One for the Album

Here’s another find in the magic loft! … a Polaroid I took (according to the date on the back) in 1981 … I can’t remember where. It’s not AIR studios or Abbey Road, so it looks like it must be in the McCartney offices in Soho Square.

Posted in Music | Tagged | 125 Comments

125 Responses to One for the Album

  1. BorisBrain says:

    Had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Horace Panter of the Specials tonight (in a pub in Bromsgrove of all places) where he was keeping busy between Specials tours with a nifty four-piece blues band. Very pleasant fella (he’s read your book by the way).

    Did you cross paths with him or The Specials at all? I seem to remember an EC&TA single being released on Two-Tone…

    And have you been known to keep your hand in with other bands?

    Stay groovy,

    BB

    • Bruce says:

      We ran into them a couple of times EC knows them better obviously, having produced them. I’m glad to hear there are still nifty Blues bands around.

      • BorisBrain says:

        Nifty indeed – some very tight songs from the Fabulous Thunderbirds and SRV. And of course HP’s playing was a pleasure. Highly reminiscent of your style – punchy, sublime tone, (augmented by a perfectly tuned kick drum), disciplined rhythm and some magical flourishes.

        After I’d stopped gibbering like a fanboy we got to chatting about gear, and also about other fine bassmen of the genre, which is how your name and that of Norman Watt-Roy came up (whom I also met a few years back when I was really very drunk…).

        Are you not tempted to crank it up again with a suitable beat combo? That would be something worth seeing…

        Cheers,

        BB

      • Bruce says:

        I’m tempted by many things :)

  2. Mike Miller says:

    What happened with your book “OTRA”? I thought it was an interesting read. Were you unhappy with it?

  3. Nick S. says:

    Are you a fan of the late Carl Radle? Any thoughts on his playing you’d care to share? I heard George Harrison’s “The Art of Dying” this morning, and was reminded of what a vital, driving, defining bass line that song has. It “jumps out” at the listener. Then I thought of Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight.” Another dynamic bass line.

    • Bruce says:

      I think he was one of several good bass players to work with the luminaries of that era.

      • Nick S. says:

        You’re probably aware of the movie, “Eric Clapton And His Rolling Hotel.” I wasn’t till about a week ago. GREAT film! If you haven’t seen it . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNhxcli31Kc&list=RDdNhxcli31Kc#t=0

        Also, I’m with Boris . . . would be great to see you in a “suitable” band, as he rightly put it.

      • Bruce says:

        Google Clapton / Scorsese. If I haven’t already told you this before… Martin Scorsese shot a series of Blues documentaries, most of which came out — except for the concert footage he did of an Eric Clapton gig where EC more or leas ran through the history of electric blues guitar playing from Lowell Fulsom, thru Otis Rush, Freddy King, et al. It’s his finest playing and singing on record — if you want to see Clapton at the height of his powers.

  4. Jerry Cohen says:

    I was listening to the excellent Hollywood High gig tonight. Songs like Party Girl were pretty new. Were these tunes learned on the road right after EC wrote them? What was that process like. I also notice that between this tour and the first time I saw the band live (1981) the band had stopped doing backing vocals. Was this EC’s decision?

    • Bruce says:

      Some songs were learned “on the fly” as they were written, some rehearsed before the tour. “Party Girl” had quite a worked out bass part so, I reckon that must’ve been done in a more considered way. As for the “backing vocals” — I stepped forward one night to sing the chorus of “Oliver’s Army” and there was my microphone …gone!

      • Nick S. says:

        I always wondered why Steve and you no longer sang backing vocals. I liked your backing vocals. They added to the music. Sounds like an early sign of The Singer’s “lone star” mentality. Either that, or gremlins stole the mic. ;0)

      • Bruce says:

        I think it’s the first.

      • Nick S. says:

        I think you’re right. My apologies to the gremlins.

        Sounds like insecurity. I’m reminded of all his public bad-mouthing of other artists back then, too, etc. Let the music speak for itself. And be grateful for and to fellow band members who really helped make the music possible. That much seems Uncomplicated.

