Love & Music: Play! Play! Play!

by Mr. Happy

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about

Songs written by Joe Harvard or Ted Pine, as noted on individual song credits.

Recorded through a Neotek I board to an Otari 1/2" 8-track at Fort Apache South in 1986. This was one of two big projects that Joe worked on during the first winter and summer of 1985-'86 after co-founding Fort Apache along with Sean Slade, Paul Q. Kolderie and Jim Fitting in October, 1985 [the Lifeboat sessions were the other intensive project Harvard was involved in].

The basic tracks were laid by Pine and Harvard with drummer Jerome Deupree and bass player Sebastian Steinberg, the same rhythm section that remained with the group for it's rather brief life span -- just over a year as it turned out [Steinberg then went to 500 TV with Harvard, recording 'All Fired Up']. Once the drum and bass basics were done Joe and Ted began their aural experiments, adding parts and mixing, recording a few times a week over several months. Dave "Bone" Pedersen joined the band on guitar after the record was complete, allowing Joe to play live the Electric XII string, Vincent Bell Bellzouki and Coral Sitar used on the album. While Dave does not play on the LP, he worked up and performed the backing vocal parts with Ted and his distinctive crooning adds "just the right touch of Boneliness" according to co-producer Harvard.

Joe and Ted were both 'production fans' who stood in awe of the work of George Martin, as well as enjoying a healthy regard for writer-producers like Tommy James, Nick Lowe, Prince and Brian Wilson, arranger-producers like Quincy Jones, Tom Dowd and Tony Visconti, and mavericks like Brian Eno "whose technique seemed to change organically with each record they produced "[Harvard]. Pine especially favored Wilson's Beach Boys work, and both envied Gary Katz et al as they read Steely Dan bassist Becker's description of 'spending our twenties cooped up in dark, windowless rooms recording music", an ideal to them more than an affliction. Together Pine and Harvard embarked on an ambitious effort to fit as many parts onto their 8-track songs as possible.

Following Martin's lead on the Beatles albums the Mr. Happy team began bouncing tracks extensively to create enough "space" on their eight-track project. In this period just before the advent of affordable sampling and computer lock-ups they managed to fit as many as fourteen or fifteen discrete "virtual" tracks onto some songs, squeezing these onto the eight available spaces. Some tunes have four guitar tracks and four vocal tracks in addition to the three tracks of drums,the bass track and a pair or more of Ted's layered and stacked keyboards.

Joe says: "It would be comic. Ted would arrive with three keyboard parts, and I would never have less than a pair of guitar parts in mind. I was forever thinking in terms of two geets in those days, the Keith+Brian, Keith+Mick = one part school, but with a twelve string or Nashville tuning plus the regular guitar. Whereas nowadays I think I write so that one guitar can handle all the parts necessary to carry the tune, I still love that sort of instrumental arranging. Luckily Bone came along to cover the live split, but it was hilarious when Ted and I would be sitting in front of the 8-track and already had 5 tracks without anybody else on board yet."

In preparation for the sessions Ted spent considerable time programming the sounds on his Roland synthesizer, adding the analogue synth equivalent of the dirty key licks, overdriven clavinets and bell tones that both he and Harvard enjoyed. Harvard reports "Theo would use nothing as is ... I don't think I ever saw him use a stock patch for any of the work we did together at Fort Apache, which included a Mark Sandman-sung indie film theme, a lost, not so bad Linn drum version of "Rock On" by T. Rex, and stuff I producedthat I needed keys for like the Neats Crash at Crush LP."

Joe on the album: "We got crazy with the bouncing and overdubs. Despite Ted's role at Contempt, and my year and a half putting So-So together, neither of us had ever enjoyed access to this kind of dedicated-to-recording, full-time studio space -- or to a machine as solid as the Otari 1/2" for that matter. We had both read enough about George Martin and the Beatles to know that these crazy amounts of bouncing could be done, and we kept referring back to their increasingly complex 'four-track' creations. We hadn't read enough, however, to realize that the truly genius engineers at Abbey Road had all sorts of amazing tricks and devices cooked up by the house techs -- automatic tape delays for the voices, dual four-tracks locked together, etc etc -- as well as world-class summing amplifiers and other exotic devices that kept hiss and noise from tape bounces to a minimum. They also used fresh tape on every bounce, very expensive, and made reduction mixes of rhythm section instruments, plus Martin's arranging expertise allowed placement of multiple instruments on the same track that could be EQ'ed, say adding lows or high end, without interfering with one another too badly, which is genius stuff. Had we known these things we might not have tried a lot of the really extreme things we did -- things that made the final mixes more difficult, thinned the sound instead of making it fatter. But on some songs the approach worked surprisingly well. ."

