Climbing the rostrum with Danny Manners and Richard Preston and
conducting 60-odd musicians from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
... what can I say? The word "unforgettable" is seldom
used when it should (as in: "Tom Hanks is unforgettable in..."),
but forgive me if I do now. The fear of confronting an orchestra
of this size for the first time was unforgettable. So was the exhilaration
of finding out that the scores we had prepared so painstakingly
over the past six months sounded more or less as we thought they
would. So was the Czech beer, and the many friends we met and made
in four hazy days of emotional paroxysm and precious little sleep.
Not everything was perfect, of course; some irritating technical
problems threatened to ruin our carefully prepared plans on the
second day of recording, and not all the musicians were as cooperative
as the truly marvellous members of the percussion section. All in
all, though, we had what is generally described as "a whale
of a time". Goodness gracious me, if you've never tried real
absinth, you have not lived...
And the music? Expect an exponential progression from Jackie
Girl, at least in terms of colour and harmony. Ten songs
in all; nine originals (Your Life, Azure, Peace At Last, When
Georgie Died, An Ordinary Girl, Jolis Avions, Down By The Riverbank,
When Georgie Died and Partir) plus an Andy Partridge
song (I Can't Own Her) which the great man of XTC allowed
Danny to arrange (magnificently, in my opinion) before his "band"
had a chance to record it...ironically, Dave Gregory did his usual
cameo on Azure, days before quitting XTC. Mmm. Back in London,
the usual suspects gathered at the Sound Suite: David Longdon, Dean
Brodrick, Cathal Coughlan, as well as a few "new" faces:
a great drummer from Nottingham, Andy Lymn, and the velvety barytone
Bruce Marcus, better known as Count Indigo. I don't think I have
ever enjoyed a mixing session more than this one - for which I must
give profuse thanks to Richard, unflappable and tireless as ever
at the desk. One of the greatest thrills of all was to risk all
we had in a matter of days...Eight and a half, to be precise, including
overdubds and mixing. Yes, I still feel tired. Drained. Cream-crackered.
But before I curl up on the rug like a moggy on Valium, allow me
to send another electronic handshake to my valiant partner Danny,
who surpassed himself again in his orchestrations. A kiss to you,
mate. And to you all, whom I hope will be touched by those songs,
which were written by an older, but none the wiser man.
Louis Philippe, April 1998.
Featured Musicians: Louis Philippe
(lead vocal, classic & electric guitar); Danny Manners (piano;
bass guitar; double bass & backing vocals); Andy Lymn (drums
& percussion); Dave Gregory (lead guitar & 12 string guitar);
David Longdon (electric guitar & backing vocals); Dean Brodrick
(accordion, bassoon, melodica); Count Indigo (backing vocals); Cathal
Coughlan (backing vocals); Ken V Brake (backing vocals) The Prague
Philharmonic Orchestra, First Violin: Vladimir Pilar, directed by
Danny Manners & Louis Philippe.
Production: Recorded at Studio Smecky,
Prague and The Sound Suite, London; A Partners in Crime production
for Sunshine Productions; Sound recording and mixing by Richard
Preston; Pre-production by Ken V Brake at Fag Studios, Regent's
Park, London who also took the beautiful photograph of Nikki that
grace's the cd cover; Additional artwork by Louis and Jacques Le
Loup of Exotica.
Listen to/download the title track.