City Boy questions

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Robin_Shadowes
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Robin_Shadowes » Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:14 pm

Max Thomas wrote:Robin,

I'm sorry - I failed to answer your questions about "Oddball Dance."

Yes, Chris Dunn wrote the rag. He used to play it and we all found it very amusing, and as the song came together - I don't know whose idea it was - but it was decided, with Mutt's approval, to put it in the middle of the song... And it was obligatory to detune the guitar to make it even more "oddball."

(Incidentally, it was my idea to do the ending the way we did it - blowing my own trumpet here! - changing the time signature from 6:8 to 5:8 to 4:8 to 3:8 to 2:8 so it was like water going down the plughole in the bath....well, it was fun at the time! I also came up with "Touche {with an accent on the e - as in French} in reply to "Madame Tussaud's" in "Deadly Delicious" - get it??!!! [Haven't even thought of some of this stuff for years!])

Yes, Lol said "Anyone for Dennis," but I was the looney! (see my testimonial!!!)

Best wishes,
Max
Don't worry, Max. I'm quite content with that answer. The first time I heard the song, that interlude took me by surprise. I hadn't heard anything like that before, so it was just fun. I could have sworn the loony was Steve but I guess I was wrong then. But cudos to Duckie for that one. It's amazing that you recorded it in just little over a week. But I assume you were all well prepared and had rehearsed it before you went into the studio? Funny since some guys take years and years to finish their albums. Still a very lovely album though. :)
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Laurelei » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:59 pm

Hi Max,

Since BE is next in line, I have a few questions. Why did the cover get changed, and why was the title changed from, I think I heard, Dangerous Ground?

Thanks much,
Jo

PS What is Goodbye Laurelie about?
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Geir » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:38 am

Jo,

while not meaning to steal Max's thunder here, I do believe the original title of "Dangerous Ground" was abandoned due to Thin Lizzy "Live and Dangerous" being released around the same time. ...At least, I seem to recall that has been mentioned here earlier at some point.

Geir :D
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by PerG » Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:53 am

Thanks for this thread! It's really entertaining! :D

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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Laurelei » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:27 pm

Thanks, Geir...that makes a lot of sense. Per, I agree. This is lots of fun.

Jo 8)
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Max Thomas » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:11 am

Yes, I covered this topic on January 31st. in the "Live and Dangerous" topic on the main board.

"Goodbye Laurelie"... Hmmm, good question. I can come up with answers for most questions about Lol's lyrics - some of which are too personal so don't push me! - but this one...I'd call it a pastiche of nostalgia: recollections of times gone; moving on; growing up; seems definitely to be set in America... it's like a painting - imagery and stuff. I'm probably not enlightening you at all!

You must know Lol was brought up in a very creative household - they were all movie buffs and his Dad was one of the originators and long-term script-writers of "The Archers," a BBC Radio 3 soap from the 50s which runs to this day. Consequently, he was steeped in movies, scripts, words and lyrics, and, of course, later on he was able to utilize this background - along with his considerable natural creativity - to produce the excellent ouevre comprising the lyrics for most of the City Boy catalogue.

"Book Early" - that AWFUL title!

This was a time of change...

Zomba placed one advert in the music press for a drummer who could sing, and we found ourselves auditioning quite a few applicants over a few days in the Napton house where we used to rehearse. Both Roy's drumming and his vocal ability were outstanding, and he and his family soon moved to the Napton house following our decision to take him on. But within a few months, seeds of discontent were being sown, as Mutt Lange effectively declared that he had the best rock voice in the band by using him on several songs on Book Early including especially "Turn on to Jesus," which then became "5705," and was subsequently, obviously, our top-ten hit in July 1978. These seeds were to mature over the next 18 months and, ultimately, would cause the split in the band that took place at the end of 1979. Steve was not happy that someone else should sing one of his songs...

1978 was the year we had committed to doing a long American tour supporting Hall and Oates, well before we found ourselves with a top-ten hit on our hands that summer. We managed to squeeze in two British gigs before flying off to the US in August to begin the tour. As documented elsewhere, by the time we came back just before Christmas after a very successful tour, we were already being branded a "one-hit wonder," even though - as you all know - we never had any desire to be regarded as a pop band anyway!

Perhaps the most wonderful single event that took place for me throughout the whole City Boy experience was associated with Book Early:
"Dangerous Ground" had been recorded, but we knew an orchestra was being prepared to add strings. The day came, and I was asked into the studio (in London) where there were, I guess, 30 musicians, all with their music stands and scores which had been written by the arranger/conductor, who needed me there as the composer of the music and the pianist so that they could play along exactly with my timing for one or two "tricky" bits that he wasn't quite clear about... well, you can imagine how humbled, privileged, proud, fearful, happy - a veritable PASTICHE (uh-oh!) of emotions and feelings assailed me, but, Oh, it felt good for one magical hour in my life to feel so right about what I was doing and what I was on this earth to do - and I wasn't a Christian then, you must know - it was deeply moving to the point of being spiritual.

