[Here is Kate's article for the tenth issue (summer 1981).]
I've been lucky enough to be tucked away in the studio through all the riots, and only catching the muggy weather in between sounds. I hope everything has been good for you during this summerless time. We all know that "things they are a-changing."
Piecing the album together is becoming like a big musical jigsaw, and we're only halfway through. One particular phase at Abbey Road became bizarre, as recording plus video met at the same point in time, and at the same place. We'd been working on two tracks in the studio, just taking the odd day and evening out for rehearsals; and with getting in early for meetings, it was a very busy time for everybody. [One of these tracks is Sat In Your Lap, for which the video was taped at Abbey Road. The first single for the new album, it had not yet been released when Kate wrote this part of her article, although it had come out by the time the Newsletter reached fans. The other track Kate refers to is Night of the Swallow (see below).] Some days became very unreal, as, while going for a cup of tea you would swear you heard the sound of tinkling bells as the tip of the brightly coloured jester's hat disappeared around the corner. And once when I ran out into the corridor, what should whizz by but a dunce on roller-skates chased by four bulls who were being followed by a flying book and an unbelieving door attendant.
The video was filmed over two days, one part at a video studio, the other at the audio studios. The former provided the quick, easy technical sides to be performed, the latter provided the space and presence. The large parquet floor was to be a feature, and Abbey Road's past, full of dancing and singing spirits, was to be conjured up in the present day by tapping feet to the sound of jungle drums--only to be turned into past again through the wonder of video-tape. The shots were sorted into a logical order: all long shots were audio studio, all others were video studio. A storyboard was drawn up and was very closely worked to, being hung on the wall on days of shootings. The editing was a long, difficult job, as it was comprised of many sections which had to be edited together (just like the big musical one). The editor worked all day and into the next morning with great skill and patience, and only when someone told us did we find out it had been his birthday and he'd worked it all away.
One of the exciting things about making the video was the "accessories" we used, such as the lovely costumes and props. The jerk-jacket which we used in Army Dreamers was used again for a short sequence, and although there's a silver wire, it feels like flying. Out of the harness and into the light of a timeless tunnel, as a little magician's box springs to life and the room is filled with laser and skaters.
Meanwhile the album was still in progress: we were working on backing tracks. We used all three studios for one of them [ [ Night of the Swallow ]. It started with feeding the drums down into the largest studio through speakers, and with microphones positioned near to them they were brought back to the control room of the studio we were working in, sounding very ambient. Then we found the piano and initial drum sounds too dead, so we moved the drum kit and musicians to another studio downstairs, where we preferred the sounds, and we set up. After getting all the leads from upstairs connected to downstairs, there was one very tired and worn-out engineer dedicatedly smiling through sleepy eyes, closely tailed by an equally smiley and sleepy-eyed assistant. After all our hard work, the backing track sounded great, and as the song is all about a swallow flying over the water, it seemed only right to fly over to Ireland in a big, shiny bird, into the arms of Planxty's magic. There for a day, due back too soon, and the big bird wouldn't wait, so we worked all night. The pipes and whistles swooped and dived, fiddles stole our souls away, and bouzoukis got us up onto our feet and made us bolt the doors lest our souls flew away forever; and by seven the next morning the track felt very proud of itself and there were tears in our eyes as we heard it all back, and then were rushed back to London on the metal-winged thing.
I went straight to the studio, and as I drooped over a hot cup of canteen tea, my ears were full of pipes and what was yet to come--a sea of overdubs, guitars, voices, instruments being whirled around and around, becoming an aeroplane. And there was I, still back there, looking down at the Typhoo in my china cup.
I hope I've managed to convey some of the wonderful things that have happened, and I hope you catch the sun when it next pops out.
Lots of love,
P.S.: Thank you for the wonderful assortment of cards and presents that you've all sent for my birthday, and I really do appreciate the fact that you think of me. Sorry that I haven't been able to thank you personally, as I'm really busy.
KaTe's Newsletter Writings Table of Contents
©1990 Andy Marvick