Inspired by some of the articles on the 20th anniversary reissue of Definitely Maybe, I contacted Anjali Dutt again with some more questions about how the album was made. She very kindly took the time to reply with the following information. Many thanks to her for helping out on this.
David: Tony McCarroll says in his book that the band’s original bass player, Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan, does not feature on the finished version of Definitely Maybe. Can you say if this is true?
Owen Morris has explained that his final mix of Definitely Maybe was mainly derived from multitracks recorded at Sawmills. And, at Sawmills, the tracks were recorded effectively “as live” with the whole band playing, with overdubs by Noel later. So, would it be fair to assume that Guigsy’s basslines are on the multitrack tapes recorded at Sawmills, and on the mixes you completed at Eden Studios?
The one exception to this that I’m aware of is Slide Away, which was recorded with Dave Batchelor at Monnow Valley with overdubs by Noel at Eden, where it was also initially mixed. The Monnow Valley tracking sheet for Slide Away shows that Noel re-recorded the bass on that track, as well as several other parts. I guess the rumour that Guigsy didn’t appear on the album may have stemmed from his absence on this track alone.
I was wondering if you recall whether Noel re-recorded the bass on all the tracks recorded at Sawmills as well? I’ve also attached another photo from the exhibition – the Sawmills tracking sheet for Live Forever. This doesn’t seem to indicate that the bass was redone on that tune, but I’m not sure on any others.
Anjali: I remember Noel re-doing the bass to Up in the Sky and how different it sounded afterwards; he has a very neat and tidy bass playing style. We all wished that Guigsy could have just got it right so that there would be his style in there but it was a tricky one with timing and it carried the main riff, so it really had to be perfect.
The Live Forever tracking sheet shows the live bass and I can’t remember any thoughts of wanting to replace it. Unless Owen replaced it onto the ‘bass DI’ track and there was no need to rename it. It would be entirely possible to feed the DI track out to an amp to get the extra low end. Generally, it was a straightforward part with little room for error and I think Guigsy played it just fine. Ditto with Cigarettes and Alcohol. It’s a bit mean people suggesting these things now. He was a nice bloke who did his part uncomplaining, so what’s the point [in them] starting unsubstantiated rumours?
Did Noel also re-record the bass line on Rock ‘n’ Roll Star? That seems to me to be one of the few tracks on the final mix to have a prominent bass line. Owen has said that the released version of Rock ‘n’ Roll Star was a remix of the Sawmills recording. That said, I think the final mix has a slightly more elaborate, upfront bass line than on the Eden Studios mix of the Sawmills take.
Anjali: I have listened to all the versions of Rock ‘n’ Roll Star including mine and I can’t hear any difference in the bass; or even a change of feel or emphasis, which you would hear despite a low mix level. So I think it’s Guigsy but disguised, with the attack taken off to avoid highlighting any timing mismatches.
I was interested to see the timeline for the song in the right-hand column; am I right in thinking that this would have been to assist a manual mix (i.e. without fader automation)?
Anjali: The timings on the side of the tracking sheet is something I always do, initially to be able to quickly locate a verse or chorus professionally and quickly for playback or overdubs; and then I would record SMPTE code on track 24 for replaying computerised fader movements for mixing.
I’ve enclosed another pic that may be of interest: a cassette of rough mixes from Eden Studios. Was the version of I am the Walrus a live recording, or did they attempt a studio take? Am I right in thinking that Cigarettes and Alcohol and Digsy’s Dinner were the only two final mixes on there, and the rest rough mixes?
Anjali: It’s great to see my handwriting on the cassette box and this can only mean that there was a studio recording of I am the Walrus and strangely enough, I do suddenly remember clearly that we did record it; it was very fluent and it was good. I imagine Ignition were probably asking for progress cassettes. So we sent up the mixes we had and roughs of the others, as annotated on the box.
Do you recall the “Bring it on Down” recording session that Tony mentions in his book? Mark Coyle talks about it briefly on the DVD, explaining that Bring it on Down was re-recorded at Eden because Noel wasn’t happy with the drums on the existing take. It’s not clear whether just the drums were re-done, or if the whole track was re-recorded there though. Tony says in his book that Noel hired a session drummer (actually the Real People’s drummer) to re-do the drums on that track but that his take was worse than Tony’s. After three poor attempts he took a break, during which Tony re-recorded the drums ‘beat perfect’ in one take, and this (much to Noel’s annoyance, allegedly!) became the version used on the album.
