April 4, 2011
While on the subject of Boy’s Own and all things related here’s another piece from the same i-D as the Rocky and Diesel piece with Jah Wobble talking about hooking up with Weatherall for ‘Bomba’ and a nice ad from the Boy’s Own crew. Sample quote – ‘Ream Italian house music at it’s pumping best.’
New Releases: Doug Paisley / Cherry Ghost (Time & Space Machine Remix) / LCMDF (Weatherall Mixes) (Heavenly Recordings)
January 26, 2011
Nice to receive a package of stuff from Heavenly in the post. We’ve always been a massive fan of what they are about as a label and people. They seem to be about creating great moments in pop as well as having an interest in whats going on in more underground circles. We’ve mentioned their associated blog, Caught By The River, before but if you haven’t seen it have a read. It’s one of the most mellow things on the internet.
So on to the music. As I’ve said before I am not the greatest journalist in the world by a long mile so bear with me (or just ignore this and press play on the clips – much better). First up is a lovely little 7″ by Doug Paisley called ‘No One But You’. This has become the new favourite morning song in our house and is a sweet little piece with lovely organs, a gentle voice and sweet guitar. You knows those sevens you are going to put down and find again in a few years time and then appreciate how good it was, it seems like one of those. Look forward to hearing more…
Doug Paisley: No One But You (Excerpt)
Have to say we are not massive fans of the cover version anymore, it all seems a bit done to death, so if you strip Ce Ce Peniston’s song away from this one and add Richard Norris and Erol Alkan to the pot in Time & Space Machine mode you end up with a great piece of chiming melodic uptempo business. Surprisingly pretty.
(Note: I think this one has been about for little bit…)
Cherry Ghost: Finally (Time & Space Machine Instrumental) (Excerpt)
Next up is a new 12 featuring remixes from Andrew Weatherall. I think it’s kind of nice to see Weatherall back on it fucking about with electronics and dubby basslines as it sort of feels like home for him. This one is no different except for the fact that it’s all done over a nice slow disco groove. Both mixes are pretty nice.
LCMDF: Ghandi (Andy Weatherall Remix I) (Excerpt)
LCMDF: Ghandi (Andy Weatherall Remix II) (Excerpt)
Thanks to Danny at Heavenly for the bits.
In all of this talk surrounding ‘Screamadelica’ it would be easy to forget the pivotal role (happy) Hugo Nicolson played in those recordings. Our Tim H found this piece from Sound On Sound in November 2000 with Nicolson discussing how they did it. Sounds like limited equipment and big ideas. Time to bring back the desks and raw fx.
Some of Nicolson’s best-known work is that which he did with Andy Weatherall on one of the most influential albums of the ’90s — Primal Scream’s Screamadelica — and it was in landing the job of working with the famous DJ that Hugo’s experience working at The Townhouse really paid off. “While I was still at The Townhouse, I managed to get onto a session as tape-op for Adrian Sherwood, and he really opened my eyes to a much more intuitive approach to recording — I’d never seen anyone quite so aggressive with the mixing desk. He followed none of the established rules of the time, yet he got really great, interesting mixes quickly. It was really inspiring to watch and it prompted me to start working that way myself, doing everything how I felt it, allowing myself to tear the whole track apart and to be brutal with the equipment if necessary. Just after that, my management arranged for me to work with Andy Weatherall at Battery Studios — he’d just done Primal Scream’s ‘Loaded’ and some Saint Etienne stuff. It so happened that he really liked Adrian Sherwood, and because I’d started doing things in a similar way we never really looked back!
“At the time Andy was just a DJ who had amazing taste in records and a massive record collection — he wasn’t really that interested in having to deal with the operation of the studio and the gear from day to day. Therefore, I did all the engineering and programming for the tracks we co-produced: ‘Don’t Fight It Feel It’, ‘Inner Flight’, ‘Come Together’, ‘I’m Comin’ Down’, ‘Higher Than The Sun’ and ‘Shine Like Stars’. It was great, but really stressful — I was thrown in at the deep end.
“We treated all the tracks we did as remixes. We had been given multitrack tapes with takes and overdubs which Primal Scream had done — all of them had melodies and at least a few chords, together with all sorts of other little sounds. Some of the tracks had complete band takes, though not done against any sort of click so the timing often needed tightening up. If you’re going to add much in the way of sequenced parts to a track, then you really need your rhythm parts to be spot-on. It’s all right in a sequenced track if a loop pushes and pulls against the beat over a one- or two-bar period, because people can learn the feel of that and can therefore play along just fine, but if you have live drums changing their relationship with the beat over longer periods it doesn’t tend to work. If you don’t need to use sequencing, because everyone’s playing along live, then you can get away with much more rhythmic variation and it’s best just to let the band get on with it. However, on Screamadelica the timing of the live takes had to be tweaked to match the sequenced stuff — one notable example was ‘Come Together’, though Andy and I were fortunate enough to receive the tapes from someone else who’d done it for us.
