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Seven Windows

Transatlantic

After the end of his Island Records’ deal Jess took stock.

“In 1981, we were living in Manhattan – on the upper East Side to be more precise.

‘With the Island deal over, and after having attended night school to learn about such things, I was fortunate enough to land a job working as a typographer and paste-up artist in a small agency.

‘By now, I had pretty much given up my career as a musician... but...

‘I did still have my 4Track Teac tape recorder, a Wurlitzer piano, my acoustic guitar and something called a WASP (it was a sort of synthesiser) and, after a hard day at work, I would partake of a jazz Woodbine and record a load of ambient doodlings.

‘I was back to listening to lots of Blues and Soul… and Jazz too… I very much liked the guitarist, Ralph Towner, Jan Garbarek and a lot of that ECM label material… quite ambient as we’d now know it. After a while, I gave a cassette of said doodlings to Steve Dwire (who'd been part of The Rivits).

‘He and his business partner Michael MacDonald – not the Doobie! but a recording engineer – liked the stuff and set about recording the toons late at night... in other words, the graveyard shift... in the studio where Michael worked.”

STEVE DWIRE “After The Rivits ended, Jess and I spent a bit of time together and became friends, we’d smoke a little weed and just, basically, hang out.

“I had just started some production work at this studio called Skyline which was on 37th and 5th, a great sounding room.”

“One of the engineers there was a guy named A.T. (for Arthur Thomas) Michael MacDonald. I complimented him on his sounds.

"Michael was –  and still is – one of the best engineers I’ve ever worked with.

“So we became friends too and I said, ‘I don’t know if you’re interested in doing any kind of spec work but, there’s this guy I just did a record with and all I can tell you is he’s one of the best singers I’ve ever heard in my life."

The WASP synthesiser

STEVE DWIRE “Jess had some of his musical doodlings… stuff he’d conjured up late at night; he had this WASP synth, which didn’t even have keys per-se... They were stenciled or painted on to the front of it. While it made some horrendous sounds, it did have a killer bass sound.”

MICHAEL MACDONALD  “This $99 Wasp synth of Jess' was really like a cheese-box but it had a phenomenal bass sound and that was where the very first piece of music began. Jess played a couple little parts… he had this little melody… a little motif…”

“And so we played around with that a little bit and it was nice, a really moody piece. Just about two minutes long, instrumental. So, that was fine... so we said, lets do some more next weekend.”

STEVE DWIRE  “One of the first songs that Jess played to me was Light Brown Colour. So, we put down a click-track; some basic chords and started to build a track based around Jess’ home demo.” 

MICHAEL MACDONALD “And then Jess said, 'I’m ready to do some singing now'. So I said, 'what do you wanna do first'. He said, 'I want to lay the background vocal parts down.’ So I took out my best vocal mic – which I still use today – a classic U-47 mic, LA2A Telectronics limiter and set it up to get this vocal thing.”

“Jess is sitting there with his cigarette and his ashtray and the lights are down and we play the track and… the first time he opens his mouth I about wet myself. ’It was like… no, he’s not good… this is ridiculous. I’m like… this is another whole level of good.”

 “I mean, this was just a background thing. So we double-tracked a couple of those to get the part. And then we said we’d lay down a scratch vocal.”

“And, so Jess started singing. And, it was really soulful, really powerful.”

“Steve and I said something like, 'that’s really great but… this isn’t really like the demo. It has a very different feel to it'.”

“It was right ‘cos it was an amazing performance but it wasn’t exactly right.”

“So we sat around for a bit and Jess rolled another cigarette while we were sitting there and we asked him, ‘how do you get that sound on your little cassette player?’ He said, 'well, I was singing really quietly, sitting down. I couldn’t let my voice out because I didn’t want to bother the neighbours'.”

“So, we said, 'there’s a quality in that.’”

“And that was what really caught Steve and I. So we said, ‘Can we try that? Sit down when you sing. We’ll turn all the lights down, and, lean in to the microphone and pretend like you are in your apartment'.”

“So, then Jess sang the track and, it felt like its someone singing right here. Very personal, when he sings that track its like he’s not singing for everybody but for you.”

