All text in this rather fetching blue-green
by Hugh Featherstone.
This was the second album with Michael Stühr's "ms edition", the world's smallest record company. The press release referred to me as "musikalische Einzelkämpfer" (musical lone warrior) which sounds rather quixotic, but certainly suits the way I was then.
The songs were recorded at a little two-track shoe-box studio belonging to Kurt "the Walrus" Eggmann. The sound is typical of the period, seventies folky, lots of "atmosphere" and layers of 12 string. Peace on Earth, Saints, Streetcar Magic, Sunset and Silver City are still among my favourite songs from that time. The last two are still in my regular programme.
My wife Martine did the cover shot and the inner sleeve notes. Don Stevenson did the graphic layout and I made the photo collage for the liner.
Of special note on this album was the stark, spartan piano-led sound of sunset which rings sweet'n'sour in my head to this very day. Comparisons are odious, but I still can't help making an immediate association with the Beatles' the long and winding road, not only for the effect of the piano but also for the intense emotional charge accumulating from the arrangement of music, vocal and lyrics.
Actually, the comparison is quite useful here in that it points to some of Hugh's artistic strengths: whereas the long and winding road, one of the great masterpieces of modern popular music, is lyrically and poetically quite vague (what is this road, and to who's door should it lead? etc.), Hugh's lyrics are much more complex, concrete, complete. He still leaves room for the listener's imagination to fill in the narrative and emotional gaps, and thus carries on the tradition of story-teller and bard.
In fact, most of his songs tell a story, sometimes quite domestic and close-to-home, sometimes epic. The poetry, apart from being built on a superstructure of rich reference and allusion (which is what we expect from top-notch poetry), is very visual. For me, many of the songs could very well be filmscripts. Just look at how many times he mentions light.
David John 3 am
Robby Schmidt, bass on track 1, piano and bass on 9.
Utz Bender, bass on 4 and 6.
Israel Rivers, drums on 1.
Daryl Wilson, congas on 6.
Gerd Lulay, alto sax on 1.
Hugh, 12 string, 6 string, Spanish and electric guitars and all vocals except 9,
second harmony on 9, which reaches your ears
courtesy of Robby Schmidt and Jürgen Katzmann.
Kurt "the Walrus" Eggmann, engineering at the Frankfurt Shoebox
and Tonstudio Bieber onto 2 half track Revox machines.
Jürgen Katzmann, some sound advice and the final track order.
Hugh, production, music.
Don "some day my prints will come" Stevenson, graphics janitor,
back sleeve photography and session shots.
Martine Blyth-Passagez, front sleeve photography,
some inner shots, liner hand and all admin work.
Julian Blyth, main inner shot.
Michael Stühr, eleventh hour footwork.
Hugh, sleeve concept and design.
Struts and Frets logo designed by Hugh and beautifully drawn
by Don "focus the windshield" Stevenson. It exists courtesy of Bill the Bard.
Struts & Frets SF-001
Distributed by MS Edition, Darmstadt