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Last Updated:
Oct 16, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Andy and Dave discuss 'Towers of London'

Song of the Week -- Andy's take

Part of an ongoing series of interviews by Todd Bernhardt with Andy Partridge about the songs we feature each week on MySpace. This week's song, "Towers of London," is from 1980's Black Sea. Kim retains her throne on Mount Parnassus with yet another correct prediction of which song we'd be talking about this week. Tune in next week, when Kim will challenge Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to a guess-off.

We'll be back at in two weeks with an interview that looks at a song that's been hidden away in the wardrobe for years. In the meantime, remember that until the end of December the XTC Boutique is the place where you can get all your holiday shopping done and save 20% when you spend more than £10. Oh, and while you're at it, check out the XTC holiday card, drawn by Mr. Partridge himself and featuring that new singing-group sensation, Terry and the Lovemen!

TB: Let's talk about one of my favorites of yours -- "Towers of London."

AP: Oy. Where to begin on this little monster?

TB: The second side of Black Sea, which is fantastic, starts with this song -- there's the "clang," and then who is that in the control booth talking?

AP: Actually, I wrote down some notes about this, because nobody's ever really explained what's going on. I think Terry's in the Stone Room, and you can hear a hit that's made of two things. I seem to remember it's Terry playing something like a fire extinguisher, and there may be a kitchen plate. If you listen, there are two clangs, mixed together.

Then he says, "Okay?" That's basically Terry saying, "I'm ready when you are." And then on the talk-back microphone, Steve Lillywhite comes on and says, facetiously, "Take a-hundred-and-three."

TB: Really? I always thought it was "Take number three" and then someone jokingly responds, "Take a-hundred-and-three."

AP: Well, it's not on the original version from Polygram Studios, on Coat of Many Cupboards -- I think that's just Colin laughing. But on the Black Sea version, it's Steve Lillywhite -- everything we recorded at that time, we had this running gag that each take was number one-hundred-and-three. So, he says that, then Terry repeats it, imitating our manager, Ian Reid, in his very pinched, nasal, upper-class voice. And then, on my vocal mic -- they'd left all this shit on the front of the tape -- I say, in an even more pinched, Ian Reid voice, "a hundred and three," and it catches a little bit of the echo that's on my voice. So there you go -- that's the cast of characters at the start.

But I'm not sure whether it's a fire extinguisher making that initial clank. It's certainly one in the fake "re-recording" that we did at the Manor studios -- you know, in that BBC film, "XTC at the Manor." I've got a funny feeling it may have been a dinner plate and something else on the actual version we recorded on Black Sea, at the Townhouse studios. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a dinner plate and something like the bottom of a heavy mic stand, or a section of pipe or girder or something. I think the fire extinguisher was the only thing laying around at the Manor that sounded vaguely right.

TB: Well, speaking of Coat of Many Cupboards, in his essay that went along with the set, what did Harrison call the band during this era? The "XTC of Broad Shoulders"? It was when you guys settled into the two-guitars-bass-and-drums line-up, and this song has always struck me as classic expression of that sound.

AP: It's that kind of song! It's very muscular -- the whole Black Sea album was just the touring machine at the peak of its "Don't fuck about, this is what you're going to get" period. "We've got guitars and we're going to turn 'em up and eat metal." [laughs]

TB: [laughs] You've mentioned to me that you think you and Dave together make one really great guitarist, and this is a great example of that. Because, except for when you get the bridge and Dave's obviously stepping out on his own, during the verses your two guitar parts are very intermeshed with each other.

AP: Yeah. I made a lot of notes for this track, but how can I answer this one? [pauses] I think I wanted to rewrite "Rain." Subconsciously. Musically. And I wanted clangorous guitars crashing together, and sort of droning. Because that's what they do -- they twiddle around on kind of a drone thing on "Rain." I think part of me wanted to go to that same place.

But I know what you mean -- I think this whole album is the "two guitars become one" thing. They're two barrels of a double-barreled shotgun. [laughs]

TB: Yeah. Even on English Settlement, the differences between the guitars are starting to be more notable -- you're getting more into the acoustic, while Dave's on a 12-string or something...

AP: Or there's more keyboard...

TB: Yeah, exactly. But on this one, you're pretty close together.

AP: Yeah.

TB: Was that a conscious choice on your part? Was it something you were trying to take advantage of, because you were realizing what you could do with him in the band?

