The multitrack Wisden strolls up the stumps once again
I'll probably never have the chance to meet a gregarious dinosaur, at least not in a state where he — or she — is ready and able to share a few moments of conversation. However, if the opportunity ever does arise, I know that I'll never be stuck for an opener 'cause I've got one ready.
Anyway, this month in the studios around Britain... what? Oh sorry. Yes, what I'd say, or rather ask, the dinosaur is this: "Did you enjoy it?"
But then that's the trouble with dinosaurs; they're not generally available for interview.
Basically Pop music has always been pretty evolutionary stuff. Species miraculously spring into life, and either they are bitten in the womb as it were, or otherwise they survive and endure sometimes brief and sometimes protracted eras, finally disappearing as the pressure of the younger, more virile bands sap their ebbing powers of creation. Or even their abilities to assimilate new ideas and technology.
Take the species known as The Smiths (indigenous to Manchester, part of the Guitar genus, sub-genus Jangly), and The Cult (same genus, sub group 70's Heavy Rock revivalists). This general breed was, some two or three years ago, widely predicted to become extinct and yet they have been spotted by keen observers utilising the state-of-the art digital facilities available at Jacob's studios in Farnham.
Obviously The Smiths are a species accustomed to roaming the plains in search of facilities because they have also been discovered, under the guidance of Johnny Marr, at Strawberry North Studios in Cheshire. Inhabitants of the same territories recently have been the Colourfield, who are producing themselves (in true evolutionary spirit) in their endeavours to bring forth a single.
Also there were Arista's new signing, Blue Zone, GBH (still extant in spite of our prayers) and a band called Sneak Preview, who are rumoured to be doing some songs for the Beverly Hills Cop sequel.
And at this point, apropos of the fact that Graham Gouldman and Andrew Gold (species name Wax, producing themselves, with Chris Magle engineering, working on an LP) have reared their heads in this, their old, haunt, it is necessary to note the phenomenon of re-appearance. Species thought long extinct occasionally reoccur, commonly arousing spurious and alarming rumours of hideous monstrosities among the local populace.
Speaking of which, The Firm — a species closely descended from the extinct Led Zeppelin and Bad Company genii and a monster of horrible dimensions, has been doing just that down at Sarm West, a studio that really represents the state of evolutionary art.
Sarm have however been going through a period of metamorphosis. They have moved the thriving ZTT offices out of the building in order to make way for a Synclavier programming suite (with Fairlight) that will be linked up to the remix studio (3). Trevor Horn bogged off to Italy not, as you might think, to recover from spending most of last year recording one song for Miss Grace Jones, but to check out the spec of a certain Milanese castle, earmarked as the place to begin the new Yes LP. In actual fact the place didn't turn out to be to his taste, but a review will be appearing anyway on these pages in next month's Castlecheck.
In Trev's absence, those rocking rooms at Sarm have been occupied by Queen who are producing a movie track engineered by Dave Richards. Hipsway have also been recording there using a specially acquired Mitsubishi 32-track digital machine; a machine that may well stand up and walk in the very near future.
At West 3 Studios in Acton, Working Week, who have apparently take a shine to the studio's big spacious atmosphere, have been in to work on demos, produced by Simon Booth, and again engineered by the very busy Jon McGowan.
CBS studios have been host to the talent of Bonnie Tyler who has been in to put down some vocals (presumably her own. I'd hate to imply that she was being catty). John Williams, the primitivist axe man himself, has been producing his own new LP, and Eighth Wonder have been knocking out some demos as well.
Still ensconced in the bowels of Good Earth, with Tony Visconti and engineer Gordon Futer, are pop's answer to the Dugong, The Moody Blues, and at Maison Rouge studios in Fulham, ELP, the band that refuse to fossilize, have been in with producer Tony Taverner. Incidentally, keyboard experimentalists, determined to survive well into the post-modern era may be interested to hear of a wild exciting technique, presumably intended to help Keith Emerson do just that. He's been putting the sounds from two Fairlights through a Rockman, finally ending up with a sound reminiscent of the early Casio.
In future issues we will be investigating this technique more thoroughly... if Mr Emerson is available for interview.
Feature by Richard Walmsley
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