      • Nick S. says:

        The Singer would feel at home in Texas . . . the Lone Star State. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Ugh.)

      • Bruce says:

        It’s been said before.

      • Nick S. says:

        Saw this “joke” online today, and found it kind of funny (and ringing true): Four revolutionaries walk into a cafe. Three are fools; one is a police spy.

      • Nick S. says:

        Yesterday I saw part of a documentary on the Federal Reserve. We’ve touched on that here before. You summed it up perfectly: The Fed isn’t federal, nor is it a reserve. Is it your understanding that the Bank of England is England’s Fed and both are related? (The documentary stated this.)

      • Bruce says:

        I think there’s a kind of pyramid system in operation — but who is at the top of it is anyone’s guess — you could start by looking into the Rothschild family though. Coincidentally a Brit has just been charged with hacking the Federal Reserve’s computers.

        http://www.foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2014/02/27/british-hacker-charged-in-federal-reserve-breach/

      • Nick S. says:

        That documentary did tell of the Rothschild family — and how they had/have family members heading privately owned central banks throughout Europe (and beyond, I suspect) for centuries. The long and the short of it is that countries (and their citizens) appear beholden to these banks — permanent debt slaves. Interesting stuff. Conjures up: clandestine printing presses; monopoly money; funny money; closed books; global financiers; mercenaries; wars; booms; busts; etc. To borrow from Steely Dan, something of a Royal Scam.

        BTW . . . that Brit is now in heap big trouble.

  5. Nick S. says:

    I saw a live band last night. Very good trio — especially the female singer/songwriter. Spoke with them a bit afterward about the music “bidness,” and how difficult and competitive it can be. It’s a real shame to see such good talent, nice folks, and hard work go largely under the radar. I recall reading posts here about the ever-changing nature of the music business. It got me wondering . . . do you think The Beatles were at the epicenter of some sort of seismic “perfect storm” in popular music that isn’t likely to ever occur again? And if so, why do you suppose that is?

    • Bruce says:

      Well the Beatles had their fair share of rejections before they clicked. I don’t think it was a “perfect storm” simply in terms of music. It was post-two world wars, with a depression in between them, and “ordinary folks” had had enough of the two-tier class system (in Britain — it played out more as black / white integration in the US). Suddenly the people had TVs and cars and their own popular culture — and the Beatles, who (re)-introduced black music to America (along with the Stones) were a major part of the phenomena. (I saw a documentary on TV last night where the Stones insisted on having Howling Wolf on Shindig as part of the deal for them appearing. However would ghe have got on TV otherwise!)

      Not only did you have the best group of all time, in the Beatles, but also the best lyric writer in Dylan and the best rock guitarist in Hendrix. I can’t see a cultural upheaval anything like that ever occuring again. Those were relatively naive and innocent times — Brian Epstein famously gave the Beatles merchandising away to anyone who wanted it. Can you imagine that happening today?!

      • Nick S. says:

        On a radio show yesterday, I was reminded that Decca — the label the Stones are/were on — rejected The Beatles. And I feel that John Lennon — more than McCartney, initially — was The Beatles driving force to $ucceed. (Perhaps because he came from a broken home, and had a greater hunger?) And I totally agree with you about history, technology, culture, connections and timing that helped make it all possible. And, of course, The Beatles HUGE talent, smarts and personal charm.

        Pretty cool what you mentioned about The Stones/Howling Wolf.

        Also, I saw The Beatles as supplanting Elvis Presley. And though MANY HUGELY $uccessful musicians follow in their wake, I never sensed the same sort of impact. Not even nearly. (It seemed like a similar “push” was made for Michael Jackson in the 80′s and beyond, but I never equated impacts.)

        Thanks for that great reply.

      • Nick S. says:

        BTW . . . the venue I was @ last night had a sign listing upcoming shows. On that list was Sugar Blue, the blues harp player who played on the Stones’ “Miss You.” More synchronicity? I don’t know. But interesting that you mentioned the Stones and black music.

  6. Jerry Cohen says:

    Well, this was bound to happen at some point. Behold The Distractions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVfAPdDCcno

  7. Mike Miller says:

    Scanning through the “Who Concert File” book this morning I came across a couple of stories told by your Quiver bandmates in regarding the bands support of the Who in the fall of ’71.

