1971 - 1972
By now, Chris had stopped playing for Mike Westbrook, and had been replaced by Gary Boyle.
Recording Jack Bruce's Harmoney Row
|March||Chris won the second again in the best jazz guitarist in MM.|
The first was John McLaughlin.
|- April||Recording Linda Lewis' Say No More|
The one record recently that I was quite pleased to be part of was the Linda Lewis album because I had quite a lot to do with it in the end. I was knocked out with her voice and songs and everything, and I used to go round to their houses before sessions and work it all out. A couple of times I more or less arranged the whole thing. And the guitar comes out quite well. I put things like bass guitar on afterwards, things like that. They more or less left me pretty free to do my own interpretations of what should happen.
Linda Lewis said;
I went into the studio with only a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I had a load of songs, and we were so long in the studios that I wrote for the album even when we were doing it. I couldn't get used to working with a load of session musicians.
Chris Spedding always got one of those bored looks on his face, I couldn't stand it. I just had to ask him if he liked the songs. I have to see his response. He said 'Yep'. Maybe I felt okay. After that I forgot why I was making an album. I knew there had been some reason. Then I remembered it was to be an adventure, I remembered. So we got back to having an adventure. As it turned out though, I wasn't pressurising myself.
|May||Spedding and Jeff Clyne retired from Nucleus.|
Ray Russell and Roy Babbington joined.
A revamped Nucleus began a one month European tour. The bootleg "Live In Bremen 1971", which stems from the tour, erroneously credits Spedding.
It was a group. I like Elastic Rock album. But ... I just found Ian Carr a bit limited in his thinking. I thought it was part of this terrible jazz mentality in England which thinks if you get a bit of beer money that's fantastic. It reached a ridiculous situation where we'd be going out for about 75 pounds a night for the group, and people like Soft Machine who were getting ten times as much were coming to listen to us every night, and we were obviously in a higher league than Soft Machine at that particular time. So I said there's something wrong with your basic thinking: why don't we hang about until we can get a gig for a thousand pounds. He said 'Oh no, we've got to play man, for our public.' I said cobblers, you're not doing yourself any favour at all, the band will just go down like that.
Which is what happened, and it's been down there ever since. But it started up there; the first album got into the charts; it started with much promise, and when I saw it being blown I couldn't stand it - I left.
(there were commercial problems, not musical one?)
Because unless you get on to that level you can't play music. Unless you have that sort of ambition and agression in your music suffers. The reason that I finally did it for me with Ian was this: we had a thing that we used to rehearse when I first joined the band, and one bar of this particular piece had this strange time signature of 1916. So we came to refer to the piece as 1916, and it became a number on the album - 1916. But such is the state of Ian Carr's mind that he managed to convince himself that this song had been inspired 1916 Easter Revolution in Ireland, and he found a poem by Yeats on this subject, and on the following album he recited this poem over 1916. I said 'don't you think that's a bit pretentious Ian. do you have to have a literary justification for everything you do? ...' I'm not going to play a song and pretend that this song is 1916 the year, because I know it's about 1916 the time signature. That's pretentious. So I said 'I'm walking. I can't believe you guys would do this.
|June 21-||Gigs with Gary Burton.|
The American vibraphonist had a 20 day gig at Ronnie Scott's with Spedding on giutar, Roy Babbington on bass and John Marshall on drums.
It's been so good playing Ronnie Scott's, so surprising actually, for I haven't played with a new group for ages. They've adapted well, and made me feel very comfortable. It must be said that the whole thing has worked out far better than I ever expected. The first couple of nights saw the guys really get into things. Chris especially is coming up with a lot of original guitar approach.
After leaving Nucleus, Spedding didn't do much live gigs, except sometimes with Mike Gibbs. He was very busy with many recording with many popular musicians.
Spedding recalls an example of a typical working week.
