After No Damage Done I was determined not to be compromised by the recording process again. I resolved to gain control of the means of production and buy myself one of those new fangled Digital Recorder things. Technology that even ten years ago seemed like a dream now exists to make records of the kind of quality that in the past could only be made with the financial clout of a record company behind you. While I know there are plenty of musicians doing things this way I'm still surprised at how many people still put themselves in huge debt to record companies. The power should be in the music, the recording process is most effective when it doesn't get in the way. Without this sounding like a manifesto, if the artist controls the means of production he or she can also retain their integrity. The record industry works on the principle that if twenty projects fail, the one that succeeds justifies the huge wastage of talent and resources expended on the others. The problem being that the success of the one must be instant. It is this blockbuster mentality that leads to the extreme conservatism of most record companies. It means that potentially good artists are never given the chance to develop. New technology and of course the internet hopefully is creating a new autonomy for musicians.
I had spent hundreds of hours watching engineers do their stuff and never really questioned the way they jealously guarded the desk. I assumed it was an unbreakable studio etiquette and that when they told you that attaining a certain sound was difficult, then they had good reason to say so. What I have discovered is that mixing is like cooking, everybody has their own idea about how much salt a dish needs to taste good and if you want a particular flavour it's a hell of a lot quicker to put your hands in the bowl and do it yourself. Dodgy analogies aside I can now get what I want with the minimum of fuss, although it did take me a couple of years mucking about to get there. Underground was recorded and mixed on a sixteen track digital work station and although my equipment and knowledge of how best to use it is now more sophisticated, I'm pretty happy with the results. I played a lot more stuff myself for obvious reasons but I was able to persuade Les Davidson to play guitar and Robin Langridge Keyboards, In this way I felt justified in making it A "Sniff" project. Dean Ross came down to play on 'Night City' and Robert Webb played Trumpet on the same track. Ali Kennon a young singer with a beautiful voice did backing vocals. All in all the only thing I felt it missed was live drums, I think I might remedy that someday. The album is still available through Amazon etc.
OK so a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and a new chapter is being written. (I love a good cliché) The stock of the album is was low, which would mean having some more made. So do you leave, what always felt like unfinished business? Or do you in the spirit of artistic vanity, finish the job properly. Well as artistic vanity, and the love of doing it, is probably what keeps me going, I was leaning towards the latter. Then Les bumped into Paul Robinson, drummer on "The Game's Up " and our 1979 American tour. Paul has been busy since those days drumming with a lot of people including a fifteen year stint with Nina Simone. Les and Paul got talking and Paul offered to do the drumming for "Underground". I've never liked programmed drums, because however cleverly they are done there is no substitute for the real thing. As Paul said no "Sniff" album should have programmed drums. To say he's done a fantastic job is an understatement. The album is transformed. It has also been remixed, which helps obviously. Some parts have been replaced and I would say it's now the album it always should have been.
It should be available through the usual outlets soon. The code for it is CPCD02 which is what differentiates it from the old one, hope you like it.