The Village Green Machine's Letter From England

This week we had one of our not entirely irregular disturbed recording sessions. Sometimes there's a smooth run where I do take after take and get an entire song recorded in a couple of hours, drums, bass vocals the lot. Other times, I go ****you (not sure who to) and throw the drum sticks down the hall, and have to ask the vicar for a back rub. Well, Monday was such a day. Drums took a few takes. Then, I realised I had left my Danelectro guitar at home, so with recording time running out I drove back to collect it, but it was nowhere in the house. Stolen! I thought and was upset about it. Got back to the hall to record, then wondered if I had in fact left it there last time I left. Dave and I simultaneously moved towards the church side room which had been left unlocked, and there! There it was. In a mood of some elation I carried on with the keyboard overdubs I had begun, piling Farfisa on top of the northern soul riff which is so central to my new song, Downtown Downtown. I overdubbed another lead vocal and a load of hand claps. The farfisa sounds fantastic on this, adding a cheap 60s soul sound, which is just the job. It has been a struggle this one, but I think I'm getting there. Next week I put tremolo guitar on, and it will need something more. Its not there yet, it could flounder still, I have to trust intuition to make it happen.

I also put drums and guitar and keys down on one called She She Spider. I have produced these already, so not just working with a bare sounding backing track. I want a very experimental approach on this one, it is kind of psych/garage r&b. The thing is, I have no fixed reference point where I can say 'this is the Village Green Machine' sound, because I try something different every time. So its usually a case of venturing into the unknown musically, as it should be. With an arn full of 60s influences up my sleeve, of course.

Incidentally if you are reading this having just signed as a myspace friend, have a look at the other people who are signed as friends, quite a few mods and general 60s types are signing up, it is amazing to see the lists of people's favourite music. I see all the cool names of bands, The Kinks, The Fleur De lys, The Who, The Small Faces....and then I look at the pictures, honestly its like a 60's dandies fashion gallery! I see a lot of my own tastes reflected. Also with the mod thing, there are a lot like myself who are mods, but into a wider scene musically at least than might strictly be described as mod. Me with the mod thing, I wanted a more conservative dress code which reflected my love of the 60s. Before, I'd worn velvet jackets and had quite long hair, but I'm not a hippie. So I found myself drawn towards mod. I read Paolo Hewitt's interesting and informative Soul Stylists book. I sent Paolo an LP a while back, and judging by the ominous silence, I don't know if he is into it. However, John Hellier from the Small Faces Whapping Wharf fanzine is well into England's Dreaming Spires, as are legendary cult magazine Bucketfull Of Brains. New Untouchables Dr Robert also likes the album. Anyway, as I began to learn more about mod style, simultaneously I was falling in love with northern soul music. And, personally speaking, mod is the only way I can think of dressing these days. I allow myself a little slack, I'll wear Beatwear Chelsea boots, for instance, which aren't strictly mod. But then when it comes to shirts, I like all the correct detailing. Jackets and suits, its got to be a high narrow collar with 3 buttons and slim fitting trousers. Speaking of which...

Last night I was watching with keen interest a programme on Savile row. It was really interesting. For 200 years they have been established. They showed the front window of Poole and co, who supplied Churchill with pin stripe. All the established tailors were up in arms as a shop selling t shirts was opening in their road, long famed of course for the very best tailoring. It was quite comical really, they had a meeting and were all grumbling and wondering what to do about this American intrusion. What I was really interested in though, was the possibility of having a suit made there. My father, when he was an officer in the army, had a tailoring budget which enabled him to have a pin striped double breasted suit made in Savile row, and I rather thought I might follow suit. Ha ha. I thought, I wont copy my dad's handlebar moustache, or monocle. You think I'm joking. Actually, maybe I should go for a rose tinted monocle, might look quite cool! Anyway, how much do you think I would have to pay for the privilege of wearing the best tailored suit in the world? 500? 800? No, apparently 2,500 might see me in the right direction. So, if you haven't already downloaded England's Dreaming Spires, or bought the CD, could you please do so now.

See you next week

-Mark. ps I am sat here in a sealed bedroom with a mouse- still.

Reading Village Green Machine's ezine. Letter From England
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