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Somewhere In The City

 

 

     
 

Released Sept 1997 – Afterdark Records AFDA0001

Recorded at Earth Terminal Studios, April – June 1997

 

   

Musicians:

Martin Lawrie
– keyboards
Steve Marshall
– bass, flute, vocals
Russell Wilson
– drums, percussion
Rena
– vocals

With:
Dave O’Higgins
– soprano & tenor saxes
Mark Hewins
– guitars

 

Tracks:

Somewhere In The City
Come On Come Over
Sunday In The Park
Prelude
Private Eyes
The Chaser
Sinful
The Dance
Jura

     
     

Steve Marshall - "Recording the Somewhere In The City album was a real thrill for all of us, putting down Curfew’s music on CD for the first time with the added bonus of having Dave O’Higgins and Mark Hewins on sax and guitar - brilliant contributions from both of them. Looking back, the band performances still stand up really well – most of the material had been gigged regularly for the previous 2-3 years and we were a tight unit with a great mix of original instrumentals, songs and covers. Russ had been on board for a couple of years and had taken us up to a completely new level in terms of energy and dynamism as a band, and that really comes across, particularly on the uptempo numbers.

Something we’d had to address was that when Rena joined we only had the one song – the vocal ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ on which she’d done such a good job on the 1994 demo that we had to get her on board – in a set of mainly original instrumental numbers. As a first step towards a more vocal repertoire we looked for good covers - ‘fusion songs’ was our description at the time - coming up with ‘Come On Come Over’ from Jaco Pastorius’s debut album, the original featuring the reunited Sam & Dave of course, plus the Manhattan Transfer version of ‘Birdland’ with lyrics by Jon Hendricks, this being a version of the ‘vocalese’ (lyrics to existing jazz melodies or solos) that he’d helped pioneer with the likes of Annie Ross in the ‘50’s.

I thought I’d have a go myself, having already changed the 2nd and 3rd verses of ‘Come On Come Over’ (which features here) to namecheck Jaco and the band – best result was one that worked well live but didn’t make the cut on the CD, a vocal version of Stanley Clarke’s ‘School Days’. The next logical step was to put lyrics to some of our own instrumentals, of which there are a number of examples here.

‘Somewhere In The City’ reflects the ‘journey’ already there in the music (from hope through despair to realism) – Alan Clayson (successful author and former Argonaut with Martin) said he felt the lyric stood on its own as a poem. Which was nice. ‘Sunday In The Park’ and ‘The Chaser’ already had those titles so finding words to fit wasn’t too difficult and they worked well. With hindsight, the only one that’s too complex melodically to really come off is ’The Dance’ – indeed, we’ve revisited it in its original instrumental form as ’The Dance of the 3 Famous Belgians’ on the new CD ‘Hold The Front Page’ – but the lyric means a lot to me. Partly it’s because it’s a love song to my wife (I’d just got married at the time), which because I don’t have the songwriting skill to pull off that sort of thing could have been a bit embarrassing but turned out OK, and also because of the lines that still hold true for me about wanting to live in 6/4 or 5/4 time, not the 4/4 or 3/4 that most people do, particularly from the suburban Home Counties where Martin and I grew up (the track of course being in 6/4 and 5/4 – it’s not just thrown together, this stuff……….)

The final track ‘Jura’ is also pretty special – very different to anything else we’ve ever done, but it stands out for me both for how it sounds and also for how it came about. I’d come up the melody some years previously on an old wood flute I had but never done anything with it – we had half-an-hour left just before midnight on the very final day of recording and I thought it might be worth a try. Martin had never heard it and there was no score, so I played him the melody once and we went for one take – which is what’s on the CD. All those wonderful chord movements from Martin were completely improvised – fantastic, worthy of Mr Zawinul himself.

Overall, I think ‘Somewhere In The City’ captures a moment in time really well – there was tremendous excitement throughout the project, and the music really comes at you through the speakers. In fact within a year or so we’d moved on from much of the material on the CD as we reverted to an instrumental line-up – but we still play ‘Private Eyes’ from time to time, and the new version of ‘Dance’ is one of the highlights of the new CD ‘Hold The Front Page’ ."