Now that the The Great Leap Forward is done, mastered, and ready to release, there is the matter of the five songs we have left over and why they didnít appear on the the album. There were seventeen songs that were under consideration for the record. There might have been a few others, but they were never on the short list.
There were several issues that we had to look at. I didnít want the album too long. A seventy minute+ cd is far too long. If it were an archive release, then there is no reason to not use all the time available, but for a new release it dilutes the concept. Even with only twelve songs The Great Leap is 58 minutes long. There was a lot of discussion about this in the band. The only song we considered dropping from the final running order was My Little Town, but as itís only 2 minutes long it wouldnít have made much difference.
Some important decisions about the album that became TGLF were made well before Tiny Crustacean Light Show was even completed. Over the two years that we worked on Tiny Crust a lot of songs were recorded. When Richard Treece came out to Montana in May 1999, there were nineteen songs that he added guitar to. That wasnít nearly everything that we had cut. Five months later I flew over to London to do some additional recording with Ken Whaley and Malcolm Morley. I believe between the two of them, they played on nine tracks. Two of these were brand new songs that Dave Walker and I had just started work on, Say Farewell and The Know Sea. As soon as I was back in Montana we wrote two more: Ocean Of Storms and Neuro Psych Trail Head.
At this point I had to sit down and decide what to do with this embarrassment of riches. The new songs seemed to point in a new direction for the Brain, so I decided they wouldnít be up for consideration. From the other twenty plus numbers I had to "discover" where the album was. A couple of decisions were pretty easy. Jim Kehoe hadnít finished either of his two songs, so they came off the list. Eclipse And Debris was a pretty loose spacey record at times. Iíd added the four synth pieces to emphasize that direction. There was no reason to return to that feel again on this album in a big way, so the experimental synth pieces, including Bok The Beer Elf were excluded. Bok will see the light one day, but itís such a dense and emotional song, that I havenít yet been able to deal with it.
The one song that could easily have been on Tiny Crust was Colterís other major achievement, All Over The World. We had even rehearsed this with Treece for Terrastock, but had to drop it due to the time limitation. In the end I decided that The Magicís Gone and All Over The World were similar in some respects so it would be best to only use one on the Tiny Crust. The deciding factor was I felt All Over the World would work better with the new material we had. With that one off the list, Tiny Crust was shaping up as a more rock and roll album than either of itís predecessors. The title track, Whoís Little Girl, and Northampton pushed us into a solid rock mode. Iím still debating whether I could have shortened the record by a song or two. For now Iím comfortable with my decision.
So as our attention shifted away from Tiny Crustacean Light Show and towards the next album, there were already nine songs on the table. Besides the four new ones, and All Over There World there were still four more that seemed to fit with the new concept. Human Is was an old song we did work on during the Crust sessions, but I donít think I ever considered it a possibility. We already had Electric Trains and Dull Grey Days, so another long guitar work out seemed redundant. I had two songs that in some ways reached back to the psych-pop sounds of Carelessly Restored Art. My Little Town was written in the spring of 1998, and recorded soon afterwards. I felt like it would have gotten buried on Tiny Crust.
Punch Wax Circus had been around for a while when we cut it at one of the first 1998 sessions. I wasnít happy with where it was at when it came time to mix, so I set it aside for further work. The last one held over from the sessions with Seth and Kels was Jimís song Speed. As we got to the mixing stage of Tiny Crust Jim had promised to come around and finish it up, but never managed to make it over before he moved his family to upstate New York. This was a song I was not prepared to abandon. We had put a lot into the basic track, and then done extensive overdubs. This had some of Richardís best playing, so it had to stay on the list.
