I’m old enough to remember lots of decades. Old enough to remember that the seventies took a long time to get back in fashion – but by when they did… it seemed like they’d never been away.
Shallow TV people always labeled the previous decade the ‘decade that taste forgot.’ It suited the 80’s to label the 70’s thus as in the eighties style, was for the first and only time, in danger of overshadowing content, especially in music.
For those of you who weren’t there let me paint a very sketchy picture. This was the decade where music had to fit into the lifestyle. I remember clearly a bedraggled Andy Kershaw taking some Soho bimbo around the campsite in Glastonbury and trying to explain why this event was so important. She couldn’t see the wood for the Kensington Roof Garden. To her it was if he had brought something nasty in on his shoes and tried to clean it off on a copy of The Face. It was the time of Sade, of 12” mixes of digitalisation. Who wanted their songs to sound dirty or distorted?(even though we’d fallen in love with rock and pop for precisely these reasons) Ironically we were all still listening to Radio 1 on MW even as late as 88. Remember the stereo sequence? So called, because it only happened for a few hours on a Saturday.
It wasn’t enough to go and make a record. If you made a record you had to go somewhere and hire the talents of some esoteric genius who only worked at night and on a desk only Donald Trump could afford. How long did you take to make that? Not long enough then – go back and do it again. I remember it all reaching a personal nadir when a guy we worked with took 48 hours (count them) to complete a mix. The worst of it was we had no internet then so he couldn’t send you it at home. We had to hang around some God forsaken part of North London for the privilege of listening back. It lasted three and a half minutes…how long could it take?
Into that mix, let’s throw in an album from Canada. It was called Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies. Rumour had it wasn’t recorded in a studio at all, that it took less than a day to make and wait for it…..they did it on one microphone. Twenty Five years on the madness that decision looks like one of the smarter moves of the time. The album is still loved and the signals that sent out began a repositioning of music which led to lots of things we now expect and enjoy. Perhaps as strong as the recording style was the choice of covers. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Blue Moon and Walking After Midnight. Heck they even covered Waylon’s Dreaming My Dreams again! Here was a band who understood that Hank Williams was central to everything. It was time to listen.
Michael and Margo Timmins came into studio 1 recently and recorded a great session where they included a song from that album as well as some newer songs from the four albums they’ve recorded in the last 2 years. Again – it’s nice to see them breaking the rules. As it happens the rumours of that recording session were all true. The church in question was Trinity in downtown Toronto – picture above and the rest – well I’ll let them tell you themselves...
That’s not all. We’ve got a new solo record from our old friend Jim James, great new singles from Lord Huron and JD McPherson, wonderful stuff from Rodney and Emmy, Iris Dement, Patty Loveless and some charming weirdness from Jason Lyttle, and The Eels
As ever the fun starts at five past eight on Friday evening on BBC Radio Scotland. Be there and learn to re love the eighties….we do.