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Jim Grozier
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Over the High Side
« : 14.12.06 at 22:46 »
Quote

There doesn't seem to be a thread for this one, which is (1) odd, and (2) a shame, because
 
(a) it's a b****y good song.
(b) Pete is always popping in here whereas Clive doesn't seem to participate, so we have a much better chance of unravelling the lyrics when we have the author on hand!
 
So here is my question ... given the popularity of literary links in other threads on this forum, could I ask someone (Pete presumably) whether the song owes anything to David Gascoyne's beautiful poem An Elegy, which starts with the lines
 
Friend, whose unnatural early death
In this year's cold, chaotic Spring
Is like a clumsy wound that will not heal:
What can I say to you, now that your ears
Are stoppered-up with distant soil?

 
Just wondered ...
 
Jim.
 
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Pete Atkin
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #1: 14.12.06 at 23:56 »
Quote

Hi Jim - Thanks for your kind words.  No, I can honestly say I'd never come across the poem until your quote - not knowingly, at any rate.  Besides, that phrase is pretty commonplace in itself, isn't it?  And the song is not about someone who is dead.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  It's about that moment of being confronted with someone who used to be a best chum but with whom you now have absolutely nothing in common.  The facts about the characters in the song are all made up, but I hope that doesn't stop it being true.
 
Pete
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Jim Grozier
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #2: 16.12.06 at 11:09 »
Quote

on 14.12.06 at 23:56, Pete Atkin wrote:
Hi Jim - Thanks for your kind words.  No, I can honestly say I'd never come across the poem until your quote - not knowingly, at any rate.  Besides, that phrase is pretty commonplace in itself, isn't it?  And the song is not about someone who is dead.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  It's about that moment of being confronted with someone who used to be a best chum but with whom you now have absolutely nothing in common.  The facts about the characters in the song are all made up, but I hope that doesn't stop it being true.
 
Pete

 
Yes, I suppose it is pretty common but hearing those words took me straight to the poem - I first read it at a very impressionable age and it made quite an impact on me. I still think it's one of the best poems I've ever read.  
 
I hadn't actually picked up from the song that it refers to an actual encounter; I took it that the belated, futile attempt to make phone contact was the end of the story. I believe that if someone is irretrievably lost to you, then as far as you're concerned they might as well be dead, and that may inspire similar thoughts to an actual death, if that person had been important to you. (I'm assuming "over the high side" is a variant on the WW1 euphemism "going over the top").  
 
BTW it doesn't always work out that way - a few years ago I contacted some old friends whom I had either completely lost contact with or (in one case) was down to Christmas cards only - and now we go on holiday together every year!  Smiley
 
PS I LOVE the opening few lines - it says so much about teenagers - although it doesn't chime with my own experience of that age (not enough friends and too much schoolwork - I read poems instead  Sad), I think of my younger daughter and her "posse" killing time with her friends in the park ...
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Richard Bleksley
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #3: 16.12.06 at 11:19 »
Quote

I understand "going over the high side" to be a motorcyclist's expression, meaning the accident that happens when you go into a corner too fast and fall off towards the outside of the bend - a pretty nasty business. The high side because you're trying to lie the bike down into the bend and centrifugal force pushes you up, over the top and then down the other way onto the road.
 
The song does mention the lost friend buying a bike.
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Pete Atkin
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #4: 16.12.06 at 17:36 »
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Spot on, Richard.  The title phrase itself was the starting point of the song.  I picked it up from Hunter Thompson's book about the Hell's Angels.
 
Pete
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Richard Bleksley
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #5: 16.12.06 at 18:50 »
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Funny you should say that. There was where I got it from too. Ah, that Hunter S. Thompson - mad as a ferrett, but what an entertaining writer!
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soundmanjohn
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #6: 18.01.07 at 20:26 »
Quote

Somewhere, I have the recording I made at The Donmar when the show was done by the RSC. I was the sound designer on A&R and with the approval of the cast, I made a _very_ rough recording so that we could all have copies. No idea where the master went, but my brother - also a Pete Atkin afficionado - came across a cassette copy and copied it to CD for me. I loaded it in to ProTools to clean it up and this song just stands out in an astonishing performance from David Threlfall. The rest of the show was pretty good too, but this recording "features" an astonshingly inept drum break during one number and David Shaw-Parker indulging in a heavy duty guitar solo during Traitor In Our Midst.
 
I think I offered a CD to Pete some time ago, but I'm not sure if the message ever got through.
 
Happy days.
 
John
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #7: 19.01.07 at 08:23 »
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on 18.01.07 at 20:26, soundmanjohn wrote:
Somewhere, I have the recording I made at The Donmar when the show was done by the RSC. I was the sound designer on A&R and with the approval of the cast, I made a _very_ rough recording so that we could all have copies. No idea where the master went, but my brother - also a Pete Atkin afficionado - came across a cassette copy and copied it to CD for me. I loaded it in to ProTools to clean it up and this song just stands out in an astonishing performance from David Threlfall. The rest of the show was pretty good too, but this recording "features" an astonshingly inept drum break during one number and David Shaw-Parker indulging in a heavy duty guitar solo during Traitor In Our Midst.
 
I think I offered a CD to Pete some time ago, but I'm not sure if the message ever got through.

 
This sounds fascinating, John. I don't suppose it would be possible for a copy to be provided to Steve's archive, so we could hear Traitor In Our Midst and the other songs not already on the website (I think Over The High Side and I Can't Let You Go are the only ones with sound clips on the website at present, unless I'm mistaken)?
 
