Roger Waters studio bass*

IF you are enough of a Roger Waters fan to be reading this filler post, you might want to head over to @deadskinboy on instagram and follow his profile. He often posts fantastic, intimate and detailed pictures of Roger, which I gather he takes himself.

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I wont post too much from his account, because it’s not mine to use, but he did post an image recently which piqued my interest, which I thought I’d share.

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This is Roger, apparently in the studio, playing a bass which has been previously unseen in connection with him. No reason to assume it’s his, but for a gearhead, it’s certainly an interesting change. Perhaps he is taking a step away from the sound of the Duncan quarter-pounders in his original Precision, or perhaps this is an occasion of convenience. Time will tell!

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30 Days, 30 Albums – My Albums.

30 albums in 30 days is the challenge. These are my albums chosen in no particular order, other than what I felt on the day.

01 – Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon – 15/09/2016

02 – Elvis Costello, All This Useless Beauty – 12/09/2016

03 – Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells – 13/09/2016

04 – Roger Waters, Amused to Death – 14/09/2016

05 – St. Vincent, Strange Mercy – 15/09/2016

06 – Pete Townshend, White City: A Novel – 16/09/2016

07 – The Shins, Wincing the Night Away – 17/09/2016

08 – Pink Floyd, The Wall – 18/09/2016

09 – George Harrison, All Things Must Pass – 19/09/2016

10 – Elvis Costello, Mighty Like A Rose – 20/09/2016

11 – Pink Floyd, Animals – 21/09/2016

12 – Mike Oldfield, Amarok – 22/09/2016

13 – Dire Straits, Love Over Gold – 23/09/2016

14 – The Who, Quadrophenia24/09/2016

15 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Whiplash – 25/09/2016

16 – Pink Floyd, The Final Cut – 26/09/2016

17 – Eric Clapton, Pilgrim 27/09/2016

18 – Tom Petty, Greatest Hits – 28/09/2016

19 – The Beatles, Live at the Hollywood Bowl – 29/09/2016

20 – St. Vincent, St. Vincent – 30/09/2016

21 – The Books, The Way Out – 01/10/2016

22 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – 02/10/2016

23 – Elvis Costello, This Years Model – 03/10/2016

24 – Roger Waters, The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking – 04/10/2016

25 – John Mayer, Born and Raised– 05/10/2016

26 – Sting, The Last Ship – 06/10/2016

27 – Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, Painted From Memory – 07/10/2016

28 – The Shins, Port of Morrow – 08/10/2016

29 – Mike Oldfield, Ommadawn – 09/10/2016

30 – Pete Townshend, The Iron Man: The Musical – 10/10/2016

30 Days, 30 Albums – The Challenge

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I have recently begun a 30 days, 30 albums challenge, in the hope that somehow it will help me mix and master my new album, which I hope to complete in the same period.

I’m only a few days in, but I strongly recommend the challenge. It’s only by doing something like this that I remember just how little time I manage to devote to actually listening to music, and just how much I actually enjoy it. So if you feel like you need a similar epiphany, it’s an easy way  (I gather the rules don’t necessarily state that the days have to be consecutive).

I’m going to keep this site updated with the list as I go, and you can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lapelcelery/ if you want to keep track of what I’m listening to in a more visually appealing way… Maybe you’ll get some ideas of your own!

Finally, below is a sample of the pre-master copy of the first track from the new, upcoming album “Flowers”. Enjoy!

James Mercer’s Guitars

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One of my personal favourite bands in recent years has been The Shins, in no small part due to the amazing talent of frontman James Mercer.

As well as being, in my opinion, one of the finest lyricists of his, or any, generation, Mercer is a very gifted songwriter and skilled multi-instrumentalist.

Although the lead guitar sounds of the Shins often belong to Dave Hernandez and his Guild S-100, or lately Jessica Dobson and her Fender Elvis Costello signature Jazzmaster (below), Mercer is heavily associated with his own guitars, and they make up an important part of his personal sound, as well as the soundscapes of the Shins records.

Dave Hernandez

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The Shins perform for ACL Live at The Moody Theatre, Austin - 18/03/12

Jessica Dobson

Gibson Les Paul Special.

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This has been James’ main guitar for the past few years and tours with The Shins, starting in 2007. A double-cutaway Les Paul Special. Likely a modern reissue from the early 2000’s judging by the body dimensions, pickup spacing and Tune-O-Matic + wraparound bridge combination.

This example is in TV yellow, a colour reportedly developed by Gibson because it looked white on black-and-white TV, without causing the camera glare their white finishes did!

On comedian Marc Maron’s podcast WTF with Marc Maron, James talked about loving the sound of P90 pickups, a fact many of his guitar selections support.

 

Guild Starfire.

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Heavily used by James for a long time.

“Recently I’ve learned that James has an equal fondness for both his Les Paul Junior (I believe that’s what it is) and his Guild Starfire. Possibly troubling to him.” – Joe Plummer (Shins drummer), ‘Drowned in Sound’ interview*

The “Les Paul Junior” to which he refers may be a mistaken reference to the LP Special, or it may refer to some of the following…

Gibson J-45.

