Your are viewing a read-only archive of the old DiS boards. Please hit the Community button above to engage with the DiS !
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat
up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes
hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-
ing their money in wastebaskets and listening
to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their
torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-
cohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and
lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
tionless world of Time between,
Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery
dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops,
storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon
blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree
vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook-
lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless
ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine
until the noise of wheels and children brought
them down shuddering mouth-wracked and
battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance
in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
floated out and sat through the stale beer after
noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack
of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to
pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook-
lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping
down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills
off Empire State out of the moon,
yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts
and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks
and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days
and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the
Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a
trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind-
ings and migraines of China under junk-with-
drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the
railroad yard wondering where to go, and went,
leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing
through snow toward lonesome farms in grand-
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep-
athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in-
stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis-
ionary indian angels who were visionary indian
who thought they were only mad when Baltimore
gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla-
homa on the impulse of winter midnight street
light smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston
seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the
brilliant Spaniard to converse about America
and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship
who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving
behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees
and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the
F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist
eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom-
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting
the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union
Square weeping and undressing while the sirens
of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed
down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked
and trembling before the machinery of other
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight
in policecars for committing no crime but their
own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were
dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu-
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly
motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim,
the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose
gardens and the grass of public parks and
cemeteries scattering their semen freely to
whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up
with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath
when the blond & naked angel came to pierce
them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate
the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar
the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb
and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but
sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden
threads of the craftsman's loom,
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of
beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can-
dle and fell off the bed, and continued along
the floor and down the hall and ended fainting
on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and
come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling
in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning
but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun
rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked
in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad
stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these
poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy
to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls
in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses'
rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with
gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet-
ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station
solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in
dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and
picked themselves up out of basements hung
over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third
Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy-
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on
the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the
East River to open to a room full of steamheat
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment
cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime
blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall
be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested
the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of
who wept at the romance of the streets with their
pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the
bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in
who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned
with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded
by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty
incantations which in the yellow morning were
stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht
& tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess-
fully, gave up and were forced to open antique
stores where they thought they were growing
old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits
on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse
& the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments
of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the
fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis-
ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the
drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap-
pened and walked away unknown and forgotten
into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley
ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of
the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas-
saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street,
danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed
phonograph records of nostalgic European
1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and
threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans
in their ears and the blast of colossal steam
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying
to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude
watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out
if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had
a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who
came back to Denver & waited in vain, who
watched over Denver & brooded & loned in
Denver and finally went away to find out the
Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying
for each other's salvation and light and breasts,
until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for
impossible criminals with golden heads and the
charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet
blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky
Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys
or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or
Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the
daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp
notism & were left with their insanity & their
hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism
and subsequently presented themselves on the
granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads
and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in-
and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin
Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho-
therapy occupational therapy pingpong &
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic
pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of
blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad
man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the
Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid
halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock-
ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench
dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night-
mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book
flung out of the tenement window, and the last
door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone
slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur-
nished room emptied down to the last piece of
mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted
on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that
imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
now you're really in the total animal soup of
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat-
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together jumping
with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intel-
ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-
fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open
their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi-
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob
tainable dollars! Children screaming under the
stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men
weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the
loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy
judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the
crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of
sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment!
Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun-
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose
blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers
are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni-
bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!
Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long
streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac-
tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose
smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch
whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch
whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch
whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen!
Moloch whose name is the Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream
Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in
Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom
I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch
who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch!
Light streaming out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic
industries! spectral nations! invincible mad
houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave-
ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to
Heaven which exists and is everywhere about
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies!
gone down the American river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole
boatload of sensitive bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions!
gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De-
spairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides!
Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on
the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the
wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell!
They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving!
carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the
Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland
where you're madder than I am
I'm with you in Rockland
where you must feel very strange
I'm with you in Rockland
where you imitate the shade of my mother
I'm with you in Rockland
where you've murdered your twelve secretaries
I'm with you in Rockland
where you laugh at this invisible humor
I'm with you in Rockland
where we are great writers on the same dreadful
I'm with you in Rockland
where your condition has become serious and
is reported on the radio
I'm with you in Rockland
where the faculties of the skull no longer admit
the worms of the senses
I'm with you in Rockland
where you drink the tea of the breasts of the
spinsters of Utica
I'm with you in Rockland
where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the
harpies of the Bronx
I'm with you in Rockland
where you scream in a straightjacket that you're
losing the game of the actual pingpong of the
I'm with you in Rockland
where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul
is innocent and immortal it should never die
ungodly in an armed madhouse
I'm with you in Rockland
where fifty more shocks will never return your
soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
cross in the void
I'm with you in Rockland
where you accuse your doctors of insanity and
plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the
fascist national Golgotha
I'm with you in Rockland
where you will split the heavens of Long Island
and resurrect your living human Jesus from the
I'm with you in Rockland
where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com-
rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale
I'm with you in Rockland
where we hug and kiss the United States under
our bedsheets the United States that coughs all
night and won't let us sleep
I'm with you in Rockland
where we wake up electrified out of the coma
by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the
roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the
hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col-
lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry
spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is
here O victory forget your underwear we're
I'm with you in Rockland
in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-
journey on the highway across America in tears
to the door of my cottage in the Western night
THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU
REVEAL THEIR ZENARCHISTIC METHOD USED
IN MAKING THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPEN.
1988 (YOU KNOW WHAT'S GONE)
(HOW TO HAVE A NUMBER ONE - THE EASY WAY)
LORD ROCK AND TIME BOY
A.K.A. THE TIMELORDS
A.K.A. ROCKMAN ROCK AND KINGBOY D.
A.K.A. THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU
A.K.A. THE JAMS
A.K.A. THE KLF
A.K.A. THE FALL
A.K.A. THE FOREVER ANCIENTS LIBERATION LOOPHOLE
KLF PUBLICATIONS 1988
KLF PUBLICATIONS, BOX 283, HP22 5BW
KLF PUBLICATIONS IS A KLF COMMUNlCATIONS COMPANY
KLF COMMUNICATIONS 1988
FIRST PUBUSHED 1988
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS PUBLICATION MAY BE REPRODUCED,
STORED IN A RETRIEVAL SYSTEM OR TRANSMITTED IN ANY FORM OR BY ANY
MEANS ELECTRONIC, MECHANICAL, PHOTOCOPYING, RECORDING OR OTHERWISE
WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF KLF PUBLICATIONS.