David Threlfall ("Frank Gallagher" of C4's Shameless) singing Pete Atkin? The mind boggles!  Grin
 
Cheers
 
Paul
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soundmanjohn
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #8: 19.01.07 at 13:47 »
Quote

I'll see if I can dig the files out - we're in the middle of building work here at the moment and a lot of stuff is buried under dust sheets and in storage, but I'll see what I can find. Threlfall has a beautiful voice, by the way: I think you'll be impressed...
 
Regards,
 
John
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soundmanjohn
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #9: 24.01.07 at 13:31 »
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OK, I have a rough copy available, but can't do the noise reduction bit at the moment, because of a) flu and b) builders. But the basic thing is worth a listen anyway, so I'll post an mp3 on my .mac site. I would ask that this is used for private listening only at the moment as I should really get the permission of all involved to make it public, including Mr. Atkin, who plays the piano.  
 
http://homepage.mac.com/johnsound
 
It'll be there in an hour or two.
 
Regards,
 
John
 
Line-up is as follows:
 
David Threlfall - guitar and vocal
 
Anne Raitt - back-up vocal
 
David Shaw-Parker - back-up vocal
 
Pete Atkin - piano
 
Charles Wegner - Bass
 
Nigel Garvey - drums
 
Barry Rutter - Engineer ("Put the faders where the chinagraph marks are, Barry.")
 
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #10: 24.01.07 at 15:47 »
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(Thought I'd better listen to it quickly just in case anyone should object!  Wink )
 
John, what can I say - this is a wonderful find. Many thanks for making it available.
 
As you say, David Threlfall has a great singing voice, something I wouldn't have suspected. I can't wait to play it to Frankie and get her to guess who it is singing Smiley
 
Not forgetting the excellent piano playing from Mr Atkin of course!
 
Cheers
 
Paul
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soundmanjohn
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #11: 24.01.07 at 16:35 »
Quote

I'll try and do a few more when I'm feeling a bit better. On first listening, Traitor and Not Born To Boogie are passable but Just In Passing and A Long Way To Go In The Morning are in very poor shape (Ampex tape from that period had tendency to fall apart.) There's also a blues vamp on the intro to Traitor that turns into a jokey twelve bar called Lost Sock Blues, along with the Song Quote medley, plus some rather strange audience play-in music for the second half, which includes the Housewife's Choice theme (In Party Mood, for anyone who wants to know). Amy's Blues is mostly sung off-mic and has quite a bit of noise on it, but is otherwise OK.
 
Give me a couple of days and I'll see what I can do.
 
John
 
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S J Birkill
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #12: 25.01.07 at 21:21 »
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Anyone interested in hearing more from A&R should check out the members' Archive index.
 
Steve
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Nigel Garvey
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #13: 14.03.10 at 00:09 »
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on 18.01.07 at 20:26, soundmanjohn wrote:
Somewhere, I have the recording I made at The Donmar when the show was done by the RSC. I was the sound designer on A&R and with the approval of the cast, I made a _very_ rough recording so that we could all have copies. No idea where the master went, but my brother - also a Pete Atkin afficionado - came across a cassette copy and copied it to CD for me. I loaded it in to ProTools to clean it up and this song just stands out in an astonishing performance from David Threlfall. The rest of the show was pretty good too, but this recording "features" an astonshingly inept drum break during one number …

 
I stumbled upon this old thread while browsing the Web today and downloaded the "Traitor" file. Ouch! The drum breaks are even worse than I remembered!
 
It wasn't a good time for me back then, although having a couple of lines to say was an interesting departure for a musician. The RSC had just transferred me to London five weeks after I'd bought my house in Stratford, I was experiencing huge artistic dissatisfaction from having to play mostly sound effects in my other shows, I was a percussionist from the classical tradition playing kit seriously for the first time, I loved and admired the kinds of music that "A&R" (or the characters in it) decried, the show numbers offered me no inspiration to make up for my weak technique, the drum parts were just wavy lines on the page, the drums themselves kept creeping away from me as I played (as did the other members of the band, I think), the headphones we had to wear for visual effect weren't plugged into anything and actually impeded our hearing of each other (thanks, John!), the stage manager couldn't make up her mind whether she fancied me or not. And the final insult — for me, the other people on the show, and the audiences — was three drum breaks at the climax of a number whose rhythm and slow tempo weren't condusive to them! I tried desperately hard throughout the run to come up with something that worked, but I just didn't "get" that moment.
 
My playing on "A&R" was never very good, but I think the ineptness on the night of John's recording was — ironically for a play set in a recording studio — precisely because I knew it was being recorded!
 
Quote:
But the basic thing is worth a listen anyway, so I'll post an mp3 on my .mac site. I would ask that this is used for private listening only at the moment as I should really get the permission of all involved to make it public

 
John's right. We didn't give him permission to record our performances so that he could make our goofs publicly available on the Internet thirty years later.   Wink
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S J Birkill
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Re: Over the High Side
« Reply #14: 11.12.10 at 22:24 »
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MV member 'soundmanjohn' (John Leonard, see A & R credits) advises me that one of the original musicians featured on his 1978 Donmar recording of Pete's play has raised an objection to John's hosting of a sound recording of his performance on the Web.
 
Of course, as a performer, he is quite within his rights to withhold permission, and so, ever mindful of the demands of copyright, John has taken down the offending files from his Mac online file archive, meaning that after close on four years they are no longer available for our listening pleasure.
 
We thank John for having shared these otherwise obscure historical documents with us. I shall remove the (now unfulfilled) hyperlinks when next I update the Smash Flops front page.
 
Steve
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