Friday, March 30, 2012
Those among you who’ve followed this tale thus far will probably have come to realise that this hasn’t been the easiest of jigsaws to piece together. For those who’ve just joined this remarkable adventure – we’ve been dancing in the dark in extremis many, many times.
Firstly, only a tiny proportion of Jess' recorded output had ever been digitised in the first place. That meant trawling through literally hundreds of analog boxes (many of which were marked up wrongly – possibly by over-reefer'd tape-ops of the time) and transferring everything we found (off of 1/4", 1" and 2" + acetates + cassettes and more). Plus, any multi-tracks had to be monitor-mixed whereby we then had a format so’s we could actually start the listening-back process.
And, the deeper we delved, the more the unexpected and absolutely unanticipated came to light. Many, many instances of that occurred but two of the most remarkable are represented on this particular track-listing.
One late pm, Richard (Whittaker, the chief analog renovation expert / uber-studio-boffin @FX) and I are sitting in the studio. He’s got a 2” multitrack fresh back from the FX oven – some of the tapes were deteriorating so badly that they had to be baked for a few days so as to preserve them before we could run them through the equally ancient analog machines; Heston Blumenthal would have been proud of us.
The tape rolls, dials are twisted, nobs are twiddled with, faders moved into position and a monitor mix of this particular 24-track tape is begun but, within a couple of minutes, both of us are scratching our respective heads. There are weird ghosting sounds coming from the deep background – as if someone has recorded over something else… We complete the monitor mix and, while it sounds great, there’s something weird going on. An MP3 is run off and, later the same night, I tip up at JR HQ for a glass of the well-chilled and our (by now usual) recap of the day’s musical archaeology. He presses play on his machine and… starts to scratch his head too.
“Hmmm… Is this the only multi with that track title?” asks the singer of songs.
“Yes… why..?” I query
“No ¼” then?”
“Nope, none at all… this is all there is... or, rather all I've been able to unearth”
“Ahhh… OK… Then... What I reckon is" He says carefully "what you’ve found is one of two 24-track tapes...” His head-scratching continues, mine multiplies.
“As I recall" He goes on "we recorded this tune once with Joel (Dorn) – it’s one of Mags, John Cartwright’s songs… and that version had pretty much all of the instruments played by him. But, we dumped that because… I dunno… it all got a bit mad, everyone kept hearing different things that they thought should go in to it so we started again and so this must be from that second session. “
“Anyhow… what happened was… eventually, we had so many tracks going that we slaved two 24-track tapes together so as to create a 48-track master. There were whole horn sections flown in… we recorded them… then they got erased… I’m pretty sure that Lee (Goodall) came in with a bag of flutes and overdubbed one after another… There may have been a choir at one point too. Real studio lunacy. But, the more we did, the more we lost sight of it...”
“The strange thing is, tho’… listening to it now, what is it – thirty-something years later… it’s as near as dammit to how I heard it in my mind.”
A few days later, one late Saturday afternoon and JR and Richard have been slaving over a hot console, fuelled by more cups of coffee than any self-respecting doctor would prescribe along with brought in sandwiches. After three hours of dextrous nob-twiddling, the tape-ghosting has gone, the track’s been cleaned up… and To Enter Heart And Soul (Peace Within Me Now) has been completed as a final mix for the first time in over three decades.
A week later into the process and the crates of analog boxes are starting to dwindle; we’re coming to the end of the digitisation process. We’ve one of the few remaining multitracks spooling… in the near-darkness of the studio… we're listening to silence.
"Why are we listening to nothing... shouldn't we just fast-forward the spool and be done with it?" I admit it now, I'm absolutely exhausted at this point in the proceedings.
"We could" replies Richard, "but... you never know..."
Off I go to grab us both more coffee and five minutes later am back in Richard's lair and he's as good as dancing on the console.
"Just wait 'til you hear this... I've cued it up. You thought it was just gonna run out... Well, they must've just left the tape running at Basing St... 'cos... just listen... this is really special!"
Richard rarely displays excitement – possibly 'cos he's seen / heard it all before – this pm, more super-strength coffee now firmly attached to bear-like paw, he's grinning ear to ear. He hits play and... within seconds, its obvious we've found another diamond in the rough.