“This is just another whole level of singer. I’m just in heaven here; I can’t believe the good fortune.”

JR during the UK  sessions at Shepperton
"... there’s this guy I just did a record with and all I can tell you is he’s one of the best singers I’ve ever heard in my life." Steve Dwire

MICHAEL MACDONALD – “I was a staff engineer at Skyline then; at that time one of the up and coming studios in New York City.”

“Steve I met because he brought in a couple of projects and he was looking for an engineer to do these demos – but it wasn’t Jess.”

“And I said, 'look, I don’t do demos, I make masters.' So, he could have dismissed me right away.”

“But, we did those two projects and, they were kinda nondescript… and, at the end of those, we spent time together and hung out… we had very similar sensibilities about the artists we liked and…”

“He said, 'look, there’s this singer I’ve worked with who is really, really amazing and, I think that maybe we should do… something. I dunno what... But I think that he’s really amazing...”

“And I’m saying, 'OK, that sounds interesting'.”

“But, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, I’ve worked with some amazing singers – at that time I was working with Pat Benatar and Maria Maldaur and people like that so… I knew what really good singing was… and, frankly, I didn’t think that whoever he had in mind was anywhere near that calibre.”

“Anyway, we went up to his apartment on the Upper East Side and I met Jess and he was quite disarming; very open and friendly but really quiet with this unassuming manner.”

“He didn’t tell me anything at all about his background like the heavy hitting that he had done; he was just this really modest guy.”

He played us a few little cassette demos and stuff that he was working on and a lot of it was instrumental music as well as a few pieces with vocals.

“Working in the studio, I could get a Saturday night meaning, some free time for us.”

 “So, I 'borrowed' a roll of two inch tape, put it up and Steve then came down and we started working on this instrumental right away and it was called Steppes.”

"When he sings that track its like he’s not singing for everybody but for you. This is just another whole level of singer." Michael MacDonald
JR, Kitty Markom, April Lang and Larry Marshall – background vocals for Flight at Skyline, NYC

STEVE DWIRE “And so just based on that, we started a production company to have a vehicle to work with on this.”

“Jess had a song called Sudden Street… which I was never sure where it came from… but, that was from where we came up with the name for the production company.”

(Sudden Street, of course, is a song off of Bronco's second album – Ace Of Sunlight).

STEVE DWIRE  “And, then we thought, maybe we can get a couple of musicians interested.”

“I was friends with an absolutely brilliant keyboard player named Jack Waldman who was in Robert Palmer’s band at the time so he was pretty busy but I called him and said ‘look, we’re working with this singer, we’ve sussed out a couple tracks but we don’t really know what we’re going to do with it, would you like to come down and… just play?’ 

“His response was ‘Sure, why not.’ Jack was really the first major player to jump on board and his contribution to the music was major. His acoustic piano track on “Light Brown Colour” still blows me away.”

“He also, I remember, had a PPG Wave 2 synth which was not very common and we spent a lot of time with him sitting in the control room tweaking sounds and laying it down.”

“He was the first guy to show me the trick of pulling tubes from a Leslie cabinet to get that growl out of a B-3. Jack always went the extra mile, I don’t think I ever met a musician who loved to play as much as he did. Whenever you saw them, the Robert Palmer band would be kicking ass and Jack would be at the center of it with a huge smile on his face.”

“He was just perfect for what we were trying to do.”

While Jack Waldman is probably best known for his work with Robert Palmer, that collaboration was only part of a much wider musical palette that he inhabited.

A native of New Jersey, he studied at Rutgers College and later at the famous Julliard School of Music in New York and, on graduating, he quickly became and in-demand studio player.

He also gained notoriety as a re-mixer of 12” singles; indeed his Ronald Reagan Rap (co-written with Elliot Sokolov) was one of the earliest records to feature sampled, public-domain, vocals.

His first collaboration with Robert Palmer was on the 1979 album Secrets and he also featured on Clues, Pride and Riptide as well as being a cornerstone in Robert’s live band of the time.

