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The TDK Competition Results

Article from Home & Studio Recording, September 1985

H&SR names the winners and Mark Fishlock reports on the proceedings.

After weeks of anxious waiting, we now know the names of the winners of the TDK jingle writing competition. It was judged by Graham Edge from the Moody Blues, David Dundas who made the Blue Jeans advert, Patrick Moraz, Robin Lumley and Tony Visconti. The decision was extremely difficult, but after much deliberation we can now announce the winners:-

1st... Steve Higgs, Worthing
2nd... Neville & Valerie Pearson, Bracknell
3rd place... Paul Griggs, Welwyn.

Mark Fishlock was present when the winner rerecorded his composition at Tony Visconti's Good Earth Studio and sends us this report.

First prize winner Steve prepares for his first take.

Tony Visconti's eyes lit up. 'Im waking up', he said. 'It's Sunday and I'm producing the TDK jingle.' From a total of 289 entries it was the effort of Steve Higgs; a motorcycle policeman from Worthing, that was chosen as winner of H&SR's TDK Jingle Writing Competition. His effort was rewarded by a Yamaha MT44 home recording system, complete with mixer and powered monitors, not to mention 100 TDK HXS cassettes.

Second prize went to Neville and Valerie Pearson from Bracknell who went home with five Shure microphones and 50 TDK cassettes.

Paul Griggs from Welwyn took third prize; a Shure PE66 microphone and 30 TDK cassettes.

The Sunday in question was the day chosen for Tony Visconti to transform Steve's winning 4-track demo into a 24-track master to be broadcast as part of TDK's radio advertising campaign. Visconti, who has become something of a legend by producing most of David Bowie's records, as well as hits for Thin Lizzy, Boomtown Rats and many others, approached the task with an infectious enthusiasm.

The recording took place at his own Good Earth Productions Studio in Dean Street, in London's West End, and when we arrived he had already programmed a Linndrum pattern and a bass part on a Roland MC4 which was to be eventually played on the ever popular Yamaha DX7.

The prizewinners with Tony Visconti.

The time came for what was essentially a guide part, and the Brooklyn born producer looked round with a glint in his eye. 'This guy's brilliant,' he said. It transpired that Steve had studied classical guitar at the Royal College of Music for two years and had taught the instrument in Worthing until the demands of his job made it impossible. It was a joy to Visconti, who had been used to working with the best musicians in the business over his long and illustrious career. 'He speaks my language,' Tony enthused, referring to the ease with which Steve deciphered the hastily dotted manuscript paper.

The jingle consisted of a 'Hooray Henry' type of half spoken vocal, against a sleazy blues-like-backing. It's essence was captured in the simplicity of Steve's original demo, a quality praised by each member of the panel of eminent judges, particularly impressing Moody Blues' keyboard player, Patrick Moraz. Visconti was keen to retain the mood of Steve's original, realising that it would be easy to over-play when re-recording.

With the one minute jingle beginning to take shape Steve put down a guide vocal, which drew a similar response from his producer as did his 'guide' guitar. 'Come and have a listen,' said Tony, and soon the composer was nodding his approval. 'Great,' he beamed. Remarkably, the jingle was now largely complete and everyone broke for lunch before adding the finishing touches in the afternoon session.

Visconti wanted to find two, two bar pastiche fills to tie in with the lyric on the first and second verses; one to suggest a classical mood to follow the line 'His tapes they are the very best, better than the rest,' and the second to tie in with a verse about break-dancing. Once again the DX7 came into it's own.

Judges from left to right; David Dundas, Robin Lumley, Graham Edge, Patrick Moraz and Tony Visconti.

Although Tony was delighted with Steve's original guide vocal, which he gave strict instructions not to erase, he asked Steve to go back into the studio to try it a couple more times. After a loosening run through this policeman from Worthing assumed the professionalism of an experienced session singer and performed the jingle in one take with a refreshing lack of drop-ins. If it was possible for Visconti to be more impressed, he was! A few alterations were made to the original drum pattern, with Tony deciding the playout section should pick up and swing more. As Tony overdubbed a train whistle effect and some improvisation over the third verse, the finishing touch was made with some analogue finger clicks, courtesy of the composer and a handful of other people who were hanging round the studio at the time. Tony then leaned back in his chair. 'It's really sleazy,' he smiled, 'I love it.' The studio then went into the mixdown mode, and the computer on the Solid State Logic desk was locked in.

Shortly after 7.15pm the session was complete, and Steve settled back in Good Earth's comfortable seats to listen to the fruits of the day's labours. Everyone agreed that Tony had captured the mood of Steve's original recording, retaining it's endearing simplicity. Tony continued to sing Steve's praises: 'He was so easy to work with,' he said, 'I haven't had so much fun in a session for ages.' Steve was equally enthusiastic about Tony's part in the day's proceedings.

What impressed Steve most about the session?

'Well, everything really,' he replied, 'everything was there. Any effects you wanted were there straight away. Ideas were tried and thrown away and others substituted, it just seemed to come together. The underlying thing throughout the whole day was it was totally relaxed, and that makes recording fun, which is of course how it should be. Creatively, you also get the best out of it.'

The experience wasn't quite over for Steve. On July 30th he went to Capital Radio to watch Roger Scott broadcast his jingle over London for the first time...

When I left Steve was still trying to work out how to get his prize back home on the train.

Previous Article in this issue

Robin Millar

Next article in this issue

Roland Digital Delay SDE2500

Publisher: Home & Studio Recording - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

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Home & Studio Recording - Sep 1985

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman

Competition by Mark Fishlock

Previous article in this issue:

> Robin Millar

Next article in this issue:

> Roland Digital Delay SDE2500...

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