My first commercially released recording was “Ride The Love Train” by ‘Light of the World’ on EMI Records which reached the Top 40 in November, 1981. I co-wrote and co-produced this track, and played guitar on the record.
You can listen to “Ride The Love Train” on YouTube at
This was followed in 1982 by two more co-written songs, “Famous Faces” and “No. 1 Girl”.
Early in 1981, I had recorded my first single with keyboard player Keith O’Connell. Around November 1983, Winning/Rude Movements by Sun Palace (as our duo was renamed by the record label) was released on 12″ vinyl by Passion Records. Over the next few months it sold about 10,000 copies – without any promotion by us or the label – just by word of mouth with the van drivers who distributed Passion Records recommending it to the record shops! And the most amazing thing is that it has remained popular to this day – and most people prefer the “Rude Movements” mix to the “Winning” mix, which just goes to show that this mix could not have been as ‘rough’ as we thought it was at the time! You can listen to “Rude Movements” on YouTube:
In 1984, I was asked to arrange and produce a Gospel song featuring 21 year-old Juliet Roberts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juliet_Roberts) singing lead with a dozen or so members of the London Community Gospel Choir directed by Basil Meade singing the backing vocals. The rhythm track was laid down by Keith O’Connell on Rhodes piano with Balis Zhuraitis on piano, John McKenzie on bass and Tony Beard on drums. Later, harmonica was added. You can listen to this on Soundcloud via this link:
I spent 6 months of the year working as a Dolby Film Sound Consultant in 1984 and this got me involved in the final production stages of Culture Club’s “The Culture Club Movie” Film Soundtrack Album and Pat Metheny’s “The Falcon & The Snowman” movie score, in particular the song “This is not America” – which was released as a single featuring vocalist David Bowie. Here is a link to the promo video for this:
I was regularly calling in to see various A & R contacts, looking for interest in my songs or the singers I was producing. One day, Jeff Young who was working for Phonogram at that time, asked me to produce a recording session for the UK version of “Soul Train”. A singer from New York would be arriving in a few days time and the record label’s TV promotions department had arranged for her to appear on “Soul Train” and (I think) also on Top of the Pops. Jeff had arranged for a music copyist to transcribe the parts for three songs: “Let The Music Play”,”Urgent”, and “Stronger Together”. We booked about 12 musicians for the session: I played guitar, Keith O’Connell played keyboards, Richard Cottle and Pat Seymour also played keyboards, Louis Jardime programmed drum machines, Katie Kissoon sang backing vocals, Ray Carless played tenor sax, Tony Maronie played bongos and percussion, and there must have been a bass player and more brass players whose names escape me just now…
To hear the re-recording we made of Shannon’s hit single “Let The Music Play”, click the link below:
I produced two particularly memorable TV session for Cameo for Top of the Pops in 1985. I played bass on the sessions and programmed the drums.
You can listen to “She’s Strange” here:
You can listen to “Single Life” on YouTube at:
I started regularly using MIDI sequencers, samplers and drum-machines from around 1985 onwards, notably on this Top of the Pops TV session, recorded at Abbey Road Studios, for Sly Fox. We programmed everything apart from the guitar stuff using Roland MSQ700 and Yamaha hardware sequencers, various Oberheim, Roland and Prophet synthesizers, and an Emulator II sampler. You can listen to the song we recorded, “Let’s Go All The Way”, on YouTube at:
One of the friendliest acts we worked with that year, Aurra, also from the US, had some chart action with “Like I Like It” and “You & Me Tonight”. I played guitar and produced versions of these for UK TV. Here is “You & Me Tonight”:
I produced a re-recording of Joyce Sims singing her hit single “All and All” for Top of the Pops in 1986 (not 1988 as incorrectly stated – I know, I was there!). Joyce was great to work with in the studio and I had lots of fun playing the synthesized trumpet parts on this:
One of the most memorable TV sessions I worked on featured Darryl Pandy singing “Love Can”t Turn Around” ‘live’ in 1986 over the backing track that I produced in the studio for Top of the Pops.
My last TV session in 1986 featuring former Soul Train dancer Jermaine Stewart. The track was fun to work on and I remember playing the sampled brass parts on an Emulator keyboard. Here is a link to showing Jermaine performing this song – “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” – on video.
In 1988 I programmed drums on an unusual song called “Bible Belt” by Zeke Manyika.
Click here to watch Zeke perform Bible Belt on video:
In 1990 I programmed drums, synthesizers, sequences and samples, and played bass guitar, picking guitar and piano on the Street Remix of “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by The Chimes, featuring vocalist Pauline Henry.
You can hear this on YouTube at:
This recording entered the UK Singles Chart on May 19, 1990 and reached No. 6 in the week ending May 26, staying there for the following week ending June 2, remaining in the chart for 9 weeks in all. In the US, it spent 8 weeks on Billboard’s R & B chart, peaking at #47. U2’s Bono said that this was the only cover version of their hit that he had heard of that he enjoyed and did the original justice, adding “at last someone’s come along to sing it properly.”
