This past January, I released the And We Dream remaster. I decided not to license and include the three covers originally recorded for that album. One of those covers was It Ain’t No Use, which I had heard on Gregg Allman’s ‘Playing Up A Storm’ album released in 1977. The song was written by Bernie Baum, Bill Giant, and Florence Kaye. I wanted to remix the track, to include the drums keys and strings the original mix had, but was unable to (which I explained here when I released the remaster). But I was able to do a remix using just the analog 8 tracks that I transferred a few years back. So here you have a very stripped down version. I hope you enjoy it.
I loved Gregg Allman’s music from the moment I first heard the Allman Brothers Band. Some of the first songs we ever jammed on in high school were Allman Brothers songs. This was originally recorded as a tribute to him on Feb. 12, 1992. Thought this a good time to share it, as he passed away last weekend.
Google Play: https://goo.gl/kPx5Uf
In the spring of 1988 I recorded the album ‘In a Blue Night’. Around that same time I was working with my band Petty Tyrant, rehearsing in my studio in MD. I think the intent was always to take the show on the road, but apart from a couple attempts at live performance – it never happened. I started laying tracks for what would become ‘Lost in Babylon’ in August 1988, finishing the album in August 1989. Our keyboard player Doug Ortega contributed as well to the finished version. During this time, I recorded nearly all of the Petty Tyrant rehearsals, some of which found their way onto the live collection ‘Blend with the Night’ in 1999.
As I’ve said before, I have a very selective memory. I think some may refer to that as ‘fried’, but… I only remember a couple times where the book I was reading affected the songs I was writing at the time. In the early 80’s I wrote several songs inspired by the author Carlos Castaneda – ‘Your World and Mine’, ‘Petty Tyrant’ etc. In 1989 I remember reading bits of the Bible. I’m not sure what prompted that. What I do know is after sharing an early copy of the album with someone I worked with, I was asked whether I was a religious man? Now this surprised me, as I did not see the album that way at all. Apocalyptic in parts maybe, but religious? No. At least not intentionally. The obvious song that could prompt such a comment is ‘I Talk to Jesus’ I suppose, which I consider more a song of desperation. I guess for some that could be a come to Jesus moment. So much for what I think. The original tape I gave folks had 8 tracks on it, with a medley of ‘Peace in the Valley, Amazing Grace, and Waiting for a Miracle’ as the last track. That could have contributed to the comment as well. Who knows. For this official release, I decided not to license the medley, but included two unreleased instrumentals recorded at the same time.
No matter the inspiration, I have always considered Babylon to be one of my better works. It also includes ‘Spin’, which is not only one of my favorite songs that I’ve written, but my favorite guitar solo as well. I remember being new to the Fender Stratocaster at the time. In addition to being inspired by the new sound it was giving me, it was also the first whammy bar I had ever played for any extended period, which was a bit of a challenge at first due to my ‘lefty-strung-righty’ playing style (I’ve pretty much always played stock right-handed guitars). As time has gone on, I now consider the upside down thing an advantage.
Apart from my earlier album ‘Abstract Attack’, Babylon is one of the rare times when I was able to play a real drumset and record it. For the most part I play electronic drums now, and though great, they’re not the same… It’s also apparent we were still enamored with the Phil Collins gated drum sound. Back then, with only 8 tracks to deal with, I tended to print any effect apart from reverb or delay on tape (My Ramsa board had two effects sends from what I remember). So the gate sound is printed on the stereo drum tracks, and applied to the entire kit. Apart from a little EQ, that’s how they sounded on the tape.
This is the first archival release I’ve done where I have been able to remix the tracks. I transferred the original 8 tracks a few years ago into Cubase at 96 KHZ/32 bit resolution. To my ears, and after comparing it to the 16 bit mixes I’ve been listening to for the past 28 years, it sounds great. I hope you like it too! Let me know what you think.
I think in most artists career, they hopefully have one or more stretches of time where they’re firing on all cylinders. The completion of And We Dream (AWD) in November 1993 was the culmination of such a peak period for me as it turns out. I had little idea then, that it would be just over 22 years before my next ‘completed’ album of new songs. In retrospect, AWD was the end of a very productive 15 years of writing and recording music.
The original liner notes I wrote for AWD are included below, and refer to a four and a half year period, which includes the nearly 3 years of recordings that make up this album. During that time I was initially focused on ‘Mosaic’, an ambitious idea to have two 30 minute sides of continuous music. 4 tracks originally intended for Mosaic did make their way onto AWD. Approximately 50 tracks were committed to tape in varying degrees of completion during the 4 ½ year period, plus a lot of additional midi song ideas recorded to a midi sequencer. I was also using SMTPE time code to sync the sequencer to my Tascam 38 8 Track. I needed more tracks and this worked – though now because of this, there is no way I can remix any of these tracks.
Only a handful of people have heard the original release of And We Dream, which featured 16 tracks including 2 instrumentals and 3 covers. For this remastered release, I think removing those 5 tracks makes for a strong collection of original songs. I hope you like it. Now in my 40th year of recording music, And We Dream clearly stands out as a highlight.
January 6, 2017
Here are the original liner notes from 1993 (though it appears I worked on it for another month, and included another song):
10 songs, 19th album, 35 years old and four and a half years in the not finishing. The clock is ticking, and this is the first album of new songs I’ve released that I knew I wasn’t done with. Definitely rough around the edges, with lots of things I’d like to change. Only thing is; I don’t mind listening to it. Also, at the rate I’m going, it’ll never be finished.
Written and recorded over a period of almost 3 years, I’ve focused on the songs that have stuck in my head this time around. Too much mid range, tinny highs, not enough bass, lousy snare, bad mix; forget about it. Listen and enjoy.
