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Just One Look

17. April 2011

English text by Phil Shackleton below…

"Just One Look" ist ein erstmalig von Doris Troy aufgenommenes Lied aus dem Jahr 1963, welches ein Jahr spaeter den ersten Hitparaden-Erfolg fuer "The Hollies" markierte.

Phil Shackleton hat sich dieses Songs angenommen und ihn zusammen mit Alan Silson (seines Zeichens Gruendungsmitglied der Band "Smokie") neu eingespielt. Beide Musiker wohnen mittlerweile am Rande des Teutoburger Waldes und trafen sich tatsaechlich-zufaellig, weil ein Makler ihnen beiden ihre heutigen Wohnsitze vermittelte. Urspruenglich stammen beide aus derselben Gegend in England in der Naehe von Bradford.

Frueher gab es, wenn zum Beispiel ein Radiosender mit einer neuen Platte bemustert wurde, einen sogenannten "Waschzettel" mit einem informativ gemeinten, aber oftmals sehr "speziellen" Werbetext dazu. In diesem Fall koennte ein solcher Text vielleicht so lauten:

Phil’s moderne Version von "Just One Look" besticht durch ihre klangliche Breite und Gradlinigkeit. Zudem bringt Alan Silson’s authentisch nach "Smokie" klingendes E-Gitarrensolo eine Prise Nostalgie mit ein. Dieser symbiotische Effekt formt den Ohrwurm-Charakter dieser Aufnahme, an der Norman Osthus technisch beratend beteiligt gewesen ist.

…und so hoert sie sich an / …this is how it sounds

Im Folgenden erzaehlt "Gast-Blogger" Phil Shackleton die Geschichte dieses Projekts :-)

Just One Look or: A tale of obsession!

I suppose the seeds for eventually recording a version of this song were planted way back when I was a kid growing up in the 1960’s. My uncle had a farm in the north of England where, almost opposite, lived Bobby Elliot, the drummer of the rapidly rising star pop group “The Hollies”. My cousins and I would take our autograph books around to his house and he’d take them on tour and get them signed by famous performers of the time – but that’s another story.

A few decades later and living in Germany, I was thinking about those innocent old days and about the music that played such a huge part in my life at that time. I decided to check out The Hollies & Graham Nash on the net and and there it was, that familiar sound of “Just One Look”.

A short time later I was visiting my old friend Chris Parkinson, who was then playing with “The Rough Diamonds” , a band skippered by Steve Phillips of “Notting Hillbillies” fame, and during a live performance they played “Just One Look”, I took this to be a sign! I just couldn’t get the song out of my head, something called ohrwurm (“earworm”) here in Germany, and I knew I just had to do a cover version – but how?

Back in Germany I set to work on a demo recording, with two acoustic guitars, an old drum machine (that would only play kick, snare & hihat) and a nearly dead multitrack recorder. Only really knowing the Hollies' version, I decided to slow the whole thing down and base the beat for the song firmly on the acoustic 6 string guitar which I hammered mercilessly, concentrating most of the punishment on the bass strings. I quite liked the percussive chop-chop sound which drew attention away from that awful drum machine! I introduced melodic “fill” using a twelve string acoustic guitar (all microphone recorded) and sang the basic guide vocal. The results were fairly disappointing but – hey, this was only a demo so I suppose it was ok.

Around that time Roger Clarke-Johnson (to whom I’m indebted) came round to play bass on the track and rescue me, Norman Osthus (Normcast) recorded part of this session and placed the resulting clip on Youtube.

Then for personal reasons, my life went into overdrive, I found that I couldn’t mix the song , I was wasting time on useless details, fixated on little noises etc and very much in danger of going completely “gaga “ (shades of Brian Wilson!) all because of this demo. So I packed it all away along with the worn out machines etc, forgot about it and moved house!

About six months ago there was an avalanche of mails asking me if my version of “Just One Look” was now available, most people said they’d seen the session on Youtube. Oh no, the bogeyman had reared his ugly head again! After quite a bit of “mail pressure” I decided to dig out the old multitracker, strip the song down and re-build it. I transferred and converted the original recordings to digital which seemed to freshen things up a little, then I set about re-recording all the individual parts but again nothing worked! As so often happens during re-recording, the original feel just disappeared, so I was stuck with the original vocals, drum and guitar sounds.

I truly believe that you record atmosphere along with the song.

Over the last two years, Alan Silson -the original guitarist with 70’s band "Smokie"- has become a great friend and I was discussing these problems with him. I suggested his vocals and electric guitar sound might bring some new colour and direction into the song and that he might be able to create that mix of nostalgia and originality that I was looking for. Just before Christmas 2010 we had a long backing vocal recording session where Alan added some of that "Smokie magic", with over 30 individual vocal tracks to be mixed down to two (stereo), then we recorded Alan’s solo which brought his unique guitar sound into the mix!

Next, I played bass guitar to fit the new arrangement (sorry, Rog!) and added backing vocs to the coda.

I spent January and February 2011 climbing the walls and going almost nuts again trying to squeeze out the best from the old recordings and produce something acceptable which finally saw the light of day on March 10th (my birthday).

An additional surprise was that my version of "Just One Look" also humbly has quite a few arrangement similarities to Doris Troy’s supreme original and I hadn’t heard her version before January 2011!

My special thanks go to Roger Clarke-Johnson & Alan Silson for their invaluable help and support and of course to Norman Osthus of NormCast for kick-starting me up again.

Phil Shackleton / March 23rd 2011

Video-Link: Alan & Phil performing Smokie’s "If You Think You Know How To Love Me"

KategorienLokales, Musik