Recorded Westerfield 1990-1991.
With the demise of As Is late in 1990, I decided to embark on some recording, with no real idea of what to do next other than write some stuff and get it on tape. Naturally I turned to Paul for drum help, and before long he was the other half of a duo, with his song-arranging skills coming in extremely useful.
I had become pally with a North-Londoner by the name of Nick Head, owner of a record label called Artlos. He was always asking for tapes of our stuff and after a few listens decided he’d like to make an album with us. We got as far as looking at studios, deciding a track listing and remixing demos; meanwhile Paul and I rehearsed along with tapes featuring a click track and bass part, in order that we would be ready to record with just the two of us come the day. Half of the songs on this disc made the proposed track listing.
The relationship with Nick looked quite fruitful at one point, he was a good mate and when in Ipswich he joined in with our Sunday football games over at Christchurch Park. The music side of things did eventually peter out though, due to a lack of Nick’s funds and the fact that he just wasn’t absolutely convinced that any investment in us would pay off. But when most of these songs were recorded, the plans were still very firmly in place…
'I Can Control Myself' was actually written in July 1990 before As Is imploded. The main verse bit is nicked from something Malcolm, Ross and I jammed very early on and called ‘the REM thing’ before mostly forgetting about it. The middle eight is a section that the band insisted on throwing out of ‘Better Than The Rest’ so, not wanting to waste it… They were right of course, and it sounds much better here. Lyrically - well I’d just had one of my flirts with loony-dom due to lack of sleep and over-indulgence in whisky. Also pre-post-As Is was 'The Order To Kill', but you’ll just have to accept that some songs just didn’t fit onto the CD where they belonged.
I can’t remember what on earth 'I Wasn’t Talking To You' is about, but I do know Reado is playing the drums, despite this being (only just) within the time-frame when it should have been Malcolm. I think he’d been in London for some time by November 1990 when this was done. 'Brighter' is the proper beginning of the Partridge-Read thing, one of those tunes that takes 25 minutes to write, and then turns out to be everyone’s favourite. I adapted an old Mekons track called ‘Where Were You?’ and instantly had what Nick called ‘the single’. I’m afraid this is the best copy I’ve got of it, from a rather well-used cassette.
I’ve always had a go at any style of music if I felt like it, and during a flirtation with some of Sinatra’s smoochier stuff, 'The Way We Are' popped up - I’m quite proud of it, despite my lack of any real aptitude for the genre. I was clinging on to a doomed long distance relationship, and this folly sets the mood. 'No More Lies' is a rage against the people that armed Iraq and were then surprised when Saddam & Co. decided to deploy their new toys. 'Goodbye Darling' - well, I’d just watched Margaret Thatcher being deposed as leader of the Tories and wrote this little love song in tribute. What you can’t hear is Paul singing “Hooray! The witch is dead!” in the coda. We should have put it on.
One song that changed remarkably when Paul got his hands on it was 'Wicked Eyes', a song about a brief liaison in Colchester. It sped up several dozen beats-per-minute and then had some extraordinarily Todd Rundgren-esque vocal effects added at the end. New Year’s Eve 1990 was the day when I rang Shane, Malcolm and Connan and announced my intentions. After I’d got off the phone, I wrote 'Wish Me Well'. 'Twisted' came the day before and spells out the turmoil quite nicely, as well as recording a nasty tummy bug for posterity. The New Year brought some optimism and a walk up a rainy Portman Road provided some wet and sparkly inspiration for 'Only The Rain'. My favourite self-penned middle eight is found in the languorous (and frankly a bit fruity) 'Little Lies'.
It has always frustrated me that some other people get so wound up by life’s little difficulties; 'Complications' is a celebration of all those niggles that make life interesting. I appreciate that it owes more than a little to that finest of original Brit-Pop bands ‘Squeeze’. 'Hallelujah Goodbye' was written as I watched the live TV pictures of the bombers leaving to pulverise various bits of Baghdad in early 1991, and does a reasonable job of capturing the apocalyptic mood that was spreading at the time.
We’ve all got mates of the opposite sex who aren’t sexual mates, and 'Lovergirl' was a jaunty homage to that type of arrangement and the inevitable amorous ‘near-misses’ that tend to happen, usually after alcohol. A friend thought that ‘Rivers of Skin’ was a good name for a band; I didn’t but appreciated the image and slipped it into 'One Shove', to help describe the claustrophobia of a dying relationship. 'Valentine’s Day' was indeed written on February 14th 1991, the final chapter of the most painful and distressing romance I have ever been involved in. It was over minutes after I’d put the pen down.
'Move' is a dig at the indolence that one comes across sometimes from the sort of people that always expect the coach to be laid on, but wouldn’t even consider organising it themselves. To wrap up, have some 'Ice On Fire', a tense, sexual primal scream that had ambitions of being an epic, and would have been too, given the studio time and the orchestra!
released September 12, 2012
James Partridge - Vocals, Bass, Guitars; Paul Read - Drums, Percussion.
All songs written/arranged by Partridge-Read except 1, 2 & 12-14 - Partridge.
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