Other notable albums that Jack contributed to include artists such as Joe Jackson, Billy Idol, Jocelyn Brown, John Martyn, a-ha, Aretha Franklin, Madonna and Klaus Nomi.

Jack died in New York from HIV-related lymphoma only a couple of years after Seven Windows was completed. His first college, Metuchen High School, created the Jack Waldman Memorial Scholarship in his honour.

 

 

Seven Windows

Collaboration

"Jack was really the first major player to jump on board and his contribution to the music was major. His acoustic piano track on “Light Brown Colour” still blows me away.” - Steve Dwire
"Yeah, Lee Goodall, a monster player..."
Lee Goodall with Steve Dwire (below) at Skyline

MICHAEL MACDONALD – “Steve was fearless about picking up the ‘phone and calling anybody. But, I thought – 'shit, you can’t call Mark Egan…' but, Steve’s thing was 'look, he’s either gonna say yes or no'. And, we had no money. None at all. I was nicking tape, we were working these crazy hours.”

STEVE DWIRE — “This was all done on the graveyard shift, y’know – we’d come in a ten or so at night and work through ‘til four or five in the morning. Jess was game, we were all game.”

“It was a very freeing time, Jess was out of his Island deal and… that’s when I met Lee Goodall who was a friend of Jess’, an amazing musician, one of those guys who could play any instrument he picked up and all equally well.”

JR - “I brought Lee into the Seven Windows project, neither Steve or Michael had met him before. Such a lovely, mild-mannered bloke...

‘Lee’s originally from Southampton; and, he was a big pal of the Iguana boys and a fantastic musician as well. When I was at the tail-end of recording the Stonechaser album, Lee moved over to New York.

‘He did some things on The Rivits’ record...so… with the Seven Windows sessions kinda underway – although at that point, we didn’t really have a name for the project... In fact, I don’t think I imagined it as an album then – I figured Lee’d be absolutely perfect."

STEVE DWIRE — “Yeah, Lee Goodall, a monster player, very down to earth guy like Jess and quite a composer.  “Easy Way” is sort of a tour de force of Lee’s; plays guitar, percussion, sax, he’s a really soulful musician.”

LEE GOODALL - "Easy Way was a really enjoyable piece to put together and I loved working the bass clarinet stuff out with Mark Egan on that eight string fretless bass of his.. I played loads of strange percussion instruments on those tracks including a rather sexy sounding circular metal Coca-Cola sign.

We also hired in a giant Chinese drum that was about 6 foot across with some huge animal’s skin stretched right over it's huge wooden and carved body. Michael ended up putting a mic at the end of a long corridor to get the full impact of it's massive sound – tho’, actually, I can’t remember whether it ended up on Easy Way or Parachutes… or, maybe it got discarded. There was a whole heap of mad stuff like that that went on during those sessions.

"Rob Mounsey I met when I worked on the 7W sessions… there were some serious players involved in making that record y’know. Rob played a keyboard with blown voice controller – that was the very first time any of us had ever seen one! "

STEVE DWIRE — “Then, we’d be sitting around after listening to these rough mixes and saying, ‘boy – if money was no object, if you could fulfil any musical fantasy you wanted, who would you want to play on this track’.”

“So... someone said... ‘I wouldn’t mind having Elliott Randall come in...’”

MICHAEL MACDONALD – “I was a friend of Elliott’s through two recording engineer friends of mine, he lived two blocks away.”

“Knowing him and having worked with him prior to Seven Windows, I knew Elliott was capable of making time stand still. And, it was almost always that first take.”

“So, you couldn’t screw up.”

“Everything had to be set and ready, what amp we were going to use, how loud it was going to be – all of those things I had to sort-of second guess.”

“You see, if we’d started punching in the things, and thinking... hmmm, that’s not quite the right solo, it was just going to go down hill.”

STEVE DWIRE — “And, everyone that we contacted said the same thing. Everyone. ‘This singer is just beyond belief. I’ll do it, When do you need me?’”

“But, I guess the biggest coup of all was Paul Buckmaster.”

“I knew Paul was friends with this girl that I knew. I mean, it was pretty cheeky, he was really hot at the time, just coming off of all the Elton John stuff but he was and still is my favourite arranger.”