Monday afternoon there was a session with Johnny Harris, which was a Shirley Bassey record, that was at Advision Studios. It was the backing track. She was there to give us an idea of the song. That same evening I had to go to Pye which is near Marble Arch - 7:30 till 10:30. That was for Lou Warburton and that was a John Schroeder production, which was one of these instrumental versions of your top hits, we did things like Knock Three Times and all that. It's quite difficult really because the voice part is taken over by the orchestra and I can imagine that if you get a sort of bluesy type of singing thing and you've got to emulate that on the guitar, it's pretty difficult and it looks terrible when it's written out. You've got to be pretty good to pull that off, so those are quite difficult sessions and they're quite challenging to me as an actual craftsman as opposed to artist. I'm not creating anything, I'm only interpreting something. It's a different thing, people sometimes don't realize, they think it must be a terrible drag doing it, but I get a satisfaction out of it. I get a satisfaction out of doing a job well regardless of the music, regardless of whether I saw that record in a rack in a record shop I'd think it was a load of shit, it doesn't matter. The fact is that when I did that job I did it to the best of my ability.
On the Tuesday there was another Shirley Bassey session, which in fact at the last moment was cancelled and then that evening, 7:30 till 11 o'clock, at the Aeolian Hall, BBC. The fixer, the man who booked me was Martin Ford and singer was Labi Siffre. Did about five numbers and it was probably going to be used on the Tony Brandon Show for the next week or something like that.
Now the next Wednesdsy - 12 till 3 o'clock at the Morgan Studios, Don Paul recording Carl Wayne, a record or something. Actually, come to think of it it was a cover version of Spirit In The Sky which was a bit strange I thought. Anyway, I quite enjoyed it actually, because I remember I stayed behind afterwards and put a solo on or something, which of course you get an extra session fee for, so that was a good day - in the space of one session I got twice as much money.
The next morning, Thursday - Dick James's Studio, Oxford Street, for Mike Batt. Then I had to do another session for John Schroeder that night and Mike Batt rang me up all sort of mad and said that the engineer had put the overdub on the wrong take, so we couldn't use it, and I had to do it again and he'd got to have the record finished by the next Monday. So there was a big panic on and I was pretty tied up for the rest of the time, and I suggested he came along after one of the sessions that I'd got on the next couple of days and if we'd got time we could do it again there. And that's what we did. The following day, on the Friday, I had another session at Pye and he came along after that session and put on my guitar that was missing.
The next day, the Friday, I was down at Shepperton in the daytime doing film music under John Addison, a film called Mr Forbush And The Penguins. There was a geezer stumming a guitar in the film and it involved me having to watch the screen very carefully and whenever his hand waent down I was supposed to play a chord, that sort of thing.
Saturday, in the afternoon, Lansdowne Studios working for Tony Campo. Tony Campo's a session bass payer, he's another of these geezers who used to play in palais bands, used to work with Tony Evans, or somebody like that. He did the arrangements and it was for Penny Lane, who is a singer, quite good actually, we did three quite good backing tracks. Oh yes, I remember, there was one track, it was called about Mr Guitar or something, and I had to think of a lick. I just had a plain chord sheet, just a plain score of symbols, and over certain parts of it was written 'solo' and I just had to think of a nice lick, guitar lick, every time it said, 'Oh, Mr Guitar Man'. I had to think of it myself because Tony knew that whatever he'd written, it probably wouldn't feel right if I played it, and I've got to think of something better because it's me playing it.
And that's one of the interesting developments in sessions because maybe five years ago an arranger would write something out on the guitar, which is an impossible instrument to write for unless you actually play it. Like you get someone like Malcolm Arnold who wrote that Julian Bream guitar concerto, he has to more or less the guitar to be able to write for it, you see, he has to learn the sort of little things that happen on it that don't happen on any other instrument. So most good arrangers, even the very straight pop sort, write an arrangement that is really right for the guitar, because they obviously couldn't be pop arrangers otherwise. They write things that fall under the fingers. They sound funky.
Sunday morning 9:30 at CTS. That was a film session, it was for an American guy, I never found out much about it because I was late for it. I was an hour late, because I put my clock on wrong, and I thought I was going to be there on time and I ambled in and they'd been there an hour. And of course it was a very embarrassing situation, because you can imagine a big orchestra all getting 12 pounds each, it was a forty-piece, that's quite a lot of bread, and the studio costs about 30 pounds an hour. And with the arrangements it's 2,000 pounds, right, and you're late and they can't start just because you didn't get up. If you di it a lot of times, if you're unreliable you just get blown out and you don't get sessions. Still, what can you say but sorry and just get on with it? It's not too bad because there's two guitarists at least they get a guitar sound but if you're a drummer there's only one drummer. So in that time-keeping respect it's a very important job being a session musician. That Sunday afternoon I had a job cancelled so that's the whole week gone through. Fairly typical.
