I’m very happy to announce that on Record Store Day 2019 and after nearly two decades of floating in digital space, I finally see the vinyl release of Hanging Out In Heaven. It will be a blue-tinged double record, set with two extra tracks – Queen In Her Jeans and Dressed Up As You. These additional songs were recorded in London around the same time and were always intended for the vinyl version.
Hanging Out In Heaven began in LA with Shep Lonsdale, engineer on Starfish and GAF, helping me record some songs at his home studio. Shep was also a drummer and played on half the record. I’d written some songs since the release of Spirit Level in 1992 but I’d become very busy in the period between Spirit Level and Hanging Out In Heaven, touring and making records with All About Eve in England. The Priest=Aura US tour had been cancelled due to disappointing sales in relation to the previous two releases so I had plenty of time for All About Eve.
I was living in Sweden at the time and during a break recording for HOIH continued in the town of Gävle with Andreas Ahlenius (After Everything Now This and A Box Of Birds were recorded at Andreas’ Blue Room studios). HOIH was somehow suspended in mid-air after leaving LA and I had some new songs that I wanted to add to the album. I had worked with Andreas as my engineer when I had produced an album for Swedish artist Håkan Ahlström in 1997. Christer Björklund from the Håkan Ahlström project stepped in for the remaining drum tracks for the new songs. I must add that encouragement to finish the project came from Robert Rankin Walker at Heyday Records. After hearing the LA sessions he supported me in adding the new tracks and mixing the record to completion.
The album opened with fan fave Forget The Radio and featured many songs that have appeared in the live set over the years – the lilting You Bring Your Love To Me and an early version of I Don’t Think So, recorded live in the studio. It also contains Sanctuary, a song that everyone likes but is hard to play live without a band plus playfully suicidal After Eight. Wreck has featured live as an a capella sea shanty, more often played in seaside towns and Wondering featured desert dweller Patti Hood on her century-old harp. Then there’s Andreas’ creaking foot pedals on the piano for All That Remains. The song was written singing into a cassette recorder whilst on holiday in Fiji as a stopover from Australia to Europe. It also includes What Is Her Name, written for, wait for it, Charlie Cox age 12, who is now Daredevil on Netflix! Whilst on holiday with his family in Queensland, he asked me could I write a song where you saw a girl that you liked and you didn’t know but wondered what was her name? This was the result.
There’s an interesting fact about Wondering and I Don’t Think So. Both were written as jams to tape and rerecorded later as they went down on the day they were conceived – the lyrics, the melody, the chords, the arrangements, were all realised on the spur of the moment. Swan featured me playing friend Keith Joyner’s black Gretsch duo jet guitar. It was Keith that replaced Johnny Marr when he left The The. He also played guitar on Goodbye.
I hope you enjoy the album, I always wanted to see it out on vinyl. I will also add that we had to cut the vinyl from the CD copy as the original master tapes are long gone. One track, Waves Towards The Moon, has some distortion that is also on the CD and we weren’t able to do anything about it in the transfer. Overall the record sounds fine to me. One thing we were able to fix was the readability of the lyrics. On the original CD version the lyrics were so small you could barely read them, plus they were written like handwriting which made it extra hard.
Last but not least, the artwork has been changed for this release, despite Anthony Collins’ pic of me floating in a sea of blue being used for the original album, the effect used has also been lost to the analogue robots of yesteryear, so we decided to go with my Swedish friend Jan Uddenfeldt’s classic pics of me as a young lad, exploring the archipelago North of Stockholm, sometime in the eighties – we think (Jan has also taken the photo for the new MOAT record Poison Stream). Back cover is from the same day. Some of Anthony’s black and white live photos from the period feature on the inner sleeves.
Thank you to Olivia for art direction, Jan and Anthony for the pics, Lizzie for joining the dots. Shauna for the promo, all the musicians and Stephen Judge at Schoolkids Records for making this happen with Robert at Heyday who also managed to find the one copy of Queen In Her Jeans that was thought stolen by the corgis.
Marty for RSD 2019