“So I called him.”

“I found out Paul was in New York working with Miles and tracked him down.”

“I said, ‘Look, you don’t know me from a hole in the wall but, I’m doing this thing and there is this one track that I can definitely hear your string arrangement on it. But, I’ve gotta tell you, we have no money’.”

“So Paul said, ‘Let me hear your track’.”

“So I sent over a cassette.”

“And, he rang me back and said ‘I’m in. But...”

“...the only thing you have to do is put me up for as long as you need me because I’ve got no more hotel room in the City’.”

“I was living with my girlfriend of the time down on 22nd and we put Paul up on my couch.”

“Later, it turns out the Paul had actually previously done a chart for a Japanese artist – Stomu Yamash’ta – that Jess sang on though they never met until Seven Windows.”

 “Anyhow, the idea of having a full string section was completely out of our budget but the fellow who owned the studio where we cut The Rivits record was the first person in New York to have a Fairlight.”

“And he said, ‘you can get a pretty decent orchestration-string-sound out of it’ but Paul said, ‘I’m kinda wary of any of that but, let me hear what it sounds like.”

So, someone said, ‘I wouldn’t mind having Elliott Randall come in.’

 

Jack Waldman

Elliot Randall

Probably (and justifiably) most well-known as being lauded by Jimmy Page for his guitar solo on Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years only serves to underpin Elliott Randall’s legendary status among fellow musicians and the public alike.

His career goes much further back than that though. He was a class-mate of both Laura Nyro as well as composer / arranger Michael Kamen in New York before gigging with Ritchie Havens aged just sixteen.

From his band performing the music to Jesus Christ Superstar he moved to California and hooked up with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (with whom he’d recorded demos some years earlier) together with Jeff Baxter and recorded the first Steely Dan masterpiece, Can’t Buy A Thrill.

Preferring work as a session player, he has contributed to records (among countless dozens of others) by The Doobie Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Art Garfunkel, Carly Simon, Peter Frampton, Roberta Flack, Ice-T, Yoko Ono, Ashford & Simpson, Village People, John Lennon, Joan Baez, Kirsty MacColl, London Symphony Orchestra, The Beach Boys‘ Carl Wilson, Judy Collins, Jimmy Webb, Rod Stewart, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, and, of course, Steely Dan’s Katy Lied and The Royal Scam — as well as being a music consultant to both Saturday Night Live and the film director Oliver Stone. 

Nowadays based in London, Elliott has composed, played and produced a wealth of jingles for TV, radio as well as cinema including Coca-Cola, Nabisco, Procter & Gamble, MTV, ESPN, CBS, Miller Beer, Budweiser, Cadillac, Ford, McDonalds, CitiBank, General Mills, ABC and BBC-TV.

Besides his time spent as a consultant to the likes of Akai, Roland, Korg and Yamaha covering areas such as instrument and amplifier development, recording & sampling technology, software design as well as education Elliott is also much in demand as a session player (of course) and is currently close to completing a new album.

Paul Buckmaster

... is, of course, one of those names to be found (and often passed over) on the back of album sleeves – most usually under: string arrangements by... But, that simple credit belies his extraordinary capabilities.

He, for example, arranged David Bowie’s Space Oddity besides playing in a number of unsung yet hugely influential groups – the Third Ear Band, Nucleus and Suntreader. He met, studied under and recorded with Miles Davis and began working with Elton John at the start of the ‘70’s – a working relationship that continues forty years later.

In the meantime, he has also arranged music on albums by (for example) The Rolling Stones; the Grateful Dead; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Mott the Hoople; Harry Nilsson; Carly Simon; Shawn Phillips; Stevie Nicks; Carole Bayer Sager; The Darkness; Jamie Cullen; 10,000 Maniacs; Tears For Fears and many, many more. Along the way he’s also collected multiple Grammy Awards.