Not quite sure what else I can say about this album.... I love the bass riff on "Summer in the Schoolyard".... hate the underwater piano on "The World loves a Dancer" (I personally think this is actually a very commercial song - I'm just waiting for someone to find it and cover it!).

Currently, time doesn't permit me to ramble on like you all know I can about these things, but hopefully that time will come. I'm really only jotting down a few brief recollections - it's a shame that none of the others could give their viewpoint on things, which I'm sure would be radically different from my own!

Love to you all,
Max

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Re: City Boy questions

Post by 1after2 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:07 am

Max Thomas wrote:VdGG - I don't remember any of us playing on their album or vice versa...
David Jackson played saxophone on DATR, and VDGG was credited for supplying extra vocals on DATR.

City Boy is mentioned in the liner notes of VDGG's album World Record.
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by 1after2 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:13 am

Max Thomas wrote:A session drummer called Tony Braunegal 0f Canadian band "Clover" drummed on "Young Men Gone West"
Tony Braunagel also drummed in (Backstreet) Crawler. Other members a.o. Paul Kossoff (ex-Free), John Bundrick, Terry Wilson.
Great band, I have a couple of fine Crawler albums.
And Tony is a great drummer, he fitted well on YMGW.
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by 1after2 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:16 am

Max Thomas wrote:I was so happy with the way that "One after Two" came out (well, apart from the underwater piano - which Mutt did again on "The World Loves a Dancer" on BE) - it's a very melancholic song - actually quite depressing if I think about it, but it was good at the time.
One After Two is one of my all-time favorite songs (meaning : not only favorite CB song, but favorite song by any band or artist).
Hence my nickname... :)
Thanks for writing this gem, Max.
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by 1after2 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:24 am

Max Thomas wrote:You must know Lol was brought up in a very creative household - they were all movie buffs and his Dad was one of the originators and long-term script-writers of "The Archers," a BBC Radio 3 soap from the 50s which runs to this day.
I believe the father of Chris Dunn was also involved in The Archers, as an actor : mr. Leslie Dunn.

Therefore, it's possible that the connection between Chris and Lol (and perhaps more members) could originate from their childhood or schooldays already.
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Max Thomas » Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:25 pm

Thank you for your comments about 1 after 2, Car-eating man - I was very moved.

I have been in touch with Nigel Davis but he says he is too busy right now to give any time to the Board - I'm sure he'll get round to it.

I can't remember where else I've covered this but let me make it clear again... Lol and Steve met in the mid-50s at the junior school they both attended. I met Lol in 1964 at boarding school and I probably met Steve the same year - the three of us used to catch a bus to go to the north side of Birmingham to see these three girls (irrelevant to anything here!) - and I remember in about 1965 persuading Steve to buy a £2.50 (£2 and ten shillings then) pick-up for his acoustic guitar. Various musical things took place over the next few years including them approaching me to help pay for the recording of an album of their stuff on the condition that I could contribute one song - which I did:the first song I ever wrote (Lol, of course, wrote the lyrics, and I don't even remember the title of it now). I sort of lost touch a bit with Lol (and Steve) between 1968 and 1969 (I was at Sussex University) but then re-established contact with them after, just prior to my difficulties with "manic depression." It was around this time that Chris Dunn came on the scene (I've had to go through all this before because he suggested not-so-long ago that he'd been making music with the band before I came along!). It was a complete coincidence that his father Leslie Dunn was also involved with the Archers.

"Back-in-the-Band" comprising Lol, Steve, myself and Chris performed acoustic music in and around Birmingham before deciding to "turn electric" in 1974(ish), and we then recruited Mike Slamer and Roger Kent.

Anyway, moving on...

Off to the Bahamas in March 1979, to make the album with which we would "conquer America" (Zomba): The Day the Earth caught Fire.

Seeds of discontent turned to scenes and bad events...

Idyllic setting... there we were, all with our partners or wives (there is a common school of thought amongst some bands that have split up that it is often the wives and girlfriends of band members who are the most responsible for such fragmentation - it's something about losing focus; being distracted; pushed in other directions) and children - three months in paradise! Almost a concept album. New record deal. I've talked about "Peace, Joy and Love" being hijacked for "Ambition" at the beginning of this topic.... and elsewhere about "New York Times" being originally submitted as the title track... actually, I think I've documented pretty much the main events of this time elsewhere. I don't really want to drag up all that again.

