The Album “Pluck”
“Pluck” is my third album, but the first I’ve completed in ten years (gulp). I didn’t take a conscious “break” from the music business, or from songwriting. Things happened – life “getting in the way”, some might say. However, the months leading up to the 2020 coronavirus lockdown (and lockdown itself) gave me the breathing space I would probably not have had otherwise, to allow reflection, planning and the activity needed to bring about this collection. I’m pleased with the final outcome and happy now to reveal a bunch of details surrounding the project – some that date back to recordings first undertaken in 2014. Let’s start with track 1……….
A Girl Like You
“Imagine my shock, in the blink of an eye patch,
My comic disguise is blown.
Embellishing wigs, I’m all make-up and trousers
All over a slide trombone……”
Some years ago, I took my daughter to see a circus. A spectacle that had changed somewhat since I was a child. No longer did I see elephants paraded around the small, spotlit ring by an often mustache-ioed barrel-chest, cracking a whip. No more of his arms extending in a gestured thrust to the crowd that seemed to say “applause now, please!”. No more lions in cages, with some sweating Herbert making the poor thing rear up on its hind legs, as it pretended to answer an imaginary telephone. Yet, I did notice one facet of the bygone age that had survived any watering down of the circus’s traditional brew – that of the clown.
That garishly painted, fluffily dressed-up bloke (not ever a woman, I don’t think…..) was still falling over, throwing buckets of fake water at the crowd. Gurning, stumbling, swinging horizontal planks of wood around irresponsibly, pulling stiff flowers from hats, remaining resolutely unaware of trip hazards behind his outsized feet……..and so on. The kids loved him. A lot of the parents generally did too. The mere fact the clown remained fed my admiration for it to the point where I decided to write a sympathetic song, one that could be associated with many performers in show business – that of the dedicated but lonely artist, enjoying what they do but not really having someone to share the journey. I thought again of the clown pulling his tripe out one night, about halfway through the company’s three-week run in a park in Scunthorpe, suddenly noticing a nicely presented person in the front row, gazing back across the sawdust.
“All I want is a girl like you
To love me so long
At the front is a girl like you
Who’s writing this song..…”
Many years later, I took a voice memo from my phone and fed this rough song outline in to my music PC. In recent times, the music software I use, Cubase, has developed a plug-in called VST Amp Rack. A game changer for me as I can now, relatively easily and quickly, record decent stabs at an amplified rhythm guitar track (lead guitar sounds – not so much), without the hoo-ha of miking a tube amp at home, taking hours to get a half-OK sound in a tiny room whilst REALLY annoying my neighbours. This was one of the recordings to benefit from this although, as it turned out, I struggled to get a listenable mix in the end and was directed by Jon Astley (my mastering expert) to a mix engineer called Adrian Hall. After some initial problems getting the stems over to him, Adrian did a fantastic job in tempering some of the harsh, high frequencies in the track, bringing out some of the hitherto muddy detail and balancing everything to produce as loud a finished product as is the norm in most modern productions these days.
I thought it worthy enough to release as a single. I fear for its destination but it seems worth putting it out there – I hope a few people pick up on it and enjoy it.