Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dusting off the old tunes 

Lately I've taken on a new hobby - digitising old recordings from my various bands and projects - I guess for some sort of posterity. If you're not interested in old band musings, you'll want to skip this post!

The first thing that surprised me when listening back, is how well these cassettes have held up! It was never a stellar format to begin with, but the actual recordings are still sounding reasonably okay, albeit replete with tape hiss, even in the studio mixdowns.

Secondly, I was a little surprised by the abundance of material. The initial aim was to just find decent recordings of my own songs, of which there are many, but it's interesting what else turned up, including many band and duo collaborations.

The third thing I found surprising is that live versions, recorded in loungerooms and rehearsal rooms on an Aiwa boombox, often sound better - even to the balance of instruments - than the very worked over studio recordings. The vocals have largely disappeared, of course, but there are still some jewels to be salvaged.

Best of all, I discovered that my original band of the '80s didn't suck: while we definitely sound "of the time", we were actually pretty good, and getting continuously better through the years - until we broke up! What comes through clearly is that we knew how to write songs, arrange complex instrumentation and had excessive vocal talent. The style was kind of alternative pop/rock.

While I usually started off doing vocals on my demos, the aim was always to hand them on to others in the band, because they were all incredible singers, and I was the least in that department :). Again, there are surprises, including the fact that our early drummer had an awesome voice, but all the rest should have - and indeed some did later - fronted their own bands! Essentially, we served as a songwriting collective, with everyone gradually contributing. One song continues to elude me, which is frustrating - I can't believe we didn't ever record this small masterpiece!

When we were a five piece, most of the vocals were by our rhythm guitarist (and sometime bassist), and the sound changed considerably after he left. In a way, the four piece accorded better to the way I wrote songs - musical constructions of interlocking pieces that needed to be right in time to work - so we both gained and lost something with that departure. All in all, we had a great combination of diverse instrumentation, really strong male/female vocals and stacks of material.

Finding and archiving all this stuff is a big project, but it sits nicely alongside my attempts to do likewise with my artwork.


They were good days. :-)
Yes, and surprisingly creative and productive days, looking back. I hadn't thought about it much, so it's nice to have these songs in a listenable format again. Hope all is well with you!
Thanks my friend!

I'm still pottering about with music...just for fun.

I'd been watching Alan Parsons' videos here:


...and thought of you.

Then, I found this blog that mentioned me. :)

Take care.
Thanks, Stuart - yes, I know about this AP site (but I missed the weekend offer on his new single). He's also now part of another projecty thing, The Subclones.

I can totally recommend the late, great Eric Woolfson's recent work - always the master songwriter!

You probably already know, but the Queen documentary on ABC2 9:30pm next Wednesday looks like an interesting retrospective on those guys.

P.S. I tried to check out your stuff on SoundCloud but can't seem to get it working.
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