email from Nick informing us that he had just gotten us two gigs in September – at the Barfly and the Cavern. Damn. He’d beaten me to it. I’m an honorable man and having had these two gigs dumped upon me whilst still a member, there was no way I could back down. Cue two more miserable months.
The parting of the ways finally occurred on October 16th. November saw some bad things happening within my family and by the end of that month I was a broken man who spent the next 4 months as a complete recluse. What I didn’t yet know was I’d reached the end of the road living in Liverpool.
In March 2008, I knew I had to get out this isolated rut and acquired a support worker who came up with all manner of ideas, courses and schemes to get me active again. One strange idea I went along with was The I-Choir which I joined and would be a member of for a year and a half. Another idea was a drama course which leads to our third entry for July 31st which I’d more or less completely forgotten about. Hardly surprising as I was dosed up to the eyeballs on meds and was thoroughly depressed.
Earlier this month I performed on North Pier with the Electric Sunshine Project and the first scene had a coach load of travellers heading to Blackpool on holiday. Back in 2008, I was playing a coach driver doing a scam trip to… Blackpool!
This drama course was a strange one where most were special needs people from the Lark Lane Community Centre and it was decided to end with some semi-improvised performance of a situation involving this coach trip to Blackpool. I played Brian Prebble… who didn’t own a coach, hired one on the cheap for a bunch of travellers who had been promised something much more luxurious. I felt hugely pressured as I was the one member of the group capable of performing and remembering lines so the whole group relied on me for cues and to carry the bulk of this play.
I remember very little about it except that morning having to talk myself into doing it as I didn’t want to do the thing but I couldn’t let everyone down. There was a good turnout – about 50 people – and we did it in this sports hall type place next to the community centre. Somebody did film it… and I remember seeing a few seconds of playback after the show, but never got a copy of the footage so someone in Liverpool might still have this footage… and I’m not even sure if I would want to see it, let alone have a copy for my archive. There were no photos either and all there is of it in the archive is a surreptitious audio recording I made on a recently bought mp3 player. It had a voice recorder facility so had that stashed on top of a unit recording the whole thing. Very bad quality, low bitrate mono and I haven’t listened to it since then.
The group all felt it was a success and they harrassed me into joining them for another run of the course that September. I went along to the first session and it was clear to everyone I was… gone. I just wasn’t interested and said so which triggered a few long faces. They began talking about a pantomime and that was the end of that as I left, never to return.
So, three odd recordings, the latter two emanating from my darker days in Liverpool. Chances of any of this material being heard? Zero. Maybe a handful of tracks from the 1994 project in the newer digital mixes but the rest? They’re best left where they are!