The Pogues were a constant feature around London during the eighties and early nineties. At the time, their albums never really clicked for me, although I could hear the great songs involved. Somehow, the realization never really clicked. So I didn’t really get the plot until a friend, the multi-instrumentalist David Coulter, joined the band in 1993.
I saw them on St Patrick’s day at the Beacon Theater, New York. Backstage afterwards, I was struck by the uniqueness of these thoughtful and articulate gentlemen, and we stayed in touch. We talked about my producing their next CD, but by early 1994 I had decided to quit hired-gun production permanently, even as the phone was ringing off the hook. I had had enough of the business, which seemed to be taking me through all the familiar cycles while being very rewarding financially. It was time for a quality of life decision. I would take up a corporate post at Warner Music International, investigating the then wild west of multimedia and new technologies for them. Music-making went on hold.
Now knowing them, years later I returned to their albums and realized I had misjudged. One song in particular stood out, the first on Waiting For Herb: Tuesday Morning. It’s the sad but optimistic aftermath of a lovers’ row that extends into the following week. These apparently rough, tough punks were seriously sensitive under it all. I thought it could be expressed differently and, liking the song enormously, Kit Hain brought her rich, sweet voice along.
I had several fresh arrangement ideas to try. Kit would sing the verses over drums and percussion alone, to give maximum contrast with her warm voice. I would introduce the horns with just the deep trombone and baritone sax, playing in close harmony (slightly against the rules) to give a gritty, rather gnarled sound, further vocal contrast. And I would write a break for the Uptown Horns as a section, rather than for just one instrument. That's good for a start.
I set the length at 32 bars, around a minute, so it took some careful work to bring off, aided by the deep horns entering in the pure, punchy, horn-only breakdown that wasn't planned specifically but was just one of those things you find messing around. The initial tango rhythm wasn’t deliberate either. It just emerged through working the horn solo material from its initially stripped-down statement.
With the percussion orientation, Johnny Folarin's congas and bongos are especially important in their contribution. He plays against an assortment of electronic sounds.
Manipulating a recording of this scale takes some care. The original structure finished in the minor key, after a section in the major. Kit and I decided that the lyrical optimism would be better served by flipping these sections around. And so it turned out to be, with a tangible anticipation of happiness in the final chorus refrains. In real life, of course, that would remain to be seen.
- MT March 2006
Thorne at the Stereo Society (selected links):
to Thorne's home page (all links)
to Thorne's production commentaries
to Thorne's image gallery
to The Contessa's Party CD page
to Thorne talks to Sound On Sound magazine about Tainted Love, April 2012
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