Now you can let the music of Onionhead light up your life....well it worked for Ed
Choose either the 90 second sample in MP3 format (1.4mb max, about 10 minutes on a 56k modem) or the streaming audio version (183kb max about 2 minutes on a 56 k modem) depending on your patience, connection, speed or tolerance for ropey formats.
After a lot of talk and very little action there is a new download available. Let Me Into Your Heaven is from the legendary 2005 Onionhead Sean's kitchen reunion.
Honest To God edit.MP3 (It's a 2mb monster if you're on a dial up)
Let Me Into Your Heaven 2005.MP3
It comes around.WMA
keep me in touch.WMA
The tracks listed below have been available as Onionhead releases (with the exception of Keep Me In Touch) and sound files for them will be posted on this site in rotation. So if you want to hear them...you're just going to have to come back
Search Party. Like all the best bands we all used to live together. Except for Barney who lived in a James Bond bachelor pad with heliport. We wrote Search Party in a big house in Moseley that although it lacked some amenities such as bedroom doors (Hello Girls) it was big enough to rehearse in. After hearing us play Search Party a couple of times while it was still in the working out stage Nick and Simon adjourned their management meeting (possibly the TV had broken) rushed up the stairs proclaiming “That’s the single”. It was indeed the single 6 months later. I always had a weakness for one note guitar solos as perfected by The Clash (Complete Control, Tommy Gun etc) and acoustic rhythm tracks tussling with electric guitars like Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust Lp. I really liked the fact that the song was so short. Verse chorus verse middle 8 chorus and all over in 2 minutes. We were still learning about songwriting and naively it had never occurred to us that songs are more memorable if you play them for long enough to give people a chance to actually remember them. Of course the other way of doing it is to write a really great, memorable song, but that’s harder. Jules did the vocals in one take and however it had come out I don’t think he had any intention of doing another…which meant the middle eight’s Yee-hah yelp stayed.
Ruminating. It goes without saying that the word “ruminating” does not feature in the lyrics. Public Enemy used to start with the song title and work from there, which is why they always had better titles than us. (It’s hard to beat Terminator X Speaks With His Hands or Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos). Conversely Onionhead set lists were often filled with “new song”, “Doorsy song” etc in tribute to their closest sound alike. (“Doorsy song” eventually turned into Nearest Door). Sean lives in Ireland now where the main religion is Nanci Griffith, so on principle he has to play down the influence…however. In 1987 we used to listen to a live tape of Nanci Griffith that had some great arrangements of songs with a big band (8 plus?) that could play with some restraint. We were a few years away from learning that lesson properly but Ruminating came out of that time and Ed’s misspent youth listening to Clarence White's country guitar with the Byrds. This was one of the songs that set us apart from other Birmingham bands at the time and helped get us early local press.
Mind The Gap. There was some half-hearted discussion about whether the line "Schizo fucking nightmare" would keep the second track from an unknown band’s first single off the radio. There was no sell out and also no airplay. I always liked the middle 8 onwards, stop start guitar and a Clash type ending. The recorded version has Ed playing an overcomplicated riff but I remember us coming back to this song and playing simpler, but shopping centre sized chords in 1990 at the classily named Tamworth Rat Hole.
Pipeline. Outrageous Stones/Footloose steal. Great fun to play but I never felt happy playing it in public, as it didn’t fit with my idea of what we should sound like. We did play it spectacularly badly one night at the Camden Falcon and stopped it half way through. There’s a Miles Davis quote along the lines of “It’s not the wrong note that’s the problem…. It’s the one you play after it”. Sadly we didn’t follow his advice…we just played the whole sorry mess again, right from the beginning. Still grappling with professionalism then! The motorcycle sound effect at the end came from a biker surf movie compilation that included the awesomely titled but sadly unheard “Killing for Satan”. An under valued genre. I liked Barney’s cowbell though.
Level X ing. Was the song that got us signed and was the most REM influenced of any of our songs. The bass line is also on nodding acquaintance terms with The Undertones Wednesday Week.
Flowers On Some. Written quite soon after Ed joined and although there’s lots of country twanging I still think that musically it dodges genres quite deftly. We recorded an early demo of the song in a studio in a converted church in Edgbaston and listening back to the acoustic track that Ed had recorded there seemed to be odd sounds and grunts mixed in with his playing. Further investigations (alright turning up the volume and listening carefully) revealed those sub sonic oddities to be Ed talking to himself, giving a running commentary on what he was playing and how good the next note was going to be.