STEVE DWIRE – The idea of having a full string section was completely out of our budget but the fellow who owned the studio where we cut The Rivits record was the first person in New York to have a Fairlight.”
MICHAEL MACDONALD – “It was one of the very first and, in fact, was the largest Fairlight rig in NYC at the time; it was programed by Ned Liben, who was the owner of Sun Dragon Studios, where not only The Rivits’ album was made but also where Talking Heads recorded.”
STEVE DWIRE – “So we brought Jack in to play it; Paul had written the charts, and off we went and I just knew it was going to be a no-go with Paul if he couldn’t stand the string sound.
"So Paul said, ‘let me hear the ‘cellos’ because Paul is a classically trained ‘cellist. And, the first comment out of his mouth was... ‘This sounds like cheap Chinese ‘cellos’.” "So, rather anxiously, I asked him if he could make it work. And he replied, saying ‘well, let me hear the other sounds’. He was silent for a bit but eventually he said, ‘you know what, we can get away with this, with enough of the right reverb on… it’ll work’.”
“The track that we were working on the night that Paul came down to the studio was called New York City which actually, never made it to the final record. That was also the first night that I’d met him and could’ve been the last ‘cos he was leaning down and listening intently and, when the first chorus kicked in, jumped up in excitement and slammed his back into the edge of one of the recording consoles and almost passed out from the pain”
MICHAEL MACDONALD – “The shortest session of all that we had with all these great guys was Lou Marini. He played the tenor sax on Light Brown Colour.” “We’d been struggling, we could simply not find a soloist to play that solo, we tried guitar, all sorts of sax players, we had really famous people and… it was, like, its good but… its not right.” “It’s a pretty remarkable track, I think... You see the solo isn’t the peak of that song, there is the chorus, the last string swell and there is a huge crescendo where it comes over you; its like you’re standing on a rock and there is this wave that comes and soaks you.”
“And, that’s very deliberate, that’s not an accident.”
“We needed a solo that would carry us to that point and not peak too early and Lee Goodall played the Alto parts but… the tenor solo didn’t take us where we wanted to go...”
“Lou Marini we didn’t really know but he was the hot Tenor guy in town.”
“So, we called him up.”
MICHAEL MACDONALD – “I got a really phenomenal head-phone mix done, nicely balanced and Lou walked in, took his horn out, warmed up for literally just a few moments, and said, ‘OK guys, play the track down once’.” “We played it, and said ‘here’s your solo section here’. And he said, ‘OK, wind it back’.”
“I put the U-47 mic in front of him and… he played the solo. Then he said, ‘you want another one?’ We said, ‘No’.” So, he said, ‘well, thank you very much, that was a lot of fun guys’. And… off he went out into the night with his $100. He was in and out the door in twenty minutes.”

Seven Windows

UK Bound

 

JR with  arranger Rob Mounsey
Steve Dwire, Lee Goodall, Michael MacDonald and assistant engineer David Young at Skyline
Lou Marini
‘Lou was in and out the door in like twenty minutes.’

Lou Marini

Born the 13th day of May 1945 in Charleston, South Carolina but raised in Ohio, Lou Marini is one of the top session horn players in the world – equally adept on soprano, alto, tenor or baritone Saxophone; Piccolo; alto or bass Flute and Clarinet as well.

He is equally well known as a key component of Blood, Sweat and Tears as The Woody Herman Orchestra. His contributions to recordings and/or tours by The Band, Dr John, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin,Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Lou Reed, Aerosmith, Maureen McGovern, Billy Joel, B.B. King, Luther Vandross, Smokey Robinson, Jose Carreras and Lou Rawls are justifiably celebrated.

Add in The Supremes, Dr. John, the Four Tops, Sting, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, James Taylor’s Band Of Legends and The John Tropea Band. Oh and The Buddy Rich Band too – the list of luminaries for whom Lou Marini is first-call is almost endless.

Its not for nothing that the New York Times said, “(he’s) the focal point of the group… (who) gives the band most of its colours and shadings, and provides it with a strongly melodic lead voice.

“But then Jess rang up one day and said, ‘Look... I’m sorry lads but I’m going to be moving back to the UK’.”
JR, Steve Dwire and Gary Grainger
…so Steve says, ‘fuck… now what do we do..? We’ve lost our singer.’