About TV commercials
I do a few of those. In fact, most of those you do very early in the morning about 8 a.m. because the geezer I do most of them for, Jeff Wayne, likes working at that time and he can get the musicians he wants at that time, because the usual day starts at 10 a.m. A jingle lasts an hour, so most musicians have got their time well booked up and they can't stop doing that just to do a jingle for an hour, and of course another thing is that he gets his work at the last minute and I might be rung up now for 8 a.m. tomorrow morning and because he's the only one who ever works at that hour he can get the people he wants at the last minute.
|July||Jack Bruce released Harmony Row.|
(question - With the Cream they were fortunate to have three of the very best musicians to interpret what they were doing. But isn't there a danger that a song might just be used as a vehicle for solos?)
That's the danger. That's why I did the new album that way I did, which was to have two musicians I like and myself, rather than exploding it out in directions you didn't really want it to go.
I prefer Harmony Row to Songs For A Tailor as a piece of writing. Six songs (on Harmony Row) were written one very stoned afternoon in about one hour. I sat down and one after another they came out as complete songs. They needed no alteration.
The songs are so varied, with many different types of feelings, and Chris and John are both capable of that. They're not just a good rock guitarist and a good jazz drummer ... they have all those different things in their playing. Chris has come on a storm - I haven't heard anyone else with that kind of free rhythm he plays.
We did it very quickly. It took us only two days to get the tracks down, and then I spent another two days putting on a lot of overdubs, keyboards and lots of string basses and dozens of voices and cellos and hundreds of harmonicas and piano and organs. Good fun, that.
|20||Jack Bruce, Spedding and John Marshall played for BBC Radio broadcasted on August 6|
|29||Jack Bruce with Larry Coryell, Graham Bond, John Marshall, and Spedding appeared on 'VPRO Picnic' Middelburg, Holland (TV and Radio broadcast)|
|August||Andy Fraser, who retired from the Free three months ago, announced that he would form a band called Toby and the members were informed within this month. But it was delayed. Guessed Fraser wanted to hire Spedding. The Toby consisted of Adrian Fisher on guitar and Stan Speke -drums after all.|
|14||Elton John's Madman Across The Water session at Trident Studios.|
Chris Youlden (ex.Savoy Brown) was said to start recording his solo album. This album may be Nowhere Road which was issued in 1973.
|19||Jack Bruce band played for BBC radio at Paris Theatre, London|
|26||Jack Bruce band at Country Club in Hampstead (UCS Benefit)|
The members are; Chris Spedding on guitar, John Marshall on drums Graham Bond on keyboard and Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax.
Jack Bruce band at Hyde Park free concert|
Art Theman joined instead of Dick Heckstall-Smith. Formerly Fat Harry, King Crimson, Roy Harper also appeared and the concert was filmed and aired on TV.
|26||Jack Bruce band at Bumpers Club (UCS Benefit)|
|October 5||Old Grey Whistle Test (BBC-2 TV)|
|8||J.Bruce band, Leeds Queen's Hall (He kicked off his first British tour)|
|9||Winter Gardens, Great Malvern|
|28||Aberdeen Music Hall||29||Stirling University|
|30||Glasgow Queen Margaret's Union|
|November 4||Central London Polytechnic|
|6||Colchester Essex University|
|10||Cardiff Top Rank|
|19||London Goldsmiths College|
|22||Watford Town Hall|
|December 3||London South Bank Polytechnic|
|4||Norwich Lads Club|
|5||London Chelsea College|
Toured in Germany and Italy. They did a German TV program - The Swing In TV.
After this tour, the Jack Bruce band was broke up. And all of other gigs were all cancelled.