Mercer

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James’ main acoustic guitar. He has used this guitar on countless Radio and TV appearances, solo shows in support of Shins albums, and with Broken Bells.

 

Harmony Silvertone Stratotone.

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The first guitar James ever bought with his own money.

During an appearance on 360 sessions **, James gave a small tour of his home studio, and showed some of his guitars. I cannot identify the guitar on the right, though other images of it show that the heastock bears a sticker which reads “Del Rock”, but the one on the left is a Harmony Silvertone, which I have heard referred to as both a Jupiter and a Stratotone. The bridge is non-original (and very similar to one I talked about in an earlier post about Elvis Costello’s Jazzmasters), and interestingly enough, although Jessica Dobson played a similar silvertone on tour with the Shins, it didn’t have this bridge (this can also be seen in the same 360 sessions.)

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Les Paul Special.

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Owned by James and used as his main guitar for a while, before being essentially replaced by the yellow double-cut in 2007. This is a single cut, in a red finish. It can be seen in a lot of 2006 appearances with The Shins, as well as the video clip for ‘Saint Simon’. Photos of Mercer’s studio in Portland in 2016 seem to suggest he still owns this guitar.

 

Green Vintage Airline.

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‘This is an old Airline guitar that I got at a pawn shop in Albuquerque for 40 bucks. I think I tried to talk the guy down even lower, but he was like “Come on man, it’s 40 bucks.” It was a very cheap guitar. It was designed for kids to… ruin basically. And it sounds great. ‘  – James Mercer, 360 Sessions: The Shins .

 

VOX hollowbody.

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There are a few images of this one in James’ home studio, and he’s been using it on tour with Broken Bells.

Then there are some oddities. Guitars with pictorial evidence that James has used, but which don’t necessarily seem to have belonged to him.

Gibson Les Paul Junior.

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All footage and photos of James using this guitar seems to come from the same session for KEXP radio, so it could well be a borrowed instrument, but it does seem to foreshadow the double-cut special in TV yellow which he would acquire later. And remember Joe Plummer’s quote about the Les Paul Junior from earlier? Maybe there’s more to this one than pictorial evidence suggests.

Gibson SG Special.

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All the images of James playing this SG seem to date (by clothes) to the same concert, so I presume it was borrowed, perhaps after a broken string.

Fender Telecaster.

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Again, this guitar seems to have only been used at the one performance. I don’t recognise the band either, so perhaps it is another instance of borrowing.

In any case, the guitar appears to be a heavily reliced Fender Telecaster to 50’s specs in butterscotch blonde with a single ply black scratchplate.

At the time of writing, The Shins Instagram has been full of images from new recording sessions, so the future looks exciting!

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*  You can find the interview at http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4144596-the-shins–introducing-the-band

**  https://vimeo.com/63616371

Breaking into the YouTube market

Well, I finally got around to posting a bunch of demos for my next couple of albums to YouTube. You can find them on my channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Rf1XWTgkHEsyU3h793kMQ

Here’s my personal favourite, written to a beat and written around lyrics that came first, both pretty unusual practices for me.

“We’re nothing more than tinker’s toys, drawn up from a chart.

Wind us up and let us go. Watch us fall apart.”

Andy Fairweather Low’s Stratocasters

401px-Andy_Fairweather-LowIn his career as one of the most reputable session guitarists in the world*, Andy Fairweather Low has used many different guitars. From the late eighties/early nineties, as a part of Eric Clapton’s (and in 1991, George Harrison’s) band, he used Eric Clapton signature guitars with Lace Sensors almost exclusively, but he has since stated in interviews

“I never got on with the lace sensor pickups. I found some old humbuckers and actually, some new P90s. I like the sound they make.”

I have yet to see any evidence of his P90 guitars, but for a long period beginning in the late nineties, he was often seen with some Eric Clapton Strat’s, heavily modified with these Humbuckers.

There is little more to be said about these guitars, except that he appears to have had at least five different versions, two each in Black and Olympic White, fitted with either one or two Humbuckers, and a red version with three, as seen at the ‘Concert for George’ .

AFL

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For anyone interested in seeing and hearing his Black Strat in action, check out his amazing solo in ‘Money’ from Roger Waters’ ‘In the Flesh – Live’ DVD.

 

*Andy has played with the likes of Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, David Crosby, The Band, Richard and Linda Thompson, Dave Gilmour, The Who and Pete Townshend, BB King, Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, Jimmy Page, Ronnie Lane, Linda Ronstadt, Roddy Frame, Emmylou Harris, Joe Satriani, the Bee Gees, Jeff Beck, The Impressions, Lonnie Donegan, Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, David Sanborn, Benmont Tench, Warren Zevon, Charlie Watts, Mary J. Blige, Dave Edmunds, Georgie Fame, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Rush, Phil Collins, Van Morrison, Gerry Rafferty, Chris Rea, Buddy Guy, Chris Barber, Jackson Browne, Bill Wyman and Sheryl Crow, amongst others.