Light of the World/ I Don't Know What I'm Doing
First 1000 copies are hand numbered on the disc and the card sleeve. JUDGE SMITH WRITES: In August 2006, I was on a volcanic Greek island, walking on a remote, deserted, sun-baked promontory, jutting into the Aegean. I wandered to and fro looking at fossilized trees whose stone trunks, some composed of solid agate, emerged vertically from the ground where they had once stood as living trees, 20 million years ago. In this primordial and archaic landscape, it suddenly seemed quite probable to me that Pan or maybe Dionysus, perhaps with a few Dryads in tow, would appear over the rise. It certainly felt as if someone, or something, was approaching. What happened instead was that I 'got' a song. Within the space of a few minutes, a killer riff, a strange and compelling chorus melody, and a set of decidedly odd lyrics had arrived in my head; unplanned, un-worked-for and totally unexpected. Like many, much greater, composers, I have long been conscious of the weird phenomenon of 'Artistic Inspiration', and I have been it's beneficiary on more occasions than I really deserve. However, most of these bits of Inspirational Fairy Dust consist of a little riff, or a part of a tune, or two or three chords, which I have to fashion into completed songs by the sweat of my brow; so for me to receive a complete song; words, music, arrangement, the works, in one chunk, was extraordinary. This song was 'I Am The Light of the World', and I was surprised and delighted to be given it. However, I got quite freaked-out when the same thing happened, in the same place, the next day! This second song, 'I Don't Know What I'm Doing', wasn't quite so complete; there was one small bit of the tune that I had to write myself later, and I only came home that night with half the lyrics, but the two songs were certainly intended to be part of a single package. (Intended by who? Search me!) Both featured spoken verses and sung choruses, and the speaking voice was undoubtedly American. Both featured similar sounds; there was a screaming saxophone trading bars with a hard rock guitar, there were elaborately multi-tracked vocal choruses, and there were cellos all over the place. It seemed obvious to me that I was supposed to record and release these songs as a single, and once I got going, things fell into place with surprising ease. Finding a really exciting lead guitarist for the project was a no-brainer; John 'Fury' Ellis was clearly the man. His career began as a punk guitarist and founder member of iconic punk band The Vibrators in 1974, and he played on albums and tours for Peter Gabriel and Peter Hammill before joining The Stranglers. For the saxophones, my first choice was equally simple. I have known and played with David Jackson since 1969, before he joined Van der Graaf Generator, where he became famous as a charismatic performer, known bizarrely as 'the Van Gogh of the saxophone'. David is constantly in demand as a performer, and is a world authority on music therapy for disabled children, but he managed to find a window in his schedule, and during the new band's recording sessions, Studio Judex resounded with the unmistakable, terrifying blasts of the famous Double Horn. The studio air-conditioning promptly died from the shock, but despite soaring temperatures, 'Jaxon' gave us everything the songs could possibly need, including a rising sax figure, in octaves, over the final, repeated choruses of 'I Am The Light Of The World', which finally reaches such a stratospheric altitude that it sounds as if 'Jaxon', the saxophones, and the song, are all about to explode. The mysterious American narrator, that both songs required, led to some head-scratching until an obvious solution presented itself. There are no keyboards on either song, but my keyboard player of choice, Michael Ward-Bergeman, is from Long Island, and has a fine, acerbic, New York twang to his voice. It's surprisingly difficult to speak, in rhythm, to a piece of music, and it's really a job for a musician, rather than an actor or voice-over artist. 'I Don't Know What I'm Doing' also needed an acoustic rhythm guitar track, and for this I called on Brighton multi-instrumentalist and producer Rikki Patten. Playing really good, hard-rocking, rhythm guitar on an acoustic, is a remarkably rare gift, but Rikki can do it, and did it for me for a fried-egg sandwich. For the mix we went to John Ellis's friend, Pat Collier, the bass player from the Vibrators, now a successful producer specialising in rock bands, including Jesus And Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The Oyster Band (one of my personal favourites) and Maximo Park. Pat is an easygoing and confident host. He rapidly created mixes that started showing impressive cojones, and in less than a day, we had a couple of masters that were big, beefy, buffed-up (and a little bizarre). So these are the Tribal Elders, and the ELDERS HAVE CHOSEN TO ROCK.