AP: I felt like I would be deceiving the public if, when you saw us live, it didn't sound like the record, and vice-versa. That's a funny mindset, I know, but it sounded pretty much like the record -- you know, the same arrangements, because everyone learned "the part," and we didn't deviate from that. We only had a couple of numbers where we gave ourselves some room to -- and I say it with inverted commas -- "improvise." But it wasn't true improvisation. It was kind of gently bungee-ing around with a few things -- like, for example, "Battery Brides."

TB: Or "Scissor Man."

AP: Right, where we had a whole dubby section at the end. But, you know, if you were to hear a recording of every night's performance of "Scissor Man," you'd hear the same motifs over and over. So, you were bungee-ing -- kind of bouncing up and down past similar struts of the bridge. Not exactly the same each time, but pretty similar.

I thought, around the time of Drums and Wires, and getting into Black Sea, that pretty much everything we did live had to sound like the record, or else I was somehow I was deceiving the record-buying public.

But I did get frustrated with that. By the end of that Black Sea tour -- or tours, plural -- it was like, "Ooh, right, I want to grow now, and use other textures, and how the hell are we going to do it live?" You know, I wanted to use keyboards more, I wanted to use some strings, for god's sake, and horns and stuff like that.

But yeah, this was recorded at the height of the touring machine, and this was the muscular XTC, I think.

TB: So, how does the interplay of guitars plug into your notion of wanting to sound like the record? Your parts were pretty inseparable at this point.

AP: Yeah, they were worked out. They're like part of a -- you know, you break the chord up, and give each other certain parts. But that's arranging -- I don't know if we knew we were doing it. I don't think I knew I was doing it, consciously, but it's certainly a naïve way of arranging something, you know? I mean, you pull a chord apart, and some bits would be Dave, and some bits would be me, or we'd find syncopated rhythms that would sort of grind against each other, and things like that.

In fact, on this album, there are a lot of examples of things like that -- "Living Through Another Cuba" or "Love at First Sight," where I'm playing an octave away from Dave and I'm playing little grind-y things, where the notes grind against the big, open D that he does on that.

So, we were very conscious of making this big, muscular, clockwork machine for every song. [effeminate voice] It was just what we were into. [laughs] I was into muscular. And buff! We were alarmingly buff and well-oiled.

TB: [laughing] The vigor of youth, right?

AP: Yeah! And we were probably at our most handsome, while we're skirting around the whole homoerotic thing [laughs]. We'd do photo sessions, and the band was probably at its most physically handsome at that point.

TB: It's funny you say that, because I have the CD in my hand, and when I open it up, there's a picture of the four of you, and you are all in the pink, so to speak. You know, everyone's still thin...

AP: Argh! With hair.

TB: Hirsute.

AP: Hirsute, yeah. Good one.

TB: Colin's kind of glowering at the camera...

AP: Yeah, he's looking like Rudolf Nureyev -- he probably looks more like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer now. [laughs] I don't know.

TB: Let's pick apart the different parts -- besides the guitar interplay, I wanted to ask about the bass line on this, because it's a very important part of the song.

AP: It is. I like the idiocy of it. It just sits on that bass drum. It's an industrial counterpart to the clang of the metalware, which is meant to be like hammers and things -- they're building Victorian London, they're building the underground, the sewage, the big Gothic piles, the big Houses of Parliament, the railway system -- they're putting together London.

TB: Right. At the same time, wasn't the City of London really blossoming during the time you were writing this song, with those big glass and steel towers going up around the Tower of London? Were you writing about that, too?

AP: Well, actually, to be truthful, the original song was written as "Tower of London." All the lyrics I've got left are, "The Tower of London / Spreading high and wide / People speak a hundred tongues / But never get inside" -- I think that's what it says, I've actually crossed it out. I think I was actually trying to comment on the Tower of Babel thing, about the growing cosmopolitan side of London, and how international it had become.

At the time, I was conscious of wanting to write a song about London -- I think I was rather jealous of "Waterloo Sunset." I thought, "I want to write a song as good as that, and I guess it's got to be about London, because that's our capital, right?" So I started this thing, and I just sort of went off the rails with it. I thought, "No, it doesn't mean anything to me."

