26 Oct Ghosts and Empty Air: Before blogging, there was music
Half-term has arrived and I’ve got a back-log of blogs I’ve half written to finish. What did I do before I began spending all my time writing about work!? Well, actually it was music. And I miss it. Building up to spending more time on music, I’m going to gather some of my earlier endeavours in one place via this post. This is more for me than for any potential readers but, who knows, someone may enjoy playing through these songs just as much as I do!
(March 2015: For the latest effort ‘In the Grove’, scroll to the bottom)
Meeting at Alexandra Park School in 2000, this is the name Tom Andrew-Power and I gave our musical enterprise. Fittingly, St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes and is connected to the original name for QPR, Tom’s football team. He can sing; I can play… and it works. At least until until physical distance got in the way in recent years. The song writing process was almost always the same. I would make up the music on piano and guitar and Tom would add the singing melody and write the lyrics.
This is the first song we wrote. : Stay As You Are
We played it a few times at school and in what was the highlight of our existence, we had full audience sing-along when we played at the Hope and Anchor in Islington to a packed audience back in 2004.
We recorded several songs with a producer called Adam Fox in a studio we nick-named Catfood Kitchen… because, he had, well, catfood in his kitchen. The Ghosts and Empty Air EP was our first effort. But later Adam decided to use our songs as something of a project to show case his production talents. He turned our songs into something extraordinary.. This is Jawbone, one of our heavier songs. The theme here is ‘George W Bush assassination fantasy’.
A personal favourite from this time is Displacement Song. Again, this is fueled by the Adam Fox production magic. Lyrics are wonderful… a song about being ground down by school: “I can’t breathe in this machine…”
After a few wilderness years, when I went abroad to Jakarta, we came back and recorded some songs using Garageband on my imac. This is possibly my favourite song of all from the St Jude repertoire: Still (melancholic dreamy pop tune..turn it up for full effect.)
Another Garageband production is Gravity. I think I managed to make it sound like a real band playing.. even though I’m playing all the instruments and programmed the drums:
You can play more St Jude songs on soundcloud. We’ve got about 15 finished songs altogether – but never managed to make the definitive album Vapour Trails or Heaven to Mars.. or whatever else we were going to call it! There are another 15 half-ideas knocking around, still waiting for the time and space to craft them into St Jude songs. Maybe one day…..
Before St Jude, I was in a band at university. That Ted. The story is told in this newspaper cutting – and check out the headline. That Ted, the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays in one place. And look what happened to them!
We recorded in various Manchester bedroom studios; all very low-budget. I rediscovered the tapes recently. Have a listen. 1987 guitar pop at its finest! I played the bass guitar.
Julian played lead guitar and had the attitude; Terry played guitar and made it all happen musically; Andy brought his Mancunian lyrical eccentricity and melodic vocals. We also had an awesome drummer..for about two weeks and I can’t remember his name.
There are more That Ted songs on Soundcloud
Most recently, I’ve had to do things by myself.. well, not quite. One of the most wonderful musical projects I have been involved in was writing and recording Sola Vida, with the aid of some KEGS students and my colleague Tim Worrall. This is described in an earlier post. The music is here:
I’ve even sung myself on a couple of songs. Not my strength, for sure, but I try! The only one I’m happy to share is Dragonfly. If a proper singer could sing it… it could be quite good!
Most other musical exploits end up being instrumental. Here’s one to finish: Songlines
There’s a prize for anyone who can write a really cracking singing melody to go over the top.
Here are some from my youth:
Aged 17. Sixth Form band called Tract Nein (don’t ask….) Sounds like New Order.. or at least that was the aim
And then I made some stuff in a studio at Winstanley College. This is like Paul Hardcastle, using a US documentary sound track about anti-communist propaganda
And finally, another one with a documentary soundtrack in lieu of vocals… funky!!? I was pleased with the faux brass section on this one!
If you’ve read this far and played all the songs, you are a saint…Thank you.
UPDATE: March 2015. Thank God for half-term. And a blogging break. I LOVE doing this….even if the singing isn’t great; the idea is there.
In the Grove: