Friday, 14 October 2016

Making 'Little Stones' PO!'s first album


My blogging history of PO! got stuck around 1989. That's when 'Little Stones' was made. I'm hoping to re-release it soon, so here's a little information about it. 


PO!'s first album, Little Stones, was recorded by Terri Lowe of The Originals on his Tascam 1/4" reel to reel 4-track machine at a cost of £20. Members of The Originals played the backing tracks, recorded at Leicester's Chatham Street basement. This was because the former members of PO! had left me with with no musicians. The vocals, extra guitars and other instruments were recorded at the Originals' house on Aylestone Road (on the corner of Rutland Avenue) over a number of weekends when there were no Leicester City home matches. (Terri Lowe went to the home games). 

I had written most of the songs over a period of a few months. Usually I composed on acoustic guitar with a pad and pen to write down chords and vocal melodies down before evolving the lyrics. I can remember living in a flat that was freezing cold, and wearing fingerless gloves for at least one of the songs. 

At the time of recording, I was suffering with throat problems and a chest infection that affected my singing. Producer Terri set high standards for the recording. On one occasion, he insisted that I go out and ride a bike as fast as I could to the top of the road 'to clear my lungs' before singing. I think at least one track was recorded in the bathroom for its natural reverb, and he tickled me to get the giggling on 'All I Really Want to Do'.

The LP record was processed by AWL of Leicester. We had to drive round to Mr Lipinski's house to pick up the boxes of sleeveless (and therefore cheap) vinyl. Mr Lipinski lived in a tidy detached house about 2 miles from where I lived. He was like a friendly great-uncle who pretended to be interested in our musical achievements, but he wasn't impressed when I told him that John Peel had played our flexidiscs. 

A friend, Boris Barker, designed the sleeve. Computer-aided publishing was in its infancy and so it was a mixture of letraset. computer printing and physical cut and paste. We had 1000 records pressed and card sleeves printed, which had to be folded and glued by hand. I numbered the first 200 on the inner sleeve. 

I think it's good to be able to sum up the purpose of a song concisely. So here is a quickfire list of the headlines. Naturally, I like the songs to work on many levels, using a range of different voices, timbres and structures. But essentially, most of these early songs were created as a challenge to a world that seemed unfair and abusive. 

Glass King
One of many 'challenging patriarchy' songs; kind of Davina and Goliath.

Confidence
One of many 'I had a friend and things went wrong when we grew up' songs; also it's quite sour and jealous, too.

Ruthless
Anti-corruption with name-checking; No-one like me got anywhere. 

Ever Been Had
A feeling sorry for oneself song. It also has the same line that a (much later) Tracey Thorn song has: "I'm walking past your door, but you don't live there any more."

Haunt You
Challenging patriarchy and giving them the willies.

Farmyard
About wrecked dreams, specifically that of a rural male ballet dancer.

Safe
About luck / lack of luck.

Appleseed Alley
Patriarchy; a song with spunk.

Lying on My Side
Be what you are.

The Torturers
Bad times for young women.

Poor Old John
Drugs and rock 'n' roll and not much else.

All I Really Want To Do
A Bob Dylan Song with giggling.

I'm not sure whether to re-release it via itunes, or press another vinyl - a CD doesn't seem right. Let me know what you think I should do. 

10 comments:

  1. I'd be willing to purchase this in any physical format.

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  2. Same here. I'm always torn between records and CDs because records look nice but I can never be arsed to play them. Do press something up though, don't just do a download.

    Of course, the obvious solution is the 3LP/CD/DVD multimedia boxset, with full bonus material of you clearing your lungs : )

    Little Stones is my favourite PO! record and the only one I don't own properly. I am very much looking forward to this.

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  3. I'd say LP c\w CD, like Scott Walker does. loved designing this and the inner libretto. I was so scared of messing it up. I remember Ruth coming to Sheffield and travelling to my college to oversee the artwork exposure on the Repromaster machine. As we got close to the entrance, Ruth asked if she should smile at the students or give them a death stare. I was always in awe of her confidence and talent. Boris Barker

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  4. Fan of the +CD thing, tho it might be expensive. Perhaps a record with download card or a Bandcamp release with instant download or something. Just anything to replace the crackly and slightly too slow version I've got on my computer.

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  5. Buyed PO! 1996 Not Marked On The Ordnance Map (Vinyl Album) Rutland Records – RUTLP4. Ruth and PO! a Great Legendary Artist! my blog: http://legendaryartists.blogspot.com/

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  8. This PO!'s first album 1989 Released vinyl version, as yet not Re-released in CD version digital format, will New Release! bonus!

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  9. I was slightly too young to get this first time round, so I'll be happy with any format - download would be most convenient just to get my mitts on it, but cd with extended sleevenotes or something similar would be ace.

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