THIS BOOK IS SOLD SUBJECT TO THE CONDITION THAT IT SHALL NOT BY WAY OF
TRADE OR OTHERWISE BE LENT, RESOLD, HIRED OUT OR OTHERWISE CIRCULATED
WITHOUT THE PUBLISHER'S PRIOR CONSENT IN ANY FORM OF BINDING OR COVER
OTHER THAN THAT IN WHICH IT lS PUBLISHED AND WITHOUT A SIMILAR
CONDITION INCLUDING THIS CONDITION BEING IMPOSED IN THE SUBSEOUENT
GUARANTEE - HOW TO OBTAIN IT
WE GUARANTEE THAT WE WILL REFUND THE COMPLETE PRICE OF THIS MANUAL IF
YOU ARE UNABLE TO ACHIEVE A NUMBER ONE SINGLE IN THE OFFICIAL (GALLUP)
U.K. CHARTS WITHIN THREE MONTHS OF THE PURCHASE OF THIS MANUAL AND ON
CONDITION THAT YOU HAVE FULFILLED OUR INSTRUCTIONS TO THE LETTER. TO
RECEIVE THIS GUARANTEE PLEASE WRITE TO KLF PUBLICATIONS, BOX 283, HP21
7HG, U.K. WITH YOUR NAME, ADDRESS AND A PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR PURCHASE
RECEIPT AND AN S.A.E. YOU WlLL RECEIVE YOUR GUARANTEE WITHIN TWENTY
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF DON LUCKNOW.
WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK MARIE O'FLAHERTY FOR HER DEDICATION AND HARD
WORK ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY AND WITHOUT WHOM WE WOULD NOT
HAVE COMPLETED THIS MANUAL.
"HOW TO HAVE A NUMBER ONE - THE EASY WAY"
Be ready to ride the big dipper of the mixed metaphor. Be ready to dip
your hands in the lucky bag of life, gather the storm clouds of
fantasy and anoint your own genius. Because it is only by following
the clear and concise instructions contained in this book that you can
realise your childish fantasies of having a Number One hit single in
the official U.K. Top 40 thus guaranteeing you a place forever in the
sacred annals of Pop History.
Other than achieving a Number One hit single we offer you nothing
else. There will be no endless wealth. Fame will flicker and fade and
sex will still be a problem. What was once yours for a few days will
now enter the public domain.
In parts of this manual we will patronise you. In others we will cheat
you. We will lie to you but we will lie to ourselves as well. You
will, however, see through our lies and grasp the shining truth
within. We will trap ourselves in our own pretensions. Our insights
will be shot through with distort rays and we will revel in our own
inconsistencies. If parts get too boring just fast forward - all the
way to the end if need be.
Now, we all know that pop music is not going to save the world but it
does, undeniably, create a filing system for the memory banks. In
years to come people will stagger home down lonely streets singing
your song to the strains of regurgitated vindaloo, all memory of who
was behind the song lost. It is you, though, who will be responsible
for bringing back those lost tastes, smells, tears, pangs, forgotten
years and missed chances. So enjoy what you can while at Number One.
People equate a Number One with fame, endless wealth and easy sex - a
myth that they want to believe and one that the popular press want to
see continued. Along with the soap stars, sporting heroes and selected
(however distant) members of the Royal Family, pop stars belong to a
glittering world of showbiz parties, at one end of the scale, to
illicit liaisons, at the other, where their lives are dragged up,
dressed up, made up and ultimately destroyed. The celebrated, of
course, are apt to fall into a world of drugs, drink, broken marriages
and bankruptcy but even this is given the glamour treatment instead of
the squalid misery that it is in reality.
Basically, a Number One is seen as the ultimate accolade in pop music.
Winning the Gold Medal. The crowning glory.
The majority of Number One's are achieved early on in the artist's
public career and before they have been able to establish reputations
and build a solid fan base. Most artists are never able to recover
from having one and it becomes the millstone around their necks to
which all subsequent releases are compared. The fact that a record is
Number One automatically means the track is in a very short period of
time going to become over exposed and as worthless as last month's
Once or twice a decade an act will burst through with a Number One
that hits a national nerve and the public's appetite for the sound and
packaging will not be satisfied with the one record. The formula will
be untampered with and the success will be repeated a second, a third
and sometimes even a fourth time. The prison is then complete; either
the artist will be destroyed in their attempt to prove to the world
that there are other facets to their creativity or they succumb
willingly and spend the rest of their lives as a travelling freak
show, peddling a nostalgia for those now far off, carefree days. These
are the lucky few. Most never have the chance of a repeat performance
and slide ungracefully into years of unpaid tax, desperately delaying
all attempts to come to terms with the only rational thing to do - get
a nine to five job.
Even if the unsuspecting artiste doesn't know the above, rest assured
most of the record business does but for some lemming-like reason
refuses to acknowledge it. They continue to view the act's cheaply
recorded, debut blockbuster as striking gold and will spend the next
few years pumping fortunes into studio time, video budgets and tour
support whilst praying for a repeat of the miracle and the volume
album sales that bring in the real money.
Of course there are those artists that have worked long and hard
building personal artistic confidence, critical acclaim, a loyal
following (all strong foundations) and then have a Number One, that is
that crowning glory. But even then the disgruntled purists amongst the
loyal following desert in disgust at having to share their private
club with the unwashed masses.
So what's left? What's the point? What can be achieved when no great
financial rewards or long term career prospects allowing for creative
freedom can be hoped for, let alone guaranteed? We don't know.
If this book succeeds in becoming Bert Weedon's "Play In A Day" for
some lost month in the late eighties we will be happy. If anybody
actually gets a Number One by following our instructions we promise
them a night out with The JAMS in Madagascar. We will arrange
everything. For those that might be offended please read all "he's",
"hims" and "his"' as "she's", "hers" and "hers"'. Being blokes it was
easier writing it the way we did.
So how do you go about achieving a U.K. Number One? Follow this simple
step by step guide:
Firstly, you must be skint and on the dole. Anybody with a proper job
or tied up with full time education will not have the time to devote
to see it through. Also, being on the dole gives you a clearer
perspective on how much of society is run. If you are already a
musician stop playing your instrument. Even better, sell the junk. It
will become clearer later on but just take our word for it for the
time being. Sitting around tinkering with the Portastudio or musical
gear (either ancient or modern) just complicates and distracts you
from the main objective. Even worse than being a musician is being a
musician in a band. Real bands never get to Number One - unless they
If you are in a band you will undoubtedly be aware of the petty
squabbles and bitching that develops within them. This only festers
and grows proportionately as the band gets bigger and no band ever
grows out of it. All bands end in tantrums, tears and bitter acrimony.
