Posts Tagged ‘harry nilsson’

Vadí? Nevadí.

Vadí? Nevadí.

With that first album ‘Down There For Dancing’ coming out this month there’s not been a chance to post here about any of the ‘Project 52’ shenanigans but they’ve still been happening.

Recently Ben Hayward of Mancunian Matters interviewed me about the project and you can read all about it here:

So I haven’t really posted the last few as I didn’t want to swamp you all with ’52’ music at the same time as relentlessly pummelling you with the ‘Down There For Dancing’ album, the new videos for ‘Wag…’ and ‘Illya Kuryakin’ and forthcoming live dates.

Here’s a quick catch/round-up of all the previous ’52’ tracks I haven’t posted about…

O Joyce
Around Springtime I remember somebody (I can’t remember who) talking about a macaw owned by a friend of theirs.

Apparently macaws live for a very long time and this one had been around for donkey’s years (or macaw’s years I suppose).

This macaw used to say often the phrase: “Make us a cup of tea, Joyce!”
Not unusual for one of these birds to mimic human speech however what interested me was that Joyce was apparently the long dead grandmother of the current owner and that the mother remembered her grandmother (Joyce’s mother and the current owner’s great grandmother) saying this to Joyce.

The bird was quoting the matriarch from beyond the grave.

Quite pleased with Harry Nilsson-esque mouth-tuba backing vocals on the choruses. Definitely more than a little bit of a Kinks vibe as well.

Listen here:

Fudge Mountain
An excellent topic suggestion from my old Johnny5thWheel collaborator Andy Lyth. The song ‘Pure Imagination’ from the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory soundtrack  was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse and has long been one of my all time favourites. I’ve covered it in my live sets with Johnny5thWheel and on my own for about 5 years now.

When a lost chapter of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl was recently uncovered Andy suggested to me that I write the song Newley and Bricusse might have written had this chapter been made into a scene in the WW movie. Newley is a huge influence on me (and others… think no one ever sounded like Bowie before Bowie? Check out Newley.)

It was a tantalising suggestion and once I had started working on it I got chatting with Mickey Van Gelder (wonderful songwriter and fellow Newley enthusiast). We discussed and swapped the sort of chords Newley used to like using and I asked Mickey to come and help me record the song. He is playing playing and providing backing vocals.

Listen here:

Vadí Nevadí
This track is inspired by Daisies – the 1966 Czechoslovak film written and directed by Věra Chytilová. I watched it at a music hall in Aldgate in September.

Would really like to get some violin on this track. Any gaps you might hear in the instrumentation here are definitely crying out for a violin part.

Listen here:

I recently played a house show with Natalie McCool and we thought it would be fun to meet up and write/record a song together. It was. Lots of fun. I went over to Liverpool and we recorded it onto my phone at her rehearsal rooms. Then I made some overdubs when I got back to Manchester.

Listen here:

Like every track on the ’52’ page so far these are all demos but I have just started to pick through this collection with The Tontine to figure out which ones we would like to record for our next album. This project has been mammoth, maddening but ultimately very rewarding. There are only SIX songs left to write before I complete my challenge. I remember vividly being six songs into to the challenge and starting to realise what I had let myself in for. Anyway six left and I’m still taking topic suggestions. Not only that if you wanted to add any additional parameters that might be interesting as well. Just tweet your suggestions @LomaxRichard on Twitter ( and add #p52.

Where better to show your working than in a copy of  Bido Lito!?

Where better to show your working than in a copy of Bido Lito!?

Deadline: 28th May 
Topic: A Maths Professor Who Can Only Express Love Through Theorems 
Collaborators: The Happy Soul, ELO, GT PhD
Listen to the track here:

Well thank you to John H for suggesting this faintly ridiculous song topic. A very busy week finishing production work on the Jess Roberts E.P. and touring with Tim Holehouse meant I arrived home on Wednesday afternoon from Leeds at 3pm with a bunch of creatively draining domestic chores to do and this song still as yet unattempted (oh look at that – I made up a word).

I had convinced myself I would fail this week. I was exhausted and this ’52’ challenge was beginning to take its toll on my patience and nerves especially whilst more domestic and mundane matters kept interfering. I slumped into a couch and stated “I am going to fail. This is over.”

Many thanks to my live-in companions, JB and The Happy Soul for telling me that I still had a few hours before the deadline and that it was still possible.

Part of the problem I feel was that this topic felt like it had to be engaged with so completely yet I have barely even a passing acquaintance with Mathematical theorem. Also music and maths are so intertwined that my obsessive nature feel it’s a missed opportunity not having the music itself derive from some formula for the perfect form; in the style of the baroque composers or Bach.

It was 8pm before I could bring myself to look at the notes I had made on the song this week. On Monday I had played a show in Liverpool at Sound Food And Drink with mutant bluesman Tim Holehouse and as happenstance would have it, there was a PhD in the philosophy of maths in the audience who very kindly attempted to explain Henri Poincare’s theory of Conventionalism to me. This formed the basis for the second verse with its notion that if everything doubled in size that one would never notice.

The “Shall I compare thee…” line I had since deciding to write this song. I enjoyed the idea of trying to juxtapose the elegant yet complex theorem with the more flowery excess of Romanticism and Shakespeare. Cribbing a quote on how maths is a “useful fiction” and with a chorus to go and knowing I wanted the song to end with Q.E.D. (thus it is proven), I was only a Pythagoras mention away from finishing the song! Highly appropriate given the Greek’s theories and discoveries in the relationship between music and maths.

The writing was eventually finished at 8:48pm and sent at 8:55pm to the Deadline Box. The deadline is 9pm… Close one…

This recording was made on a rainy Monday afternoon with the glorious Nilsson-esque backing vocals of The Happy Soul and the engineering assistance of ELO.

I’ve mentioned my own perfectionism hamstringing this song but another issue was that I am ceasing to find stimulation in constantly working to a brief. Something needs to give, to change in this project if it is to survive past its halfway point (not far off). I will not writing to a brief or a preconceived topic for the next few weeks. I look forward to sitting in front of a completely blank page and creating something completely from scratch.

No idea what next week’s topic is. This makes me glad…