With this new album delivery scheduled for the end of March 2018, (that’s delivery to the record company – album release date has yet to be announced) January saw us back in British Grove Studios 1 and 2 for two weeks with a full compliment of musicians. The larger than usual line-up meant that we really pushed the studio to its limit in terms of the booth space. Desk inputs weren’t an issue with the mighty Neve 88R and it’s 96 in-line channels. The RCA, EMI TG and REDD valve consoles were all being used for drums, room mics and bass respectively. We set Mark up in Studio 2 this time, our regular overdub and vocal room, the one built specifically to emulate the old back bedroom we used in Mark’s old home studio….where we recorded amongst other things the Notting Hillbillies album; the days before British Grove. The Control Room of Studio 2 was generously donated for use as a Hammond booth. Surely the most expensive and elaborate B3 room in recording history. When Jim or I weren’t playing the Hammond, we would use the room for Mark’s guitar amps. We had ‘folkies’, Mike and John PLUS Danny Cummings with an elaborate array of percussion, each requiring their own separate isolation booths.n Richard Bennett was back in town and naturally, he and his amps have to be baffled off as even the smallest guitar amps can be loud! Glenn Worf set up in his usual residence, a bass booth containing the glorious array of electrics as well as the upright bass affectionately known as ‘old girl’, yes you’ve seen them both in the back of empty truck somewhere on the road, Glenn warming up in the run-up to a show. The keyboard array in the big room seemed to grow slightly too although the dear Yamaha CS80 is still having problems. Beautifully built it may be but analog electrical components from the 1970’s do age and there are many within. The Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 has been used pretty extensively and we are thankful for it’s recent overhaul. Not that we shun computer based software synths and samples, there are so many around these days but as I’ve mentioned before, French synth company UVI have come up with some deliciously high-end soft-synths. By contrast, the ancient Yamaha GS-1 (as mentioned in the previous diary entry) like so many of the best instruments, seems to make its way onto records with ease. Apart from the extreme good fortune in locating one for sale, the main reason we have the keyboard here is of course for use on the ‘now official’ Local Hero musical project (on stage in 2019) as it was the main synth used on the original soundtrack. Yamaha built VERY few of them back in 1981 and there can’t be more than a handful still in working order. I loved Yamaha’s advertising slogan of the time – “The only similarity to other keyboards is that it has a keyboard”. It will be heard extensively in the upcoming musical. The GS-1 was Yamaha’s first FM (frequency modulation) synthesiser and followed in the footsteps of America’s mighty New England Digital Synclavier system released in 1978 on which I cut my digital teeth in Mark’s original home studio and in A&M studios, Los Angeles where we recorded The Princess Bride – entirely on the Synclavier. A far cry from what we have available now, a state-of-the-art facility in West London that encourages the delicious combining of the old and the new.
For the second week of recording we were joined by wonderful horn blowers, Nigel Hitchcock on Saxophone and Tom Walsh – Trumpet – and a subsequent overdub session in February saw a visit from Trevor Mires on Trombone. The three of them finished off the horns overdubs with beautiful solos from all three. With the sessions over and hard drives bursting with audio, it’s back onto the main rig in Control Room 2 for Mark and myself for more overdubs and comping whilst other clients realise their projects in Studio 1.
Henrik Hansen and his team were here once again, capturing yet more footage for what I’m sure will be quite a piece of work. Photographs from the sessions below by Henrik Hansen, Marc Flennert and Philipp Hennig.