Can we listen to the demo again?
It’s often the most asked question in the studio as artists play the long standing recording game of ‘chasing the demo.’ A song has been written and recorded in a fairly rudimentary but effective way and no one in the room is convinced they are getting it to sound any better, despite spending four times more time and multiplying the budget by ten.
The stories are legion. Bruce Springsteen‘s Nebraska – demos for an album meant to be called ‘Murder Incorporated’ and recorded on such basic equipment (the Tascam 4 track Cassette recorder) Bob Ludwig refused to master it. On Last week’s AC we played a lovely song from Neil Young’s lost Hitchhiker record which has been on the shelves since 1976. In this case Neil took songs one by one and found homes for them on other records, but it was interesting to know where they all fitted in to the bigger picture.
On this week’s AC we catch up with former Bright Eyes singer and song writer, Conor Oberst. His own demo story adds a new dimension to the sagas. Last year he put together some work tapes on piano and acoustic guitar of a bunch of songs for his forthcoming album. He sent them round to the musicians he was hoping to ask onto the final recordings including esteemed rock legend, drummer, Jim Keltner. What happened next was what makes Conor’s story well worth following.
His record label boss opined that these recordings were worthy of a release in their own right and advised Conor he wanted to do just this, but encouraged him also to go and make the record he was planning to make in the first place. At this point Mr Keltner’s enthusiasm for the demos went overboard and he signed up to co-produce the forthcoming fully realised album with Conor. The result is that the demo album, ‘Ruminations’ came out a few month before ‘Salutations.’ It’s an interesting listen to play them both back to back.
On a warm evening last month we caught up with Conor Oberst in Glasgow’s ABC before his show there that evening. He was on great form and we talked extensively about his life, those records, Bright Eyes, his road band – The Felice Brothers and his special relationship with Jim Keltner.
You can hear all of that conversation plus an in depth look at these two remarkable records on this week’s Another Country.
Listen out too for records for brand new things from Elliot Brood, Gill Landry, Lady Antebellum and JD McPherson. As our good friend Eddie Stubbs might well say, ‘You may have been to a concert before…but tonight…you will hear a show.’
We’re live from five past nine this Tuesday on BBC Radio Scotland FM. Join me if you can