I've been making records now for twenty years.
Records with other artists and records of my own.
During that time I learned a lot, and the lessons I learned, as usually happens,
I learned mainly from trial and error. By making mistakes and trying not to
make the same mistakes again! I still make mistakes - different ones I hope
- and in a way I hope I continue to do so. Wouldn't it be awful to know
everything about making music? I think so.
I still need to learn. When I don't have that need to learn it will be time
to stop making music.
Now, some of my early records I find very difficult to listen to.
I hear things I would do very differently now. But I do remember that at the time
I was very serious about them and I know that I made an honest and
sincere attempt to do the best I could. And some of that early stuff
I actually liked at the time and remember being quite proud of myself
when the records got released. And I quite frequently got favorable reviews too,
so they must not have been all that bad.
Plus I still get fans that say they still enjoy listening to this material,
so I try to live with it, consoling myself that I had done the best
that I could at the time.
In the case of my own records (as distinct from my session work),
I naturally had a lot more control over what got recorded and released.
One outstanding exception, however is the album "Songs Without Words".
This album bothers me more than any other.
In the early 60's I had gone through a period of forsaking
my first love of Rock music and I became a bit of a "Jazz Snob".
This was before "Jazz-Rock Fusion" became the fashion, of course.
By the time the Fusion movement came about in the late 60's and early 70's
I was happily back to playing Rock music. But these "new" fusion players were
mostly just jazz musicians looking to try something new and most of them were
pretty unknowledgable about Rock - a music many of them had been pretty quick
to disparage and look down upon!
These men badly needed a credible rock element in their music
- preferably a guitar - and preferably a guitarist with some jazz background.
So I seemed to fit their needs very well. Even though my interest at this
had moved from jazz back firmly to Rock, where it was to remain,
I found myself playing with every conceivable fusion outfit working around London
during the period 1969 to 72. Names like Mike Gibbs, Mike Westbrook, Nucleus
and Jack Bruce come to mind. I even remember a Melody Maker Jazz poll
when the readers voted me the number two (John McLoughlin was number one)
best Jazz guitarist! It was probably this surprising poll result
which led to me being asked to record a Jazz album under my own leadership.
They obviously figured that the poll result demonstrated that I had a big enough
following for such a record to sell quite well.
I was a little dubious since I knew my heart and soul was not into this fusion
stuff, but I hated to turn down the offer! Who knows, it might turn out great.
But I was wary enough to agree to try it only on the condition that it was to be
an experiment, and if I didn't feel happy with the result then the record would
never be put out. This condition was agreed to and I went ahead with the writing
and recording, hoping that something speacial and magical would happen
on the day of recording.
Despite my best efforts I thought the result uninspiring, I felt I sounded ill
at ease and unconvincing and there was nothing new being said.
The producer stood by our agreement and said he wouldn't put it out.
So imagine my feelings when I discovered it had been released a year
or two later in Japan! I don't know how or why this happened
and it was obviously too late for me to do anything about it.