Shortly after this, in Autumn 1990, Dave Dorrell who had seen me ‘in action’ at the Chimes recording sessions, hired me to work on a remix of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” which a drummer called Dave Angel had made a bedroom remix of that had achieved lots of radio plays. I went into Sarm East studios with my programming rig, DX7 synth, TR808 drum machine, Performer MIDI sequencer and Akai S1100 sampler. Dave Dorrell brought a big pile of 12″ vinyl in to search through for likely sounding samples. Dave Angel programmed up some beats with my assistance, then Dave Dorrell kept feeding me with samples to tune and manipulate to fit around Dave Angel’s beats and filtered versions of the original Eurythmics track (the multi-track could not be located – presumed lost). You can audition the results here:
Having acquired a Digidesign Sound Tools system as early as 1989, by 1991 I was starting to become in-demand as a digital audio editor. In 1991 I worked on a track called “Breathing is Easy” by E-Zee Possee with Jeremy Healy producing in a sound-proofed high-rise flat in Camden Town! Listen to this here:
Not long after this, early in 1992, I got a call from Virgin’s A & R department asking me to do some edits on what turned out to be Feargal Sharkey’s last UK single release, “I Got News For You”. Here’s a link to Feargal singing this ‘live’ on TOTP to an edited version of the backing track that I prepared for him:
Later in 1992, when Virgin A & R asked if I could write string arrangements for ‘indie’ pop band ‘Moose’ on their “…xyz” album, I said ‘yes’ right away!
The following day the band showed up, together with REM’s producer, Mitch Easter, who was producing this album for Hut Records.
We spent a couple of very enjoyable days working together at my flat in Wood Green where I worked out the string parts using a DX7II synthesiser, and Akai sampler for the strings, and Opcode’s Studio Vision sequencer, where I had transferred the rough mixes of the album so I could play along with the tracks that needed strings. As I recall, we completed everything within a couple of fairly leisurely sessions, and I hired my friend Dario Marianelli to assist by turning my MIDI sequences into readable parts for the string players using his Finale software. The strings are quite buried in the mix on this track, “Little Bird”, but they definitely add something to the Spector-ish production!
You can listen to Moose’s album track “Little Bird” here:
In 1992 I also worked on the film soundtrack for “Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights” film score with Ryuichi Sakamoto, assisting Sakamoto with the MIDI sequencing using MOTU Performer, and with his racks of synthesizers and samplers. You can hear the main theme on YoutuBe at:
Around this time, I got a call to spend a week of 16-hour days recording additional synths and remixing the Shamen’s “Boss Drum” album so that this version could be used as playback on their ‘live’ shows during their forthcoming World Tour. The album was their most successful to date and incorporated the hit single. “Ebenezer Goode” which you can listen to here:
In 1993, I programmed synths and sampled guitar sounds for David Arnold’s production of “Play Dead” featuring Bjork on vocals. This became her first hit in the UK charts and charted in the Top 20 in every nation it entered! One Little Indian label boss Derek Birkett says that this track is “one of the best things Björk’s ever done” – see Wikipedia entry for more info.
You can view the official video of this song on YouTube at:
In 1993 I also worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto on his film score for Bernardo Bertolucci’s film “Little Buddha” starring Keanu Reeves. My role here was to set up Ryuichi’s massive rig of equipment, assist with the MIDI programming, handle the clicks and MIDI cues on the orchestral sessions using Digital Performer, and offer consultancy for the Mac computer system.
You can listen to music from the Little Buddha soundtrack on YouTube at:
In 1995 I was asked to do some specialist MIDI programming on an US3 track called “Chilli Hot” that was used in the film Get Shorty starring John Travolta, Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito. You can hear this on YouTube at:
I also found myself working at Eden Studios in 1995, working with producer Robin Millar. I used the latest Pro Tools system on “Like A Child” and “Come To Me Right Now” for French vocalist Peter Mann. Click the link below to listen to “Come to me right now”:
An interesting project as Technical Consultant on Richard Horowitz and Sussan Deyhim’s “Majoun” album for Sony Classical kept me busy on and off throughout 1996. Released in 1997, you can listen to “Botachine (Infinitely Curved)” from the album on YouTube:
The intriguing “Agonethi” features the Moroccan National Radio and Television Orchestra String Section:
In 1999 I wrote and recorded some music cues for Taylor Hackford’s film, “Greenwich Mean Time”, and was also asked to privately ‘coach’ Alicia Eyo so that she could perform on guitar and bass guitar in the film. These ‘coaching’ sessions were very rewarding for me, and after 20 hours or so, it was amazing to listen to how well Alicia learned the parts that she needed to play on these instruments, despite having never played bass before and having only limited knowledge of a few guitar chords! You can view the opening scene at the park in Greenwich on YouTube at:
In the year 2000 I recorded about 24 solo jazz guitar tracks featuring jazz guitarist Jim Mullen. The first of these, “Red, Red Rose” was included on Jim’s album “Burns”.
A second Jim Mullen solo track, “When you wish upon a star”, appeared on Jim’s 2002 album “Animation”:
Later in 2002, 16 more solo tracks were released on CD as the “Thumbnail Sketches” album.
Still active as a digital audio editor, a couple of interesting projects emerged in 2004 when I was asked to clean up some vinyl releases and make edited versions for promotional use in the UK. The first of these was “Cop That Shit (the Finest Dirty Mix)” by Timbaland & Magoo featuring Missy Elliot:
This worked out so well that the promotions company also asked me to do the same thing with a Dido track, “Stoned (Deep Dish Remix)”. Again, I used Sonic Solutions NoNoise Pro Tools TDM plug-in to remove clicks, pops and crackles and surface noise from a vinyl disc copy of this track so that it could be transferred to CD for a promotional release.
In 2006, I spent the best part of the year co-producing an album in my home studio for Nigerian composer Funsho Ogundipe. The “Ayetoro: Omo Obokun” Afrobeat/Jazz album successfully married jazz harmonies with African rhythms.and was released both on CD and as a vinyl double-12″ album.