 

 

Gary Amos

Instructor; clinician and published author in Modern Drummer magazine, Gary T. Amos is an alumni of Berklee College of Music who studied with the likes of Gary Chaffee, Gary Burton and Kim Plainfield among others.

From founding his own band EarthStar (who opened for the likes of Hall & Oates and Bruce Springsteen) he joined Labelle for their mid/late seventies North American Lady Marmalade tour as well as working in the ‘pit orchestra’ for Stevie Wonder and Natalie Cole.

Gary was variously a staff musician for Chappell / Intersong and Polygram as well as Lieber Krebbs Management in New York working on projects such as Joan Jett, Aerosmith, Citizens Band as well as Broadway Shows Beatlemania, The Pirates of Penzance and pre-production of an adaptation of the Tale of Two Cities. He joined Ian MacDonald’s Hat Trick Productions (formerly of King Crimson and Foreigner) and also performed in the pit orchestra for the Broadway adaptation of The Who’s Tommy.

MICHAEL MACDONALD – “Just when things were going great – we had a body of work, maybe five tracks… thinking… hmm… this should be coming out as an album because, originally, we thought we’d just have a bit of fun and cut a couple of songs...”

“But then Jess rang up one day and said, ‘Look... I’m sorry lads but I’m going to be moving back to the UK’.”

“We were in a lovely neighbourhood; on those lovely Summer days, everyone would be out on the stoop, drinking beer – six-packs of Budweiser and stuff…

‘And we’d made the decision that we’d go back to the UK and the time came when it was ideal but, poor old Steve and Michael… were kinda left with a lot of unfinished stuff; their singer had upped sticks as it were. 

‘And, to their credit, they did decide to finish it all.”

MICHAEL MACDONALD –“It didn’t feel – to me – that it was anything he really wanted to do but… its what happened… So Steve says, ‘fuck… now what do we do… we’ve lost our singer’.”

“The second half of the record was done whereby we’d listen to Jess’ original demos and then we’d lay all the stuff down – he was trusting us with his ‘doodlings’, to flesh them out and interpret them and, a few times, we departed from them quite radically.”

“In a sense, they were our inspiration – a bit like… we’d hear a little part and think. Now, what if we put that on a Marimba... stuff like that.”

STEVE DWIRE – “Meanwhile, we had some pretty serious people calling us up, saying ‘I heard from so and so about this project you guys have got going… Are you looking for any… xylophone players… mad stuff like that… very spontaneous… Y’know, it was all about the project and respect for Jess as an artist.”

MICHAEL MACDONALD –“But, we’d lost our singer so Steve said, ‘look – we have to go to the UK, we’ll spend a couple of weeks and we’ll cut all the vocals’. Which is exactly what we did.”

“We used Shepperton Studios primarily. Jess had worked out a deal – he knew someone there.”

“The next segment, as it were, of the project was recorded in the UK and we used a studio that, at one point, belonged to John Foxx of Ultravox!. And, for some of the other material we went out to Shepperton – those were mainly vocal sessions.”

‘In fact, one track was done completely arse about face – Shakey.

‘Steve and Mike had a cassette of Shakey… one of my demos… So, when they came over to Shepperton, we recorded my vocals and all of my overdubs to that cassette. They then took it back to New York. But, what they did was, they recorded my vocals on a sixteen track and the cassette was on one track, then they laid a track on to it and built it up from there.”

 “Actually, we went to England twice. The first time we went, we got a tour of Air Studios, we had four tracks with us… I think it was Paul Buckmaster who took us there. And they, very graciously said, ‘have you anything you want to check our monitors on’.” 

“So we said, ‘can we play this..?’ And so... they aligned the machine... took our test tones… and they put it up in this studio across the ocean. Now... remember, these people had never heard it before.”

“And... it just sounded fucking phenomenal, just blew everybody away… they looked at us like we weren’t kids anymore – they knew this is some serious recording going on… So, then they treated us very differently.”

“But, in amongst everything, we did make a few... errors. And, you can hear this on Light Brown Colour if you listen really carefully… that was Gary Amos playing drums on that track.” 