The myth of a band being gang of lads out "against" the world (read as
"to change", "to shag" or "to save the world") is pure wishful
thinking to keep us all buying the records and reading the journals.
Mind you, it's a myth that many band members want to believe
So if in a band, quit. Get out. Now.
That said, it can be very helpful to have a partner, someone who you
can bounce ideas off and vice versa. Any more than two of you and
factions develop and you may as well be in politics. There is no place
for the nostalgia of the four lads who shook the world or the last
gang in town.
Watch Top of the Pops religiously every week and learn from it. When
the time comes it is through T.O.T.P. that you will convince the
largest cross section of the British public to go out and buy your
record. Remember, Top of the Pops is all powerful and has outlasted
all the greats (Cliff being the exception to the rule). Taking the
angst-ridden, "I'm above all this!" outsider stance only gets you so
far and even then takes sodden years and ends up with you alienating
vast chunks of the Great British public who don't want to be
confronted with Jim Reid's skin problem on a Thursday evening. I
repeat, take Top of the Pops to your bosom and learn to love the
platform that matters the most.
YOU CAN BEGIN ANY SUNDAY EVENING
You can begin any Sunday evening by listening to Bruno Brookes
introducing the Top 40 Show between 4pm and 7pm. You don't have to sit
down and dissect and study it, just have it on and make the tea. After
that do whatever you do on a Sunday evening but before you go to sleep
that night you are going to have to come up with a name for your
record company. Nothing too clever or inspired. Something that sounds
solid. You just want something that's not going to be offensive and
people are going to be happy doing business with.
Monday morning. Check that the company name that you have chosen is
still sound. Be up, dressed and out by 9am. You are going to have to
get used to getting up earlier; no lying in until noon now. From now
on every time you telephone someone on business remember to give them
your name and the company you are from (even though it's only you).
Don't bother getting headed note paper. People waste a lot of time,
effort and money having stationery produced when getting a new
business off the ground. People in the late eighties can see through
the smart graphics.
Spend the remainder of the morning amassing the rest of the tools you
will need for the job in hand. These are:
1. A record player (the crappier the better as long as it actually
works). Mass appeal records can always transcend any apparatus they
are played on; the exp ensive set up is only for judging coffee table
2. Copies of the latest in the series of "Now That's What I Call
Music" and "Hits" LPs.
3. A couple of the most recent dance compilation LPs ("The Techno
Sounds of Dagenham Volume Vl", etc.).
4. All the 7" singles in your house that ever made the Top 5. (If
there are any other records you want to add to the pile make sure
there is a very good reason why they should be there and make sure
they were never released as indie records or had any punky
5. A copy of the latest edition of the Guinness Book of British Hit
6. A copy of the Music Week Directory. This you will have to send off
for. Address your envelope to: Sylvia Calver, Morgan Grampian Plc,
Royal Sovereign House, 40 Beresford Street, London SE18 6BQ (telephone
01-854-2200) with a cheque or postal order for £15.00. It will take
about ten days to get to you.
7. A hard back note book and a fine point, black ball Pentel.
If you do not already have any of the above, or are unable to borrow
them, then we are afraid you are going to have to spend some real
cash. Hopefully, this will be the last time in the whole project that
you will have to use up some of your Giro, other than the odd bus fare
and phone call.
If you have a telephone where you live and it hasn't been disconnected
yet, great. If not, buy a phone card, the more expensive the better.
Using coin operated telephones is crap for the obvious reasons: there
are usually queues, are often vandalised and the money runs out thus
making you look like an inefficient dick head and not a future Number
One. Another useful phone hint: never leave somebody else's flat,
house or office without first having made and received at least one
call thus spreading your overheads on to some of the people who will
enjoy basking in the reflected glory once you are at Number One.
If you have all that done and it's not yet one o'clock, start
listening to the "Hits" and "Now" compilation LPs from end to end. Of
course, your conditioned brain will tell you it's all a pile of shite
and pale into insignificance compared to the Golden Era in Pop, when
you were on the cusp of your adolescent years. Dig deeper into your
heart and you will know that you are just lying to yourself. All eras
in pop music are golden ages, or will be looked upon as such by the
only generation that matters at any given time. Not only are all ages
in chart pop equal, chart pop never changes, it only appears to change
on its surface level.
Unwrap pop's layers and what we are left with is the same old plate of
meat and two veg that have kept generations of pop pickers well
satisfied. The emotional appetite that chart pop satisfies is
constant. The hunger is forever. What does change is the technology
this is always on the march. At some point in the future science will
develop a commodity that will satisfy this emotional need in a more
efficient way. There was a period in our own prehistory when Top Tens
and Number Ones didn't exist, when tea time on Sunday wasn't
synonymous with the brand new chart run down. For the time being we
have our Top Tens and Number Ones and while science marches to the
beat that will finally destroy it all, it also comes up with the goods
that will satisfy our other endless appetite, that of apparent change.
All records in the Top Ten (especially those that get to Number One)
have far more in common with each other than with whatever genre they
have developed from or sprung out of.
The "cool cats" and hipsters of the early sixties might have thought
modern jazz was going to finally break through when "Take Five" made
the Hit Parade. The blue rinse brigade feared the downfall of decent
society when The Pistols made Number One with "God Save The Queen" or
the musos predicted real music was about to die because of the 1988
rash of DJ records. Had you played some free jazz to ninety five per
cent of the people who had made "Take Five" a smash, they would have
run for cover behind the latest release by Pat Boone. The Pistols
might have been swearing on T.V. inciting a generation of kids to "Get
pissed! Destroy!" but if "God Save The Queen" had not stuck rigidly to
The Golden Rules* (*THESE WILL BE EXPLAINED LATER), The Pistols would
never have seen the inside of the Top Ten.
In certain clubs across our nation in 1988, DJs were playing the
latest 12" acid tracks to packed houses of the drugged and delirious.
If any of these DJs had any ambitions of following in the paths of Tim
Simenon and Mark Moore to the top of the charts they have to
acknowledge the fact that what they have learned out there behind
their Technics can only provide them with the fashionable icing when
it comes to the real action inside the Top Ten and the battle for the
Number One slot is on. They must also follow The Golden Rules.
In our lifetime Great Britain has been pretty good at coming up with
or reinterpreting a constant flow of entertaining subcults that young
people can either lose or find themselves in. With most of these
subcults comes some kind of music. Our cult-hungry media grabs
whatever it is and splatters it all over the place. Whatever music
makers follow in its wake are bid for by the more desperate sections
of the music industry. Once signed, a process will begin in an attempt
to transform whatever noise that was made by the ensembles into
something that will fit The Golden Rules of chart pop. The process
involves plenty of trial and error and huge sums of never seen cash.