Funny Way Of Showing It. Quite Stonesy (That’s good!) and too long (4 minutes plus) and quite possibly Ed’s most noodley guitar solo. It was good to play though as there was a lot of space between the bass and drums. Never quite sure about the Shout type ending though. I mean I was never sure if it was just poor or piss poor.
Onionhead. The band manifesto or at least our Spinal Tap version. “Here we come in a rented van with a master plan” with a descending guitar riff like the Monkees Circle Sky. The recorded version has a mighty Wah Wah machine-gunning solo that sounds like Tailgunner Edwards was battling enemy aircraft over Redditch.
Honest To God. When we set about recording the 3rd single we were looking for a rougher sound and sat down with Dave Morris (Workshop owner/producer) and played The Rolling Stones Tumblin’ Dice as an example of the loose flappy drum sound and Swervedriver’s Son OF Mustang Ford as an example of multi layered guitar filth. Dave had a new sound treatment that he said would give the whole recording a harsher, trebly sound. He’d also put a mirror along the back wall that helped brighten the sound and also helped Sean with his regular hair checks. Jules was listening to a lot of Beach Boys and Honest to God was my favourite vocal that he had done so far. I like the way it just sat on top of the music as the guitar sound broke up underneath it. (Surfing analogy ahoy). Recording the middle 8 I dropped a note and then liked it so much that I repeated the mistake when we played it live. The last 30 seconds of the song has a rising wave of white noise that comes up under the guitar track
Half An Ark. Another of our takes on the Mondays/Roses sound, I think it sounds a bit cluttered now. There’s a revolving Lesley Speaker effect on the middle 8 vocals and Jules does a Robert Lloyd yodel…perversely without hearing him. It was me that was the Nightingales fan.
Monkey Man is the Stones song from Let It Bleed. We replaced the fluid sound of the original with a feel more like the ending of I Am The Resurrection by The Stone Roses. (A trick we also used as an end to our cover of For What it’s worth). We’d spent 4 or 5 days recording and mixing the Ladland tracks and Gentle On My Mind. We probably all needed some sunlight and things were getting a bit fraught. Rather than be subjected to more Swervedriver Dave Morris sat in horror as Barney and Jules put the finishing touches to his mix of Monkey Man… basically turning up the bass and guitar, turning down the vocals. Ironically I think, sound wise, it’s the best track we released. In 1990 Indie bands were all looking at doing dance remixes which for the most part have not aged well. We had a narrow escape as Pete Myers, our A and R at CBS, wanted us to re-mix Monkey Man. It was only the fact that we didn’t know any one who we thought could do a good job that stopped us trying it.
Gentle On My Mind. Released on Through the looking Glass and cunningly assembled from Glen Campbell and the Elvis version with a Clash type guitar link between verses and Ed ‘s duelling banjo of one. Most artists could polish the song off in a couple of minutes, but we took over 6 and even then the final guitar fade was edited. Still the line about “keep my sleeping bag stashed behind your couch” was always appropriate in the overcrowded Onionhead household.
It Comes Around. Recorded Summer 91 and but not released until 2002. One of the best songs we wrote and also one of the simplest, using the theory of if you’ve got good chords in the verse…use them again in the chorus. It sounds exuberant and in love with life. When Onionhead evolved into Tenderloin this was one of the 2 songs we still played. (The other was Landlocked). Always great fun to play because it meant Sean and I could do comedy backing vocals (unmiked). Altogether now…
When the winters here and its icy out in my back yard
Warm the cockles of my heart (Warm my cockles, warm my cockles)
Keep Me In Touch. Also recorded in summer 91 after the CBS deal had lapsed. The summery ahh ahh backing vocals had to be built from a sample of the one decent take we were able to do. I don’t feel so bad about that. Mainly because I wasn’t singing but also because Queen spent a week doing the operatic section of Bohemian Rhapsody…but then “Scaramouch etc” is more complex than “aah aah doo doo do do do”. I think our lyrics make more sense though. The Coda of Keep Me In Touch is from The Minutemen. It could have been from any one of their insanely titled songs and Jules can’t remember…so for arguments sake…it’s from Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing.
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