Melody Maker dated Jan.29 1972 says that Jack Bruce joins Mountain. According to this article 'For the past fortnight he has been recording at Island's Notting Hill Studios with Mountain guitarist Leslie West...' while Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi is anxious to concentrate on record production instead of working with Mountain, who was working an American white gospel group Mylon. Island, Mountain's British record company, refused to comment until Pappalardi arrived in UK. Chris Spedding's manager Andrew King told the MM 'There have been lots of rumors about Jack's band and Chris felt he ought to make his position clear by announcing that he had left. He hasn't been enjoying playing with Bruce and is currently talking to people about putting his own band together. Chris likes simple happy music and Jack's music over the year has become increaingly has more complex.'
New Musical Express dated the same day said that Chris would probably getting something together with John Marshall and one or two other friends.
He was interested in playing very fast and hard. And I don't think the music sounds good when it is played fast and hard. I think that people feel uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. And the mucis sounds uncomfortable.His music needed something deceptively simple. I like deceptively simple. I always play minimal and simple. I play things easy, and sound easy. And he played things sound difficult.
It can go anywhere - but I don't think that anything too complicated would be successful. The beauty of the guitar is its simplicity; I used to make a lots of funny noise , but that was only because I was pissed off, and now I stick to the dead simple things that really work. John McLaughlin? It's very nervous, neurotic music, with quite emotional range, and I don't find it very satisfying. Physically it's quite difficult to play, so I suppose certain people will like it. The Derek Bailey bit is a new approach, and very interesting, but again it's narrow, and introverted.
All that stuff about putting a guitar fingerboard on a synthesiser is a load of shit. It's nonsense. That's not where it's going. Put me down as a Hendrix follower - emotionally, he covers everything and I think he's taken the guitar further than anyone else...other than that, I can't say. It's a funnky instrument, and that's why I like it.
|Feburuary||Win the second place in the MM jazz poll again|
|March 1||Melody Maker Pollwinners concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall|
Gathered the pollwinners at MM jazz poll and had a concert. Spedding played with Mike Gibbs.
Rock Workshop at the Connaught Hotel, Wolverhampton|
The clinic for enraptued young musicians held under the auspices of the Musician's Union. Spedding, John Marshall (drums) and Roy Babbington (bass), who are the rhythm section of the Mike Gibbs Band and formerly together in Nucleus, gave demonstration.
A review says that the only mistake was playing 'On Green Dolphin Street' in response to a request for some jazz. 'I haven't played jazz in years and I've forgotten all the licks.' apologised Spedding afterwards.
In the middle of this month, Spedding did recording with Nilsson for his album Son Of Schmilsson.
Only Lick I Know released
Spedding says about this second album.
'Only Lick I Know' was done over a period of a year. It was also done at at Abby Road and also one of the engineer was Alan Parsons who became famous later on as the Alan Parsons Project. He was a sound engineer. I love that. I was very busy doing studio work sessions. And when I had a couple days off. I would call up the studio and go, and do some more on the album. So that was how it was done.
I was still learning, I have to write songs and I have to record. The sound is good, the mixes are good, still the sound is good today. That's because of the great studio and the engineer is good.
|April 8||Karl Jenkins concert at the Phoenix|
According to its advertisement, Spedding, Art Theman, Jeff Clyne, John Marshall and Dave MacRae appeared.
|10||Mike Gibbs concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall|
His live album 'Just Ahead' says that two tracks from this album were taken from this concert.
- June 10
|Mike Gibbs at Ronnie Scott's|
Recorded and put out as 'Just Ahead' later.
In June, Spedding forms his own band.
From an article in musical papers,
The Spedding band will feature the tenor sax of George Khan and the drumming of ex-Fat Harry and Gong man Laurie Allen. They were both in the Battered Ornaments with Spedding. The line-up is completed by two highly respected sessions musicians, Jeff Clyne on bass and Pete Leamer on Piano.
Pete Jenner of Blackhill Enterprises who are handling the group told
We don't quite know what the band is going to sound like yet as they don't want anyone to hear them until the music sounds good in the flesh as it does in their heads. But we're quite sure, knowing the musicians involved, that it will be both in the music and in the spirit a complete mind splitter.
They recorded seven tracks for an album, which has never put out ever. One of the song is 'Pseudo Blues', which was re-recorded and offered on Cafe Days US version. Another song 'Let It Rock' was some times played in his solo show in the late 1980's.
