[Here is Kate's article for the seventh issue, Sept 1980]
Now, after all this waiting it is here. It's strange when I think back to the first album. I thought it would never feel as new or as special again. This one has proved me wrong. It's been the most exciting. Its name is Never For Ever, and I've called it this because I've tried to make it reflective of all that happens to you and me.
Life, love, hate, we, are all transient. All things pass, neither good or evil lasts. So we must tell our hearts that it is "never for ever," and be happy that it's like that!
The album cover has been beautifully created by Nick Price (you may remember that he designed the front of the Tour programme). On the cover of Never For Ever Nick takes us on an intricate journey of our emotions: inside gets outside, as we flood people and things with our desires and problems. These black and white thoughts, these bats and doves, freeze-framed in flight, swoop into the album and out of your hi-fis. Then it's for you to bring them to life.
The first stage of making Never For Ever happened last summer, when I actually decided to be brave enough to go ahead and "produce" with Jon Kelly, trusting him as a friend and an extremely talented engineer.
So, with that settled, we "produced" our first master tapes. We put down Blow Away, Egypt, Violin and The Wedding List at Air Studios, with the bright and bubbly Jon Jacobs as assistant. As you will see besides communication, "Jons" are also a theme of the album. Never a day passed without at least two or three Jons popping in to say hello, and as the album grew, so did the number of Jons, reaching a total of fifteen turning up on the last day, all in the same room. A fatal move to say, "John?"
Having been rehearsed with the band for two days, the tracks went down, and our first "productions", with the help of ideal musicians, were a success. All the tracks full of "Air" and "space", Jons and tea!
Early this year we moved into Studio number 2, Abbey Road--the land of beatles, tea, smiles and sticky buns--where we met another bright and bubbly John, John Barrett. John became an important part of the album and completed a threesome, like Teddy with Andy Pandy and Loopy Loo (Jon Kelly and myself).
I would always use a notepad with each page designated to a song, each song needing various instruments, effects, harmonies, etc., which I would list and tick off appropriately. This helps my memory, and keeps some kind of logical working order. Thanks to dear Andrew Powell, where I learnt the necessity for a "prod.'s pad"!
The basic process is to put down all the backing tracks first. Then all overdubs, including vocals, and then to mix. The responsibility as a producer was something I felt a great deal--you have to keep on top of everything, and sometimes it can be difficult. It's hard to push people you love; talking and drinking are easy to give in to. But the trouble, sometimes, was we were having too much fun.
We always work until the early hours in the studio. It's a very creative time, and with Roy Harper and Sky working at Abbey Road, too, we were rarely alone, and felt very at home. However, discipline did exist, so all was completed with care and tender hearts. I really deeply appreciated the understanding and respect from all the musicians, and after all I am only little, a female, and an unlikely producer! But as I squirmed and contorted my way through explanations of visuals and audials, they stood patient, calm and open, and not one uttered "You weirdo!", unless in jest.
Without everyone (and the Fairlight) it would never have been the same. You move me, thank you, you are inspiration.
There are ten tracks, and if there is a main theme, it's about human communication and its difficulties.
Babooshka is about futile situations: the way in which we often ruin things for ourselves.
Delius is a tribute to an extraordinary man both in body and spirit.
Blow Away is a comfort for the fear of dying, and for those of us who believe that music is perhaps an exception to the Never For Ever rule.
All We Ever Look For is about how we seek something, but in the wrong way, or at wrong times, so it is never found.
Egypt is an attempted audial animation of the romantic and realistic visions of a country.
Wedding List is about the powerful force of revenge, an unhealthy energy which in this song proves to be a "killer".
Violin is for all the mad fiddlers, from "Paganini" to "Old Nick" himself.
The Infant Kiss is about a governess. She is torn between the love of an adult man and a child, who are within the same body.
Army Dreamers is about a grieving mother who, through the death of her soldier boy, questions her motherhood.
Breathing is a warning and plea from a future spirit to try and save mankind and his planet from irretrievable destruction.
Each song has a very different personality, and so much of the production was allowing the songs to speak with their own voices--not for them to be used purely as objects to decorate with "buttons and bows".
Choosing sounds is so like trying to be psychic, seeing into the future, looking in the "crystal ball of arrangements," "scattering a little bit of stardust," to quote the immortal words of the Troggs.
Every time a musical vision comes true, it's like having my feet tickled. When it works, it helps me to feel a bit braver. Of course, it doesn't always work, but experiments and ideas in a studio are never wasted; they will always find a place sometime.
I never really felt like a producer, I just felt closer to my loves--felt good, free, although a little raw, and sometimes paranoia would pop up. But when working with emotion, which is what music is, really, it can be so unpredictable--the human element, that fire.
But all my friends, the Jons, and now you will make all the pieces of the Never For Ever jigsaw slot together, and It will be born and It will begin Breathing.
KaTe's Newsletter Writings Table of Contents
©1990 Andy Marvick