Then I saw an engraving of workmen building something under London -- I'm not sure what -- but they were in this huge underground corridor, with a hole in the top where the sunlight was coming in, and there was a pit pony down there, with a half-dozen Navvies. And I thought, "I'm going to write a song about London, but I'm going to write it from the point of view of the people who actually built it" -- the "Navigators," or canal builders. They were people who dug the canals, people who dug the Undergrounds -- basically the laborers of the Victorian era, who were known as Navvies. A lot of them were Irish, or people from the West Country, or from up north in England, so they were considered to be stupid yokels, generally, and they were looked down on, largely, by the population. You know, "expendable" types.

When I started to mess around with that idea, I felt so much more at home with that. I thought, rather than take the title "Tower of London" -- which has just the connotation of the Tower of London, and that's not what the song's about -- I changed it to "Towers of London," because of the amount London was expanding at the time, and I was thinking, "Does anyone think of the people who built London, and how are still building London now?"

So, it was a paean to the working man, the laborer, who built and was still building London. That felt right to me. It felt like a good thing to write a song about.

TB: Did you personally relate to it?

AP: I think I got a couple of library books out -- it was during the years where I still really couldn't afford books, and still went to the library -- I was reading something about putting together Victorian London. Reading about the amount of people who died while they were constructing this stuff made me think, "Well, I should put them in a song."

TB: I was thinking, too, in terms of your political songs, that this is one of the more subtle and successful. Would you consider it a political song?

AP: I don't know if it's political. To me, it's a kind of warm song -- warm, as in a tribute to the people who died building Victorian London. It was a way of saying, "Good on you, for your sacrifice to help this great place come into existence." I've got a book of Doré engravings of London -- I was looking through that today to try to find the picture that was the big spark for writing this song, but couldn't find it, so as far as I know it's not a Doré engraving -- but his engravings of London in the mid-Victorian era are shocking, they're frightening -- they depict third-world conditions in a society that's striving to reach the 20 century as fast as it can.

TB: So much of the progressive social movement of the time was driven by artists who depicted the real working conditions then -- Dickens also comes to mind.

AP: It's true, it's true. He was enormous in getting people to think about their social conscience.

TB: And I guess that's the reason why I was thinking that you might consider this a political song.

AP: No, because the deaths I'm talking about happened more than a hundred years before that song was written. So I guess it's a historical fantasy thank-you, or something.

And also, there were some songs that I had in my head that I wanted to squeeze the juice from, that sound nothing like this song, but I wanted to squeeze the same juice. One of them is "Sebastian," by Cockney Rebel. Now, I don't know what the hell it's about, but that song sounds Dickensian to me. It sounds like those Doré engravings of London, and I can't tell you why. I wanted to take that song and squeeze out the essence of Victorian London, and put it in my song. But we had to make do with that big, kind of jackhammer-sounding bass, and the pinging away at the girders on the backbeat -- that was how we tried to make the industrial Victorian landscape.

TB: Going back to the bass line, you have that simple part...

AP: Yeah, and it's just on the bass drum, it's on the down beat. Because it's not fancy, it's not really playing really melodic, it makes me think of a big, wooden machine, or a big steam hammer dropping. It's not a musical experience -- it's closer to [laughs] Steampunk. Do you know what I mean? It's a riveted bass line.

TB: Though at the same time, it does get more active in different parts of the song -- there's the [sings ascending and descending line that bass plays between lines during chorus].

AP: Oh yeah! I think it's a good bass line. But the essence of it is that sort of steam-hammer thing just going along on the 1 and the 3.

TB: Is this a case where you told Colin what exactly you wanted?

AP: Do you know, I can't remember. I think in those days, we used to just kick songs around. This was before I had multi-track demos. If anything, I'd just sit in the rehearsal studio with a guitar around my neck, and say, "Okay, it kind of goes like this," and then try to explain as best I could what I heard in my head. It was only in '83 -- when I got into being able to record multi-track demos, four-tracks, at home -- that I could sketch out more what I was hearing. But before that it was just a matter of trying to blunder and explain to others what was in your head.

TB: So this was probably Colin and Terry working very closely together.

AP: Yeah. By the way, I love that drum stuff that Terry does in the middle sections. That thing with the tom-toms is really good. I'd forgotten about that until today.

TB: Yeah, the way he uses the tom-toms and hi-hat during the bridge is great. And he matches the bass very closely throughout the song -- I've always loved playing along with this, because it's such a fantastic example of what a clear and generous drummer he was. You guys were lucky to have somebody who was willing to do just do what was needed for the song.

AP: He did what was needed, but he'd also bring this thrilling primitivism to it.

