I heard Mother and Child Reunion by Paul Simon when I was thirteen. I know I was thirteen because I was at a Bar Mitzvah party. I always remembered that guitar opening and wanted to find that sound again but never could. I called it 'percolating' guitar cause it sounded bubbly or something. Anyway, many years later I walked into the El Mocambo one night and I saw this amazing band. It was like Country Reggae Punk, it was awesome. They had such energy and the guitar player was percolating! It was like I discovered long lost brothers. I went up to the guitar player and said 'you percolate on the guitar', he said 'ya, doesn't everyone?' I invited them to the Basics rehearsal hall and we had the best jam ever. They played some of my songs and they made them really rock and I added some keys to their tunes. I wish I had that jam, but unfortunately I can't find it. It was really a special sound.
Everything clicked. I would rehearse with the Basics but these guys it was like I played the song once with all these different changes and then we just rolled the tape and it was perfect. Till this day when I record with Neil, we have a beer, I play a few chords of a new song and then we press record. He is a musical genious and plays great guitar, drums, bass, and keys. And what a song writer! We both loved the same kinds of music and mixed them all up together.
Check out this clip of Neil probably a few years after I met him and the Customers had broken up. His style started to change a little but he was still a rocker and he is totally into the music - also great song.
I still think 'Hold Me' by Neil was a classic that should have been a hit. 'Breakin My Heart' is another good example of the Customers original sound. We played a gig or two after that jam but The Customers wanted to remain a three piece and a year later I ran into Neil and he told me they had broken up and we started jaming together and were still jammin today. Neil was instrumental in much of my music especially in the Mystical Mood CD. He arranged the horns, and played rhythm guitar and bass on all the tracks, plus drums on a few.
The other songs on this player were recorded around that time. I left 88 Oxford and was living on Major street. I bought a 4-track cassette recorder and started to make my own recordings. For drums I used a toy drum kit that I think my brother Bob had found. He had just moved to Toronto and we were renting together. I was just getting into recording and you hear all the effects I was playing with on Threw it All Away. On the next song 'Don't it Bother You' I discovered backwards tracks. I also double tracked my recorder (Chalil) I still had from Grade four.
Then I got a drum machine and recorded 'Gravity'. The next acquisition was a sampler that had real horns, which I added to 'Secret in Your Heart'. When Neil and I hooked up again he came by and added some of his rock guitar on Mr. K. By then I was living in a loft on College street, which I stayed in for a number of years. Lot of stuff happened there. I took my 4-track to Neils place on Brunswick and we recorded Rock it Baby with Neils superb Studio One sounding drums. 'Lets Get Married' was recorded for a friend of mine Howie Rypp, who was getting married and moving to Israel. It was recorded at Kensington Sound Studio because at the time I was recording Keith McKie's album and the engineer Tom let me come in after hours and do my own projects - what a dream that was! More on that in the next chapter.
The last song 'Summer Beat Show' has a good story to it. Neil told me about a big Reggae concert that was coming, featuring some great Jamaican acts. I couldn't afford to go, but he said there was a contest on the Lord Selector radio show. If you write a song about the festival you can win two tickets. So that is what I did, and I won the tickets and they played my song on the show.