    At the Rainbow on November 4th:

    Willie Wilson: “We turned up for the soundcheck around 5 o’clock and Moonie cornered me in the dressing room. “Willie, dear boy! Brandy and Coke all right?” he cried, pressing a half-pint glass into my hand. It was hard to find much Coke in the glass. He then proceeded to get me rat-arsed drunk. We’d rented a brand new Ford Escort to get us to and from the the gig and on the way home I was so out of it I turned the car over on Ealing Broadway, spilling me and the rest of the band out onto the street. Tim Renwick, our guitarist was caring the band’s bag of Mandies (Mandrax) and in a moment of panic hid it in a pelican-crossing sign, coming back the following day to pick it up!”

  8. Rachel Jones says:

    We saw you on BBC4′s “Top Of The Pops: The Story Of 1979″ on Monday night! Magic. My mum has her fair share of funny stories of being an audience member on TOTP back in the day, but I still find it quite surprising at just how… calculated… parts of it seemed to be. Still, what an exciting variety of artists to appear on the programme that year!

    • Bruce says:

      It was a veritable licorice allsorts of a show at that time. A friend of mine has a Sixties tribute band that does covers of the Hollies, Beatles, Who, Stones, Doors, etc, etc. But at least its roughly similar pop/rock three-minute verse/chorus songs. We often laugh at how impossible it would be to do the same thing with the Seventies — disco, punk, glam, prog, reggae and Clive Dunn’s “Grandad”. Still at least it was your mum who was telling about it, not your granny :)

      • Nick S. says:

        Nice job! “Elvis Costello: Great suit, but he sweated an awful lot.” Ha! The 70′s did seem a very eclectic era. Sea changes within a decadent decade. If I had to pick a decade for music, definitely my favorite.

      • Nick S. says:

        Speaking of “Oliver’s Army” (as the aforementioned BBC program did), what do you make of the present situation in Ukraine?

      • Bruce says:

        I can’t comment on it as I don’t know enough about it. I tend to watch the news in short burst of a couple of days and then leave it for a few weeks. You can usually fill in the gaps. The big news is that there’s still one square mile of England left that’s not under six feet of water.

      • Nick S. says:

        In the context of that program, “Accidents” and “Oliver’s Army” are particularly meaty songs. Strong songs. Amid a fair share of fluff during that time, it seems. Musically, a great year for you guys. Your band blew away so much of the “competition.” EC & Attractions begins around 6:00 @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpAhQ1FoRHA

      • Mike Miller says:

        Yeah, I saw some guys riding jet skis down the street is Surrey on the news the other day.

      • Nick S. says:

        Re. TOTP/1979, pretty funny — and smart — what you did for Al Stewart’s “YOTC.” He owes you two! And I always wondered about the drums while miming songs. Apparently they were “fake.” Also . . . a band like Madness had to really act out “One Step Beyond,” since the volume was shockingly low. Interesting program that was.

        Re. weather . . . Chicago has had an especially brutal winter. Lots of snow and very cold. Hope England’s weather situation improves real soon.

    • Mike Miller says:

      Nice to see you on the tv…computer screen in my case. Have you done any other oc interviews in recent years?

  9. Nick S. says:

    EC (& The Attractions) and Daryl Hall did a duet, “The Only Flame In Town.” How did that pairing come about?

    • Bruce says:

      I’m not entirely sure — you know what an eclectic fella he is — always on the look out for an unusual pairing.

      • Nick S. says:

        That Costella fella is eclectic.

        Speaking of eclectic . . . are you into Joni Mitchell at all?

      • Bruce says:

        …back in the day.

      • Nick S. says:

        Been rediscovering her a bit lately. Excellent singer/songwriter. Fascinating artist and journey. I’d highly recommend the PBS American Masters bio on her (as well as one on John Lennon & Yoko Ono).

      • Bruce says:

        Yes — we’ve got PBS here nowadays — some good documentaries on it.

