That Great Gretsch Sound! - The latest Squire Newsletter


Welcome to the new Squire Fan Club newsletter, where we take you into the rehearsal studio and perform ‘Has Our Love Gone Bad’ with the Get Smart horn section!

This week starts with a sombre moment as we reflect on the passing of Charlie Watts, drummer for The Rolling Stones. This is a sad occasion for everyone, and we have read many wonderful tributes and remembrances in newspapers, TV and on line - it was front page news across all the UK daily papers, and the stories continue to resonate around the world. It is a particularly poignant moment for Squire as well, as his influence looms large across the Squire repertoire. We posted our own tribute as a Squire playlist of songs that reflected his influence. 

Kevin and I grew up with Beatles and Stones records and we learnt to play together along with the Stones records. They were in concert pitch and the songs invariably used blues chords of E A and D, making them easier to learn, whereas Beatles songs were invariably complex and varispeeded to a slightly different pitch before mastering, making it impossible to play along to unless you retuned your guitar and had the guitar chord songbook to double check your efforts! We persevered with the Beatles early albums, but loved the simplicity of the Stones records, especially the live album 'Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out’.

Though Ringo and Charlie were comparable musicians, and their influence and legacy as drummers in two of the most famous bands in the world is without question, it's also interesting to reflect that their careers could not have been further apart. Ringo only played live with the Beatles for four years in a song centric band until they stopped touring in 1966, followed by recording and the occasional performance, whereas Charlie was a lifelong live performer, playing The Rolling Stones songs across the world for fifty years or more in a rhythm centric band, in a commanding role. The media resonates with how he was a drummer's drummer, a style icon, an eternal fan and student of mastering his instrument, and lover of Gretsch drums.

A couple of weeks ago we considered the influence of Rickenbacker guitars on the Squire sound and so this week it is fitting to consider the Gretsch drums! Kevin chose the brand for the Charlie Watts connection and has only ever played Gretsch drums. The credits on the first album 'Hits From 3000 Years Ago' declare 'That Great Gretsch Sound'!

His set up of simple four drum kit with one mounted tom and floor tom copies Charlie's arrangement. Last year (14 November 2020)  we considered the Hits From 3000 Years Ago album and how the tracks ‘I Don't Get Satisfaction’ and 'I Put My Arms Around Her’ exhibit a mid 60s Stones obsession of the albums 'Between The Buttons' and 'Aftermath' with their simple arrangements.

Indeed, the above playlist reflects Kevins obsession and encyclopaedic knowledge of Stones rhythms and fills, and when presented with a new song, he would invariably try out a few Charlie licks to see if they would fit. This often lead to an interesting tension between the more melodic Beatles song style arrangement with an undercarriage of Stones based swing! Indeed, Kevin puts the swing in Squire! The dance in the downbeat! Compare the straight Mods Mayday version of ‘Kings Road’ to the swing single version, the 4/4 demo of Jesamine to the swing single version. The swing comes from the same Charlie Watts jazz influence that gave the Stones their groove and made them a dance band instead of a straight beat group blues band. It's also the underlying essence of many Squire recordings.

We have recently been on a Get Smart! trip, tracing the songs from demo to final record and have mentioned before that many of the songs were 'road tested' before the recording sessions, as the live side of the Fan Club Album will demonstrate, containing an alternative version of ‘Stop That Girl’, ‘Every Trick’ in the higher key to the ‘Girl On A Train’ B-side version, and ‘You're The One’.

The album live side also contains the song ‘Has Our Love Gone Bad’, originally destined for the abandoned ‘Girl On A Train’ album, and later revisited for inclusion on the Tangerine 'Get Ready To Go' CD and later the Squire ‘Fan Club’ CD.

In fact the song was considered for Get Smart! which is why it was performed during the pre-Get Smart! concerts. While many mod/pop songs from the era were left behind as Squire stretched forward to a more sophisticated sound, ‘Has Our Love Gone Bad’ captured the essence of the Squire sound, it has that swing, and we imagined it sounding fantastic with a big horn arrangement, so we recorded it with the Rye & The Quarter Boys 'Get Smart' horn section in the pre-production rehearsal session expecting to include it on the final record!

Listening back to the session tape reveals we were working out how horn parts fitted into the existing arrangements. There is a lot of interesting musicians banter and stopping/starting recorded. The horn players learnt the song from a cassette of the Fan Club album, and this first run through is the first time the horns played the song with us! Ultimately, we considered the track was a step too far towards a 'soul sound'. Six tracks with horns would be half the album and so 'Has Our Love Gone Bad' was left from the session. Nevertheless, we can now glimpse at what could have been and you can imagine the excitement and anticipation the band were feeling in the rehearsal studio as we made our final steps towards the recording of the album.

We hope you enjoy these recordings and our deepest dive yet into the Squire archive!

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