Sunday, January 24, 2010

And then there's Mods!

October, 1997. During the daytime, while church meetings and such were going on above us, Tom, Winter and I couldn't make a lot of noise, so we had to practice as quiet as possible. We were making up a list of songs we were going to play for this show, as it was going to be all cover tunes. We had picked out songs by the Yardbirds, and a handful of songs from the first Kinks album, though none of the familiar songs (and most definitely not "You Really Got Me").

We would listen to an album on Tom's old record player (one of those old ones I remember from elementary school) and pick out the songs we wanted to learn. We would then play along to the song with our instruments as we listened to it, and then played the song through on our own a few times. Thus, we learned certain songs in a very quick, easy and effective way.

Towards the end of the month, and after a half-dozen practices that way, Dan joined us for late-evening practices (after Tom made his rounds through all parts of the church, making sure no-one was there). Winter's girlfriend, Jazzmyn, and other friends hung out in the living room space, listening to what was happening in the practice-room. It was a long living room, with the kitchen on one end, and the practice room on the opposite end. The place was furnished with old couches and restaurant-booth seats.

Winter and Tom would pick out certain songs, we'd play them through two or three times, and then we'd move onto the next one. Dan wasn't too familiar with the type of stuff we were playing, but he would learn it, play it his own way, and it worked every time. I was coming to grips with the Thomas organ, and though it was similar to my Wurlitzer back at home, it had reverb and lower-keyboard bass notes that I could use with my left hand.

On some of the songs, I merely banged the tambourine, as there were no particular keyboard parts in "I'm A Man" or "Evil Hearted You". On one rendition of "Heart Full Of Soul", Winter forgot the words, so I filled in, and then he said I should sing that one when we played it. I couldn't turn my microphone up that loud, as the PA speaker was hanging right over myself and the organ, and it would border on feedback. At least I had one song to myself!

Tom and Winter had taken the Kinks' song "Long Tall Shorty" and gave it new words, and called it "Handsome Devil". The words they now sang were not too far from the original, but we all got a good laugh out of it, especially at Tom's other title for it: "Long Tall Satan".

We were playing loud, fast and hard on these songs. Sometimes, Tom or Winter would call out a title, we'd play it (and very well), and it would immediately find itself on the setlist, tacked on the wall amongst Xeroxed shots of The Who and The Yardbirds. Some of them included "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "Who Do You Love". I was recording these practices on one of those hand-held GE tape-recorders, and though the sound came out distorted when I played it back afterwards, the energy on them was amazing (ain't that how it always happens?).

After three practices with Dan, we were ready to play the show.

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