      • Nick S. says:

        I’ll throw another artist at you . . . any thoughts you’d care to share on Todd Rundgren? Getting somewhat reacquainted with his music and career.

      • Bruce says:

        I once owned a Todd Rungren album, I remember he did a decent track called “I Saw the Light” — but beyond that, I’m going to need hypnotic regression or the assistance of an archeologist? :)

      • Nick S. says:

        Ha! Thanks, Bruce. “I Saw The Light” is a decent track. Too bad he seems to have gotten way off track and strayed far from the likes of that tune. I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about him and his work, but he is interesting and I’m aware of some very nice songs of his. Yesterday I found this recent, brief — but informative — interview with him. The John Lennon connections are eerie! And to complete the synchronicity, TR likens himself to EC toward the end. http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/may/01/todd-rundgren-interview

    • Mike Miller says:

      H&O were cranking out hits about that time, so I would bet Columbia was pushing him to get some radio friendly material in the US market.

  10. Nick S. says:

    I’d read a number of posts from EC & Attractions fans where they stated that they had good, memorable encounters with you (and often Pete) after shows and such. Was EC one to mix with fans?

  11. Nick S. says:

    Do you think The Beatles would have reunited if not for JL’s untimely tragedy?

  12. Nick S. says:

    It was 50 years ago today (GASP!!!) . . . Ed Sullivan brought The Beatles to play the USA.

    I’ve avoided or missed much of the anniversary hoopla, but listened to the radio a bit today and learned (or was reminded) that McCartney sang lead on most songs that day! That surprised me because I always thought of Lennon as the band’s leader. Especially in the early days, and even during and after ’67. Do you know why Paul got most songs on the debut? (I wonder how that came to be.) Is there an earlier anniversary in England that celebrates The Beatles “big beakthrough” there?

    • Bruce says:

      I think a) the were just promoting what was a hit at the time and b) there’s mo specific anniversary. though one channel has been showing all the early Ed Sullivan shows on rotation for a while now. In England the big deal is that it’s the 30th anniversary of Jayne Tovill and Christopher Dean winning the gold medal for ice dancing at the Winter Olympics of 1984 with a perfect score of maximum points across the board. And, even if you’re not particularly into skating, it’s still a mesmerising performance.

      • Nick S. says:

        I see what you mean re. Winter Olympics . . . it’s about people striving to be the very best they can possibly be at something. Even if one is not a fan of a particular event, one can/should appreciate the passion, training and effort behind the individuals performing. I should make a point to watch some.

      • Bruce says:

        Usually the very best of anything is worth watching — as you rightly say.

  13. Nick S. says:

    Recently revisited McCartney & Wings “Rockshow” video. What terrific performances! That ’76 Wings lineup was probably my favorite, with Laine, McCulloch and English. McCulloch was a way better guitarist than I remembered. His slide guitar was priceless. And his reproductions of Paul’s recorded guitar parts were pretty flawless. McCartney is a performer who really basks in the spotlight. Born to perform.

  14. Mike Miller says:

    One of my ad agency clients met Paul at a function a few years ago in the Hamptons. She’s about our age, a little kooky, and no beauty queen. He was just sitting down to lunch and he asked her to join him. They chatted about 20 minutes. She couldn’t believe how nice and unpretentious he was.

  15. Nick S. says:

    “Silly Love Songs” always sounded to me like one of Paul’s more complex and sophisticated bass lines. Disco-like, and very buoyant.

    • Bruce says:

      I believe he used to improvise a lot of bass takes over the finished track which allowed him to relax and experiemnt and keep the most “spontaneous” sounding one — or actually edit together the best bits into one take.

      • Nick S. says:

        Interesting approach. I’ve browsed the book, The Beatles Recording Sessions, and recall that they spent much more time in the studio editing their songs than I’d imagined. They obviously cared about and labored over their recordings. Did you (and EC & The Attractions) apply a similar approach to recording?

