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Andy Colquhoun - String Theory (DVD/CD)

Genre: Prog rock
Release Date: 21st April 2014

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: HST227CD
Price: $10.49
Available: In Stock

Andy Colquhoun - String Theory
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Andy Colquhoun is a guitarist with a peerless pedigree. He first came to the notice of the music press when in 1977 his band Warsaw Pakt recorded an album (Needle Time) that was in the shops 24 hours after the first note was recorded (viz the session ended at 10 p.m. on Saturday 26 November 1977 and the album was ready to be sold by 7a.m. on Sunday 27 November 1977.).

The band was trying to make a point about technology in doing this, and the album sleeve was a 12" square brown bag with stickers and rubber stamping to display the band name and album title. After Warsaw Pakt, he joined Brian James' Tanz Der Youth, (described as the world’s first hippy punks) subsequently moved on to the band The Pink Fairies, and then a band with ex-MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer.

For the best part of thirty years he was songwriting partner and collaborator with the legendary Mick Farren; a partnership which only ended with Mick’s sad death in July 2013.

In 2001 he released his first ever solo album He writes: “There comes a time in the life of every guitar player when he or she gets the chance to make a solo album. This is my attempt, and I've put as much guitar on it as possible".

But now there is a brand new one. I spoke to him recently about it...

JON: So, tell me about the solo album.

ANDY: Well, yeah, with the solo album; very, very pleased with the artwork and the way it’s coming together. I've already seen the CD in advance and I’m very happy about the way that’s going. It’s got twelve original tunes on it that I wrote, and I originally recorded those in 2010. And then there’s been an addition of another seven tracks that are all covers of songs that I like, and like playing. This is an instrumental album. The album I did before this, Pick Up The Phone, America!, just had four instrumental tracks on it. I think because I was working such a lot in the States with Mick Farren I didn’t get around to writing a lot of lyrics, so the lyrics that really meant something to me went on that album. Then after talking over what I was going to do next with some of my friends, I decided to do a solo of just instrumentals, and then just sat down and wrote them. Got the recording process quite together so that by the end of it I could just start on a song and finish it by the end of the week but it took a lot more time than that to get started. I think the first tune I really approached on it is one of the bonus tracks; that was ‘River Deep, Mountain High’everyone knows that tune and I’ve always loved it; and that was the one I got my friend Philthy from Motorhead to do the drums on. And following that, I think I did ‘Black Hole Sun’, which was a song I’d heard on the radio and I was so knocked out by it, I had to pull over and listen to it properly. You know how sometimes a song gets you like that?

JON: Oh, yes.

ANDY: And so then I just did a straightforward translation of the melody line on to lead guitar and reconstructed the backing, and did it that way. So that’s how it kind of started, and that took quite a long time, by which time I’d figured out the rest of the rest of the numbers I was going to do. I did carry on doing the standards but the challenging part was to come up with original tunes. So it starts off with this one title, ‘Back in the Day’, which is basically a Blues number – a slightly different sequence to a normal Blues tune – I was very pleased with that when I finally finished it and it went on from there. The sequence on the album is pretty much the order in which the numbers were recorded, ‘cause I’ll do one, and then that will be the start and then I’ll say, “Well, what it needs now is something a bit more up-tempo,” so I’d write another one. And at the same time I was concurrently doing videos of the tunes.

So yes, it was like, the second track would be ‘Blue Lagoon’, which has kind of got a different feel; it’s a bit more up-tempo. One of the notes I make on the CD is that when you’re writing an instrumental you’re not actually putting word-shaped thoughts in people’s heads s when they listen to it they’re a little freer than they might be if the storyline is written out. The other thing, which contributed to going instrumental, I was working with Mick Farren, who of course is a prolific wordsmith and there are his wonderful words so there wasn’t actually a call for any lyrics at that point in time and so I was free to explore the melodic ideas that you get in an instrumental. And,  of course, when you’re writing songs you might get a guitar break in the front and one in the middle and perhaps one in the out-trap. But it’s a whole different discipline to writing instrumentals.

JON: It’s also a style of music, which people wouldn’t immediately connect with you.

ANDY: Very possibly. Very possibly.

JON: You’re associated in most people’s minds with a certain sort of music. Are the instrumentals still in that style, in that sort of genre, or have you explored different genres doing it?

ANDY: Well, it definitely has given me the chance to go into other fields. I mean, when I started out I was writing punk-rock tunes. Well, even before that I was playing and writing, to some extent, British R&B-type tunes; sort of feel-good stuff, you know. So you do progress, you know, and you try different things. There’s quite a lot of fields in this, on the CD that’s going to be released. Where there’s a strong similarity would be sort of track twelve, ‘Exit Stage Left.’ It’s very much in the same mould as the Fairies or Deviants . You know, sort of hard and heavy. And there are other tracks that are on there that are like that. Like the third track, ‘Hot Rod’; that was a deliberate attempt to write an instrumental such as you might have heard coming out of a group in the sixties or seventies, perhaps, even. The fourth track, ‘Electroglide’, was basically a rock song. It’s a sort of like small bass-y song, you know. Modern rock and blues; that’s the one I’m referring to. Then the sixth track; that’s another punky thing that’s been given a guitar, and that’s followed by a ballad, and so on. So it’s quite a cross-section, you know.

JON: Do you like playing with machines rather than people? ‘Casue it’s a very different discipline, isn’t it?

ANDY: Yes. I do like sitting down and just making up a tune, and not having [laughs] to then get other musicians to over-dub into it. It can’t really be done. Once you’ve done that, you then have to start again with other musicians and build the whole thing up again. And if that’s easy, that’s great. If you’ve got a band going, and you’ve got the space and time to do those sort of things, then I probably prefer that. But it doesn’t happen every day of the week so I find it very useful to use the modern technology that we have, and I guess I’m going into a sound that’s based in the sixties and seventies, which is kind of where I’m coming from.

JON: Where did you record it?

ANDY: Well, at Cyber Music, which is what I call my home recordings, so that would be in various locations. It was all done in LA on Hollywood Boulevard. 


Track Listing:

1. Back In The Day
2. Blue Lagoon 
3. Hot Rod
4. Electroglide
5. Mod N' Rocker Blues
6. Free
7. Light Years From Home
8. Steamhammer
9. West 11
10. Crossroads
11. August
12.Exit Stage Left
13. River Deep Mountain High
14. Tin Soldier
15. Black Hole Sun
16.Summer In The City
17. Your'e No Good 
18. I Wanna Be Sedated
20. Shakin' All Over


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