STRANGER THAN US ALL...
Some dates stay in your mind forever for the strangest of reasons. April 20th 1994 is one date I will never forget.
Every year I have a reality check about how time really does fly by. It does not seem like yesterday, exactly, but it certainly does not feel like it was 15 years ago.
April 20th 1994. I was in a Holiday Inn room on Vets Memorial Highway on Long Island on my first ever trip to the USA. I had made several calls back to UK that day, my brother, Cozy Powell and others but the one that reminds me of the exact date was made to a good friend of mine. I told him that I had just landed the job singing with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, he, as is his way, had to usurp me by announcing with a fair amount of pride that he was now the proud father of a beautiful baby daughter. 6lb 2oz.. I never understood why the weight of babies is important but it seems to be… That beautiful baby girl is now a beautiful teenager.
Anyway I thought it might be fun to do a wee piece on the album “STRANGER IN US ALL” that resulted from me landing the gig with Ritchie Blackmore.
Initially we had fun and football up in TAHIGWA in Cold Spring upstate New York in the autumn of 94.
This is a wee go round of the time in Long View Farm studios which began on Jan 7th 1995.
Ritchie always came up with the riff, the band joined in and they all worked out an arrangement according to Ritchie’s hand signals or “horses eyes”. He may indeed have had an arrangement in his mind and it was Paul, Greg and John who had to interpret what was needed. My job in the early stages of the writing process was to record everything on Raymond D’Addario’s small but highly effective Bush tape machine..a wee ghetto blaster if you will. (find the pic). I would join in singing once the song was taking shape and my warblings were also put onto the tape machine. If they turned out to be any good they might make the cut.
Ritchie had brought with him to Long View Studios his Tascam 440 portastudio for me to use in the writing process. (No Macs and protools for us in those dark days.) It was exactly the same machine I had back at home.
In the 440 were tapes of Ritchie and Candy's demo songs that would eventually become the first Blackmore’s Night album.
Once there was an arrangement of sorts of a song I would transfer the stereo backing onto one track of the “Porty” and start work on tightening any melodies and lyric ideas that I had or write over the vocal free backing and be ready to present them to Pat and Ritchie. Right, that’s how it really was.
This is what I remember of the writing and recording of the songs that made up the SIUA album. I’ve written this blurb as the songs appear on the album rather than the order they were written and recorded. That’s because I can’t remember the order they were written in. I thought in this 15 year since the album was released that you the fans might enjoy a wee short look behind the scenes of what to date is Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow's last studio album.
Wolf to the Moon
We recorded 2 versions of this song at Tahigwa in upstate NY. One on 7 tracks and the other on 16. Legend Management had copies of both. We did this with a few songs. I heard the 7 tracks but never the 16 track versions. They were mixed after I went home. We did these demos for the record company BMG.
Arrangement & melody wise the song that made the album never changed from the version on the demo. Lyrically however it is completely different. The original version was called “Temptation”.
This was the true tale of a young lady who had never looked my way (well not often enough) till I landed the gig with Ritchie…then she was throwing stones at my window and calling for me from under the street light in the summer drizzle to join her for a beer.
“Her hands in my pocket, she’s digging for gold.
Her reasons are perfectly clear”
On the day we were recording my vocals for the album, Ritchie handed me several sheets of paper with lyrics that Candy had written on the ferry on her way from Long Island to the studio in MA . “You’d better make these work” he said. I sat with them for a while and worked with them so that they would scan with the melody, added a few lines here and there.
One for the road… “Slave to the Highway”
I thought that was going to be the songs title but when I got my copy of the album it had changed. Slave to the Highway conjured up images for Ritchie of Slaves and Masters and Highway Star so the song became “Wolf to the Moon” a far better and more oblique title.
Next - Cold Hearted Woman
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