      • Bruce says:

        Most of our albums were “played” because we did so much touring the songs were already arranged, rehearsed and played in. The most “crafted” album we did was “Imperial Bedroon” which was done with Geoff Emerick, who worked on “Sgt Pepper” and the “White Album” — and we deliberatley took that approach. Clive Langer built records from the ground up and so “Punch the Clock” is a fairly crafted album too — and, obviously, when you have horn section arrangements there’s not a lot of room for spontaneity. When the Beatles were still playing live, their early albums were played more or less live too — it was only the later ones, from “Revolver” onwards that were constructed, by which time they were solely a studio band.

      • Bruce says:

        I’ve seen a similar graphic for authors.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Geoff produced the ATUB album. Did he just phone that one in or was he overruled?

      • Bruce says:

        I got a desk mix of it before the other “co-producer” turned the vocal track up to eleven — I still didn;t listen to it, though.

      • Nick S. says:

        Ha! That recording engineer graphic is funny. Bruce noted a similar one for authors, and I suppose it generally applies to LOTS of trades . . . definitely including graphic design. Ugh, sometimes.

        I read about ATUB online, and looks like it was a confused project from the start. Like The Singer didn’t really know what he wanted to do with that album. Sounds like it was no pleasure to make that record. Too bad he couldn’t make good use of the band that served him best.

      • Bruce says:

        He did know exactly what he wanted to do with that album — and that was (quote) “to make the voice the most prominent thing on it” (unquote).

      • Nick S. says:

        After reading your response to my question re. approach, it struck me that EC & The Attractions really benefited from your varied musical experiences prior to that band. With all your EC&A touring, it’s a wonder where any of you found time, creativity and energy to bring to each subsequent record. But you did, and I figure your deeper experience — and contributions — had a LOT to with that.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Well, you look happy on the CD cover.

      • Bruce says:

        The picture was taken first.

      • Mike Miller says:

        And, there’s a dummy on the front cover.

      • Nick S. says:

        I’ve got a new take on the album title . . . “All This Useless Beauty” could apply to the ridiculous musicality of The Attractions (a thing of beauty) severely subordinated (made useless) by The Singer’s desire for “prominence” on the recording.

        I can’t be too critical of that record’s content — yet — because overall I am unfamiliar with it. (For the most part, I was pretty much done with EC by then.) I probably should check ATUB out (at least once). But I Trust your (and bloggers here) info on it. Too bad about that record. Most times the 4 of you got together it was magic.

      • Mike Miller says:

        There’s some good things on that record. In a prior post I called it “arguably the worst”, and I think that was wrong.
        I may be splitting hairs, but I don’t think there is a “worst”, just some of the others are much better.

        Still, there is great playing by the group, as usual.

      • Bruce says:

        Into each life a little rain must fall.

      • Nick S. says:

        Too true. And those who get just a little rain are the lucky ones.

        Thank God for umbrellos. {–’;0)

      • Mike Miller says:

        Was touring for the “Brutal Youth” record reasonably enjoyable?

      • Bruce says:

        Yes, the 1994 touring was a new leaf for everybody and was probably the least stressful time we’ve ever had of it. I even travelled in the car with EC and Cait once or twice!! And we actually extended the tours into the following year we were enjoying it so much. Into every live a litle sun must shine :)

      • Mike Miller says:

        It seems too bad that he couldn’t have come up with another bunch of band songs for a proper album while the band was tight and mood was good. But that would mean more touring…the single/album/tour cycle.
        Like I think you have said before, ( paraphrasing) If things are going well, he tends to sabotage it.

      • Bruce says:

        You’re right. He was pretty keen to do a follow up to BY called “A Case for Song” in which all the focus would be on …well, you’ve guessed it. In the end, we got ATUB.

      • BorisBrain says:

        I remember travelling to London and the Royal Albert Hall to catch one of the Brutal Youth shows, and it was a joy to see and hear the classic lineup back together again. I do recall an uncharacteristic duff start to ‘All the Rage’ (ah, those tricky 6/8 time signatures…), and I’m wondering now if you ever gigged ‘Sunday’s Best’, that wonderfully macabre tune from AF, with a terrific bassline from yourself. Not many bassists could pull such virtuosity from a 3/4 time signature…?

