“Back in the day”, many of us bought records- wonderfully packaged vinyl records like all the effort and creativity that went into Small Faces’ “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake”- not only because of the artists, but because of the producers involved, the arrangers, the session musicians, the photographers who made those album covers come alive, the uncredited cameo appearances or pseudonyms used so that musicians under contract to one record label could “play for free” on the record of one of their mates.


It’s why George Harrison often appeared on other artists records as “Hari Georgeson” and as “L’Angelo Mysterisio” on “Badge”, which he co-wrote for best friend Eric Clapton, and the future husband of his then-wife. What songs that weird ménage-a-trois gave us, everything from the torment and desperation of “Layla” to “Something” and the musical narrative of “Wonderful Tonight.” God bless Patti Boyd Harrison Clapton.

As for the music, Clapton returned the favour by being uncredited when playing on, amongst other tracks, the Beatles’ recordings of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Here Comes The Sun”. It was a musical mutual admiration society and no contracts were going to stop this happening.

It was news and bibs and bobs like this which probably made us bona fide music fans, and even Rock writers.

It was about appreciating and getting to understand the work of music producers like Phil Spector, George Martin, Gus Dudgeon, the brilliant Jimmy Miller, the underrated work on the early Stones records by manager-producer Andrew Loog Oldham, Tom Dowd, and those musicians getting behind recording consoles, and producing music for other artists- Peter Asher, Paul McCartney, Peter Townshend producing Thunderclap Newman’s wonderful “Something In The Air” etc.

 

There were then the session musicians, and not only those heavyweight names in the great Wrecking Crew or Stuff- Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborne, Cornell Dupree, Richard Tee and Steve Gadd.

There were also other musical magnets like Leland Sklaar, that incredible sound Russ Kunkel got out of his drums on those James Taylor recordings before going on to marry the former Mrs James Taylor- Carly Simon- for a short while, guitarist Danny Kortchmar, Craig Doerge, Tom Scott, Carol Kaye, Andrew Gold, Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, David Lindley, below, etc etc.

With their session work, they introduced us to artists who might have fallen through the cracks and disappeared into that giant abyss.

Where and how did we get to know and learn and become fans of these musicians?

It was a much simpler time and when there was so much focus on only the music- a time when Rolling Stone was truly a Rock bible with writers who hung out with musicians and wrote about their adventures while sharing their secrets with us- writers like Greil Marcus, Lenny Kaye, Lester Bangs, Ben Fong-Torres, Dave Marsh, and Cameron Crowe, whose early career became his “little” movie called “Almost Famous”.

Where has this need to embrace and assimilate and absorb all this information surrounding music gone?

To those to whom all this assimilation and sharing of music and imparting information, no matter how trivial, remains in our DNA.

What’s missing today is that groundswell that once existed- that inquisitiveness and interest in music that dug deeper than the obvious. Yes, there’s “sharing” today- almost too much sharing and too much information on social media- and which has pushed music to the back of the queue and onto all these various “delivery platforms” where the music is what music companies and streaming sites, working in cahoots, wish to offer music fans- and which is accepted without any questioning or exclusivity.

There appears to be a herd mentality, whereas from a creative point of view, working in isolation seems to have taken over.

For example, it shouldn’t be GarageBand. It should be GarageMe. A band was all about individuals getting together through a mutual love for music, sharing ideas and creating something new together- for better or worse.

Garageband might be a great app and tool to make music, but it’s also music made in a very insular DIY world where there’s rarely no give or take- no sharing of ideas, but working in isolation and hoping the end result resonates with others.

It’s lonely at the top and it’s bloody lonely in that DIY world where less and less is shared, and too much knowledge and all those back stories that once gave music an added “personality” and fascination has had the door shut on them.

Someone needs to reopen it and bring about a new way of looking at and sharing music and a new work ethos when it comes to creating music.

DIY has a time and place. It rarely works in music where there must always be a healthy exchange of ideas- an ebb and flow that leads to exciting new roads with no dead ends.

Hans Ebert
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc and Fast Track Global Ltd
www.fasttrack.hk

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