And he needed cover art to match. Ina year before the release of HIStoryspecial effects artist Diana Walczak answered a phone in the kitchen of her Williamstown, Massachusetts, home. Family friend David Coleman, a longtime art director and executive at Sony Music, was on the line. Coleman was inquiring about an upcoming album in need of art. Walczak created the visual stunt double for the former Rocky.
Yup, Walczak, a pioneer in the whole computer-generated imagery CGI field, helped create that visual, too. In order to replicate the King of Pop, Walczak met with Jackson in person to take her own reference photos. Starting with the armature — the skeletal Face To Face - Better Days Ahead - Maybe You (CD of the sculpture that acts as the femur, holding the clay in place —Walczak and her two assistants began the molding process.
Using over pounds of wet clay, she sculpted day and night for a week straight. When the close detail was finished, she sent stills and videos of the original inch sculpture to Sony and Jackson, who provided his own notes.
He was particularly critical of his face — he knew what a nasolabial fold was. It would have been nice to chat to them and to have paid them a few genuine compliments, but the phrase, "Excuse me, are you Embrace?
Jason, the studio engineer, doesn't know if we are two middle-aged men with more imagination than sense, trying to live out the rock'n'roll daydream of our youth we are or two guys trying to make a Album) record we areand without ever addressing the issue directly we reach a kind of negotiated settlement in which our ambitions and our limitations might be comfortably accommodated. Craig impresses Jason with his knowledge of early synthesisers and computerised recording systems yawnwhile I excel at coffee-making with a space-age kettle.
Craig's bass-playing brother, Glen, lends a bit of glamour to the project by turning up in a big Jag, accompanied by lead guitar-playing Geoff "Birdman" Bird, whose grungy, chin-length hair is a welcome contrast to our regulation crops and our flecks of grey. Being in a recording studio is boring.
Especially if you're the singer. Hours pass and barely a note is struck. Whole days slide by with nothing to listen to except strings being tuned and amps being tweaked and guitar licks being repeated over and over again. Then, suddenly, and without any particular warning or special preparation, you're ushered into the glass closet, the door is closed behind you, a green light flashes and you're on. Speedy Sue of Sue and the Speedy Bears fame pops up to sing her bit; she's done it before, so she's in and out in no time.
Like someone nipping in and out of the changing room in Monsoon during her lunch break to try on a dress. I, on the other hand, am not so quick. Maybe it's the headphones I'm having to wear; under normal circumstances I can hear what I'm singing because the sound of my voice travels directly into my ear. But this is like being partially deaf, trying to work out not only how loud I'm singing but also what key I'm singing in by the vibration of the bones in my cheeks and jaw.
Or maybe I'm just useless. My first take is terrible. My second take is worse. My third take is timid. My fourth take is met with silence from the cubicle. Through the glass I can see them all talking, but I can't tell what Face To Face - Better Days Ahead - Maybe You (CD saying. Eventually I get the thumbs-up and am allowed to leave the aquarium and return to the mixing desk.
When I hear the playback, I immediately blush. They say that when you hear a recording of your own singing it's uncomfortable, because it sounds like somebody else. But this is uncomfortable for a different reason: it sounds like me.
At the end of two days of cutting and pasting, compressing and extending, turning things up or down and fading things in and out, we take a CD of the two Album) into the reception area and flop out on the comfy settee and play it back on the cheap hi-fi.
The implication is that this is what it will sound like to Our Fans. Then we troop back into the cubicle, and after a few more minutes of flickering lights and whirring motors, the trays of a dozen CD-burners spontaneously open, ejecting 12 shiny discs.
These are ours. To keep. To do with what we will. We pay up - in cash. It's a great record. OK, it isn't great, but it is good. And if it was rubbish, they'd say so. Wouldn't they? They're not sycophants. They're not the Sycophants to the Scaremongers, are they?
What people think matters to us - like everybody on the planet, we'd rather be loved than despised and, given the choice, would prefer not to be thought of as a pair of idiots. But in the end, it's about different and better things. One: friendship. Two: getting off our backsides and doing something instead of just blabbing about it. Three: being in a band and making a record - we can die happily now.
And four: driving home one night with the iPod on shuffle mode and wired through the car stereo, when the first few bars of Nodding Dog erupt in the speakers. Saying to myself, I know who this is. This is the Scaremongers. This is us. We've printed a few hundred CDs. We're going to give them away, maybe flog a few. We're going to record about a dozen songs, and put them all on one disc, and call it an album. Apart from that, we're not sure.
In true Spinal Tap style, Craig orders a T-shirt with the Scaremongers logo on it, but gets the dimensions wrong. It is, to all intent and purposes, a white T-shirt with a postage stamp on the chest. The same happens with the business card, which comes back from the printers exactly half the size of a regular business card with the Album) "The Scaremongers" amputated from the waist down. It's Craig's birthday and we're sitting in his kitchen drinking a bottle of sparkling wine from coffee-stained mugs.
It's rubbish. Craig doesn't. Are we splitting up already? In the same conversation, the subject of playing live rears its ugly head.
I say that we need to think about it very carefully, that we would need months of rehearsal, that it isn't something we should rush into, and that there could be nothing worse than standing on stage in front of a live audience sounding like a prat, looking like a plank and feeling like a prick.
But the prevailing opinion emanating from the other corners of the table is this: that it doesn't matter if you've made one single or a dozen platinum-selling albums, because until you've played live, you haven't even come close. In other words, you're not really a band until after your first gig. A month or so later, I'm on the internet searching for Woods' Music Shop. Sad news that the magnificent Ennio Morricone died today as I writeJuly 6,at age In the LP days, many that I bought Album) overseas pressings of Morricone soundtracks that never appeared in the U.
I imagine many other enthusiasts can say the same. A film played in a theater and then showed up years later on TV or, for those in larger cities, for a one-and-done encore at a repertory house. The soundtrack album was the next-best option for recapturing your memories of a given picture. I drove up from Virginia and discovered that my reserved seat could hardly have been better -- eight rows from the stage, in direct line with Maestro Morricone, and an unobstructed view. Consider, inthis was a man whose scores I'd enjoyed for almost 40 years.
The centerpiece of the concert was a suite of themes from three Sergio Leone epics.
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