07. Summer Songs
S.Rhatigan/J.F Morrison © 1996
Trying to decide whether to upload Summer Songs now, as summer is definitely on the wane and the chilly autumn evenings are drawing in, or perhaps I should leave it till the dead of winter… No, I reckon now is the time…
I’ve been reading recently about the resurgence of the cassette, a format I have a love hate relationship with. Before the digital age kids, the format of choice for musicians was the cassette. We could copy our favourite music for each other (file sharing) and make compilation tapes (play lists). Believe it or not record companies were up in arms about music being copied on cassette too. Cassette was also the only format for the ever hopeful ‘demo tape’. The ubiquitous demos were dispatched far and wide, never to be heard from again.
Rhatigan, as the band collectively were named by Sean Worrall from the Organ fanzine, fired off many demos, some of which garnered industry interest, only to see it fizzle out almost as soon as it fizzed to life. We were getting the increasing feeling that we may have been hampered in our efforts by the unfortunate association we had with, well me!
You see, I had released a very expensive pop/rock/r&b/folk/soul record (memo to self… any record that needs 5 genres to describe it is doomed) in ’93 on Imago Records (RIP) called ‘To Hell With Love’ and prior to that I had been a session singer on some of Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s biggest hits, so it’s fair to say I hadn’t much currency with the indie kids and alt rock types I found myself in the company of following the release in 96 of ‘Late Developer’ on Org. But before you accuse me of being a tad paranoid, I will tell you a little story…
Some time in 95 I think, I had a call out of the blue from a hero of mine, Daniel Lanois. Months previously a friend had spotted Daniel at a gig we were at and he insisted I give him a demo of some songs I had on a cassette burning a hole in my pocket. I did as I was dared and as I suspected would happen, I never heard a word from him. Then maybe as much as a year later my phone rang and who was it, yep the man himself.
Well he said some lovely things about the music, said he was driving up to northern California the following week with the head of the label he was working with, some big time music biz mogul or other… Anyhow Dan (as he’s known to his friends) said he would play my demo on the journey and hopefully get the green light to do some recording with me… We arranged to speak at exactly the same time the following week. I was pretty excited as you might imagine, I mean we were a shoe in right? True to his word exactly a week later the call came. Dan explained that as he had planned he played the songs, unsolicited, in the car and the ‘exec’, pricked up his ears, as you would hope, and asked who it was…”Suzanne Rhatigan” Dan said. “ Not the Suzanne Rhatigan who brought down Imago?” was the reply. High praise indeed but I don’t think I can take all the credit for that. Can I? End of story.
Where was I, yeah more months later…… believing my chequered past might be at least part of the reason for our faltering progress and indeed may even have scuppered Late Developer, we were reluctant to send new tracks out as Rhatigan or worse still Suzanne Rhatigan but found it hard to take ourselves seriously as anything else. So we had the idea that we would send tunes to a chosen few discerning folks anonymously. 3 tracks, one song a week on a numbered cassette, hopefully enabling the recipients to listen without prejudice.. They’d love them of course? And when, after they were totally hooked, and they discovered who it was, they’d say things like , “Suzanne Rhatigan, really! Wow we need to make a record with her” etc etc. Great plan!
Aside from the ordeal of traipsing all over the greater London area sourcing 5minute cassettes, as anything longer was a complete waste, we also had the perennial problem of which song to send 1st. Which song would be #1….
We settled on Summer Songs a melodic, melancholy song which follows two rather disillusioned lovers as they try to relive the joy of youthful summers long gone. “Bare or souls like we did years ago and sing out…” most likely along to a cassette, perhaps a summer songs compilation.
Despite the recording’s obvious lo-fi sonic issues and the pitchy Wurlitzer, it had a rolling feel I loved with everything bubbling along with Johns pulsing bass lines and Bryn restricted to bass drum, snare and hi hat, no frills. It was another song we attempted to re-record on 24 track but could not better at that time… Maybe next time!
PS: I don’t remember which songs were #2 and #3 that’s probably not a good sign… suffice to say the great plan didn’t work!
PPS: The track was recorded around 96 but the Bvs and harmonica were a post script, this week actually.
Suzanne Rhatigan Vocals, Wurlitzer…BVs and Harmonica
John Morrison Bass…
Bryn Burrows Drums…