From Justin: The Winding Road

Posted on 09/01/2008

If you were driving around this past week on the winding roads that cross into Italy and a few metres later return to France and then back again, and you saw an old black Mercedes with a guy at the wheel singing (shouting sometimes even), at the top of his voice as he was driving happily along, it was most likely to be me, not going anywhere in particular, just trying to get my voice in shape ready for another tour. As I live in a flat the only place I can really sing loud is in my car.

This tour starts for me at the Albert Hall on the 19th as a guest artist on the Mario Frangoulis show. He is such a kind host to all the musicians and singers he works with, it’s always a pleasure.

Alberto and I recently re-mastered Octave, Long Distance Voyager and The Present for Universal. Three very different albums in the way they were recorded, mixed and originally mastered. I was pleasantly surprised at how good they each sound in their own way.

Octave is an emotional LP for me and I am always particularly moved by ‘One Step Into The Light’ and ‘Had To Fall in Love’.

‘One Step’ is a truly special song that Mike wrote some time before the final recording, and I was very proud to have played the finger picking acoustic part with Mike, who as you know is an excellent guitar player himself. I also like the close harmony I was able to add, along with Mike, to his beautiful lead vocal performance. If I’m not mistaken the original recording, along with my guitar, was recorded at Mike’s house in the UK and it was finally finished at his lovely studio in Los Angeles along with the rest of the album. It’s a recording that always gives me a shiver. Wonderful.

‘Had To Fall In Love’ was a kind of subversive recording by Ray and myself during ‘down time’ at the Record Plant in L.A. One night we found a small studio in the huge complex that wasn’t currently being used at all, and whenever Tony Clarke was wrestling with a piece of a track in the main studio Ray and I would sneak off, with a very willing and excited young assistant engineer, and do a bit more recording and have fun with ‘Had to Fall’. There is only the two of us on the music and rhythm track recording. We finally involved all the other guys in a big harmony backing vocal session just before the mix, and Graeme did some very tasty tom tom fills right as the mix was going down.

I love the re-mastered version that we have done. It’s how it should sound — after all this time. Thank you Joe Black at Universal.

It’s also quite evocative re-visiting a time that was not the happiest for the band. Octave was a difficult album to make, logistically and creatively, and to arrive at the mix with two members of the 6, Mike and Tony, moving away from the rest of us was hard. I love every single piece of music on it though. It means a lot to me.

Love Justin

Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.
~Oscar Wilde