Hey! If nothing else works, tell yourself they’re demos!
Google Play: https://goo.gl/nKVI92
I’m happy to announce that my album A Matter of Time (AMOT) was re-released yesterday as a digital-only-release. I released ‘Living with Fiction’ a year ago on my birthday, which ended a pretty long dry spell for me, as it was my first album of new material since AMOT in 2001. While I am working on a number of projects to celebrate my 40th year in music next year, I have a few albums I’d like to remaster and reissue as well. AMOT has been unavailable for a number of years, so I thought it a great place to start.
As a little background (and I admit I have a very selective memory), I remember being a bit frustrated with the overall state of my music and recordings after releasing And We Dream in 1993. I recorded a new album Fighting Gravity in ’98/’99 which I never completely finished. I then started a new project with the working title Old Friends, recording updated versions of some of what I considered to be my better songs. This ultimately became AMOT and was largely recorded in 1999 and 2000. Here are the comments I wrote for the promo package I put together at the time:
I’ve thought about revisiting some of my songs for a while now. Working on the ‘20 Years of Words and Music’ web site in 1997 got me thinking about it, and a major studio upgrade in ‘99 started me on the path to what has become ‘A Matter of Time’. Maybe ‘A Matter of Bits and Bytes’ would have been more appropriate, due to the all-digital approach I took this time around in recording the album.
Either way, I hope that some of these songs have stood the test of time. I’ve picked many of my favorites from over the years to re-record (going as far back as 1979). You’ll also find a new song, pulled from the pile of tracks slated for the next new album. Stay tuned….
Using my current software tools for remastering, I tried to clean up and beef up the tracks the best I could after transfering them from DAT tape, which was my preferred mix-down medium at that time. I would have loved to remix this album, but since it was my first album recorded digitally on the computer, I am no longer able to access the original tracks, since the software used at the time is obsolete.
I hope you enjoy the newly remastered version, and would love to hear your comments…
December, 8 2016
Google Play: https://goo.gl/4sbZgz
In December 2015 I released ‘Living with Fiction’ (LWF), my first new album of original songs in 22 years. The recording itself took more than 2 ½ years to complete. In my defense there was a bit of a learning curve involved, due to all of the new hardware and software I was using. And it definitely took a while before I started to like what I was hearing. Shaking off the rust indeed.
Fast forward to January 2016, and the shocking news of David Bowie’s passing. I must say it stunned and rattled me for a while. In late February, after a month of Blackstar floating around in my head and Lazarus dreams, I decided I would attempt to record a Bowie track. I ended up recording ‘Everyone Says Hi’ – one of my all-time favorite Bowie songs. I didn’t fret over it like I did with LWF, and had it mixed, mastered, licensed and available online 7 days later. (The money may be gone in music, but there is definitely a new swiftness to getting your work out there.)
After the Bowie track started to settle in, for some reason I thought I might want to do a Peter Gabriel song. My wife Sherry suggested I do ‘Solsbury Hill’. I said no, I’m only going to attempt my favorite songs (commercial or not); so I decided to tackle ‘San Jacinto’. This led to choosing the next artist and song, and the basic concept of an album of my favorite songs, by artists who have influenced me. Who I chose ‘not’ to cover became as important as who I did cover.
In March I laid down the additional 9 tracks that would comprise Wheelhouse (a remix of ‘Everyone Says Hi’ is the 10th track). The artists/songwriters I settled on were David Bowie, Joe Cocker, Bruce Cockburn, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, Robbie Robertson, Leon Russell, Tony Joe White, and Neil Young. Joe Cocker is the odd man out here as far as songwriters go, but I had to include him because he’s at the top of my list of favorite singers (The Cocker track was written by Chris Botti and The Blue Nile). April and the first week of May were used for overdubs, mixing, mastering and artwork.
I also decided whatever I did, it couldn’t take years to complete. In fact, I wanted to do something in the time frame my recordings had been completed in 30 years prior. A month maybe, two months max. Granted, I only had 4 or 8 tracks to work with back then, compared to 60 tracks on ‘Everyone Says Hi’. I also knew I needed a due date, so I could actually finish the thing. I believe LWF only came out because of the decision to have it out on my birthday last year. Without that, I suspect I’d still be working on it. So we looked for a notable date. Thinking of the song ‘Under This Black Moon’ from LWF, I wondered when was the next Black Moon? Too far out. How about a Blue Moon? Bingo – May 21st. So I had a target and could only fret for a short while longer. This all contributed to ‘Wheelhouse’ taking a little less than 3 months to complete.
I know the album is a bit rough around the edges, but hopefully that’s for the better. As for the title, I have to credit my wife. After hearing the playback of ‘Unbound’ over and over the night I banged it into shape, she said “that song is right in your Wheelhouse”. I knew right then that was the title. I’ve since found out several other albums have the same title. Oh well… As a side note, I had no idea licensing 10 cover songs could be so costly, but it is. Tell your friends ‘Wheelhouse’ is a must have!
As with most of my recorded work, I played all of the instruments on ‘Wheelhouse’, handled the vocals, engineering etc. It’s something I’ve always aspired to do since I first heard Paul McCartney and Emitt Rhodes do it over 45 years ago, and definitely a homemade thing. I’m sure it would sound better if I was able to throw more money at it, but….it is what it is. I play the studio like I play the guitar – upside down. This being my 40th year of writing and recording music, I figure it’s OK to do my first covers album. Turns out I like this album a lot, with all of the songs having a special meaning for me. Here’s hoping you feel the same way. And thank you David Bowie – for the inspiration.
Compact Discs will be available in the next few days on Amazon.com and CD Baby.
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