The “Candlelight Ecstasy Romance” five song EP was recorded in November 1992, everything you hear was written, performed and recorded by me. Oh, and if you’re interested, the title “Candlelight Ecstasy Romance” was taken from a series of Mills and Boon style romance novels. All five songs were written about the same person who I was a bit infatuated with at the time.
If you are reading this then I’ll presume you have read my blog post on Biff Bang Pow so this may be repeating myself a little but this song was highly influenced by the early Creation Records sound. This song is what would happen if you threw “Up the hill and down the slope” (The Loft), “There must be a better life” (Biff Bang Pow) and “Million tears” (The Pastels) into a blender. There’s simple chord changes, lots of guitars jangling and me moaning that nobody loves me. Get used to that, you’ll hear a lot of it. This was the first song I recorded on my portastudio which I bought in November ’92 and it shows. Why does it start in mono then move to stereo? Why does it go on a bit? Because I didn’t know how to end it. All the guitars were plugged straight into the portastudio so it all sounds very direct, I didn’t have any reverb or delay effects so it’s very dry. As for instruments, let’s get this out of the way… There was a black Fender Strat copy, a chorus pedal, an overdrive pedal, the Roland Sh3a synth (which is used for bass throughout the EP) and a Casio SK5 which had four sample pads which I sampled drum hitss into (the usual samples for bass drum and snare were the intro to “Thieves like us” or sometimes the opening snare of “Silk skin paws”). I’d usually record one guitar track to a click from the SK5 then manually drum over it, which is why the drum tracks are.a little haphazard throughout. Indeed I think this is the only song on the EP with a drum track.
I would go on to rerecord this song – with an additional middle eight – in the Spring of 1994, and it was that rerecording that would be the basis of the version performed by The Cloud Minders at every rehearsal and gig we played between 1995 and 2001. “It starts out Wedding Present, it ends Sonic Youth” is how I would usually introduce it. It got faster and louder as we went on. Another time…
On the other hand, this song would never go anywhere at any time. God this song is so embarrassing. But for the sack of completeness I have to include this song. But…oh it’s horrible. HORRIBLE. The tune isn’t much to write home about, the arrangement is a bit bland, and those lyrics. Oh no those lyrics. Anyway, there it is. Eurgh.
Now here’s a song with a history. Back in 1990 a friend of mine wrote a play called “Harry American”. I ended up typing it up and printing it out for him, and as we had collaborated on songs from time to time he asked me to write a theme song for it. As one of the main characters in the play was named Kay, I came up with an instrumental called “Kay’s theme” which became the basis of “Mercury”. The song itself has been recorded at least three times – in 91, 92 and 94 – and still not to my satisfaction, I never really liked the lyrics or the way the arrangement turned out. This is probably the best version of the three, and it’s alright. All the lyrics for this EP were about the same thing, the same person and this is slighty less embarrassing than “I’ll be your pavement” and there’s a few good lines along the way. But there’s an atmosphere to this song – I don’t know if anyone else can pick it up but for me this song is dark nights and long bus journeys and drunken nights going over with friends what I should do and these feelings have seeped into the songs. For me anyway. There’s a bit too much chorus on the guitars and that clicking bit at the end is annoying but I could nitpick all day – and probably will. It’s OK you know.
This is more like it. This one was influenced by “I see the sun” by Biff Bang Pow. That song had a twelve string guitar, huge lead guitar and murmured vocals. My version…well I didn’t have a twelve string so just had my electric, then a load of words which I think are quite eloquent in their confusion, and two duelling lead guitars at the end. And amazingly enough considering how incompetent I am at lead guitar, they’re quite good – not too many duff notes. In fact I can only spot two cock ups which isn’t bad by my standards.
Another bit of recycling. The music was originally in 6 / 8 time and had a lyric with seven verses called “Say goodbye to Michelle” which was recorded for the “Common sense dancing” mini LP in the summer of 1990. It was one of only two songs I ever wrote in a non-standard tuning – Open E if I remember correctly. Quite why I thought “So this is where it ends” about the subject is beyond me, it wouldn’t ‘end’ for another eighteen months or so, and the subject would get a few more songs along the way. This is a funny recording, there’s no synth at all, just a lot of guitars and me slapping my wrists together as a percussion sound. Indeed I have distinct memories of recording this in the smallest bedroom in Penarth. And I absolutely adore the guitar solos, it sounds so orthodox and unlike me. Very funny. And so ends the first EP I recorded with a portastudio.
There are more recordings available from ’93 and ’94 if anyone is interested. If so please tell me otherwise I won’t bother. Thanks for reading and listening.