TB: Exactly. There's a lot of primal energy, and it's just rock-solid. You know, a lot of other drummers would have said, "Well, what can I put in here?" But there's almost a complete absence of ego, it seems, sometimes from him, and it gave you guys such a fantastic solid foundation for you to build the song on.

AP: Yeah, I think you've nailed it there. Seriously.

TB: I'm basically just gushing about how much I love the guy's playing...

AP: No, I think we were immensely lucky to have him. With Drums and Wires, when we got this new, big drum sound, he seemed to sort of come to life more. He seemed to become more interested in playing the drums, for more reason. It was like he'd found a signature sound, you know? The gear shift when up a couple of notches, and it was like, "Whoa!"

TB: Right. Let's talk about Dave's guitar, especially in the bridge and the solo.

AP: Well, Dave was doing the stuff he really likes to do, which is that kind of school of British Blues, digging in and wailing. He got to play his Gibson, and crank it up, and wail.

TB: Yeah, I wanted to ask what guitar he was playing on that.

AP: I think it's a Gibson, I'm pretty sure it's a Gibson.

TB: What kind?

AP: I'd have to ask him. I mean, he could tell you what guitar it was, and what the amplifier settings were. Because he made notes on all that, for every song he recorded, along with what effects he was using, and what they were set at, and so on. He could give you the spec, and you could actually get the sound yourself!

TB: I love the tone he gets in the bridge -- that biting tone during the call-and-response with the vocals.

AP: Yeah, that's right up Dave's alley. That's the amplifier working hard, the Gibson guitar working hard, and him digging and wailing for Britain, you know? [laughs] Because I think Dave would have given his right arm to have been Danny Kerwan, the little blond, moptop guitarist in the original Fleetwood Mac. I think Dave felt a huge empathy for him -- he had the technique and style, and kind of the look -- he actually looked like Dave, and vice-versa. Dave, at the tender age of, whatever he was, 14 or 15, probably saw Danny Kerwan and Fleetwood Mac -- looking about 14 as well! -- and thought, "Hey, that should have been me!"

Dave loves that kind of Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck stuff -- the school of British Blues players.

TB: Was his playing in the bridge just a natural outgrowth of you guys doing the song, or a result of you saying, "Hey, if I sing here, how about you answer me"?

AP: I just think he saw a space to play like that, and went for it. And the muscularity of it seemed to fit the subject matter, so it was like, "Well, okay, that's going to work." I think you see a similar musculature to his playing in "Real by Reel" as well. You know, that sort of digging-in-and-wailing kind of sound. And all those things were worked out -- they weren't just thrown from the hip. He would work out exactly what to play.

TB: And the solo was the same thing? You said, "Take a solo here," and he worked it out?

AP: Yeah, he'd work it out. He'd go away and notate it on music paper and work it up. That was Dave's way, you know?

TB: And what do you think about that solo?

AP: I haven't got any great revelations there -- it just seems to do the job very well. It's like a real beef sandwich of a solo. "I'm really hungry, I need something like a beef sandwich." "Okay, here's one beef sandwich coming right up!" Dave supplies a musical beef sandwich for the hungry Navvy in that song.

TB: Let's talk about the vocals a bit.

AP: I noticed in my notebook today -- this old notebook with the original idea in -- that I'd put, in brackets there, "Sing This All Together," by The Rolling Stones. Because I didn't want to forget the melody, when I initially came up with it. It's only the first few notes, but it helped me remember the melody. And then later, in rehearsal or something, somebody pointed out, "That's 'Daughter of Darkness' by Tom Jones."

TB: One of the things that struck me, as I was listening today, is the fade-out and fade-in at the end of each line of the chorus.

AP: Yeah, the harmonies fade-up -- we fade ourselves in with our singing, and the faders are coming up on the desk.

TB: So, that was a studio thing, rather than you guys deciding to pull away from, then move back toward, the mic?

AP: We tried to sing it like that, and then accentuate it in the studio, so it really appeared almost backwards, you know? I like the dreaminess, the almost ghostliness of that -- it's almost a backwards sound.

And on the Coat of Many Cupboards version, which is more acoustic guitar-driven, there's a sound we never used on the Black Sea version. If you listen to the song -- I think it's on verse two of that version -- you can hear it. I wanted a different texture against the acoustic guitar on that version, and Steve Lillywhite said, "I've got this little tiny amplifier which I've bought at a Radio Shack. It's called an Archer, and it's a little thing about the size of a box of matches with a little speaker in it, and it's got a little tiny jack socket in there, and you plug in." If you put a nice-quality mic by it, it's got this very tinny, buzzy kind of tone.