The record is named after a line in the song "Rock and Roll Band" by Boston,, Joe says " because it is one of those beautiful examples of absurdity in rock lyricism, especially when combined with the operatic tone of the vocal on that song ... just silly, really, but also a very rocking little story you enjoy despite it's foofy men-in-tights aspects: 'just another band out of Boston', shit yeah that's us! You know? Little snippets of movies, of both great and wretched songwriting, quotes from books we liked or what have you, they would get stuck in someone's head and become a mantra. Ted and I were especially prone to this. He spent months saying 'What am I, an Octupus?' in reference to Naked Lunch, and there were an infinite number of other catch phrases we entertained ourselves with. I know I, personally, was doing X about once every week at the time, and it made things like that seem a lot funnier.

Joe adds: "I even got my second tattoo, a heart-shaped note on a musical staff, which is just as silly, the day after Mr. Happy played a Halloween show in Newport RI. So it's Love and Music, Play! Play! Play! forever, right?!"

credits

released August 8, 1986

Produced, engineered & arranged by Joe Harvard & Ted Pine at Fort Apache South, vocal arrangements by Ted, Joe & Dave "Bone" Pedersen.
Brave Dog cover drawing by Susan Huffman
layout by Gary Smith

Ted "Theo" Pine -- k/b's, Roland synth programming, vocals
Jerome Deupree - drums
Sebastian "Bash" Steinberg - bass
Dave "Bone" Pedersen - vocals
Joe Harvard - Epiphone Riviera electric 12-string, Nick Hoffman Brian Jones Model, Telecaster, Tokai Strat and Vincent Bell Coral Electric Sitar, vocals

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about

Joe Harvard Asbury Park, New Jersey

"VU & Nico" author, producer-artist-musician
LP creds: Dinosaur, Jr, Pernice Brothers, Throwing Muses etc; spiritual midwife to tons more as co-founder/owner of Fort Apache '85-'93.
An East Bostonian based [One Banned Man, Dub Proof, Doctor Danger, Cockwalkers] in NJ & MOTH NYC Storyslam Champ '01; loves cats. Asbury Music Awards: Top Americana '09/Top Multi-Instrumentalist & Top Avant-Garde '10.
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Track Name: Sargasso Sea
Whoa no! Down we go! Deep and wide, Sargasso Sea
Land ho! Down we go! Deep and wide, Sargasso Sea
Track Name: My Christmas Song
Well Jesus went down to Bethlehem town He rode on a mule just like any other
Meanwhile Joseph wears a frown ‘cuz his baby’s on the way and the ride is getting’ rougher
And he was tired / But Joseph tried / To comfort his young expectant wife
The road was dark. They had no mark /
but they followed that star through the dark of the night

When they pulled into town there was noone around
As they knocked on each door no reply to them
But she had to lay down so a manger was found and hidden from the eyes of the stable men
The dogs and sheep / the ducks and geese / Gave warmth and comfort where the humans gave none
They huddled round / Without a sound / And they watched young Mary give Joseph a son

CHORUS:
When Jesus went down to Bethlehem town [repeat x4]

I saw on the new that another boy died His little sister held him where he fell by the roadside
Who knows, Christmas means things that we can never know and we can never realize
And things get tough / Yeah things get rough /
But you can’t close your eyes and you can’t pretend
that we’re not
Just as responsible For people’s problems just because we got presents by the treeside
CHORUS, REPEAT
Track Name: There You Go Again
There you go again, throwing yourself at the only one who doesn't give a shit
There you go again ... There you go again