Welcome to the latest newsletter, and thank you to everyone who has bought the new record! We've had a great response to the record's release! Originally available in Japan, it quickly became a hard to find item, with import copies going for $120 on Ebay!
It has now been remastered from the original tapes by Denis Blackham, who not only mastered the original Japanese CD release, but has worked on every Squire and Hilo Record release since 'Walking Down The KIngs Road!. The cover has been completely recreated from the original photos by Paul Bevoir, who designed the original sleeve! So the record is better than the original, and as authentic as can be.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will dissect the album and the stories behind the writing and recording, along with some fascinating post Squire demos and live performances!
Like a documentary recorded quickly, the recording session captured a moment in time, not trying to be glossy. The natural mood of the music hopefully revealing a soulful truth, while the lyrics connect to the listener to stir up similar emotional memories.
The cycle of songs on Passengers On Trains are presented from the perspective of a troubadour that sets off to explore the wide world, and instead finds answers in the faces of the passengers on the London bound train.
Lyrically the songs are darker then the prior Squire set of mostly positive outlooks. From 'Get Ready To Go!' through to 'The Place I Used To Live', the lyrics have always focused on forward motion, or wistful glances back at childhood before moving on.
Here, the lyrics explore a more adult narrative. A journey in search of values, and songs not of the usual break up, but perhaps of break down.
The solo project was all about finding a different voice, so the melodies are also pitched deliberately low to bring out a deeper timbre. The production avoided the signature double tracked vocal sound from Squire records, lending a different authenticity to the performance and gravitas to the words. The sound was also focused away from the previous powerpop mod soul influences to explore a more neofolk environment.
Although the use of the familiar blue 12-string Rickenbacker, not only on the tracks ,but on the front cover, may suggest an American derived style of folk, with The Byrds being an obvious influence, the arrangements also tried to re-imagine a British equivalent of traditional music, such as XTC had attempted for their Mummer LP, and explore a closer to home version of folk roots crossed with a pop sensibility. While American powerpop influences had inspired the previously released record ‘September Gurls’ the idea behind Passengers On Trains was to return to the 1960s musical origins and find a new way out of the decade. Instead of following a psychedelic or garage approach, find the alternative path.
The records and influences that provided a ‘touchstone’ reference included The Plastic Ono Band first album for the dry emotive quality, and which also lent its pastoral setting as a concept for the front cover.
Nic Jones LP ‘Penguin Eggs’ was a key influence on the percussive acoustic guitar playing,
whle songwriters such as Richard Thompson / Fairport Convention provided a template for the overall 'home-made' English folk baroque approach.
So while songs like 'Passengers On Trains' tap clearly into the previous mod influences, the Fender Jazzmaster guitar through a Fender Blues Junior adding a grunge element,
(the contrast of 'Passengers on Trains' going into 'Religion Without Truth' mirrors Squire Get Smart’s 'The Life' going into 'It’s Too Bad'!), and 'Solitude Surrounding' is unashamedly The Byrds, the influence of Nic Jones is heard on 'Fair-weather Friend', 'Suicide' and 'Tapestry of Fire', while 'Troubadour' crystallises the overall folk approach with its impromptu start and 12-string acoustic guitar sound.
Each song suggests loss of faith but also provides a life affirming answer, buried in the lyric, like a parable. Yet for al the honesty and melancholic momentum of the story lines, the overtly pop melodies hint at the eventual destination, and a positive outcome. Ultimately the album presents a collection of pop-leaning folk songs, that explore the dark side of the psyche set against the unavoidable catchy pop melodies that make them easy to sing along to!
Indeed, on release in Japan, reviews in Guitar Magazine, Barf-out Magazine, Doll and Rockin’ On described the album as:
“Strong emotive songs of great beauty”, “This is the good conscious of pop”, “Great songs from an artist with a total understanding of pop”, “The sound of sincere evergreen pop” - picking up on the pop melodies that underscored the new sound.
The tracks were recorded at Sun Shack Studios in Farnham, Anthony’s own studio, which provided the opportunity to create the right stage and atmosphere for the performances. As you can see from the studio shots, the live room was deliberately turned into a 1970s style den of deadness, with thick acoustic panels to avoid any natural reflection, in order to recreate the sounds of early 1970s recordings, which also helped evoke the sense of solitude and isolation. This intimate atmosphere, with the songs quickly learnt, improvised and played live 'off the floor' straight to tape helped preserve the natural sound, with minimal sonic seasoning to create an album with a sound that evokes an immediate visceral experience and change of mood.
The previously released ‘Live In Tokyo’ CD provides a good gateway between the sound and songs of Squire and Passengers On Trains, and can be seen as the companion record for this release. We’ve reduced the price so you can enjoy both records for £15!
See you next week for a deeper dive!