Ghost Dance Discography : Recording Diaries
Released on Chrysalis September/October 1989
Catalogue no. CHR 1706
- When I Call (Live)
- This Way Up
- Nothing Without You
A monstrous mistake is the best way to introduce the band’s final single release and I have to take the bulk of the blame within the band for it ever being recorded. To his credit, John fought the decision to work on it to the end and even refused to play on the recording.
The story is fairly simple:
We had nearly cracked the top 40 with Down To The Wire - we got good airplay and everything was rolling along nicely. We had commenced work on the rest of the album with John Brand producing. Given that none of us had actually seen the potential in DTTW we saw no reason to doubt that the pick of the album tracks would build on its success and we would be laughing all the way to Top Of The Pops.
We played a London gig to help promote the single and keep our hand in. Half of Chrysalis were herded down to see the band they were suddenly being told to get excited about. When you first sign to a major label you may be dealing with two or three people almost exclusively, but when you have product out or in the pipeline a whole team of marketing, press, radio promotions, sales people and the like kick into gear. They came down and witnessed the usual shenanigans that broke out when we played some of the older material. Celebrate went down a storm with the spook squad’s outstretched arms greeting every chorus – the people at Chrysalis, to a man, demanded to know why we weren’t recording it for the album, and indeed why it wasn’t the obvious choice for the next single. We thought the answer was self evident : we had already released it over two years prior to the gig in question and if they looked really closely they could see it featured as part of the live medley included as a bonus track on our first single for their label. None of this mattered to them (‘so what if 12,000 people have another version of the song?’) and a battle ensued which seemed to soak up our time and energies every day from then on. The problem beyond the label’s intransigence was that the band and new manager Sparky (Simon Parker) couldn’t agree amongst ourselves what the alternative should be. I think for each member of the band there was a different suggestion. The initial recording of Walk In My Shadow hadn’t gone particularly well so it still wasn’t an obvious contender – I wanted The Love I Need and would have been prepared to settle for Stop The World which someone else had proposed but the company hated the vocals on the former (they were still listening to the Dodson version from the Olympic sessions) and wouldn’t sanction the latter because they felt they had worked so hard on promoting us as a straight-forward rock band on DTTW that to suddenly present a light textured love song with acoustic guitar, piano and keyboard strings would be marketing suicide. This argument rumbled on, with me being caught in the middle as Chrysalis tried to engineer John’s removal from the band and push through recording Celebrate. The latest (and almost the last) in our long line of compromises saw me agree to at least record the song. The understanding being that we wouldn’t deem to release it unless all the band agreed. As a further part of the deal, I got them to agree to let me re-do Anne Marie’s vocals to The Love I Need in another studio while Brand and the boys started work on Falling Again. My feeling was that I could get a better performance out of her – we’d then remix the track with Spike Stent (who had mixed DTTW and several Mission hits among other stuff) and it would obviously wipe the floor with our crappy remake of Celebrate. Partly because John refused to play on the version, I asked John Brand if he’d consider making a pop flavoured version of the track as a sort of experiment. We listened to some hit female artists of the time which probably included Belinda Carlisle and T’Pau and decided to replicate some of the sounds as a fun way of getting the track done and Chrysalis out of our hair. We multi-tracked the lead vocals over and over again, used sequenced bass and built up a ludicrous choir of backing vocals featuring Jan Johnstone and even my mate Merb who had popped up to the studio for a visit. We had been badgered repeatedly by Chrysalis for taking too long to get to the first chorus in songs, so we decided to start the whole song with the chorus and generally remove the breaks and variations present in the original (and drop the final verse)- nearly all the decisions in piecing the record together were half taking the piss. It kind of worked at the end of it, but had little to do with the band.
I went down the road to Georgetown studios to try the Love I Need again and got an improved vocal take. We arrived in London one Saturday morning to do the mix, only to find Chrysalis had sent Mark Stent copy masters of the recordings rather than the originals. This meant he was unable to eq the tracks without risking excessive noise. Because it was a weekend we couldn’t get hold of anyone to remedy this and we were forced to settle for using the backing track roughly as Mark Dodson had recorded it (in one of his more alcohol assisted sessions). We couldn’t help feeling there was more than a hint of sabotage involved.
I felt particularly shafted over and in danger of becoming more bloody-minded than John over the proposed use of Celebrate. For whatever reason – the desire not to stall the album’s release, the fool-hardy belief that our grass-roots following would take it in their strides, battle fatigue, internal tensions, growing financial pressures on the band, Chrysalis’ assurances that we would have a hit on our hands… we put the single out.
Anne Marie’s face ablaze on the cover foreshadowing the imminent crash and burn the single and the band would suffer. I don’t think anyone really cares what the b-sides were – we were on the seaside, washed up quicker than you can say debut album.