After the release of THE BUREAU as a reissue in February 2005 the band met for two triumphant gigs and while reminiscing there was some talk of trying out new material. Problem was we were based all over England and in Geoff Blythes' case New York.
We exchanged some demos and we thought we had something worth doing.
Kris Gray who had acted as tour manager of the recent gigs had a studio and very kindly gave us 4 days and an engineer Kenny Denton "to see what would happen"
We arrived on a sunny day in August 2005 thinking we could rehearse for a day and then start but Kenny had other ideas and just set up to record.
We decided to play Mick's song CHANCE IN A MILLION as Mick knew it and there was a grand piano there. Also Mick had a good idea what would happen with the Horns. Mick ,Pete and Crispin put down the take with piano bass and drums only. When Archie came to put down the vocal it was thought that we should return to the song and put it in a higher key but we went ahead with it anyway as a "demo". As often turns out this first take turned out to be the one. Sung as a man on his very last legs and on his last "chance" its a song about failure and not quite accepting it.
Next was Archie's song FLYING LESSONS as we had set up for piano. Written as a tribute to an old friend with a bipolar disorder and how she has survived. Its got a New Orleans funeral free for all in the middle section which features all the horns in Anarchy plus Pete added in on the clarinet.
NOTHING'S GOING TO STAND IN OUR WAY by Pete Williams was done as a duet between Pete and Archie. Paul Taylor's excellent trombone solo was considered enough at the time and it was only later that the section horns were added in by Archie and friend Graeme Davies. Originally written for Pete's band These Tender Virtues its a story of broken promises and dreams told in Pete's sardonic style.
MAD. Kenny insisted we run the song quickly to see if we would have to change the reel. "No one knows the song , we've never played it," we pleaded. Anyway it was run once and we liked it. It wasn't perfect but it had something. Featuring a truly bizarre and mad organ solo by Mick Talbot. This song is about being ripped off something we all knew about.
The next session came in January of 2006. After the first session Geoff Blythe said he had some material but had no way of "demo"ing it. Archie rang Claire his wife and told her to go to a music shop in Manhattan and buy him a portastudio that a monkey could operate. This was done and a series of 4 songs arrived on our mats within a couple of months. As far as is known these are Geoff's first forays into writing, something he should have done a long time ago.
At this stage `Steve Spooner and Robert Jones bowed out as they had other commitments and so we were six.
We arrived at Ernie McKone's Boogie Back Studio in North London with 8 songs and this time we had a plan. We had rehearsed the songs for 2 days prior to our arrival to avoid any surprises. Ernies studio was very fifties style. Not so much as in decor as in the fact no decorating had been done since the fifties. It was basic but it worked, and so did Ernie.
RUN RABBIT RUN. A nod by Geoff to the world of Toons, its light hearted and yet has a certain menace. Geoff wouldn't say if the song was about anyone in particular and probably never will. Great piano by Mick Talbot plus some tamla claps.
FALLING Another song by Geoff. This tells the story of his life in music in 5 verses. Its all there between the lines. The horns hark back to Dexies and beyond, a story of a long journey.
JUST A WORD. Words written by Paul Taylor to a vaudeville backing by Pete Williams. The more contemplative side of the Bureau. Questions and Answers.
DIVIDED IN TWO. A song by Archie Brown. The Bureau get Soulful.
A FINE MESS RAG Another Geoff Song. Laurel and Hardy inspired lyric that hides a bitter fight. No holes barred here. A relationship gone to hell. Echoes of Captain Beefheart.
FREEDOM MARCH An instrumental by Geoff Blythe. Unmistakable Blythe harmonies on a tremendous drum track by Crispin Taylor.
SAVE ME by Archie Brown. Described by Mick as Willie Nelson goes funky. Its a country lyric about a bad bad man. Set in a desert landscape, with tumbleweed. Great drums again by Crispin Taylor.
SONG no 8 never passed the audition, but instead we added a cassette version of Pete Williams song KEATON'S WALK which was recorded at the end of the Bureau in 1982.
This song was affectionately also called Gdansk the Gdansk as the guitar reminded us of the Russian Tanks that rolled into Poland to stop Lech Welesa. A song from a different time
||(left to right....)
||(LEAD VOCALS, GUITAR, SAX)
||(TENOR AND SOPRANO SAXES)
||(DRUMS, PERCUSSION, GUITAR)
||(BASS, UKULELE, CLARINET, GUITAR, VOCALS)