Carl Carlton, the guitarist on this rambunctious rocker, asked me out of the blue if I was interested in contributing to a Robert Johnson tribute album. Despite, or rather because of my lack of experience in the genre, I took the challenge and loved re-illuminating the subtle sophistications of what I can only loosely term "The Blues". So when Faye Dunaway asked me to provide the soundtrack for her movie Yellow Bird which is set in the 40's/50's in Mississippi and New Orleans, I took my reasearches as an omen and decided to go the whole hog.
First step was the material. I started with over 50 songs which I edited down to a dozen (mostly on the basis of lyric content), then recorded them in my studio, one at a time, with Pino Pischetola at the helm, my son Jim putting down the basic grooves and percussion (in swing and straight time) and Carl finding the pocket then overdubbing his syncopations with an arsenal of guitars, amps and rhythmic information. I played the bass or tuba as we went along (Pino wrote the bass for I Need Your Love So Bad + Dr. Gabs plays bass on Stella).
Then, it was off to Milano tu put down Mauro Spina's 80-year-old drum kit (the ape on the CD is the small brass plaque on the top of the bass drum) which he'd found in a junk shop in perfect condition and which we recorded (like everything else) on one microphone - my trusty Neumann M-49.
A year after I'd met the remarkable Dr. Gabs (the heir apparent to Pete Smith and Albert Ammons if you ask me) in a piano bar in Switzerland, I called him and asked him to come and help me finish the project. He's from the Belgian Congo and asked me what kind of music it was. I said "Boogie". He said "OK". Wow! Can he play! Two brains at once! Well, that was so successful we cut five more with me on guitar and called around town for a harmonica player.
Franco Limido shows up with a briefcase containing 24 harmonicas (leaving nothing to chance, Blues harps only play in their own relative key), a custom-made microphone and a tatoo of a harp on his forearm. He knew all the originals that I wanted him to play on (I didn't!). It was a serendipitous session, re-enforcing the whole concept. We slammed down the vocals in no time, then took the whole shebang back to my living room to do backing vocals and mix.
The results inspired some more ideas so I took advantage of meeting Jim + Carl in London to cut 4 more with Ben Georgiades engineering. He must have thought we were nuts when Jim put down the rhythm information for Dr. Zhivago's Train (5/6/5/9)! These were finished the same way with the same crew in Milano, with total recall at our disposal. We ended up mastering digitally from the desk. Now came the onerous but dramatically exciting task of editing a presentation. I needn't have worried - like everything else with this disc, it made itself.
It's the first record I've made which I play for my own pleasure and don't think to myself "Oh no... If only I'd done this or that..." It's finished.