So, if one of these ensembles find themselves in the higher regions of
the charts and their sights are set on the Top Spot, their fellow
subcult members interpret this as the Walls of Jericho finally
crumbling, or at the very least, their boys working as moles from the
inside. All that in actual fact has happened is, unwittingly or not,
the Golden Rules have been adhered to and the nouvelle subcult has
attained maximum media exposure. Although the latest subculture might
be useful to give each potential chart record its attitude gloss, it
must be remembered that this particular attitude might put as many
people off the otherwise perfectly acceptable pop record, as be
attracted to it. Another useful hint when it comes to subcult attitude
gloss: it often helps not to be purists. Water it down. Sugar it up.
Some of the above Tony James understood. Some he most definitely did
Of course, there is another argument; "demands are created and
appetites stimulated. Pop music is the worst example of this. There
are wicked music moguls cynically manipulating the hearts and minds of
young teenagers so as to get them to part with their pocket money."
This is a worthless argument pursued by those unlucky ones who have
never really been moved by the glories of pop music. They may as well
have never been teenagers.
THE RECORDING STUDIO
DON'T BE TEMPTED TO SKIP THIS SECTION ON STUDIOS.
IT MUST BE READ OVER LUNCH - BEFORE BOOKING YOUR STUDIO.
The recording studio is the place where you will record your Number
One hit single. There are hundreds of recording studios scattered
across the country, from the north of Scotland to deepest Cornwall.
THE STUDIO OWNER
The majority of studios are privately owned by someone who is actively
involved in the running of the place on a daily basis. Very few are
owned by the major record companies. These owners are usually very
enthusiastic and encouraging types who have a long, broad and deep
love of all things musical; often they have been musicians themselves
but have decided to knock their days on the road on the head and get
into what they hoped would be the more lucrative and stable business
of owning a studio. Unfortunately for them, this is usually not the
case and they will have to spend the rest of their lives seriously in
The studio owner will often have a very realistic and pragmatic view
of the musical business. He will have been through the mill, r idden
the rough ride, seen spotty oiks come into his studio hardly able to
roll their own and, within what seems a matter of months, become
internationally reknowned and respected musicians whose opinions are
eagerly sought on anything from the destruction of the Amazon Rain
Forests to the continued subsidy of the local bus service, whilst
developing an unhealthy appetite for cocaine.
A fact that is continually on the studio owner's mind is that there
are far more studios flogging studio time than there are clients
willing to pay for it. This creates a desperate competition between
studios to encourage YOU the client to use them. One outcome of this
competition is for the studios to continually get themselves as far
into hock as their banks will let them go, enabling them to invest in
the latest recording studio hardware. This hardware they hope will act
as the bait to get YOU the client to book the studio. It also fulfils
a secondary role, that of keeping the studio's eager, young, upwardly
mobile engineer loyal to the studio and prevent him defecting to a
better equipped rival. We will go further into the intriguing subject
of the recording studio engineer later on in this book.
THE STUDIO MANAGER
The studio manager (as opposed to the studio owner) is the person who
looks after all aspects of the smooth and efficient running of the
studio. In smaller studios this is often the owner or he has a
personal assistant (P.A.) who handles most of the job for him. In
large studios these are usually a breed of highly efficient women
whose matriarchal presence can be felt in all areas and at all times.
There will also be a small posse of recording studio engineers on
call, from the tea boy who started last Monday and hasn't been sacked
yet, to the senior engineer. All engineers start life as tea boys and
are officially called "tape ops" (the person who switches the tape
recorders on and off). To put it simply, the recording studio
engineer's job is to put the noise that musicians create on tape.
Large studios will have a maintenance engineer. If any malfunction
occurs with the studio hardware it is his job to get it working again
- fast. Smaller studios usually have one on call.
Studios are in the most unlikeliest of buildings and the most
unlikeliest of settings. Although all studios want to attract as much
business as possible, they do not want to advertise their presence to
local thugs who might fancy breaking in and getting their hands on a
few thousand pounds worth of gear.
The simplest classification given to studios is the amount of tracks
their tape machines have. This can be either four, eight, sixteen,
twenty four, thirty two or forty eight track studios. Four, eight and
sixteen track are only used for making demos these days and demos are
a thing of the past. You will find engineers everywhere trying to
impress you with the fact that "Sergeant Pepper" was recorded on a
four track. This is of course is as relevant as the fact that no JCB's
were used in the construction of the Great Pyramid.
A twenty four track is what you will need for the initial recording,
thirty two tracks are still pretty rare. Forty eight tracks are where
two twenty four track machines are synchronised together. You might
need one of these when it comes to the final mixing stages of your
future Number One.
A twenty four track means that your engineer will be working with a
multi-track tape recorder that has twenty four separate tracks on
which he can have twenty four individual sounds recorded at any one
time. At the mixing stage these twenty four separate sounds will be
simultaneously channelled through the mixing desk where all these
separate sounds are tampered with and (hopefully) enhanced before
being channelled out again and recorded for posterity by a two track
(stereo) tape machine. This is THE MASTER TAPE.
The other common way that recording studios are classified is whether
the desk is computer assisted or not. For the initial recording you
will only need a manually operated desk. A computer assisted desk is
used when the recording reaches the mixing stage and the engineer is
having to juggle with a minimum of twenty four tracks simultaneously.
The computer will assist by giving the engineer at least an extra
twenty two hands and twenty four perfect memories - an obvious added
bonus in these techno days.
SSL (Solid State Logic) is still the most common computer assisted
make of desk and still the only one to insist upon. But all that could
change in the fast moving world of studio hardware. From now on, we
will refer to all computer desks as SSL (it's a bit of a Hoover/
A traditional recording studio comprises of: THE CONTROL ROOM which
houses the mixing desk, tape machines, outboard gear, engineers and
producers and THE RECORDING ROOM, full of all sorts of strange things
to either deaden the live sound or liven the dead sound. This is where
the traditional musician performs. There will also be a recreation
room with a television, pool table and computer games to keep
musicians amused whilst the traditional producer casts his spells
without being hindered by the traditional musicians' paranoid
In your case all the action will be taking place in the control room.
The above scenario is almost quaint, but more of all that later in the
"Five Days In A Twenty Four Track Studio" chapter.
