|Amateur Hour||Island Basing Street||Richard Digby-Smith||Feb 1974|
|Barbecutie||Ramport||Tony Platt||Dec 1973||B-side|
|Complaints||Ramport||Richard Digby-Smith||Nov 1973|
|Equator||Island Basing Street||Richard Digby-Smith||Jan 1974||scrapped|
|Equator||Island Basing Street||Richard Digby-Smith||Feb 1974|
|Falling In Love With Myself Again||Ramport||Richard Digby-Smith||Dec 1973||overdubbed at Island Jan ’74, eng. Tony Platt|
|Hasta Manana||Island Basing Street||Richard Digby-Smith||Jan 1974|
|In My Family||Ramport||Richard Digby-Smith||Nov 1973|
|I Like Girls||Ramport||Tony Platt||Dec 1973||outtake|
|Lost and Found||Island Basing Street||Richard Digby-Smith||Jan 1974||outtake, later B-side|
|Profile||Island Basing Street||Richard Digby-Smith||Feb 1974||outtake|
|This Town Ain’t Big Enough||Ramport||Richard Digby-Smith||Nov 1973||overdubbed at Island ’74, eng. Richard Digby-Smith|
|Talent Is An Asset||Ramport||Tony Platt||Dec 1973|
|Thank God It’s Not Christmas||Ramport||Tony Platt||Dec 1973||overdubbed at Island Jan 74, eng. Tony Platt|
There were heated discussions over arrangements. For example, the tune ‘Complaints’. I proposed an outro section, which was rehearsed and recorded to cassette. The following day, after it had been Mole-digested overnight, there was a reversal of position. My outro, to which I had become unfortunately attached – always a mistake – was deemed to ‘overshadow the rest of the song’. My work ethic at the time was, and indeed still is, to make the weak bits better, rather than chop the good bits out, but this solution was not realised and the outro was chopped.
There were confrontations about mixes. The proles – i.e. those of us who actually played the music – were excluded from the mixing process. Thus there were various surprises in store upon hearing rough mixes. On ‘Falling in Love’, for example, there’s a break where the guitar is clearly too quiet. My remark about this did not go down well. However, and obviously prior to rough mixes, the ongoing problem was about how much time to spend getting a decent bass sound, about which I naturally had certain opinions. I suppose it depended upon whether you were attached to the notion of a good bass sound. I was, very.
Here, in response to regular queries, is how the bass was recorded. I had the sound figured out before I joined the band but I was playing a Fender Mustang, given the unattainable price of a 4001 in those days, and even more so in these, actually. But once unlimited budgets were in the air (ha! the innocence of youth), I finally got hold of a 4001. Round-wound Rotosounds, one gauge thinner than the standard, a plectrum and an H&H amp. This was a transistor amp, which I turned up very loud to get some distortion. It was miked and DI’d, but the mic was where the sound came from. There was some compression in the control room, but not much. The H&H in fact had a ‘sustain’ switch, which probably did the job. I always used to find that the closer I was to the amp and cabinet, the more responsive the bass felt, so that was what I used to do. The mystery of where my amp went – along with my royalties, it also ‘mysteriously disappeared’ – was recently revealed by Hungarians.
The studio engineers (Richard Digby Smith and Tony Platt) were probably rather bemused that a bass player would be so finicky about his sound, and possibly some of the band were as well, but they duly indulged me, and the bass on most of the recorded tunes sounded just fine to me.
My sonic requirements were sometimes achieved, as on the track ‘Barbecutie’, and sometimes not, as on ‘Amateur Hour’. On this latter tune, I was requested to replace the (to my ears well-recorded) amped bass by my D/I’d retake using a plonking old Fender Precision. Having to replace a well-performed part on sonic grounds was the ultimate indignity, given the sound which I was aiming for, and which I was generally achieving. The bass part itself was identical, although performed with perhaps less enthusiasm. Actually there is no ‘perhaps’ about it; I did it standing in the control room, fuming, and immediately went home as soon as it was done, without waiting for a playback.
The Precision belonged to a bass player who later replaced me. The gold disc for Kimono, awarded to each band member some weeks after my departure, mysteriously disappeared (“It might be in my loft, I’ll have a look”, said an alumni, who promptly did nothing of the sort. However, a mere forty 40 years later, guess what? Armed only with a credit card, I was kindly allowed to purchase my own gold record. And they say that capitalists are hard-hearted bastards and that Beethoven was deaf. It’s a funny old world and no mistake.
The bass playing on ‘In My Family’ was described as ‘really wimpy’ by the head Mael, an adjective which I initially presumed was ironic, given the nature of the underlying composition. Plus, when the critique was delivered, I must admit I construed it as complimentary; something which is ‘rarely wimpy’, in my book, is no bad thing. Better to be rarely wimpy than often wimpy, I thought, and still think. However, dialect played a role in our discourse. There was no retake. Listeners can judge for themselves, no doubt.
Other than that, I think the rehearsal process, which was where the arguments/discussions/whatever took place, was a positive process which improved the final result rather than detracted from it. In my recent ‘solo’ life, I have returned to the notion that those musicians who know what to do are best at knowing what they CAN do.
On the KMH album, I generally I tried to shoehorn in as much as I thought relevant/possible, which included extra-curricular poly-rhythmic stuff from the realms of prog rock and jazz fusion, much to the stylistic horror of some. Playing three chords in the space of four, for example – I offered these kind of musical tricks from other genres. In the event the result was a (kind of) synthesis. As we now know from Hegel, this can only be A Good Thing. But if only he had Told Us Earlier. Or if only We Had Known About It At The Time”.