So it’s a sad day today for lots of different reasons. We lost Nobby Stiles, World Cup winner from 1966, we lost Sean Connery, the original James Bond (amongst many other roles) and we also found out that we have a month-long lockdown (at least) which includes a ban on travel so we will not be able to leave for Portugal until December 3rd. It also means that the swimming pool is closing, putting an end to my swimming regimen. Everybody suffers, only schools, food shops and pro football will be staying open as we struggle to find a way through this crisis. For us, as we try to escape the pandemic and Brexit we can only hope that Portugal doesn’t have a lockdown that starts as the one in England ends.
What can anybody do but try and be safe and sit it out? I’ll be working on music as much as possible, writing and doing sessions with anyone that would like to get involved. I’ll be studying French and trying to think of an exercise that equals the swimming, not running and not going into the freezing sea – so possibly moving records around the archive, that should keep me fit.
I don’t need to make a list of the stresses we are all facing and I feel lucky being where I am with all problems we all face so I’m just going to continue writing, continue playing, continue being in the studio, continue studying French, continue loving the archive, my wife, my children (and grandchild) and my friends. I’m going to write some crazy stories, I’m going to try and observe some interesting things, I’m going to write some songs and I’m going to stay positive about the future despite the distractions. So, perhaps tomorrow will be a surrealistic journey through an imaginary past or an exploration into a fascinating character from history but here goes with what happened today.
Last day of October, the swim, mile 27 and the staff confused as to whether the centre will be open (it won’t). It was muddy underfoot out of the grove, it was windy and spits of rain fell from the sky. I ran into Julian walking his dog (Julian appears in the lyric of In A Field Full Of Sheep from Noctorum’s album The Afterlife). He’s a West Ham supporter and we laughed about the game against Liverpool as true civilised adversaries should.
I got to the studio, pastied up, but I put it down to cool as I grabbed the hoover and tried to sort out the live room and put all the amps back in their positions so we could continue with the Arctic Lake project today and finish off the Ahad guitars on Wednesday.
So it was Arctic Lake day today, I sang the song on Thursday and Olivia did the backing vocals and today was guitars, lots of Rickenbacker 12 string and Strat, rhythms, leads, arpeggios and taking Tony’s song to another level. When I began with the sessioneers project I had no idea that I was going to be able to help get Jed, Ahad, Tony and others, who have not yet made albums with Dare and me, to another level so successfully. Most people who have been in a band that anybody has heard of looks for name bands to work with but I thought it might be more interesting to work with people that had ideas that nobody out there in the public has heard. So watch out next year for Space Summit, the as yet unnamed Ahad project and Arctic Lake, all will be finished by the end of the year although Arctic Lake is only four songs so far that will be finished but Tony wants to add to them to have an album. I hope other sessioneers are going to be able to get to this stage and anybody else who hasn’t yet been in touch. It’s really exciting for me.
Thanks to everyone who is contributing to the MOAT Poison Stream campaign in these difficult times. We are going to release another song in November as soon as we decide which one makes the most sense.
It’s Halloween tonight but it doesn’t seem like the ghouls are as scary as reality. The festive joy has been dampened not just by the weather, the wind and the rain, but the current state of affairs. We have to try and stay hopeful, we have to start living a different way, perhaps now is a time to discover new things that we didn’t have time for before. Creativity, writing, writing songs, singing, playing the guitar, teaching others, reading, watching films, listening to records, drawing, learning another language – I can only make a list of things that interest me but everybody out there has their own list, might be time to start ticking it off.
Music today is the vinyl reissue of The Stones’ Goats Head Soup (1973) and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I have completely changed my mind about the opening track Dancing With Mr D. which I never really liked but now I do and I think it’s because of Charlie and I think it’s because when I first heard this album I didn’t know so much about drums and drummers and feel. I only discovered these things as I got older, made albums and figured out how important the drums were. The vocals are great too as they are on the next track, 100 Years Ago, Jagger is so good, you just have to like him. Not everybody sees it. Mick Taylor seems to be poking out of the track too and despite liking Black And Blue a lot it was a big loss when he left.
The album reached No.1 in the US and Top 5 in the UK in 1973 and this Giles Martin remix hit the No.1 spot in the UK in September 2020. (The album was originally produced by Jimmy Miller.) Coming Down Again has Keith on vocals and I hardly noticed. It’s followed by an inspired classic Stones’ Rocker, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker). Great guitars and horns. Richards’ presence is felt everywhere in the overall sound of the band, the chords and the tones, the feels and the vibe. Then comes Angie, what a classic, the chords, the vocals (Jagger shines), the video and the song itself. Great piano parts as well, that with the string sounds makes it sound so mature.
Side 2 opens with Silver Train with its harp and slide, but whether you like the song or not, it’s the sound of the band that is the thing. For a group that is so influenced they certainly sound very much like themselves. Hide Your Love is a barroom Blues, a place where they like to be musically but it’s good time music and not as interesting if you’re looking for a great song more than a good time. Winter has that perfect mid-tempo Stones thang, sounds like Bill Wyman on bass and benefits greatly from it (he only plays on 3 tracks on the album). Charlie on drums, Jagger on rhythm and Mick Taylor on lead – and no Keith. It could be a Van Morrison song, has strings and Nicky Hopkin on piano, great Taylor guitar tone at the end.
Two more tracks, Can You Hear The Music and Star Star, end the album. The first is a fine song despite it being buried at the back end of the album. A better song for me than Hide Your Love (I would have swapped them around). Great Keith wah-wah. Star Star has them revisiting their musical roots and adding indecent swear words in the chorus and continuing to scare the establishment to death.
The extra disc starts with Scarlet featuring Jimmy Page, it’s kinda throwaway, not a patch on anything from Houses Of The Holy released in the same year. All The Rage is throwaway in that Stones’ R’n’R way but sometimes it’s cool and sometimes it’s naff, it’s hard to know what the difference is. This track sounds more like the New York Dolls than The Stones (apart from some of the instrumental bits) but otherwise, it’s some kind of Glam trash. For some reason, Criss Cross is one of those cool ones. It’s hard to determine why the formula works here but not on All The Rage. This track could have easily replaced Hide Your Love on the original album and possibly helped it to be better received.
100 Years Ago Piano Demo is just Jagger and Nicky Hopkins, you can hear The Stones in his piano playing as much as you can hear it in Jagger’s voice. It’s interesting to hear Dancing With Mr D. and Heartbreaker instrumentals but that’s being a fan. I was once given a CD of Jeff Beck noodling in the studio, I could listen to him noodle all day. The Hide Your Love Alternative Mix I thought I could do without but somehow prefer it to the album version.
The last three tracks are 1973 Glyn Johns remixes of Dancing With Mr D., Heartbreaker and Silver Train and I’ll let you A/B them to the original mixes as you A/B the Jimmy Miller mix to the Giles Martin remix. Nerds of the world unite!