IM turned out good - some of Lol's best lyrics in my opinion. There are excellent tracks on the album, and we performed much of it well in the few remaining gigs that were to come.

We moved to New York State around June - ready to tour, and found ourselves stuck.

Basically, 1979 started with such high hopes, but what with the fuel crisis; the fact that we got little airplay in the US; and then the split... it ended in tears! (I believe I do have a couple of live recordings from those last gigs, but they are - like many other things - in storage, and they may ultimately be irretrievable, including much of my own incomplete works).

Yeah, that's about it really...well, there's one more sad afterthought. Nothing to do with City Boy really.

There was a couple we met in the Bahamas, Joan and Jamie, Brits, teachers. We became very close to them, and spent quite a bit of time with them when the opportunity presented itself. We stayed in touch with them after moving to the US, but about two years later, following a period of time during which we hadn't had any replies to our letters, we discovered that Jamie had been murdered by a guy who broke into their house to steal some money - $300, to be precise - which Jamie would not part with, despite the fact that the intruder was wielding a shotgun. They had just had their first child. Joan heard the shot, quickly picked up her daughter, and ran. She never saw Jamie after the shooting. When I heard the news, I was so deeply affected that I wrote a song virtually in a day called "Routine Statements." I hope it'll be on the next album.

Sorry to end on a depressing note.

I'm very glad there was no horrific occurrence at the Olympics!

Best wishes to you all.

Max

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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Laurelei » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:47 am

I have a HAR question. I have always wondered if the fabled cassette with Do The Pose and an early version of Exit The Heavyweight actually exists, and if so why the song line up was changed?

Many thanks,
Jo 8)
Too damn hard...

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Re: City Boy questions

Post by 1after2 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:18 am

Max Thomas wrote:well, apart from the underwater piano - which Mutt did again on "The World Loves a Dancer" on BE
Hi Max, I have a question on this.
What is meant with an "underwater piano" ?

I googled it, but not much information found, except for an article about "La cathédrale engloutie" (The Sunken Cathedral), a prelude written by the French composer Claude Debussy for solo piano.
Excerpt from this article :

"To attain this underwater effect, most performers use a "half-pedal," so that the dampers of the piano are only slightly off of the strings, creating a murky, muffled sound."

Is that what Mutt wanted you to do in One After Two and The World Loves a Dancer ?
Or was it something different ?

I always thought that the pianos used in both songs were (deliberately) set slightly out of tune, but obviously this assumption was not right.
And I have to admit that I liked the effect in the way it was used, adding a quite funny, quirky touch to One After Two in particular.

thx
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Geir » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:49 pm

Piet,

one way to achieve the piano sound on "One After Two" and "The World Loves a Dancer", is by applying a so-called chorus effect. As you already allude to in your post, it involves detuning the notes or (recorded) signal to some extent or other and then adding it to the original sound.

Applied in moderation, the chorus effect "fattens" up the sound, achieving what is perceived as a wider (stereowise) or bigger sound than the "dry" (read: unaffected) original signal. Typical use would be on clean guitar sounds or even harmony/background vocals to make them stand out more in a mix.

If you, however, set the various parameters of the effect to more extreme values, the detuning factor will kick in much more noticeably, resulting in a distinctly wobbly and seasick (for lack of a better word) version of the original signal. Just to illustrate, a chorus preset on an older guitar multi-effect processor that I own is in fact called "Underwater" and while I haven't tested it on keyboard sounds, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it sonically wound up resembling "Mutt" Lange's production tricks on Max's keyboards for the two abovementioned songs.

A less extreme version of "Underwater piano" could perhaps be the kind of out of tune piano I imagine you'd find in a saloon back in the days of the old, wild west? :wink:

Anyway - over to you, Max! :D ...Oh, and for whatever it's worth, I always did like the quirky feel the chorused keyboard sounds gave in this case, particularly for "The World Loves a Dancer".

Geir :D

PS: There's also the option of a "treated" piano, where various objects are laid on top of the piano strings to have them ring out less pristinely, but that is more the sonic illusion of a broken piano, so my money is on an applied chorus effect in this case! ...An example as far as a "treated piano" goes: Tori Amos "Bells For Her" (1994).
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Re: City Boy questions

Post by Max Thomas » Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:23 pm

Geir,

You took the words out of my mouth! No, not really, but thank you very much for your invaluable contribution - Piet, everything Geir has said is right. Personally I found the effect a bit too much, but, hey, you guys have expressed that you like it... I'll just shut up!

(I'll let you into a little secret though.. I'm planning a new and rather different version of "Dancer" on the eighth album... well, maybe the ninth)

Back soon - God willing!

Love to you all.
Max

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