ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD - Extracts from chapter 8 -The 80's
LATEST EXTRACT FROM "ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD" by Jeff Collins --New book published on September 15th by University of Wales press.
Here are three extracts from chapter nine which focuses on the 80's.
The first extract features Ian NcNabb and the Icicle Works, The second features The Simple Minds encounter with Iggy Pop and David Bowie at Rockfield plus a food fight while the latst extract is about The Pogues time at the studio.
Hope you enjoy them.
CHAPTER EIGHT: The 80’s usher in a new breed.
The 1970’s had cemented Rockfield’s place in the history of rock. The legacy left by bands like Black Sabbath, Queen, Rush, Judas Priest, and Motorhead had put the Welsh studio firmly on the musical map. But as the 70’s drew to a close, and the dawn of the 80’s approached, Rockfield’s appeal would spread to a younger generation of bands. Adam and the Ants, T’Pau, Echo and the Bunnymen and Simple Minds would head to South Wales as part of a new wave of pop music wanting to embrace the Rockfield experience. Not all of these bands were in awe of the famous rock stars, who had gone before them. Many were finding their own path and Rockfield simply filled their recording needs. One such band was The Icicle Works. Lead singer Ian McNabb explains why they chose Rockfield to record their first album in 1983.
‘We were like a second generation Liverpool band. We came up behind the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes. And they’d all worked at Rockfield with the likes of Ian Broudie from the Lighting Seeds. So we thought it was a mythical place. We’d never made an album before and, Hugh Jones, who produced our first record, wanted us to go there. And we thought “Wow, that’s where the Bunnymen, Teardrops and guys like those worked.” We’d never done an album before, and going away to stay in a cottage in the country for a couple of weeks seemed like an incredibly exciting thing to do when you’re 20.’
***********************************************************************The most memorable part of the recording process for The Simple Minds was meeting David Bowie. He was at Rockfield to produce a new album for Iggy Pop called Soldiers. And they were recording it in the studio next door to the star-struck Glaswegians.
‘David Bowie is a hero of the Simple Minds, and Jim Kerr in particular,’ says Bruce Findlay, the band's manager at the time. ‘One day he just knocked on the studio door, and asked if we could do him a favour and sing on one of the songs he was doing for Iggy. I remember him saying to the band in that distinctive voice of his “Do you fancy coming in and singing on this song called Play It Safe?” The band were over the moon! They had to sing a line which went: “I want to be a criminal – play it safe!” They tried various ways to do it, including shouting it. But in the end Bowie said to them, “Look guys, can you try to sing it with an accent, so it sounds like me?” So these lads from Scotland put on their best cockney accents and were standing in the studio impersonating David Bowie as they sung the line “I want to be a criminal.” It was hilarious.’ ------ And the Scottish band certainly made themselves at home at Rockfield. They worked hard in the day and played hard at night. Producer John Leckie remembers that being with the band was fun. ‘It was all a bit crazy. There used to be a bit of a tradition of food fights at Rockfield, particularly involving custard pies and trifle. And this kind of reached a peak with the Simple Minds. Every night at mealtime, the caterers brought in a more extravagant dessert and fancy cream cakes. Almost like an incentive for us to fling them at each other. I’d always escape before it happened. As soon as I’d finished my main course, I’d run and hide and then I’d come back. And you’d see the dining room dripping in trifle – it would be running down the walls – it was everywhere. I can remember seeing Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill coming in and actually cleaning up after the band as they were so ashamed that they’d made a mess of this room. They both had the mops out and were wiping the walls down. I think they were worried in case Kingsley (Ward, Rockfield's owner) found out what they’d been up to.
The rock and roll lifestyle continued at Rockfield as the 80’s started to drift into the 90’s with the arrival of Irish hell-raisers, The Pogues. Paul Cobbold was asked to engineer their fifth album, Hell’s Ditch, working with former Clash star Joe Strummer, who was to produce the record.
‘I was never really into the Pogues. I’d just never enjoyed their music,’ Paul told me in a very ‘matter of fact’ voice. ‘I mean, Shane McGowan - what sort of a character is he? But inevitably I ended up working with them. Joe Strummer was producing them and I’d never been a big punk fan. I remember Andrew Lauder, who worked for United Artist Records, coming up to me when the Stranglers were at Rockfield a few years earlier, and saying to me “This is what’s coming Paul!” But I was wrong about The Pogues. These guys were great and it turned out to be the most enjoyable album I’ve ever worked on, for a number of reasons. I remember one day Joe Strummer poking me and shouting “For fuck sake press the record button!! Do you realise how honoured you are? They are ALL in the studio, at the same time, playing the same fucking song!!!” He later told me that the last couple of albums had been “overdub city”, because there had never been more than 2 members of the band in the studio at the same time. So the albums had been made up by recording the band separately and then dubbing all the parts together.
Next time - Chapter Nine ROBERT PLANT
If you want to read more of my blogs (with pictures) please go to rockfieldbook.blogspot.com
ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD by Jeff Collins is out on Sept 15th and is now available for pre-order from Amazon and all good book stores, including Waterstones, WHSmith, Wal-Mart and Tescos Etc etc.