MICHAEL MACDONALD - “Steve and Gary had worked together a lot, he was this big hulking guy, like a metronome, big powerful drums, really solid and a really creative guy and, during the solo, there is a point where Gary is keeping the cymbals together and, during the early rough mixes the beat kinda falters and the cymbals have this sort of hiccup in them but, he catches it and comes back out.” “And you know what – that plagued us for about a year; to us it dropped the feel, dropped the magic.”
“So, a year later, Steve and I went in and I said, ‘we’re going to punch in the drums for the solo section and come back out when it comes back to the chorus’.” “Now, we didn’t have any other open tracks so this means we’re gonna punch in and match the sounds and match the feeling… a year later. And fix that part.” “So, we told Gary what we had in mind and he said, ‘yeah, I know what I need to do.’ And, it worked.”
“But… punching back out… I blew the punch.”
“So, now the first beat of the chorus is totally… and completely... fucked.”
“What we’re doing is pretty insane, nobody would do this…" ...and, I can’t believe I’ve blown the punch. But, we had our backs against the wall. So I said, ‘guys, leave me alone, I’ve gotta think about how I’m gonna fix this’.”
“So, I took the two-inch tape and, the chorus is four beats… And, I cut the two inch tape with a razor-blade, spliced in a big piece of leader tape – blank, nothing, tape… The idea being to play the first measure and then I’m going to punch out on the leader tape and then stick the two pieces of tape back together again. Which – in theory – would make a clean punch out.”
“It was really delicate and this is nuts, really nuts. And… in effect, real studio key-hole surgery… but, essentially, it’s a great track that I’ve just destroyed.”
“So… I put the pieces of tape back together and it all works fine.” “But, if you listen, you’ll hear the drum sound change very very slightly at the top of the solo – the first measure of the next chorus but, when it goes to the next measure… fifth beat… you’ll hear the cymbal sound change and that’s the splice back point. It was insane to do it anyway but, somehow we managed to pull it off.”
﷯STEVE DWIRE – “You have to remember too, this was all was all pre-ProTools. “We had none of the gadgets we’re all used to nowadays that, used properly, can make my doorman sound like Sinatra.”
“And the record itself, there are some things that are absolutely brilliant – Light Brown Colour, Parachutes – and there is some other stuff that we didn’t really have to time to really properly mix because… once again, we had no money.”
“We were just happy to get a release and they said, ‘get the masters to us in a certain amount of time’ so, there is some stuff on there that I’m incredibly proud of and there’s a few bits that makes me sort of wince because they’re – technically – still rough mixes.” “But, that was down to time in the studio, money, and... just… life…”
“Plus, of course, Jess had moved back to England by then… and, unhappily, we just didn’t have the funds to properly finish it.” MICHAEL MACDONALD - “As a matter of fact, there is not a single mix on the entire album that both Steve and I totally and one-hundred-percent completely signed off on, every single mix has a tiny problem…”
“One of the worst problems for us was – no one knows this… the instrumental Easy Way, at the beginning there is a straight ahead drum machine… and, that was just in there to keep time so we could lay proper drums on top – but, basically, it’s a click track.” “So, you have this beautiful floating intro but with this rigid drum machine under it; and that was never ever supposed to be there.”
“The only way to do it justice wasn’t by spending a few hours of downtime on it, we really needed a week in a world-class studio to pull it off. We knew the potential was there.”
STEVE DWIRE – “And, you know, we weren’t making it under the microscope of a label, with people breathing down our necks the entire time.”
“That helped make it such a great experience.” “It became a labour of love quite frankly.”
The sleeve..? Ohhh, that was a friend of Michael’s. She was living on the West Side at the time, a stunningly beautiful Danish girl, and we gave her the tapes and she drew up the album cover for us.” “Again, it was another of those things. She said, ‘I love this music… its so evocative, makes me so dreamy… so sensual and all of this other stuff…’ So, she asked us if she could submit some ideas for a cover.”
“And, the name Seven Windows..? I think it was the name of a song that Jess had been working on. One that never came to fruition.”
MICHAEL MACDONALD - “No, the original name wasn’t going to be Seven Windows.” “The project was originally called The Elements.” “Reflecting, y’know, Earth, Fire, Air, Wind, Carbon, Oxygen and those kind of things and Mark Egan, who became one of the early players – he played fretless bass – was working on a solo project which was called The Elements so we thought, crap, we’ve got to change the name.” “But, actually, I don’t know where the name Seven Windows came from, maybe Steve’s right, maybe it was from one of Jess’ lyrics..?”
﷯STEVE DWIRE – “The marketing moniker that they came out with at that time was ‘New Age Music’ which I’ve always hated as I thought it was just really bland; implying dentist’s office music.”
“Seven Windows predated the ambient, chill-out music that became to be so much in vogue.”
“We had no name for what we were doing, we were just trying to make an album that was basically all about feeling.”
JR - “To be honest, I never really envisaged it as an album – but, they most certainly did. "In my mind, it could have developed in any way at all… Mike and Steve used to send me bits and pieces that they’d done and... I was awestruck.
"And, to their eternal credit, they did decide to finish it all."