Many of the more successful studios have expanded their complexes so
as to contain more than one studio. They might have a number of
studios offering a range of services, from four track to forty eight
track, SSL and manual and, more than likely nowadays, a programming
suite replacing the need for a four/eight/sixteen track demo studio.
The way that recording studios base their rates (what they want you to
pay them) can vary from studio to studio. The standard quoted by each
studio is their hourly rate; for twenty four track this can range from
£20 per hour to £150 per hour.
If it were only that simple. The studio manager's only way of proving
his worth to the world is by transforming all the great tracts of
space on his wall chart calendar pinned to the board above his desk
into something that is crammed with blue, yellow, red and green little
bits of sticky back paper, each signifying another session booked.
(Studio managers will hike round a last year's crowded wall chart
calendar as a C.V. when looking for a new job.) This is all good news
for you. That studio manager will be willing to offer you all sorts of
favourable deals just to prevent a day slipping by without the
corresponding box on the calendar not having a coloured sticker on it.
Deals can be based on:-
1. INTRODUCTORY OFFER. This will be an obvious one for
2. DOWN TIME. This is usually the time between when the
official client finishes (usually 2am) and starts again (usually 10am).
3. BLOCK BOOKING. This would only happen if a client wanted
a month or more to record an LP.
4. CANCELLATION TIME. This is when a client has cancelled
studio time at the very last minute and the studio is desperate to sell it
5. REGULAR CUSTOMER RATE. Not applicable to you but just
for reference. By the time you use the same studio for the third time you
should be trying to pull this one.
6. LOCK OUT. This is when, although you may be working in a
studio for ten hours a day, the studio cannot sell off the remaining
fourteen hours as down time to another client. Most lock out deals are
based on them being the equivalent of twelve hours. So, if you were to
work for a sixteen hour stretch you would be getting yourself four free
The more expensive the hourly rate a studio charges the better
equipped and flash it will be. You won't need an expensive studio.
Expensive studios are for major record companies to put their major
(or would-be major) artists in, where they can spend as long as it
takes to make their internationally-sounding master work, while the
decor and amenities of the place neither challenges their ego or
standing in the market place. These establishments and the engineers
who work in them are only ever interested in the LP that costs at
least £150,000 to make, not a cheeky little record like yours
that's going to surprise everybody by getting to Number One. What you
want is the moderately priced studio whose gear is intact and where
all concerned are as hungry and enthusiastic as you are to prove that
they can do it.
Although a Number One single cannot sound like an indie trash record,
they do not have to sound like they have cost a million to make,
unlike a Number One LP.
(BOOK THE STUDIO NOW)
You are going to need to book five consecutive days lock out in a
manual operated (non SSL) desk, twenty four track studio hopefully
starting from the following Monday. Your local studios can be tracked
down in the Yellow Pages under the "Recording Services/Sound" heading.
It should be apparent from the way they list themselves whether they
are twenty four track or not. If by chance there are none in your
area, get straight down to the local reference library where they will
have Yellow Pages covering the whole country. Check the neighbouring
regions for studios and get some names down in your note book. If the
studio you end up using is further than you can travel to on a daily
basis, this will be no problem; all studios are only too willing to
organise accommodation as part of the over all deal.
Before you start dialling make a few notes:-
1. Pay no more than £40 per hour (exclusive of VAT) for the basic
2. Ensure it includes fees for the best available engineer.
3. Be aware that you will also be charged for the tape you use
and extra gear that is hired in specially for your session. Remember to
get the rates for these.
If you smoke it's time to light up, then pick up the telephone and
dial. Ask for the studio manager. Just remember, the studio manager is
going to be out to impress YOU the potential client. They won't be
thinking: "Who's this dick head calling up who doesn't know what
they're talking about?" They will be too worried that you are thinking
they are the total dick head and on that basis will book a rival
studio. Give him your name and the company you are from and with the
information we have already given you start doing your first deal.
First checking to see they have the facilities you require, the studio
will then try to flog you down time or odd days here and there. Hold
firm. You have got to have five clear consecutive days and you want to
start the following Monday with their best in-house engineer. If they
have not got, or are unable to shift any of their other clients to fit
you in, tell them you will have to look elsewhere. They will be
getting nervous now, as they might be just about to lose anything from
£1,000 to £100,000 worth or business. So, when he says they do
have the five consecutive days but not starting until the tenth (or
whatever date they quote) tell him to pencil it in ("pencil" means
provisionally booked) and you will get back to him in a couple of days
to let him know either way. It might be worth having a bit of a chat
with him about what other clients they have had in lately. Ask if they
have had any hits come out of the studio, that sort of thing. This
helps you build up a bit of a vibe where the studio's at. Then call
the next studio on your list and repeat the process.
Once you have got through your list of studios in your local(ish) area
go and put the kettle on, take a leak and make yourself a cup of tea
(coffee if you have to) as the next move you have to make has no
simple ABC answer.
Between you sipping this cup of tea and getting to Number One you are
going to be involved with a lot of people along the way and from all
these people you can learn a lot. Whether they are just a tea boy or
an international super star you bump into down at TV. Centre while
doing Top of the Pops, everybody involved in this music game has some
sort of insight or angle on it all. Listen to what they all have to
say but take nothing as gospel; you are going to have to start
building up your own picture of how it all moves.
When you do meet people that have had some sort of success it will be
natural for you to feel impressed and give a lot more credence to what
they have to say, rather than to what the tea boy says. Just remember
that they in reality will have very little genuine idea of how they
arrived at their success or what they should be doing next in their
career to prevent it from crashing to the ground. Under what might
seem their confident exterior will be lurking a severe paranoia that
they will be found out for what they are, a charlatan with a series of
lucky breaks. With all these people you meet you must make them feel
involved and that you respect their opinion and help. Everybody likes
to feel part of a success and you must let them feel that. In doing
this we are not trying to encourage you into becoming an obsequious
slimey toad, but to make you aware that the enthusiasm and goodwill of
all these people is vital to the success of your project. They deserve
At times you will be told things, given advice that goes against the
grain of the way you have already been thinking. Your gut reaction
might be "Sod that! I know what I'm doing!" So before blurting out
your condemnation of their ideas, let it filter through you; don't try
and over rationalise or look for the logical answer. Let it simmer for
a bit and then go with your now more balanced gut reaction.
Don't hide behind any naive "no compromise" shields, the only thing
you must not compromise on is your final goal: that Olympian slot on
Top of the Pops.
Only YOU can make each decision along the way. Don't look for others
to make them for you. If something goes wrong remember you are the
only one who is ultimately responsible.
