Yesterday it was horses, today it was trees and interestingly that old curmudgeon Ginger Baker released an album in 1986 called Horses & Trees and I’d never really considered the connection before. The whole tree thing came about as you probably guessed because of the sofa (no more talk of it after this, I promise), but it also reminded me about Trees, the seventies band, that released two albums in the early seventies, The Garden Of Jane Delawney (1970) and On The Shore (1971). Two great Folk albums with a Psychedelic tinge that took them a healthy step away from moderate flirting with tradition and more towards the floaty and the fuzz box. Otherwise acoustic and melodius that fitted in well with Pentangle, Fotheringay and Fairport Convention in the day. Their singer Celia Humphris fell into voice over work and legend has it that she was the voice that said “Mind The Gap” on the London Underground, although I have no proof. Lastly All About Eve covered The Garden Of Jane Delawney as a B-side on the 12 inch single What Kind Of Fool in 1988.
But trees as a whole are the gift that keeps on giving as proven by our axing of the futon base today. They grow, they clean the air, they bear fruit, they build shelter, they float, they burn for heat and they are absolutely beautiful. You can even sleep on them as well as many other artistic uses. There’s also sign posts, transport and weapons. You can even carve your name onto the trunk, make tea, cure ills, attract pollinating bees, build bridges and if you put on a kilt you can toss them across the countryside. It’s quite incredible that we don’t respect them more.
So today Dare and I were in the studio, writing for the next Noctorum record. Today was guitars day and in the live room was the broken futon base that we had been using for the sofa in the archive room. It was taking up quite a bit of space so before I went to bed last night I asked Dare to bring a saw, an axe and the hoover to the studio in the morning. So at midday today instead of setting up guitar tones and figuring out whether we needed the Telecaster or the Stratocaster, the Gibson or the Rickenbacker, we carted the frame up into the hallway and proceeded to unscrew it and smash it up for kindling – real work. Dare also brought two receptacles for all the splintered wood and after a strenuous hour or so that tree was on its way to its final incarnation, falling as ash back to Earth. What a journey.
Later than we expected we listened to some of the pieces we had written so far, Dare sitting at the Allen & Heath mixing desk with the wooden trim. I sat next to the wooden table on the wooden studio couch and listened before we picked a song to work on. Dare picked up his wooden Gibson and came up with a great simple idea. We decided it would sound better on my wooden Telecaster, so we switched on the wooden-framed Roland JC120 and I played a chorused sparkling A minor. It was exactly what the song needed, because at this stage we just had a bass part (not a wooden bass part) and programmed drums. Next, Dare picked up his wooden Gibson and started working on the chords for the rest of the song. I opened up my writing book (made from a tree) and wrote 12 verses. A guide vocal and an idea for a chorus and that was about it for the day. How little we would have achieved today creatively if it hadn’t been for the trees.
Liverpool won today at Anfield 2-1 against Bournemouth. Ever since I was there in December at the Brighton game I see the spot where I was sitting and still can’t believe I actually got the chance to go. Thanks Tim at Elevator Studios in Liverpool for the opportunity. Paul from The Wild Swans and I were reminding each other about one great rare and unknown album I listened to in the early hours of Saturday morning and no it’s not on Spotify, but it is available to buy as a reissue. It’s Wil Malone, self-titled and it was released in 1970. What an evocative and personal record it is, simultaneously rich and intimate. Malone is best known as an arranger and you know him because he did the string arrangement for The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony. The record is available through Amazon, it’s doubtful that you would find it in the racks of a record store even as a reissue. If you found it as an original record it would cost you somewhere above £2,000.
Tomorrow is sessions day, I have 4, Tony in Sydney, Eric in Minneapolis, Doug in Wappinger Falls and new sessioneer Brian in Florida. If I get a chance inbetween I may go out and take a walk through the trees, if they’ll have me.