If anyone stumbles across this site and wonders if we all just called it a day in 2012, well we didn't. A brief catch-up on the last 7 years:
As you'll have seen from the previous entries, having released 'Centrifugal Bugle' in 2008, we began work on a new project in much the same way as before. However it was proving increasingly difficult to find time to get together to record, and even more difficult to get together to add the overdubs needed to finish off backing tracks that we had managed to lay down. Marriages, children, and jobs meant we were finally slowing down a little. Still in the late 'noughties', we were fully intent on making a new CD for release in 2011 or 2012.
In these early sessions were 'Sofa Gofer', missing the keyboard & tambourine overdubs that would never be added, 'Your Drunk Uncle' (the original backing track finally taken out of storage and completed in May 2016 when lead vocals, backing vocals and handclaps were added), & 'Shankar's Daughter', as well as early versions of 'Holy Man's Hands', & 'Disintegration Machine'. It's About Time' a cover of a Beach Boys classic, actually dates from the 'Centrifugal' sessions, but was dusted off and added to the project as it fit perfectly with the feel of this album.
We then invested in a new recording machine with the hope that it would make recording simpler and quicker. 'Holy Man's Hands' and 'Disintegration Machine' were re-recorded, and completed except for percussion overdubs which would not be added. 'Sofa Bunny Love Fest', a song dating from around 2000, which had never been recorded, was laid down, and again in May 2016 had lead vocals, backing vocals and handclaps added, leaving it only missing the planned electric guitar in the chorus. 'I Wanna Hold Your Pizza' a brand new song, &'Train Driver'(which never did get its keyboards overdub) were also recorded at this time.
Our live shows were gradually decreasing in number over this period too. However the shows that were being performed were some of the best we'd ever done. Probably the best live show from this period came in 2010 at The Comedy Pub, and performed that night was 'Midlife Crisis', a song that we never did record a studio version of.
We played to their largest audience of this era, when we organised and performed a memorial concert for David Jones, the legendary Monkees singer, in April 2012. However things were definitely slowing down even on the live front. We played our last 'full band' show for over 3 years in February 2013, and our final acoustic gig ever, at another Davy Jones tribute in the autumn of the same year.
As 2013 became 2014 we made the decision to abandon live shows. For some of the band, just booking a rehearsal room and jamming was the ideal, while others sought to have a goal..recording with a view to releasing an album. A compromise was reached, to record rough 'as live' versions of songs as they were learned. these would be raw, rough demos, warts and all, that would be put onto the album. Liam arrived with an album's worth of new songs, and we began rehearsing and laying down rough 'live in the studio' versions of some of these tunes. Over an intense six month period 'Time To Kill' 'First Wave Is Gone', ' Call To The Gods' 'Lord Clyde' 'Life In Suburbia' & 'Put Your Phones Away' were all recorded.
Demo versions of two Liam/Dan compositions 'Where Is This Going?' and 'Check It Out Online', produced by Dan on his own, in this extremely productive year, were also recorded at this period.
In the summer of 2014 4 further songs were created. Aiden, Liam and Saul met at Saul's house in Norfolk, and using an IPAD to record (how much easier it is to record nowadays) laid down 4 acoustic tracks 'Unexpected Simington In The Bagging Area' 'The Jester Of Goodwill' 'Stoke Newington Church Street' & 'Uncle Eric'
In October 2014, we decided there was more than enough material for an album and we hoped to finally release it in the winter, before 'resuming rehearsing and recording in Spring '15 '. However our appetite for the hard work of actually finishing off and overdubbing the songs was far less than that for meeting, banging out new songs and recording basic tracks, so nothing was done.
In April 2015 Aiden and Liam got together and, again using the IPAD, recorded 'Japanese Group Sound'
By late summer 2015 with no band contact (other than a Christmas Curry social) in a year, we began to feel that The Shorty Blackwells were perhaps reaching the end of their natural life. We decided to do something to mark 25 years of the band, and then retire gracefully. Everyone supported the idea of finally getting the CD finished and released in the anniversary year, and also to play a 25 year anniversary concert. Reinvigorated, work on finishing the CD began again. In October Aiden and Liam began mixing the handful of unmixed tracks, and overdubbing where they could. This work continued over several sessions, with bits of studio chatter added between songs for colour, and the final overdubs and mixes were completed on 21st May 2016. Finally, the album scheduled originally for 2011 was deemed ready to release.
With it's mix of run-throughs, live cuts, demos, acoustic tunes and partially finished tunes it is a bit like an Artist's sketchbook. It may not comprise fully completed works, but it certainly gives an insight into our creative process.
Album complete, we then performed a 25 year Anniversary gig in July 2016. A special celebration of the 25 years since Michael, Aiden, Liam and Saul convened at Keele University to record 'Elephant Sings The Blues' in 1991, and then made the decision to retire.
But the story doesn't quite end there. From 2017 onwards Aiden, Saul, Liam and Dan have taken to meeting annually in August to jam up 3 or 4 acoustic songs and record them. It's a rough and ready acoustic project, originally never meant for release, and badged as 'The Shorts' .
At the start of 2019 we received the devastating news that Mal Tanner, our guitarist in the late 90s, had passed away from cancer. He was a huge contributor to our sound whilst he was in the band, and wrote some great songs. RIP Mal.
In Summer 2019, however, we decided to compile these acoustic recordings and release a Shorts CD, purely for our own pleasure..and to perform a few songs as The Shorts (but featuring all the Shorties), at Aiden's 50th.