When you have drunk your tea and had a look out the window (just to
check the world is still there) you are going to have to decide which
of the possible studios you are going to commit to. That decision
should not just be based on the studio that can offer you the five
consecutive days the earliest and at the best rate. All that should be
balanced with something in the tone of the studio manager's voice.
The one that sounds understanding. The one that you feel could be on
YOUR side. Then make your telephone call and confirm your booking. If
it is now after 3pm and you have your studio booked, switch on Radio
One and listen to "Steve Wright In The Afternoon". Viewed from a
certain angle the man is a genius. Find that angle and view. He is the
most popular DJ in the country. He has been the heartbeat of the
British psyche since 1985. You don't even have to like him to be awed
This above paragraph is not an attempt at obvious irony, it is for
real. If you can't find that angle then I am afraid you have wasted
your money in buying this manual.
Spend the rest of the afternoon doing whatever you do that gets your
mind rolling: a bus ride into town, a stride across the moors, a burn
up on the freeway, two hours on the circle line, (whatever it is) and
let your mind ponder on two topics: MONEY and A GROUP NAME.
There will be a group name that will be the obvious one for you.
Nothing too long winded or desperately clever, but at the same time
one that is just right for the times we live in. Don't try too hard,
just let it float up. The other topic, MONEY, we have dedicated the
next chapter to.
Money is a very strange concept. There will be points in the
forthcoming months when you might not have the change in your pockets
to get the bus into town at the same time as you are talking to people
on the telephone in terms of tens of thousands of pounds. Some of the
following might seem contradictory but in matters of money they often
are. We spoke earlier of how being on the dole gives you a clearer
vision of how society works. What it doesn't do is give you a clear
idea of how money works.
After you spend any time on the dole you either resign yourself to the
economic level your life is at and cope - or things start to slide.
The rent gets into the arrears. The electricity goes unpaid. The gas
board threatens to cut you off. When this starts happening a paranoia
begins creeping in telling you modern society is geared to working
against the individual and YOU in particular. The late eighties
reaction to this is invariably to realise that the only way out is for
you to become suddenly very rich and none of this will matter any
more. You will start to fantasise about becoming very wealthy and how
very shortly it will happen to you. You only have to make the smart
move, find the right key, make the right contact, be discovered for
what you are. Your fantasy will be fuelled by everything.
Nobody wins the pools. There is no such thing as a fast buck. Nobody
gets rich quick. El Dorado will never be found. Wealth is a slow
build, an attitude to life. I'm afraid the old adage that if you look
after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves is always
true. That said, you must be willing to risk everything - that's
everything you haven't got as well as you have got - or nothing will
The reason we say all that stuff above about "there is no such thing
as a fast buck" is because we are bombarded with information about
eternally adolescent pop stars who have just done deals worth "this
much" or have just grossed "that much" on their last U.S. tour.
Firstly, the figures quoted (if true) are always the gross sums, not
what's left after all the necessary expenses have been taken into
account. Secondly they will be encouraged - even pressurised - into
adopting life-styles that will eat through whatever is left of the
vast sums that have been quoted at us in no time at all. Unless they
are able to sustain or repeat at regular intervals their quoted
financial luck they will soon be back to a no money situation. We are
afraid those on the dole who have let their rent go into arrears,
their electricity go unpaid and with the creeping paranoia about this
evil society, will be the same ones who if they were to achieve sudden
wealth would in no time at all be owing insurmountable back debts to
the tax man, have managers demand their percentage long after the
money was spent and swapping their paranoia about society for paranoia
peppered with bitterness that they had been "ripped off" all the way
along the line. Money, as often quoted, is not the root of all evil.
We do know WHAT the root of all evil is. That is to be explained in
one of our future manuals and if we were to tell you the answer now
you would not bother trying to have a Number One.
We do not expect this chapter on money to have fulfilled in any
direct, practical way in making the Number One slot but it might have
helped dispel any illusions you might have had.
BANKS AND THEIR DIRECT AND
Our age will be remembered in the future as a period in history when
banks went to ridiculous and unparalleled lengths to compete with each
other to win the allegiances of the young and account free. If future
historians were to base their research on what young Britain was like
in the late eighties solely on the substance of bank adverts, you
would definitely be rated as the most despicable types since we were
kicked out of the Garden.
So please, if you do take any notice of the bank and money ads -
forget it. That said, we are afraid you are going to need a bank
account and the better the relationship you can develop with your bank
the easier things will be. Our relationships with banks have always
been fraught with difficulties.
Banks are in the business of making money by lending it. The more they
lend the more they make. They want us, the punter, to become addicted
for life to the false sense of security it gives us. Banks will go to
extremes thinking up new and ingenious ways of getting us to borrow
money from them. First and foremost they want us to get into property:
"Buy a house," because with your property as security they can always
lend you more and more money. If things were to go badly wrong and you
weren't able to keep up the interest payments they can always force
you out of house and home and get their money back that way.
Of course, it would be bad for the banks if they were seen to be
throwing too many families onto the street or forcing business' to the
wall in order to redeem their loans. They would always prefer to lend
more money so as to help pay off the interest on the earlier loans.
Banks have spent millions over the past few years trying to destroy
the public's old impression of the bank manager in bowler, brolly and
pinstripe, to the approachable and amiable sort of chap who will
attempt at all times to say "Yes!". They have only done this, not
because they like being nicer, but to seduce you into coming in and
borrowing more money. Remember, when you are going in to see a bank
manager you're going to see a pusher; a pusher dealing in one of the
purest, most addictive drugs - money.
If for some reason you already have some property (or have a family
who are foolish enough to indulge your wilder whims and provide you
with collateral) you will be at a disadvantage. As you sit there in
the sucker's seat in the manager's office he will smell the scent of
securities. He will be checking your wrist veins to sink his syringe
in and all the time he will be telling you about the Genesis CD he has
just bought or how you would never guess it, but he used to be a punk
and stills treasures his copy of "Neat Neat Neat" by the Damned.
So it is best to go in there skint and with no securities. Of course
there is no point in asking to borrow any money. Just put yourself in
the bank manager's position; some unlikely youth comes in, looking
like nothing in their ad campaigns and makes some outrageous request
for a £20,000 unguaranteed loan to finance the making of a Number
One hit single. Would you let them have the money? If this lad were to
start brandishing a copy of this publication by The Timelords, you
would advise him that he had been had and should get a refund on the
book instantly before going out to look for an available vacancy on a
youth training scheme.
As we said in the introductory chapter having no money sharpens the
wits. Forces you never to make the wrong decision. There is no safety
net to catch you when you fall.