      • Bruce says:

        I don’t think “Sunday’s Best” was ever played live and I always thought there were far better tracks that could’ve gone on the album than that. I hate 3/4 so I’m sure I tried my hardest to make it interesting. I haven’t heard that tune since we did it. In view of your comments I may revisit it. Stay groovy.

      • Nick S. says:

        I wish I would have caught you guys live in ’94. That Letterman performance of “13 Steps Lead Down” is mighty!

        Speaking of Letterman and the very recently retired Jay Leno . . . any anecdotes you’d care to share about those hosts and playing their shows? Did you guys mix it up much with hosts before and after shows? Have you a preference between hosts?

      • Bruce says:

        (I’m going to have to write my memoirs yet!) I wanted to speak to Jay Leno because he was at acting college with Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon, but by that stage things had gaot a little fractious backstage so I didn’t get the chance. David Letterman was always very friendly towards me and the rest of band — and if you see at the end of the clip you reference (as someone pointed out to me) he actually comes over and shakes my hand first! We did some really great gigs in 94 — particularly the Glastonbury festival and three shows at the Albert Hall that year. But it was also the period in which Jake decided to sack Jake Riviera — so it wasn’t all easy going.

      • Nick S. says:

        “Into every life, a little sun must shine.” Damn straight, Bruce! (I’m learning that one a bit late in life, but better late than not!)

      • Nick S. says:

        Did you guys videotape any of those shows in ’94 (to be released sometime)?

      • Bruce says:

        I think if we had recorded any, they’d have seen the light of day by now.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Nick: You can get close with the “Case for Song” live DVD from mid ’96. There are some great Attractions performances, especially “Riot Act”. But also, it does a great job of illustrating the other nonsense he was into. But you can skip through that.
        The VHS version includes “Accidents will Happen” where the DVD does not, which is unfortunate. The arrangement of “Pump it Up” is in my opinion pretty lame, unless it was BT’s idea, then it’s brilliant.

      • Bruce says:

        That arrangement of Pimp It Up started out as a joke — at the tour rehearsals I played the whole song on one stringfro a joke, ehich made it sound like a skiffle (jug band)song. Guess who thought it would be a good idea to keep it in like that. It gradually got louder and morphed back into the original version as the touring progressed.

      • Nick S. says:

        Thanks, Mike. I’d seen some videos of those performances from ’96 and really enjoyed them. When I researched the videos, I’d found what you stated . . . there’s is a lot of other stuff in that collection that probably wouldn’t interest me a whole lot.

        I can understand EC wanting to have a career like, say, Neil Young, who records with Crazy Horse, solo, The Stray Gators, etc., and seems to do pretty much whatever he wants artistically (and usually appears to pull it off). But I believe in EC’s case, he is heavily identified — and rightly so — with The Attractions period. Fans really like that whole band. Shame he seems unable to see it that way. (But this is all only my “outsider’s” view. The devil is in the details, I suppose. I can only speculate.)

  16. Jerry Cohen says:

    A joy to see Paul play with Ringo on the Grammys last night.

  17. Nick S. says:

    Very cool!

    Interesting what David points out about collages and Beatle art. He’s right . . . I never really put that together (so to speak).

    In Chicago, there is a weekly, 2-hour Beatle show I usually listen to on Sunday mornings. The host will play some unusual cuts (or sometimes ones I’ve rarely/never heard before). Don’t recall the name of the solo McCartney song she played 2 days ago, but I was unfamiliar with it and FLOORED by just the vocal alone. For lack of a better description, sung “achingly beautiful.” I sometimes forget what a terrific singer he can be. Multi-gifted musician. And, like Ringo, seems like a pretty decent chap.

  18. David Witherington says:

    Great pic! I love the wall art…that collage style always reminds me of Monty Python. The Beatles were always fond of collages too, using them at least as early as the “Revolver” cover, and of course “Sgt. Pepper,” the White Album poster insert, etc. The movie “Yellow Submarine” was filled with this type of imagery too. It is a wonderful, imaginative style. Paul looks so young there! I tell ya, the man can still write the hooks even at age 71. His latest album, “New,” is the best album of 2013 to my ears. The songs really hold up…very Beatlesque. Thanks, Bruce. Your loft must be a musical treasure chest.

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