So here we are comin’ towards the end of May, some months after my last post on here. Things have moved on at a rapid rate…. for this album anyhow. So this is a catch up, a round up an’ a who done what to make it all happen.
I’m gonna introduce you to the fine folk who are all diamonds, every one of them.
First in line was Damon Sawyer.
I’ve known Damon since I was playin’ bass with Kane & Co. in the late nineties. We recorded a few tracks with him at his studio. Since then I worked with Damon when he joined Cactus Jack (formed out of the ashes of Kane & Co.) on drums. We recorded two albums at his studio an’ I’ve recorded all my solo albums with him since, first at Park Studio in Bracknell an’ these days at his own Platform Studio, near Reading. Damon engineered, played drums an’ percussion along with producin’ the album with me. I don’t have drums on every track as I still like to have some tracks that don’t sound like we have a full band on there so Damon played on ‘Airboats, Guns & Whiskey‘, ‘Slaughter‘ an’ ‘The Mechanic‘.
Next up was Nick Drury, a good friend of a fair few years now.
Nick had played bass for a good number of years tourin’ Germany with a rock covers band but had taken a breather a few years before I met him an’ a good few had passed since then when I asked him to play on my previous album Garage Songs an’ seein’ as he agreed to that an’ really enjoyed playin’ on there I thought I’d ask him to play on Some Days Are Diamonds an’ once again he was kind enough to say yes. As it progressed Nick played on most of the album so if you hear a bass on a track, that’ll be Nick.
I first met Pete Bailey an’ Jono Watts from Leatherat when both they an’ myself were on the same bill at a National Chopper Club ‘Shires Show’ motorcycle rally. We hit it off an’ have done ever since, regularly playin’ at the same festivals an’ events.
Pete an’ myself for a few years, played some infamous Sunday mornin’ ‘Hangover Sets’ at Weyfest havin’ sat up playin’ an’ partyin’ through the previous night, rarely gettin’ more than a couple of hours sleep.
Like Nick, Pete came in for a few songs on Garage Songs an’ I knew when writin’ both ‘Samaritan‘ an’ ‘The Catch‘ for this album that I’d like him to come in with his mandola an’ sing some backin’ vocals on each of those.
For ‘Nursery Crime‘ I knew I wanted some fiddle on there an’ really wanted for Jono to play on there.
I was really pleased when he said yes an’ even more so when I heard what he had for the track.
I called up Andy Iddiols, who I’d toured in Europe with, playin’ alongside him in Kane & Co. an’ Cactus Jack an’ who like Pete, Damon an’ Nick had also played on Garage Songs to come in to play on two tracks ‘Bring Me A Beer‘ an’ ‘Slaughter‘.
Whilst Damon an’ myself were listenin’ back to ‘Slaughter‘ I had a thought. I said that what the track needed I reckoned, was a sousaphone. “Where are you going to get that ?” asked Damon. So I ‘Googled’ ‘Sousaphone player’ an’ ‘Basingstoke’. As it was I got ‘Sousaphone player’ an’ ‘Reading’ an thus soon met up with Sébastien Danczak newly arrived in the country from France.
He came in an’ absolutely nailed the track. Alongside Andy’s bar room piano an’ my banjo it was pure vaudeville to me when I listened back to it afterwards.
For ‘Airboats, Guns & Whisky‘ I knew that I’d love some serious country pickin’ on there. Through a mate from on the circuit I’d met back in the Kane & Co. days I’d been introduced to the very talented John Stannard. An englishman now livin’ in Texas. I only knew John to talk to on Facebook but thought it worth an ask. As it was, not only did I end up with John playin’ some very tasty guitar parts on the track, I also ended up with his missis, Mandy Marie Luke, singin’ some backin’ vocals at the end of the track. All recorded in Texas an’ sent over the internet. Wonderful stuff, technology.
That was back around the beginin’ of February 2014. Work on the album was bought to a halt when I suffered a heart attack an’ gettin’ goin’ again afterwards took some gettin’ done as both Damon an’ Simon Friend from The Levellers who was also goin’ to be playin’ on a couple of tracks were both out tourin at various times durin the year. The studio was also pretty booked out which along with me back giggin’ after a month or so recuperatin’ meant gettin’ back to recordin’ the album was difficult.
My daughters, Alex an’ Katie, came into the studio an’ put down some backin’ vocals on the end of ‘Nursery Crime‘ an’ I recorded ‘Dodged A Bullet‘ which I had written a couple of days after leavin’ the hospital an’ returnin’ home to recover afterwards an’ which would remain with just myself singin’ an’ playin’ on it. Apart from that 2014 was a bit quiet on the recordin’ front.
Into 2015 though an’ we were back on track. Simon had some time durin’ which he could come in to record an’ Damon wasn’t on tour either, nor was the studio fully booked up. So in came Simon Friend.
I met Simon a few years back at a Bearded Theory festival benefit gig after he’d heard an’ liked a song durin’ my set – ‘Hobo Jones‘ from off Garage Songs. We’d met up a good few times to play after that an’ got on just fine so when he said he’d like to come play on Some Days Are Diamonds I took him up on the offer. As soon as I was able after the heart attack, we got together to rehearse the songs he was goin’ to play an’ sing backin’ vocals on. It was he who suggested the ‘HEAVE’s in the chorus’ of ‘Samaritan‘. He plays banjo on that track as well, whilst on ‘The Catch‘ he plays guitar. Another friend of a good few years now, Miffy Griffin came in to add whistle on both those tracks.
One thing was left. Dobro guitar on ‘The Mechanic‘. I called on a Russian guy I had met when we both played a festival in Poland back in 1998. I’d kept in touch with Timur Vedernikov since an’ he was really interested in playin’ on the track when asked. He recorded his part in Moscow an’ sent it over just like John had done with his guitar parts an’ Mandy’s vocals. I hope to meet up with him in London very shortly to thank him personally.
So that was how the album was recorded. I have great love an’ respect for every one of those damn fine folks playin’ on there an’ a lot of thanks. But before I leave the music side of things I must mention an’ thank another member of Leatherat, their bass player Jeremy Paul Carroll.
Jeremy runs Precision Mastering UK an’ I spent a long day with him whilst he meticulously worked his way, track by track, through the album, workin’ his very special magic to bring out the best in it.
The front cover photo was taken at a small motorcycle rally one mid September afternoon last year by Debbie Bryan. It was a really well composed shot an’ a crackin’ image. Not a set up either, just taken whilst I played to folks.
Philip J Mitchell took the rear cover photo an’ the one behind the CD on the inside of that cover at my first gig after my heart attack. There was a lot of love in the room an’ I had a bit of a moment. Phil caught that, for which I am truly greatful.
When you hold Some Days Are Diamonds in you hands you’re lookin’ at the artwork of my very good friend Drew Rivers.
He has produced artwork for me for Garage Songs an’ my LiVE at The Assembly Rooms album along with designin’ a mass of promotional material an’ my latest t-shirt. His retouchin’ of photographs an’ layout is bloody lovely an’ his work just keeps gettin’ better an’ better.
These folk are all diamonds. Sparkly an’ multi-faceted.
I’ve written, played an’ sung on all the songs but this album would not be the thing of beauty I believe it to be without their participation an’ I thank every one of them for that.
May you appreciate all their work to bring it to you as much as I do.
Fair travels an’ fine times to you.