If you already have an account with a bank make the appointment with
the manger or his assistant. If not, get into any branch (the nearest
to where you live will do as long as it's one of the big five). Open a
current account and make that appointment. Do this on Monday afternoon
while you're out and about. The appointment should be for some time
that week. Just tell them you are setting up a small, independent
record label - no big plans yet, just aiming to put out the one single
and see how it goes. Tell him there will be a couple of times when you
will have to issue cheques before others have come in. No big stuff.
You will let him know beforehand. The most important thing is to get a
rapport going with him; attempt to keep him in touch with what is
happening over the next few weeks.
As well as having the pusher's instincts, the bank manager has the
instincts of the old mother hen. The small business accounts are his
baby chicks and he loves to watch them grow. If you were to go in and
try and convince him of world domination plans he could only be
disappointed with whatever results you had. It is necessary that he
should feel part of it all when everything starts to take off. It will
be then that you will need his serious help. It will be then that you
will have to find £17,000 by the end of the week and there is no
sight of anything coming in until the beginning of the next month.
Spend Monday evening around at some mate's house. See if he has any
records worth borrowing. More importantly, tell him what you are up to
and see if he has any great ideas worth using. It is a little known
fact but when it comes to creative ideas the majority of people are
creative geniuses. Your mate is bound to be one of them. It's just
that all these folks never dare to translate their creative brilliance
into reality. We guess a couple of libraries could be filled with the
reasons why they never attempt it. Something to do with mother and
when she first said, "No!"
That night, don't forget to set the alarm for 8am the next morning.
Before you do whatever it is you do before you go to sleep, see what
group names are beginning to float up (mates are also a great source
of group names).
The history of pop music has been littered with all sorts of unlikely
people plucked from obscurity and chucked on top of the heap. Pop
music would be thrown out of the Showbiz Ball if it could not provide
its full quota of rags-to-riches stories. We have all heard the old
tale about how it was the downtrodden working class background that
provided the true grit passion in the artist's work that won the
hearts and minds of the masses. The other side of the same coin is
that it is because of the down trodden and working class background
that the smart middle class machine was able to unwittingly, maybe,
but ruthlessly all the same exploit these raw and gullible talents to
the full. With each new generation in pop music there comes along some
sort of revolution where supposedly the kids are able to get up and do
it for themselves: skiffle bands, protest singers, beat groups, punk
rockers, U2 and Casio kids. Of course, the kids do very little for
themselves. They might believe they are. Their public are encouraged
to believe they are. All that is happening is that the new young,
waving fields of corn are allowed to grow full and ripe before a very
strange combined harvester will come along and pick the few lucky ears
of corn while the rest of the field cheer, whither and die. A new
harvest is always needed. 1988 saw the latest wou~d-be revolution
happen in pop music.
The DJ, with his pair of Technics and box of records can make it to
the top with a little help from a sample machine, squiggly bass line
and beat box. Yet again this was interpreted as the masses finally
liberating the means of making music from all the undesirables and now
terminally unhip. These records were reportedly made for very little
money. The common ingredient these records had that was far more
important than the icing of "Now" style that covers the age old Golden
Rules of Pop, is that they are being made by complete unknowns. No
hype. No massive record company advances. No front covers in the rock
papers. No loyal following built up over months of solid touring.
They have all been released by what is commonly known as Indie record
labels (however, this is not the place to define indie). Since the
rise of the indie label in the days of post-punk they have provided a
healthy means for no hopers, outsiders and terminally angry types to
unload their angst. They have also proved rich hunting grounds for the
major record companies looking for fresh meat.
The indie record companies were cottage industries fuelled by
enthusiasm, passion and belief. Some grew, became strong and
established international links, whilst others withered and died. The
strong ones were able to provide plafforms for the artists who were
able to build up large and loyal followings to develop and prosper,
even have moderate hit single success. The Smiths and New Order on
Rough Trade and Factory respectively were the obvious champions in
It was always understood that it was only the major record companies
that had the infrastructure, the money, the efficiency, the might, the
power and the means of persuasion to take singles all the way to THE
TOP. Like the giants of Fleet Street weighed down by ancient union
agreements and strapped to out of date means of production, the major
record companies are beginning to look like lumbering dinosaurs.
Over the past ten years anybody with overtly commercial material would
never have considered using the indie network. Everybody with an eye
on the Top Spot knew that the indie scene was for the spotty and
marginal and people who celebrated the glories of being spotty and
marginal. The majors were secure in their knowledge of this.
All through these years, alongside the scratchy and austere indie
labels, has grown what might be termed the independent service
industries, providing services that previously only the majors could
command: numerous pluggers, publicists, sales forces and, most
important of all, reliable and comprehensive distribution. All of
these independent service industries are now highly organised and
competing to cut deals with YOU the much sought after client. Each of
these individual services will have a section dedicated to their own
However efficient and organised these service industries became, they
could only do so much with the spotty and marginal. But it was only a
matter of time before something came along from within the indie scene
that was neither "spotty" nor "marginal" and had definite mass appeal.
That record was "Pump Up The Volume" by MARRS. It was a turning point.
That record not only became Number One in the UK it became an
The "indie scene" in this country since then has been filled with a
new found confidence: everything can be achieved. It was as if having
a Number One single was the last bastion of the majors. Certain
cynics will point fingers and whinge that the indies of today will be
just the majors of tomorrow. Wasn't Richard Branson and his Virgin
Records the ultimate hippy ideal in the early seventies? We won't deny
that behind the majority of indie labels is a would-be Branson, whose
stunted megalomania will undoubtedly be reflected on the way he brings
up his children.
From now on, whether or not the technology makes the traditional
musician's craft redundant, the young creative type will become more
aware that he is able to control more areas of the way his music is
communicated to the masses. The manipulation of this control will
become a very important creative form of expression in itself.
Of course there is a place for the major record company in the future
as there is still a place for brass bands, large national orchestras
and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. The precise function the major
record companies will play in the music business as we turn the corner
into the 21 st century is something we are not going to bother
guessing at. One thing they and we suppose all major international
companies are good at is moving the goal posts; probably because they
owned them in the first place.
As more and more creators of music begin to realise that it is
possible to make records themselves and steer those records in
whatever direction they want, at the same time as retaining all the
copyright in the product thus a bigger chunk of the action, the
attractiveness of signing your soul and its products away from now to
eternity (well at least fifty years after the day you die) will become
to look rather silly. Nothing to do with ideology, just straight
forward business sense.
Twenty five years ago no unknown artist signing to a major record
company would dare demand the right to only record their own material.
The success of the Beatles changed that. In the past ten years it has
become the trend for the writer (of songs) to retain the copyright of
their work and either just get the publishers to administrate it, or
have their own accountants do the lot.
