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Last Updated:
Jan 12, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Dave remembers 'Complicated Game'

Song of the Week

This week we're posting "The World Is Full of Angry Young Men," a jazzy little jem from Colin Moulding, recorded during the sessions for Mummer and released in August 1989 on the B-side of the 12" single of "The Loving" in the U.K. The song features Pete Phipps on drums, some tasty guitar work by Andy Partridge, and beautiful piano playing by Dave Gregory.

Speaking of Dave, last week Andy spoke about "Complicated Game," and now it's Dave's turn. Remember to tune in next week, when Andy discusses a song from Fuzzy Warbles that contains some of his most impressionistic lyrics.

DG: The Drums and Wires sessions were done so quickly that I don't have a very clear recollection of any one particular track. I do remember that "Complicated Game" would have been recorded some time between June 18th and the 30th in 1979.

Andy used his stock mid-'70s tobacco-burst Gibson Les Paul Standard -- bought to replace a Guild S-50, stolen in Holland on the White Music tour -- through a 100-watt Marshall combo amp with two 12" speakers. I don't know the model number of this amp, but he used it for most of the White Music/Go 2 tours and the "Life Begins at the Hop" tour of spring 1979. It was about the size of a Vox AC30, but much, much louder. I wasn't crazy about the sound it made ordinarily, but cranked up it was perfect for the "Complicated" solo.

I played a Gibson SG Standard through my '62 Fender Tremolux top, and an old Selmer cabinet containing a single 8-ohm 12" ATC loudspeaker. That was my rig for the Drums and Wires sessions, together with three other guitars -- a '63 Stratocaster, a '63 Gibson ES-335 and a ropey Eko Ranger acoustic.

I played the intro part when we did this live. Andy had me play this odd part with my fingers -- 10th and 12th frets, lower 4 strings, fret G and D with little finger at octave of strings 3 and 4, first finger across fret 10 of strings 5 and 6 to produce G and D an octave lower. 1 bar of that, then move the first finger down to fret 9, to F-sharp and C-sharp for bar 2, leaving the pinky where it was. Repeat. Simply dissonant!

I grabbed the pick in time for chorus 2 and onwards. For the middle section -- "they wanted Tom, they wanted Joe" -- I just played screamin' high octave A's on strings 1 and 3, as a precursor to the solo. I think I dropped the dissonant Gs/Ds down an octave for the solo out.

Andy used to play a trick on me most nights. It was the penultimate number in the set, by which time he was pretty tired. He'd put off starting that vocal until the audience's jeering got the better of him. Sometimes I'd be playing those chords for two minutes! Once I looked around to find him resting on the drum riser -- my right hand was almost dropping off! The song ended with the line "it's such a complicated...", and it would be up to Steve Warren, or whomever was doing the house sound, to grab it and loop it through an echo repeat that would start feeding back. Then Terry would hit the "Nigel" beat and we'd finish the show. It was a pretty good climax.

Having just listened again for the first time in years, I have to say I love the bass part in this song, especially the way Colin hammers that high F-sharp when the solo arrives! In fact, the whole track is pretty disturbing. It's hard to imagine Andy delivering such a demented performance today.

5:09 PM

©2008 by Todd Bernhardt and Dave Gregory. All Rights Reserved.