Ian’s Diary: June 1999
It has been almost a month of transition from studio work to preparing for concert touring again.
The final mix having been completed with the added vocals of Najma Akhtar, I took the masters down to Chop ‘em Out – a London production mastering studio – where the edited and compiled production master reference CD was made and the results stored on hard disk for later recall to go to the US and European factories for manufacture. A few little changes were made to compensate for the acoustic idiosyncrasies of my studio and monitoring, and the results checked at home on a variety of playback options from headphones to big speakers and all points in between. Some further minor changes were called for and the final approved result is now with the record companies along with the completed artwork.
A brief few days of welcome vacation in Egypt were cut short due to fear of little aircraft on the internal routes and a bad case of the Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb: the dreaded and deadly, gut-wrenching long-way-from-Delhi-Belly. Shona and I fled on the next BA flight to London, leaving Andy and Tracy to enjoy our previously booked deluxe Mozart Suite on the Nile cruise, which they took over in our absence.
Never mind: the trip to Cairo and the Pyramids at Giza was enough to banish the gloom of English weather for a few days and we returned home rather glad of the extra time to prepare for the upcoming tour and final record contract negotiations.
Our eight month old F2 Bengal, Summi, was pleased to welcome us home, we being the source of his twice daily red meat “fix” and providers of a warm bed to sleep it off. He is a second generation hybrid from the wild Asian Leopard Cat and is named after the legendary F2 Leica camera lens, the Summicron. Sooms lives amiably enough with our other more domesticated Bengals, Bhajee and Triffid, as well as black moggy favourites, Mauser and Taj.
A song on the new Tull record is dedicated to them and all species of Catus Pussicus everywhere, especially the, arguably, 26 species of small wild cat who don’t receive much public attention compared with the big cats. The song is called “Hunt By Numbers”, which is exactly what our little guys did last week when an American film crew arrived to film me for a programme about conservation and wildlife.
No sooner had the crew got cups of coffee in their hands, than five cats set about a poor unfortunate mole which had surfaced briefly from his lawn-wrecking tunnel. The film crew rushed out to record this beastly event and seemed a tad put out when Shona rescued the mauled mole from a fate exactly equal to death.
The mole was transferred to a distant part of the farm where he might dig to hearts content and until his dying day (which was probably later on the same one, due to his having played football with a team of dedicated feline experts).
Our first real public outing since last November was the, thankfully, not too warm and sunny city of Budapest. We flew out the night before the show to have an extra few hours to prepare and check equipment. The inclusion of three new songs from the next Tull album and a good few old numbers, not played for a long time, made for an interesting opening night, but there were no disasters.
The following few shows in Brno, Katowice and Prague went well and the audiences, as always in these parts, were most enthusiastic and welcoming.
On to Germany and a change for the worse in weather. Cold snap and rain were unexpected visitors to the outdoor shows for the next few days, and the brave Germans stuck it out with fortitude and resolve. We, of course, were under cover on the stage, but the cold temperatures made for a few numb fingers and forced errors.
I am at home briefly for a couple of days off as I write this, and find to my horror, hundreds of e-mails from you, the fans, waiting my attention.
PLEASE don’t send any more e-mails to me via this site for the time being, since I have no time at all to read them when we are on the road, and the overwhelming amount to go through on my return, means I can’t even read them all, let alone reply to many.
I am pleased to receive them when I am at home for a decent period of time between tours, or when working in the studio, but it is a waste of your and my time to attempt communication during the concert touring part of our schedule. It suffices for me to know that your thoughts are with me, as is the Force, the luggage, and the small, mysterious phial of perfectly legal Habanero Chile powder which peps up the blandest of foreign fare.
Sadly, the news has reached me that the US version of the CD cover artwork must have the genitals removed, due to the record company’s concern that we might give offence to little old ladies, Mothers Superior and former FBI agents, together with the very slight possibility of one or two of our more sensitive fans working up a bit of a lather. Never mind: the full three and a half inches of glory will be there for all to see on T-shirts, the tour programme and this web-site, when you will, doubtless, wonder what all the fuss was about. By the way, they are not my genitals on view, nor even those of the massively endowed and black leather girdled Martin Barre, but merely the ones belonging to the Ram-headed, male torso’d Amun, who is depicted as a watercolour based on a statue in my garden sculpted by our ex-neighbour, Michael Cooper.
All will, I am sure, be amused to learn of the advised necessary amputation, but I was not about to go back and paint CK boxers over the thing at this late stage.
Oh, well, it’s time to head off to the photo processor in a nearby town to develop the pile of film from the last lot of shows, where a different photographer each night was given the benefit of an extended photo pass in return for exposing a roll of my film and a name credit if any shots were published. So far, I know, we have a few good images of the various band members, to be used in the up-coming tour programme for the US dates and further tours.
Hope to see some of you at the Tull shows this summer in Germany and Italy.
May the weather be kind and the wine glass be full, on balmy summer nights which echo to the sound of Doane Perry’s bongo mania and A. Giddings’ squeezy-thing, Accordionus Rex. Poor old Amun’s squeezy thing can be found at the merchandising stand where Tom and Jackie will sell you something you didn’t really need at price you didn’t really understand, since both talk in the unintelligible accents of the British nether regions.