We werenít able to return to working on the new album until the fall of 2000. Colter had moved to Boise for almost 18 months and only returned in time to join us for Terrastock rehearsals. I had encouraged him to continue write and demo every idea on his four track. We cut two of his newest songs in the middle of our rehearsal sessions, All Fall Down and Cloud Maker. Everyone was well pleased with our first proper recording session, and we regrouped once again after Christmas to press on. One of the first steps was to listen to Colterís demos, and put them onto the 16 track for overdubs. There were at least four songs: Your Number, I Saw The Light, Following Orders, and an idea that has just resurfaced as Decade Of Days. The band also sat down to see if we could write as a team. I had a couple of chords that we turned into a song called Loving Indifference.
Throughout the rest of 2001 we did a couple of gigs, but spent most of our time doing the detail work on the songs we had. I asked Jeff if we could play one of the songs heíd recorded with his band Racket Ship called Crystal Palace. Megan Pickerel from Racket Ship had done some vocals for us, so it seemed natural to invite her to join us on stage. We cut the basic track live in the studio at one of our rehearsals. At this point everyone considered the album just about done except for the mix. In January 2002, as we were taking stock of the situation, I realized that weíd never done any further work on Following Orders after Jeff had added bass. Ron Craighead was surprised heíd not added his drum part and wasnít even sure we needed any more songs at this stage of the game. That didnít stop him from putting extra effort into the track though. His additions fueled my imagination, and I had the track completed in a couple of days.
The addition of Following Orders to the running order changed the balance of the album and forced us to reconsider the whole track listing. Colter had come in for a couple of days to add guitar and vocals to a few things he wasnít on yet. We had played My Little Town live. When he overdubbed his guitar line, it gave the song a much different sound. I quickly redid nearly all my original guitar parts.
So at this point we had to start trimming the list down to twelve. Colter wasnít sure he was happy with I Saw The Light. He didnít want to have too many ballads on the record. We even made a couple of attempts to re-record the songs with a much different arrangement. Another one of his songs, Your Number was also debated. I had added some guitar to try and tighten up the sound, but it just seemed to come up shy of our goal. There was one more song, My Favorite Record. This was a very different sort of song that we had recorded with Jason, the same day we cut The Magicís Gone. I never thought of this one as an album track, but it sure would make a fabulous single. Ron Craighead had taken a liking to it, so it was always on the list.
When Deniz Tek came in to do overdubs, I asked him to play the second guitar line on Say Farewell. This song wasnít terribly popular with the band. We had played it live in itís original blues style. Dave and I had cut a much faster version, and Malc and Ken played piano and organ on it. At this point Dave didnít think we had captured the idea at all. Ron and Jeff werenít that happy either. Ron only reluctantly added drums to the track when I asked. On the other hand, Deniz, Richard and myself thought this was one of the best songs we had. In the end I gave up, and decided it would be used at a later date. Once Dave Walker heard that Deniz liked it, and had played on it he started to come around, but it was too late for this album.
Jimís song was still an issue at this point. In a moment of pure frustration I wrote a new set of lyrics. It was now called The Ballad Of Where's Jim, telling the story of why this song took so long to be finished. I had a go at singing it, as did Colter and Jeff. Jeff was so concerned about what Jim might think, he sang it as "Where's Tim". None of us got the desired results, so I handed the lyrics to Deniz after heíd done his predetermined guitar overdubs. He had a listen to the scratch track, and said "sure, I can do it". Once everyone, including Jim had heard the results, there was little question that this one was going to make the final cut.
So now Iím sitting here with five more Brain songs that will go on the shelf for the moment. Say Farewell will get a release, no doubt there, as will My Favorite Record. The original recording of I Saw The Light sounds pretty good to everyone now, so it may well get used next time around.
After countless tries, Iíve decided that Punch Wax Circus isnít going to get any better. Iím happy with this recording, but itís not going to show up on a Brain album anytime soon. Iím a little more optimistic about Your Number. Iím not sure what it needs, maybe just a fresh mix, maybe we need to redo it from ground up. The competition for a spot on The Great Leap Forward was as tough as itís ever been. Once you hear the album youíll understand. Our loss is your free down load. Enjoy them.
Ron Sanchez - 30 October 2002
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