So there's this arriving, industrial, dream-like sound on that version which is kind of difficult to describe, but it probably sounds like a hornet that shouldn't be fucked with [laughs]. I think we replaced it with vocals on the Black Sea version.

TB: There's also a keyboard on this song, which you hear during the bridge.

AP: Oh yeah! It's that little monophonic Korg that we had.

TB: What prompted you guys to throw that in this otherwise guitar-based song?

AP: I just wanted a different texture, and I think I was thinking of tunnels and dripping water. So we went for this sound that's kind of like an electronic drip, and Dave came up with that little melody.

TB: And what guitar were you playing?

AP: I was probably playing either the Ibanez or I may have had a guitar called "The Paul," which I later had stolen in New Zealand while on tour. So, somebody in New Zealand has my Gibson "The Paul" guitar. It was probably one of those two guitars.

TB: And then at the end of the song...

AP: There's a key change! This is one of the few XTC songs that has a key change in it. Dave said to me, while we were recording it, "Do you know, this is really clever, the way you've come up with that guitar figure, because it fits both keys." And that's a complete accident. It wasn't designed to fit two keys -- it just did.

TB: I was going to ask you about that bending-note pattern you're talking about -- was that something you came up with first, or did you kind of retrofit it to the rest of the song?

AP: It came up while I was writing it, because I wanted something that almost had a kind of Indian "Rain" quality -- almost like a sitar or something.

The first part of the song's in F, with a G ringing, and it sounds larger and more epic. But then it moves up in the song later on to a G, still leaving the open G ringing. So that's that kind of drone-y "Rain" thing that I was trying to go for.

In fact, It sounded so much like "Rain" on the outro, that you know we got to play this during a gig in Liverpool the night after John Lennon was killed.

TB: Yeah, I remember reading that story -- you guys went into "Rain" from the end of this song?

AP: Yeah, instead of the "Londinium" outro, we decided to play a few verses of "Rain." And I cried me eyes out! But nobody could see, because I was sweating buckets. That was the day after he was shot -- we were on tour, and stopped off at a petrol station to get some food and papers and stuff, and it was like, "Jesus Christ! Look at the paper! Look at the headline -- Lennon's been shot." And we were on our way to play Liverpool. Funny old atmosphere at the gig, actually.

Nobody's accused us of ripping off "Rain," and I don't think we did rip it off, but that was one of the springboards, sonically.

TB: And it's interesting that you move into the G chord, because with the open G ringing in there, it resolves that chord.

AP: Yeah, and actually, the bent-string guitar figure -- it's also got the note of B in it, which in F sounds unresolved, but when you move up to the G, even though the bent-guitar figure is exactly the same, it then sounds mysteriously resolved. Again, I think it was just my naivety at work. It just felt right, gut-wise. I didn't know enough music theory to say, "Yeah, I'll keep that phrase the same, but when we move up to G, it'll all sound resolved." There was none of that going on, I can assure you! It was like, "Wow, this sounds good. Let's leave it in this key now."

TB: Sometimes that's all you need, right?

AP: If it works, it works.

TB: At the end, you have a lot of the different parts coming together, as you later really liked to do, but I think this is one of your earlier examples of doing this.

AP: Yeah, of throwing that stuff in the melting pot, to make it all collide and cross over. I loves dat! And you know those high echo-y, reverb-y vocals at the end? I think that was an attempt, subconsciously, to be Raisa Davies, Ray Davies' Russian wife who sang all those high lines on those Kinks singles. You know, on "Waterloo Sunset," all those high ghostly vocals.

TB: Oh, okay! Is that her on "Death of a Clown," too?

AP: Probably, since they were done at around the same time. I think I was subconsciously putting her in, because I was trying to write a song about London, and "Waterloo Sunset" is one of the great all-time London songs.

TB: Oh yeah, absolutely.

AP: That little evil character in the back of my brain was saying [little-demon voice that sounds distinctly American], "Yeah! You've got to have a Raisa Davies vocal line! C'mon!! Too much reverb! Too high! C'mon, do it, do it, you homo! Get on with it!" [laughs] My little devil.

Oh! Did you know, this song contains possibly the only drum edit that I can think of in Terry's career?

TB: Really? Where?

