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Blasts from the past!

Dave Griffiths reviews six downloadable songs from the cobweb strewn past of DUPE/Official Secrets:

All your promises (Rob Childs/Brian Smith)

From the 1986 Cherry Orchard Studios session in Croydon, our first recording as Official Secrets.  Apart from vocals and the odd solo, these tracks were recorded live.  I remember two things about these sessions.

Firstly The engineer thought we hadn’t left enough time for vocals but I assured him that Rob and Pete would be fine with a handful of takes. I remember his surprise as they put their vocals down perfectly within around 20 minutes! Ha!

Secondly, we did the final mixdown in a very small control room eating Doner Kebabs - that place must have stunk for years!

All your promises was one of the best songs we ever did - I still love it and I don’t think any of the recordings ever sounded fresher than the two on this session. Rob wrote a great deal of the music - Brian may have helped on the lyrics. Catch Rob’s superb riff leading into each verse, Brian’s funky lick on the link and Pete’s slinky walking bassline played on an original Hofner Violin Bass - marvellous stuff!

Another Let Down (Brian Smith/Rob Childs)

The weaker of the two songs by a fair bit with lyrics co-composed by Rob and Brian, hence the complete lack of meaning - I think they were writing about different subjects!  My ‘eighties’ keyboard playing (note original Fender Rhodes electric piano - weighed 2 tons - sounded like a bag of shit!) dates the song terribly! Paul’s drumming though is remarkably crisp and salvages the song.  I think Brian wrote the music - sorry Brian!

It's Not Enough (Dave Griffiths)

This was a bloody ridiculous session, in 1987 I think. Recorded in a split level studio in Acton, the song was massively computer sequenced (as was the fashion in those days) and the stuttering sampled vocal intro is unforgiveable! Paul only played hi-hat, cymbals and snare while the sequencer handled kick drum - he did a fantastic job and I am amazed he didn’t just tell me to **** off!  A complaint levelled at me was that in the final mix, no bass or guitar is audible - quite true, except for the solo which Brian played through a Marshall stack at such painful volume that we could feel the control room floor vibrating.  The snare sound is a multiple sample of many great snare sounds which together sound like someone hitting a full dustbin.  The tambourine at the beginning is me and if you can bother to wait for the vocals to come in, the song has some charm other than the lyrics which were some uncontrolled, inarticulate rant about an ex-girlfriend whose name escapes me!  We recorded one song in 12 hours - it’s taken until now for me to want to hear it again!

Tomorrow (Rob Childs)

Recorded in JB Studios in Bromley (Homesdale Road if anyone’s interested!) this was an awful session. We made the drastic mistake of putting all the parts down separately which took twice as long and sounded drab. Between takes, anyone not playing went to the Homesdale Arms and had a skinfull.  The drum sound is astounding on this track particularly - those are supposed to be tom-toms - they sound like packing cases.  It is however a catchy tune and typical of Rob who was a gifted songwriter. I do the most awful synth solo for which I should be shot.

Forget (Dave Griffiths)

“What’s this song called?” yelled the engineer, ink marker in hand, about to scrawl on the finished master tape reel. I didn’t have a title so I just said “I forget” - hence the name!  The other song to be recorded at JB Studios in Bromley, it was another “**** you” rant lyrics about some girlfriend or other - utter doggerel.  The music was inspired by seeing Alison Moyet on The Tube singing a superb version of ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ so I wrote a slow blues sequence which speeded up to this slightly clattering song. Rob’s vocal is excellent, as is his guitar solo in the slow middle section. I still think it could have been a good song with a bit of work.

Kicked out of Touch (Rob Childs)

Again Rob demonstrates his superb ear for a tune and I demonstrate a complete lack of taste with the arrangement! Paul was not involved on this as it was recorded in Pete’s bedroom using a drum machine. I like the song, can’t bear the production but yet again a lovely solo from Rob saves the day in the middle.  Actually I quite like the percussion-laden atmospheric ending - dated but nice.