If the rise of the UK indie label can be seen as a positive offspring
of punk sensibilities, a very negative one was the cult of the very
big advance. This can be traced back to the supposed situationalist
shenanigans of Malcolm McClaren. The idea that the major record
companies were some how being ripped off and some clever scam was
being pulled was totally false. There was no Great Rock 'n' Roll
Swindle. The four living ex-members of the band have nothing left
except fading memories of their glory days, like fuddled old soldiers;
a front man trapped by his own cynicism and a corpse forever young.
While the record companies and publishers involved are still getting
bigger and stronger and the employees are busy negotiating their next
rise over the expense account lunch. It's as if Malcolm never
Another point that we can throw in at this juncture is that down
through the history of pop music the cult of the svengali figure has
often risen. Svengalis might be very interesting characters but
invariably make bad businessmen. They spend too much of their time
cultivating their own image and coping with their own creative urges.
We repeat, it has only been possible since the beginning of 1988 to
single-handedly achieve what this manual is all about. The myth of the
major label deal is totally blown. Their might and power is too slow
moving. Their seduction techniques threadbare and dated. The barn
door cannot be closed. While the new technology might be the downfall
of any kinds of standards in the world of television, in both printing
and music the future is ours.
JUST AFTER 1 PM TUESDAY
Just after 1 pm Tuesday telephone the studio that you have booked and
tell them you are going to need someone who can programme, ideally a
programmer who can play the keyboards. Every studio can get one for
you. This programmer is going to be the person who will provide
sample, originate, compute, even play all the music you will need on
your record. They usually have a boffin's mentality mixed with the
talent of a musical wizard. We are afraid they will not be included in
the price of the studio, but the studio manager should be able to sort
out the going rate for you and cut the deal with him. Get him booked
for the full five days.
Have a spot of lunch and read the following chapter. It will allay any
doubts you might have in your talents as a hit song writer and
explains the Golden Rules. Between now and next Monday morning you are
going to have to come up with the goods. Those goods are out there
waiting for you to find before the others get there.
THE GOLDEN RULES
Leiber and Stoller, Goffin and King, Berry Gordy, Chinn and Chapman
and Peter Waterman have all understood the Golden Rules thoroughly.
The reason why Waterman will not continue churning out Number Ones
from now until the end of the century and the others had only limited
reigns, was not because lady luck's hand strayed elsewhere or that
fashion moved on, it is because after you have had a run of success
and your coffers are full, keeping strictly to the G.R.'s is boring.
It all becomes empty and meaningless. Some have become emotionally or
business wise embroiled with artists whose own ambitions now lie
elsewhere and far from merely having Number One's. Lieber and Stoller
could walk into a studio tomorrow and have a world wide Number One in
three months if they were so motivated.
The basic Golden Rules as far as they apply to writing a debut single
that can go to Number One in the U.K. Charts are as follows: Do not
attempt the impossible by trying to work the whole thing out before
you go into the studio. Working in a studio has to be a fluid and
creative venture but at all times remember at the end of it you are
going to have to have a 7" version that fulfils all the criteria
perfectly. Do not try and sit down and write a complete song. Songs
that have been written in such a way and reached Number One can only
be done by the true song writing genius and be delivered by artists
with such forceful convincing passion that the world HAS TO listen.
You know the sort of thing, "Sailing" by Rod Stewart, "Without You" by
Nilsson What the Golden Rules can provide you with is a framework that
you can slot the component parts into.
Firstly, it has to have a dance groove that will run all the way
through the record and that the current 7" buying generation will find
irresistible. Secondly, it must be no longer than three minutes and
thirty seconds (just under 3'20 is preferable). If they are any longer
Radio One daytime DJs will start fading early or talking over the end,
when the chorus is finally being hammered home - the most important
part of any record. Thirdly, it must consist of an intro, a verse, a
chorus, second verse, a second chorus, a breakdown section, back into
a double length chorus and outro. Fourthly, lyrics. You will need
some, but not many.
CAUSALITY PLUS A PINCH OF MYSTICISM
It is going to be a construction job, fitting bits together. You will
have to find the Frankenstein in you to make it work. Your magpie
instincts must come to the fore. If you think this just sounds like a
recipe for some horrific monster, be reassured by us, all music can
only be the sum or part total of what has gone before. Every Number
One song ever written is only made up from bits from other songs.
There is no lost chord. No changes untried. No extra notes to the
scale or hidden beats to the bar. There is no point in searching for
originality. In the past, most writers of songs spent months in their
lonely rooms strumming their guitars or bands in rehearsals have
ground their way through endless riffs before arriving at the song
that takes them to the very top. Of course, most of them would be
mortally upset to be told that all they were doing was leaving it to
chance before they stumbled across the tried and tested. They have to
believe it is through this sojourn they arrive at the grail; the great
and original song that the world will be unable to resist.
So why don't all songs sound the same? Why are some artists great,
write dozens of classics that move you to tears, say it like it's
never been said before, make you laugh, dance, blow your mind, fall in
love, take to the streets and riot? Well, it's because although the
chords, notes, harmonies, beats and words have all been used before
their own soul shines through; their personality demands attention.
This doesn't just come via the great vocalist or virtuoso
instrumentalist. The Techno sound of Detroit, the most totally linear
programmed music ever, lacking any human musicianship in its execution
reeks of sweat, sex and desire. The creators of that music just press
a few buttons and out comes - a million years of pain and lust.
We await the day with relish that somebody dares to make a dance
record that consists of nothing more than an electronically programmed
bass drum beat that continues playing the fours monotonously for eight
minutes. Then, when somebody else brings one out using exactly the
same bass drum sound and at the same beats per minute (B.P.M.), we
will all be able to tell which is the best, which inspires the dance
floor to fill the fastest, which has the most sex and the most soul.
There is no doubt, one will be better than the other. What we are
basically saying is, if you have anything in you, anything unique,
what others might term as originality, it will come through whatever
the component parts used in your future Number One are made up from.
Creators of music who desperately search originality usually end up
with music that has none because no room for their spirit has been
left to get through. The complete history of the blues is based on one
chord structure, hundreds of thousands of songs using the same three
basic chords in the same pattern. Through this seemingly rigid formula
has come some of the twentieth century's greatest music. In our case
we used parts from thrcc very famous songs, Gary Glitter's "Rock 'n'
Roll", "The Doctor Who Theme" and the Sweet's "Blockbuster" and pasted
them together, neither of us playing a note on the record. We know
that the finished record contains as much of us in it as if we had
spent three months locked away somewhere trying to create our
master-work. The people who bought the record and who probably do not