It was a kind of jazz. (I played jazz again because) people wanted. I didn't like it but I tried to do it. That was commercial. I did just for money. I didn't like it and it wasn't successful.
Dick Heckstall-Smith issued his first solo album 'A Story Ended'.
Spedding's comment on the track which he is on.
I shall keep this part, it is a very very long part and about the most difficult to read and play I have done. I had to phase the licks like a tenor sax and what with playing someone else's writing - it was quite something.
|July 10||Rock Workshop at the Commodore Banqueting Room, Aspley|
Again for the Musician's Union at Nottingham Festival.
The backings are R.Babbington, P.Leamer and L.Allen.
|September 9||Lesley Duncan concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall|
Only one concert with her. The backing musicians are Spedding, Jimmy Horowitz, Andy Bown, Madeline Bell and the strings led by David Katz.
It was the first major show for her to do at such big hall. But it is said that they did rehearsal for only four hours, so the performance wasn't good enough.
(L.Duncan had done a TV appearance - BBC's In Concert - in the end of 1971. Spedding and Elton John backed her.)
Spedding talks about Jimmy Horowitz who produces her albums in the interview in 1971.
When I began doing actual sessions I worked a lot for someone called Jimmy Horowitz who arranged the Lesley Duncan album, that's Lesley Duncan's husband, and he also did some arrangements for the Linda Lewis album and he's a nice guy, very easy to work with, so it was good for me because I was a bit a green and if I'd had somebody who'd have given me a hard time I'd have probably got scared and not done any more sessions. I started working for some people and I didn't know what to play. They give you a chord sheet or something. I didn't know what to play, I used to get very, very worried. It was not until I'd been working a year that I learned what they expected. I think the heavy people are the people who just stick you there with an orchestra and you're the only one doing something ad lib, and it's got to be right. And people like Jimmy Horowitz used to take a long time explaining what he wanted and his arrangements were pretty nice away, but some of the others, what I call the straight pop people, would just give you a part and you're expected to know what's needed.
Andy Fraser talks,
Marty Simon phoned me and suggeted we play around a bit together. He had just come over from the States and he wanted something to do in England. I wasn't doing much except writing on own so he came around with his drums. At the time I had no thoughts of going back on the road because I'd had a few heavy trips on the road with Free but he really made me want to get back again.
Next we phoned up Chris because about 18 months ago I had vaguely talked to him about forming a band and he was looking for an outlet apart from sessions. He was keen to do something with us.
The last 18 months with Free were really a strain, I love the guys in the group but it was boring to be tied to the same people all the time. There was too much confusion to make good music all the time, and when they wanted to reform the band I decided it wasn't worth it. I have since found out it was the right thing to do. I have met these guys and they are taking me to a higher peak than I ever reached with Free. There is no confusion about the Sharks, everything is so fresh.
It must be confusing to the public because they only think of me as playing with Mike Gibbs, or someone like that, but I've done many things the public has never heard about, I did the session that produced two Gilbert O'Sullivan hits. 'Nothing Rhymed' and 'Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day'.
I was into funkier music before my name ever appeared on a record label. People will expect me to play like I did with Nucleus and Jack Bruce but I won't. I have been through so much in ten years as a professional musician that that I can just about play it all now. I have been through all the complicated time-changes and technically good guitar playing and I know I can do it if I want to. Now I'm looking forward to getting into something more simple.
Their first public appearance seems to be at the Nutters Carnival (Town Hall, Islington) on October 27.
|December 4||Skidmore benefit concert at the 100 Club|
Alan Skidmore injured by a traffic accident in November, and this concert was for him. Four bands (musician) joined. The first was Solid Gold Cadillac, next was Nucleus, followed by Georgie Fame and the last was Cadillac. Spedding played with G.Fame. Review in a musical paper;
Unfortunately Georgie's set of cool funk was spoiled by the almost total inaudability of the vocal lines and after four tunes he was forced to give up the struggle. Still it was nice to see him there and his little band of Thacker, Matthewson and Spedding grooved nicely.
The Sharks went around Europe and recorded their first album around Christmas period in London.
|1968-1971 / biography / 1973-1974|