That same evening, I've a USB drive in hand and tip up chez JR for dinner and another recap 'n playback on the day's events. We get to Track X... there are two takes... "Crikey, where the heck did you find that?" asks the singer of songs. "You know... I honestly can't remember doing that at all... but obviously I did! That's some very late-night strumming, that is...Diga must've just left a tape running or something... and... you know what, it's not half-bad actually, is it? Bit annoying I got the words ever so slightly wrong but, I'd say that take #1 is certainly one for the consideration list."
Quite a few months later, we're starting to pull the track-listings together... Although sequentially, it’s slightly out of place, there is really only one candidate to close CD4; the 1' 30" of 'late-night-strumming' found that late afternoon while listening to playback silence.
1. Old Broadway / The Rivits – Sourced from the ¼” Safety Master, recorded January 14th 1979
2. Light Brown Colour / Seven Windows – Sourced from the WAV File Master and recorded during 1982. Featuring Jack Waldman, Gary T Amos, Lee Goodall, Mark Egan and with strings arranged by Paul Buckmaster, this is from the incredibly hard to find and long-since deleted Seven Windows album recorded variously at Skyline Studios & Classic Sound Studio, New York; Rock City, Shepperton & The Garden Studio, London that has been especially remastered for The Anthology by A. T. Michael MacDonald at AlgoRhythms Mastering, Brooklyn, New York
3. One World, One People / Jess Roden – Sourced from the Sterling Sound ¼” Cutting Master, recorded July 11th 1979
4. If Ever You Should Change Your Mind / Jess Roden – Sourced from the Sterling Sound ¼” Cutting Master, recorded July 11th 1979
5. Misty Roses / Jess Roden – Sourced from ¼” Master, recorded February 5th 1977
6. Vital Sign / Jess Roden & Pete Wood – Previously Unreleased, sourced from the 2” Multitrack and recorded on February 18th 1981. One of three short pieces recorded at Compass Point as mini-track-breaks for the planned second Rivits album that never really got off the ground.
7. Some Vision / The Rivits – Sourced from the ¼” Safety Master, recorded January 14th 1979
8. Bird Of Harlem / Jess Roden – Sourced from the ¼” Master, recorded on July 11th 1979
9. Easy Way / Seven Windows – Sourced from the WAV File Master and recorded during 1982. Featuring Jack Waldman, Lee Goodall, Mark Egan and Steve Dwire, this was recorded in New York and London and has been remastered especially for The Anthology by A. T. Michael MacDonald at AlgoRhythms Mastering, Brooklyn, New York
10. In Me Tonight / Jess Roden – Sourced from the ¼” Master and recorded on February 5th 1977
11. Believe In Me / Jess Roden – Sourced from the Sterling Sound ¼” Album Master and recorded July 11th 1979
12. Oo She Do / The Rivits – Sourced from the ¼” Album Safety Master and recorded January 4th 1980
13. Parachutes / Seven Windows – Sourced from the WAV File Master and recorded during 1982. Featuring Jack Waldman, Rob Mounsey, Robbie Kondor and Michael Dawe (among others) this, too is from the long-since deleted Seven Windows album recorded variously in New York and London that has been especially remastered for The Anthology by A. T. Michael MacDonald at AlgoRhythms Mastering, Brooklyn, New York
14. The Hardest Blow / Jess Roden – Sourced from the ¼” Album Master and recorded on February 4th 1973
15. To Enter Heart And Soul (Peace Within Me Now )/ Jess Roden – Previously Unreleased, sourced from the 2” Multitrack and recorded on June 8th 1978
16. The Quiet Sound Of You And I / Jess Roden – Sourced from the ¼” Album Safety Master, recorded on February 4th 1973
17. What’s Going On / Jess Roden – Previously Unreleased Take #1 of 2, sourced from the 2” Multitrack and recorded on March 23rd 1973
(All track selections subject to change and final clearances. Recording dates listed have been sourced from tape box information – obviously, some relate to initial sessions while some are final-mix dates. Since some of the original multitracks haven't survived, this is the closest possible dating available).