AP: You know the little breakdown bit right before the "Londinium" part? There's that big roll into the end. During the otherwise-perfect take that he did, he fucked that roll up. So, we had to cut in a roll from another take, and I think the roll from the other take didn't quite fit the time -- it was slightly slower or slightly faster...

TB: Because you guys didn't use click tracks then.

AP: Right. So, they had to do a little editing jiggery pokery -- you know, copy it at a different speed and edit it in, so it fitted. Because we had the perfect take.

TB: I'm surprised that you guys didn't just punch him in at that point, and then record through to the end of the song -- oh, but back then you were all playing together, weren't you?

AP: Yeah! So, we'd all to do it all again. Instead, I seem to remember they did something where they took another take and either slowed the roll down or speed it up microscopically, bounced it across to another bit of tape, then edited it in the original.

But I think it was the only time in Terry's career where he's been edited. I mean, in my naivety, I never knew that all the Beatles recordings were made of dozens of edits.

TB: Yeah. You just thought Ringo's time was bad!

AP: [laughs] Yeah. "Is he the best drummer in the world?" "He's not even the best drummer in the Beatles!"

TB: He [Lennon] could be cruel couldn't he?

AP: Oh. Cutting. I don't think most people would have liked him, you know, if they had met him.

But, you know, all through Terry's career, he was not a man who needed edits. Because if Terry fucked up, it was just a case of, "Okay, we'll do it again." But it was never a case of edits.

TB: Yeah, I was kind of surprised, because I know when I was recording, we would just concentrate on getting the drums first. People would play along, and we would try to keep as much of their stuff as we could, but it was always drums first, and they could punch in later if they made a mistake. But you pretty much tried to play all together, trying to get all your parts down?

AP: Yeah. In fact, we did that pretty much up until English Settlement. Some of that album was done live, and some was done with overdubs. And then, doing Mummer, it got less and less live, and so on. But the first five albums of our career were pretty much live in the studio. Everything. Which was the sound, you know? Like I say, I wanted it to sound on-stage how it sounded on record, and vice-versa.


Update: I asked Dave about equipment details for "Towers," and he graciously responded with some really detailed memories about the song, the instruments the band used, and the recording process. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Dave Gregory!

DG: On June 23th, 1980, at the Townhouse with Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham, we began recording the official version of the song (after having knocked off the basic track for "No Language In Our Lungs" earlier in the day). Andy used his new Gibson "The Paul" guitar (shortly afterwards stolen on tour in New Zealand) through his usual Marshall 100 and Marshall 4 x 12" cabinet. Colin played his medium-scale Epiphone Newport bass, with its freshly-installed extra DiMarzio pickup. I used my new blond Fender Telecaster with its "vintage" Seymour Duncan pickups.

Colin and I had secured an endorsement deal of sorts with the electronics company H&H in Cambridge. They were launching a new range of amps called "Performer," which featured a new circuit utilizing MOS-FET transistors that were supposed to be powerful, silent and rugged, and produce a very "tubey" tone. They also came with an effects module that provided echo delay, ADT, chorus and flanging, in addition to a compressor and a reverb tank.

The bass version they gave Colin was called the "Bass Machine," and came with a parametric EQ circuit and dedicated reflex cabinet. I took delivery of a 100-watt (ha!) twin-channel head and matching 4 x 12" cabinet. They worked well in the studio and we recorded most of our parts for the Black Sea record with them, including the basic tracks for "Towers."

We returned briefly to the track late on June 29th, when I added an acoustic rhythm-guitar part using a cheaper-than-cheap Italian Eko Ranger -- Padgham would later refuse to record it when we started the English Settlement record the following year. I was sent to London to bring back "something we can use," before he would even set a mic up! The Martin D35 did the trick.

The next day, both Andy and I added extra guitars; I played the solo and middle-eight fills on my '63 Gibson ES-335, through the clean channel of the H&H, but cranked up. The inspiration for the sound and attitude of the solo section can be heard in Jeff Baxter's playing on Steely Dan's "Midnight Cruiser," a song from their first album. Baxter and Denny Dias were musical gods to me back then and I was hugely impressed.

On July 4th, Andy recorded the vocals, and I added another guitar to the intro -- possibly doubling Andy's riff -- using a '65 Gibson Firebird III through a Mesa-Boogie combo amp. Andy added more vocals on July 7th and the track was complete. It was mixed on July 12th 1980.

8:28 PM

©2007 by Todd Bernhardt, Andy Partridge and Dave Gregory. All Rights Reserved.