Bap Kennedy Sessions

Well it’s great to be back in the studio so early in the New Year, and what a studio. Day one was a setup day with Ian Thomas coming in, setting up drums and our illustrious in-house engineer Rich Cooper assisted by Joe Kearns setting up the mics and getting that wonderful British Grove drum sound. The very first thing I hear through the brand-spanking new ATC near-field monitors was Bap running through a few tunes and I found myself having to sit down. I wasn’t prepared for the sonic delight which caressed my ears. A tube Neumann 47 with no reverb.. I could hear the capsule’s slightest vibration as Bap warmed up into it. It was as if your head was inside the microphone. You forget just how good this place is. The sounds came in thick and fast and Glenn Worf, over here fresh from New Year celebrations in Nashville, caressed the ‘big old girl’ and Rich and Joe fed her through the old EMI ‘redd’ tubes and we had a bass sound. Then he played through the array of Fender Precisions and Gibsons for the electric sound.

James Walbourne is on the sessions. As well as touring in his own right and playing with the Pretenders, James has played with Bap for many years and was out with him when supporting us in the US and Europe. James is a wonderfully gifted guitarist and was delighted to get his hands on Mark’s Gretch 6120 through a Metropolitan amp on more than one of Baps tunes.

It was great to hear John McCusker and Mike McGoldrick again, seen here running through a few melodies on the couch at the rear of control room 1.

As with Mark’s records, we would spend time in the control room discussing ideas etc. Bap would take an acoustic guitar and play the song to us. Glenn and Ian would write charts, Glenn speedily writing out the traditional ‘Nashville Number Chart’ and Ian would write his drum map. The number chart is a wonderful system which originated in Nashville by session musicians as a fast way of making chord charts for each player. It is based on the diatonic chord scale degrees. ie. if the key of a song is C, then the F chord is written as 4 and the G is 5. The Am is written 6- and a Dm7 is written 2-7. Simple and particularly effective as changing the key doesn’t mean a rewritten chart! Genius.

We would discuss who would play what, who would lay out and sort the arrangement, then all pile in to the studio and Rich would roll tape (hard disk actually) and off we’d go.

Time for a posed pic. L-R John McCusker, James Walbourne, Glenn Worf, Ian Thomas, MK, Bap, Rich Cooper, Mike McGoldric, me and Joe Kearns.