Anjali: Tony remembers correctly about Bring it on Down being re-recorded again at Eden. I think we may have done the whole thing over. But I don’t remember which drummer did it, maybe someone from Paul Weller’s band?
The Real People mentioned that it was their drummer at the time, Tony Elson.
Anjali: Except I do think it was someone with something to do with Paul Weller and think it unlikely they would just go for someone who was just down for fun from Liverpool. I do recall everyone saying that [the drums] sounded wrong and then – with an amazing burst of energy – Tony suddenly delivered the one great take that we ran with. A bit like Guigsy in that he was not a great muso, but it sounded all wrong when he was replaced. And there were loads of people around, including The Real People and folk that Liam had found in the off license; far too many folk in fact. It’s funny how some memories stick and get reinforced with repeated recall, and some just get totally forgotten.
One other query that sprang to mind was related to this quote from Bonehead, on the large number of overdubs by Noel at Sawmills.
Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs: There were loads of guitars. That was Noel’s favorite trick: get the drums, bass and rhythm guitar down, and then he’d cane it. ‘Less is more’ didn’t really work then.’ (Arthurs, quoted in John Harris, p. 176).
Owen Morris also said that:
On [Columbia and Rock ‘n’ Roll Star] on the multitracks were Noel’s endless guitar tracks: he had so many melodic ideas but they weren’t arranged in any order most of the time. But this allowed me to construct the musical dynamics of the songs so easily: there was always a new part from Noel at any point in the song that would help me mix/produce the tracks. It was a lot of fun.” (Q magazine, 2010).
Were there a lot of Noel’s guitar parts to edit at the mix stage?
Anjali: Yes, Noel did lay loads of guitar tracks: just another one… and then just another… no opposition from me, the ever-acquiescent muso’s engineer! When we mixed it we just left them all in and pushed up the odd good riff, very much in the style and spirit of ’60s and ’70s music (very Neil Young / Faces, as they wanted to be). This probably had a different effect than bringing them in in stages to build up a song, as Owen suggests.
Thanks. The instruments sound well-defined and cleanly separated on the Eden Studios mix, perhaps despite the deliberate leakage on some elements of the multitrack recording (mentioned by Mark Coyle in the comment below). Did the inherent bleed on the parts of the recording pose any obstacles to getting good separation on the final mix?
Anjali: If you play a different riff or time a phrase differently, then you would hear a ghost of the original on the other mics; difficult if it’s a quiet spot in the tune. Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’s intro riff is different, that would be hard to cover up.
Mark Coyle: ‘There was total bleed from tracks and you got guitar on the drum mics and drums on everything, but who the fuck cares? I’m a big fan of that approach, the big fat analogue sound they used to get on Small Faces or Beatles records. Most stuff went to tape with plenty of level, with a little EQ on the drums but essentially flat.’ (Melody Maker, October 1994)
Anjali: This is true, so it’s hard to know why they didn’t stay true to their vision and allowed Owen to put so many effects on in the final mix. Of course, by then they didn’t have a say and, really, they didn’t have the musicianship or commitment to follow through their vision of a ‘big, fat 60/70’s analogue sound’. They were far more Marcus’s vision than Alan’s and had always been signed to Sony, contrary to the press legend.
Noel Gallagher: ‘Liam’s being fucking Liam…[asking] ‘When are we putting the fucking bagpipes on?’. ‘What d’you mean?’ ‘We fucking talked about it last night – it should have bagpipes coming in at the end’. We talked him out of bagpipes and then he said, ‘Well remember fucking Dick Dastardly and Muttley? Remember Stop the Pigeon?’ And he’s going ‘It should have a trumpet going [mimics fanfare] at the end!’ ‘So we’re not going to have a kazoo on it?’; ‘No, we’re not. Listen – you can have a fucking kazoo on it…in your fucking head!’ Kazoo, my arse.’ (Gallagher, quoted in Easter Egg on Definitely Maybe DVD)
Anjali: One of my Sawmills photos has Liam playing a kazoo so it was more of a reality than you think.
(Interview by David Huggins, 2014. Answers © Anjali Dutt. Published on Oasis Recording Info, 2016).