“We started each remix by picking just those bits of the multitrack takes which we thought had attitude and would be good for the tune, and loading them into the samplers we had at the time: mainly Akai S1000s and S1100s. In addition to this, we just messed around with random stuff I’d sampled against the track — for example, on ‘Come Together’ there’s a reversed cartoon skidding noise right at the beginning! It was just a case of throwing things in one at a time and working with them if they looked promising.
“We did everything with samplers and sequencers — systems like Pro Tools were in their early days back then and their sound was pretty nasty, so we never really considered anything like that to be an option. In fact, I can remember thinking at the time that ‘This hard disk recording thing is never going to take off,’ but I suppose I’ve been well and truly proved wrong now!
“I’d seen what gear I needed to do remix work from all the sessions I’d attended where they had used programmers: I usually hired a Korg M1 as a master keyboard (or a Prophet VS, if I was lucky), a couple of samplers, and an Atari 1040 with Emagic’s Notator. Other than that, I just used the gear already in the studio — all the usual suspects along with an SSL out of preference. However, while I knew what I needed, I still wasn’t really a programmer myself when I first started with Andy. It was all I could manage to get everything sequenced up in Notator and running in sync with SMPTE so that I could do arrangements using the SSL’s automation. Fortunately, it worked really well like that and it had a really good feel.”
The remix mentality which Andy and Hugo applied to their work meant that the tracks often changed dramatically as they went through different interpretations on their way to the final cut. “We did two different mixes of ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’, for example. The first was done over a day and a half and, though it was sounding all right, Andy said we ought to just try another one anyway in a few extra hours we had available. I gated the drums and keyed them off a cowbell which I programmed to do a rhythm I’d heard on a Jungle Brothers record. Then I grabbed a bit of bass fill from halfway through the song, turned it backwards and used that as the bass. I put Duffy’s piano all over the top, gated all the other parts to play with the same rhythm as the drums, and finally added in Denise Johnson’s vocal. We did it really quickly, but that was the one that everyone liked best, so it ended up on the album.
“And there were a number of accidental things that we ended up using, too: for example, on ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’, the drums almost seem like they come in late at first — that was just a bad edit originally, but we realised it worked, so we kept it the way it was. Another one was when the Atari crashed halfway through doing ‘Come Together’ and we lost a bunch of work, so I had to quickly play everything back in again. I’m not really a keyboard player — I have to almost guess the notes when I play — and, as a result, even though I reproduced most of the track fine, the bass lines of the two halves of the song ended up being slightly different. It didn’t matter, because it still makes you want to jump up and down and yet adds a little variety.”
Nicolson’s ability to reinvent himself was particularly useful following an extended absence from record production. “After Screamadelica, I went on tour with Primal Scream, dealing with their MIDI rig on stage. After that I decided I wanted a break from the industry, and I ended up leaving the music business for about five years. When I got back into the industry, I was able to find work engineering with Youth (see box), doing Embrace, Shack and some of the Seahorses stuff, and have since gained a reputation as a recording and mixing engineer, rather than as a remixer.”
The whole article is available to read here on the Sound On Sound website. Thanks to Tim H.
December 2, 2010
All a bit Weatherall-centric round here recently but anyway, I think this one is getting near to selling out so if you are interested click through to the Ransome Note and get involved…
December 2, 2010
Here’s more on ‘Screamadelica’ with the essential albums of the 90s show from BBC 6 Music with Alan McGee, Andrew Weatherall, Noel Gallagher and others discussing the making and impact of the album. Following that is ‘Inner Flight’ live from the Olympia show last week sounding as fragile as ever.
Primal Scream: Inner Flight (Live At Olympia)
November 23, 2010
Here’s the Andrew Weatherall show that was on 6 Music on the weekend working through the music that inspired the Primal Scream album ‘Screamadelica’. It’s still a great album – play ‘Higher Than The Sun’ loud and it’s still got it.
We also posted a piece a while back which was Weatherall’s tour diary from the Screadelica tour that originally ran in The Face in September ’91. Click here if you fancy reading it.
While on the subject of Weatherall someone has started a group to get the BBC to give him John Peel’s slot on Radio 1. As Ashley Beedle says, “Andrew Weatherall taking over the John Peel slot would be so natural and so righteous – this man has knowledge, scope, a deep love of music and is one of the great raconteurs of our generation. Come on people – let’s make this happen before Andrew decides to turn left!!” Click here to make your ‘like’ heard.