SELL ONE FUCKING COPY'
- self-indulgence in the studio
We got this band Hunt, Lunt & Cunningham
going in '69 and we were still going in '72 when I joined Radio
1. We made one single called 'Meanwhile Back in the Forest', on
the Pye label, produced by Peter Meadon who'd produced the first
ever Who record. He worked for a guy called Tony Hall, who made
the big mistake of sending us off with Peter Meadon to Wales to
Dave Edmunds' studio at Rockfield. So we went down with a mate
of ours who was roped in be to be chef and joint-roller for the
weekend. And we just sat around and ate a lot of roast beef, drank
a lot of Guinness and smoked an awful lot of dope and we were
there for two days.
We went back to Tony Hall in London, who said, 'Let's hear the
single then,' and we said, 'Well we haven't got the single, but
we've got this great album track.' And we had; we'd added mellotron
and strings and trumpets and all that stuff, and we thought we
were making 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. It was a great track:
it was seven and a half minutes long. And Tony, who'd funded all
this stuff, said, 'It's absolutely wonderful, and it won't sell
one fucking copy.'
So the following day he dragged us all down to the Roundhouse
studio with Bill Shepherd and we knocked out the single in an
hour and a half, having spent two and a half days in Wales, spending
thousands of pounds doing this track that got nowhere. We did
a complete Rollers thing: he said we had to do it quick, so Bill
Shepherd arranged it, all these session guys did the backing track
- it took them twenty minutes - and we did the voices.
The big enigma was these supergroups were
in the studio for months recording - of course they were, because
they were writing in there. That was so unprofessional. And the
companies backed it, gave the groups carte blanche in the studio.
So you've got to pay them, and the session musicians that turn
up to play the strings and brass and whatever around it - and
the group went in there with maybe two sketchy songs to do an
album. That's where a lot of the money was wasted, and that rubbed
off and was reflected in the job the singles market had to do.
So we had to be professional. We had to tick over so fast.
Some of the heavy rock groups - like Zeppelin
or Deep Purple - they would do their writing in the studio. They'd
rent someplace and they'd all live the rock & roll lifestyle
to the hilt and write the songs in the studio. The difference
was with the more commercial stuff, they would tend to be pre-written
songs with an arrangement already done. Or you would get guys
like me and Barry Morgan, Herbie Flowers, Chris Spedding - all
those people who were around as studio-players - and the guy would
say: 'Here's a chord chart, we want it to sound like Leon Russell
or Jerry Lee Lewis.' And it's easy to do, to be honest.
The finances of making a record meant
that for a pop record you needed to make it in three hours. You'd
have three songs in that session: one was the a-side, one was
the b-side, the other was a possible a-side. And a lot of our
music was made in those sessions with the same guys because you
knew what you were going to get: you could put any dots in front
of them. Record companies went to you because you produced singles
for x amount in the time that they wanted it. The economics
and the speed with which you could get the end-product out with
the sound they wanted was a part of the writing and production.
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