Seven Windows

Eternal credit

 

Steve Dwire
Jess Roden

Seven Windows

 

1. Light Brown Colour (Jess Roden); 

JR - Vocals

Gary T Amos - Drums

Mark Egan - Bass

Jack Waldman - Piano & Synthesisers

Sid McGinnis - Guitar

Steve Burgh - Acoustic Guitar

Lee Goodall - Alto Sax

Lou Marini - Tenor Sax (solo)

Paul Buckmaster - String Arrangements

 

2. Danse Ralenti (Jess Roden);

JR - Vocals

Rob Mounsey - Synthesisers

Gary T Amos - Drums

Lee Goodall - Percussion

Larry Marshall, Kitty Markham, April Lang - Vocals

 

3. Parachutes (Jess Roden);

JR - Vocals

Jack Waldman - Piano & Synthesisers

Rob Mounsey - Synthesisers

Robbie Kondor - Synthesisers

Michael Dawe - Drums & Percussion

Jon Gordon - Guitar

Steve Burgh - Acoustic Guitar

Hugh Macdonald - Bass

 

4. Easy Way (Lee Goodall/Jess Roden);

JR - Synthesisers

Lee Goodall - Soprano Sax, Bass Clarinet, Guitar

Jack Waldman - Synthesisers

Steve Dwire - Bass

Mark Egan - Fretless Bass

Marcello Salazar - Percussion

 

5. 12 O´Clock Mambo (Jess Roden);

JR - Vocals & Synthesisers

Jack Waldman - Synthesisers

Mark Egan - Bass

Dan Doll - Guitar

Lee Goodall - Percussion

 

6. Shakey´s Got The Blues (Jess Roden);

JR - Vocals

Cliff Carter - Synthesisers

Michael Dawe - Drums

Marc Johnson - Acoustic Bass

Elliott Randall - Guitar

Steve Burgh - Acoustic Guitar & Percussion

Arno Hecht - Alto Sax

Michael Camacho,  Bernard Fowler,  Sabrina Gillison, Chereyl & Larry Marshall - Backing Vocals

 

7. Flight (Jess Roden/Gary Grainger);

JR - Vocals

Jack Waldman - Synthesisers

Steve Dwire - Synthesisers

Frank Vilardi - Drums

Jon Gordon - Guitar

April Lang, Kitty Markham, Larry Marshall - Backing Vocals

 

8. Pizzarro (Jess Rode /A.T. Michael MacDonald)

JR - Synthesisers

Jack Waldman - Synthesisers & Piano

Dan Doll - Guitar

 

Produced by: Steve Dwire & A.T. Michael MacDonald

Engineered by: A.T. Michael MacDonald

Assistant Engineers: David Young, Scott Ansell, Mario Rodriguez & Nastasha Turner

Recorded and Mixed at: Skyline Studios, New York

Additional recording at: Rock City Studios, Shepperton & The Garden Studio, London (UK), Classic Sound Studio, New York

Label: Friends Records (a subsidiary of EMI) - Benelux release only

Original Artwork / Sleeve Design - Eli Frantzen

Released: 1986

COPYRIGHT © NEIL STOREY 2010-2013