Pastoral Pleasures - The latest Squire newsletter!

Hello and welcome to the latest Squire Fan Club Newsletter. First of all, thank you to everyone who bought the latest release, 'Jesamine'! Lots of you bought both colour versions and they make a great set! We are enjoying the comments and photos posted on the Squire Facebook page and Group page!

In case you missed last weeks release announcement, you can click on the sleeve photo above to go direct to the order page, if you haven't already added the record to your collection!

The ongoing series of singles, we're up to five so far, 'My Mind Goes Round In Circles', 'No Time Tomorrow', 'Girl On A Train', 'Every Trick (In The Book Of Love)'and now 'Jesamine' have certainly caught everyone’s imagination and it's been fun to revisit Squire's timeline in chronological order. We're noticing many of you revisiting the original releases and topping up your collections before the limited colour variations sell out! 

Whereas ‘Jesamine’ blasts with a celebration of neon pop culture, it is the B-side 'When I Try I Lie' that provides the silver cool counterpoint to these festivities and embodies a timeless quality that was also prevalent with many mid 1960s group recordings, when they started to explore alternative instrumentation to their regular beat group ensemble arrangements of guitar, bass and drums, and made their first steps towards 'serious' songwriting.

Songs such as The Beatles 'Yesterday' and The Rolling Stones 'As Tears Go By' provide examples of recordings that introduced a change in dynamic to the bands live based repertoire, and contributed an important emotional balance on their albums. These ballads create a less energetic atmosphere and often became 'radio hits' as DJs searched for songs to fit into a late night soundtrack.

Squire have always subscribed to this balance, as evidenced on the early single ‘The Face of Youth Today’ / ‘I Know A Girl’, the B-side recalling the best of Beatles ballads while figuratively showcasing a different side of the bands output. 

Get Smart! contains three such ballads, ‘Its Too Bad' which became the B-side to ‘Every Trick (In The Book Of Love)’, ‘In A World Of My Own', the album closer, often cited as a favourite of the whole album, and ‘When I Try I Lie’. All three songs share a pastoral strain that expresses a nostalgia for the solace and security of childhood, a recurring theme throughout the album. In particular, the ballad arrangements combine the sentiment of simplicity with traditional instruments and baroque stylings to create timeless laments that help convey the feeling in the lyrics.

‘When I Try I Lie’ is simply constructed with six string acoustic guitar and bass guitar accompaniment, supporting a solo voice and harmony. The backing track is embellished with a string octet (as a quartet overdubbed twice) recorded in a wood panelled drawing room at Jacobs Studio, a residential recording studio located in a large Georgian mansion just outside London.

The string arrangement was translated from sung harmonic ideas, and scored and conducted by Rachel Taylor, a student at Royal College of Music in London, using RCM performers. The finished song was then mixed in Los Angeles for inclusion on the album.

The mix in California, which was chosen for release, takes advantage of echo chambers to magnify a wider stereo image that exemplifies the sound of American early 1980s expensive soundscapes, and the string quartet is also spread wider in the mix with one overdub on each side in counterpoise. The song fades in and the bass enters on the second verse. 

However, a further version was mixed at Jacobs Studio during the ‘Jesamine’ mix down session, unheard until now! This version has the same instrumentation but exhibits a more organic sound. This alternative mix arrangement brings out the ambient sound of the studio drawing room, creating a classical Baroque style interpretation. You can hear the quartet performance as the mix engineer concentrates on the plaintive sounds of the stringed instruments rather than design a filmic style soundscape. Indeed, the Jacobs engineer, Ken Thomas can visualise and recall the sound of the quartet performing in the room as he also recorded them, and uses this as a sonic reference to create a more natural narrow stereo width, as if standing in front of them, both stereo overdubs are centered in the mix, one behind the other whereas the American mixer, Gary Brandt simply has a tape which includes two stereo string sections and has to interpret the arrangement based on first impressions and his prior experience of mixing songs with string arrangements.

Both interpretations and versions are correct, and represent the cultural expectations and training of the mix engineers of both continents, LA studios also served a TV & film industry and UK studios focused on a domestic music industry, and it was the wider LA mix that was chosen for the album and B-side as it contrasted with the British sound of Jesamine on the single, while on the album, it better followed ‘Take A Look’, also an American mix, before arriving at ‘Standing In The Rain’, mixed in UK, which contrasted in both sound and tempo and closed Side One.

It is interesting to revisit and re-assess these different approaches to the same song as we ponder the creative input, processes and decisions that make up the Get Smart album!

You can hear the London mix of ‘When I Try I Lie’ here. We would love to hear what you think of this alternative mix!

We have also assembled a Squire pastoral playlist for your personal pleasure!


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