Greetings and salutations!
So…there have been some pretty radical changes in the world since our last update, huh? Hope everyone is staying both safe and sane out there. In the meantime, here’s a little musical escapism that will hopefully help with the second thing, at least.
Formed in the late 70s, New England’s mainstream career was brief, but bright. They worked with some AOR heavy hitters, recorded a couple of great albums that walked a fine line between prog rock and power pop stylings, and even had a Top 40 single with “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya”. Since the early 80s, they have remained a relatively obscure act, though championed by die-hards like Lenny, who may just be the biggest New England fan on the planet.
In 2016, I was fortunate enough to attend a concert by the band which Lenny organized and hosted, and was so impressed and moved by what I heard and saw. I was in a fairly dark and discouraged place when it came to my own musical endeavors, and their performance hit me in just the right way at just the right time, inspiring me to continue on my own path when I had been seriously considering abandoning it. Plus, I really dug the tunes! So, when Lenny named the mini-epic title track from their second album Explorer Suite as his cover tune of choice, I was very excited to make it happen.
Matt Meldrum, by contrast, had never heard a note of their music before we got the assignment to cover the song, and as he describes in the teaser video below, he found it liberating to come at the recording without any preconceptions (as opposed to many of the other songs we’ve covered over the years, which have often been old favorites with lots of personal baggage attached) and really lean into putting our own spin on the material. Matt did an astounding amount of heavy lifting on this tune, providing vocals, guitars, keyboards, orchestration, and drum programming, as well as producing and engineering the recording, and creating our first ever lyric video to promote the release.
My own contributions were more modest, but I enjoyed the challenges of vocal and bass duties throughout. For the latter, I got to play a newly acquired Yamaha five-string, kindly given to me last Christmas by Mr Meldrum. It previously made a few appearances on our Clarity and Green & Grey albums, but has been out of the rotation since I moved to California and we started recording remotely — way ahead of the curve on that social distancing, were we! — and I expect it will pop up a bit more on future recordings.
We also called in some friends and collaborators for this one, and were thrilled to be graced by the fantabulous vocals of Gayle Graizarro and the sensational fluting of John Flanders. We think the final results stack up quite nicely, and hope you all agree.
Thanks again to Lenny for the request. One down, three to go!