10 years ago today, my 2nd solo album, Not Dancing For Chicken was released. I was in the middle of the (still) biggest tour I’d ever done, opening for Level 42 on their Greatest Hits tour. The gig the following day (Oct 27th) was at the Swansea Grand Theatre, which would’ve been the first time I had them for sale, and then on Oct 31st, I played at the Royal Albert Hall (as far as I know, I’m still the only solo bassist to ever do a whole set there… would love to know if anyone else has…)
So here it is – I’ve remastered it, but weirdly it didn’t really need much of a tweak. Have a listen, download it if you like it. Pay whatever you think it’s worth. I’ve set everything on my site back to ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ today to celebrate, so grab a few albums, think of a number, double it, pay that.
This was the album where my sound really emerged – the idea of what I was doing as a solo artist existed from my first solo gig in Dec 99, but what it was meant to sound like on record took a little while longer, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jez Carr for his wisdom and patience there… This version of Not Dancing For Chicken is actually the second one I recorded – we turned Jez’s parents house into a studio and – against Jez’s better advice – I insisted on mic’ing my amp, that it was an important part of my sound. Which proved to be nonsense. Not least of all cos it meant everything was in mono (I hadn’t switched to a stereo live set up by then).
So after recorded a load of weird nonsense at Jez’s place, I went home and set about making v 2.0 of the record. Which is what you hear. The pivotal piece was, I think, Danny And Mo – dedicated to two of the greatest British bassists of all time, Danny Thompson and Mo Foster. At the time, I was spending a lot of time listening to Mo’s solo records and Danny’s ‘Whatever’ band, and it was in relation to their work that it struck me that all my clever glitchy looping experiments were lacking the melodic side of what I do, which is such a key feature of my music… (some of the glitchy stuff ended up on Lessons Learned From An Aged Feline Pt 1…)
So I made a melodic record. It’s a pretty sparse record, mostly pretty simple loop-wise (I I think I used one Gibson Echoplex and a Lexicon JamMan on it, but I’ll have to see if I can find a CD copy of it and check the gear-list! EDIT: I checked the sleeve, and it was EDP + Line6 DL4 ) and the recording side of it was SO minimal – my soundcard at the time was a gaming card (Soundblaster live, I think?!) and it’s all recorded direct to two track in Soundforge! Crazy stuff. So that it sounds as good as it does when I clearly had no clue at all what I was doing is remarkable.
I’ve had a great time revisiting the album in order to remaster it, but it was an even bigger thrill to discover the minidisc live recordings from the Level 42 tour, and so the four extra tracks here are taken from two shows on that tour – straight from the mixing desk to minidisc. Three are from the afore-mentioned Royal Albert Hall show and one track from the last gig on the tour at the Plymouth Pavilions. It’s interesting to hear how the tunes that are on this record had already morphed into something quite different by the time the record was even released! In the case of Channel Surfing, I think I prefer the live version to the album one…!
If you came to see me play on that Level 42 tour, please do drop a comment below – I made some great friendships through that time, and still meet a lot of people who first heard me in that setting. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.
Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane!
(as per usual, the album is ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ – if you’ve already got it on CD, please feel free to upgrade without paying, but if you want to drop me a coupla quid for the live tracks, I shall be most grateful!)by