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The Great White Wonder

"THE GREAT WHITE WONDER" was originally the title of a Bob Dylan bootleg and although our record didn't take as long to get released as "The Basement Tapes" it still took quite a long time really. It was recorded in the Los Angeles sun and the Utrecht snow (hello to all our friends in both those beautiful cities, especially to all those people who invited us to their parties and extra especially to the boy who had the party where I was sick!) and sometimes we were very hot and stripping down to our next-to-nothings outside by the pool and then some other times we were all wrapped up in duffle coasts and having our noses turn red sliding and falling over between Esther's house and Da Capo with lots of people swearing at us in Dutch! Sometimes we all had big smiles everywhere and then there were other times we all felt like jumping off a bridge for different reasons, like this year I really liked this one boy who didn't like me which didn't make me very happy.

Anyway, more or less it's been a good year since "Formula One Generation" and we found lots of great records to help us make this album. Some cheered us up when we were feeling miserable and others really made those beautiful days seem so brilliant white, do you know what I mean? The sort of day you really have to shade your eyes even before you get your head out from under the pillow. So apart from all those favourites like Tommy James & The Shondells, John's Children, The Runaways and all those Kim Fowley groups, Super K and The Vaselines and everybody, who we always listen to anyway, there are direct references in the album to lots of other records we've especially got into this year. Although it might be fun to leave you spot all these on your own you'd get confused and come up with a really miserable sore and moan when your older brother gets all knowledgeable on you and says things like "Oh, don't you know, that's a Procul Harum song, that is?" and then oh, what a fool you will feel! So you should look out for things like in "YOUNG PEOPLE" where Hue, for no reason at all as far as any of the rest of us can make out, shouts bits of Jonathan Richman and Stephen Stills songs. You can't go wrong with Jonathan Richman apart from that last album where he's plugging in the guitar on the front - we didn't really like that one at all. There was this band in Swansea a couple of years ago called The Love Nazis and they were great and this song reminds me of them. Perhaps because I'd only just started going to see groups but I'd never seen anything like them - they were incredible and I still haven't seen anything that good except maybe Beatle Hans in Holland one time. Their LP on Fierce called "It's" is the greatest live LP of all time! And there's sort of a Beatle Hans thing on in "THE RHYTHM OF LOVE" - they're really slow like that and in case your clever older brother or dad is trying to tell you it sounds like a Strangeloves B-side, it is. Anyway the verses are but the choruses and bits are ours (although Hue could have stolen more words or something from somewhere. I'm sure we only known the half of it.) The solo is "Powderfinger" by Neil Young, even I know that, right down to the way the guitars play notes that aren't quite the same but nearly are, sort of like the way "WHO LOVES YOU" sounds a bit like the Four Seasons song! We took the chorus of that record and used it in our song although I don't know if I'd recommend much of the other 70s stuff they did - "Silver Star" was good but the old 60s things are best like "Big Girls Don't Cry" and that. "Who Loves You" is basically "You've Got A Friend" with some nice James Taylor bits in it because we're all big fans of "Fire And Rain" and that whole "Sweet Baby James" record.

So anyway your older brother's going to be there with his "That's a Procul Harum song, that is" when it get to "PANDORA'S BOX" on the LP but now you can tell him to bog off because you know that already, thank you very much. The title is stolen from "Procul's Ninth", a great record, although obviously it could have come from anywhere really. Hue took bits of "feel" (what?) from The Ozark Mountain Daredevils "Jackie Blue" and Helen Reddy's wonderful "Angie Baby" for some of the words though I'm not convinced it's not some sort of "Hair" thing cos of that "planets align"-ing bit in there. Apollo's really into "Hair" so it seems quite possible that there's some sort of Original Broadway Cast going on there, don't you think? Which is sort of funny when you think about it because wasn't our big favourite Meatloaf in that? Or was that "Rocky Horror Show"? Anyway, we've been listening to lots of Meatloaf this year - can't beat "Bat Out Of Hell" for "big" although lots of girls will tell you that Hue gives it a fair old go. Some of you probably know that Bonnie Tyler, the one who did "Total Eclipse Of The Heart", is from Swansea so we're hoping that one day she'll be having a spot of tea and toast in Cob's Corner and we can get her to tell us what it's like to work with Jim Steinman. Obviously we don't see Meatloaf round the shops very often to ask him about it. She can get Steinman to produce out next record which would be great especially when it comes to songs like "DESPERADO" which seems like it might be right up his street. We always thought of it as a funny sort of song in a sad sort of way, sort of like "Gasoline Alley Bred" only that's not very funny. But it's that same sort of "Living On A Prayer" / "Wanted Dead Or Alive" thing that Jovi gets people getting all emotional over - except theirs don't have bits of "Emma" by Hot Chocolate in a quiet piano bit in the middle. Did I tell you how I came to be playing piano on this record? I took lessons! It turns out I'm quite gifted on the piano (I always knew there was something special about me). The bits of crowd are from the ever-so-wonderful "Frampton Comes Alive" album, although it could really have been a single LP and cut out all the shit songs. And then that's me again begin even more tuneful in a very Christopher Rainbow sort of way on the choruses of "GOOD TIMES", me and two famous pop stars. They were so thrilled to be working with me! This was a song we wrote as like part seventeen or whatever it is to "Tonight" off "Formula One Generation", even using some of the same words. It must be Hue's philosophy - if something's good once use it several times. "Good Times" was the title of a Sonny and Cher film in the sixties but none of us have seen it so if you have a video of it (and you're not in America which apperently would mean your video won't work here) send me a copy, will you?

The next song on the record is "THE WILD ONE, FOREVER", which isn't a song at all I suppose. It started off having words, sort of a bit like "The Wild One, Forever" off the first Tom Petty LP funnily enough, but then we all sort of fell in love with it like this. It reminds me of the clock on school TV or the Young Marble Giants doing their "Testcard" thing. It's our shortest song since "Heartbreak" so we thought we'd put our longest song right after it just to confuse you! There's more Peter Frampton going on in the title, "I'M IN YOU", but I don't think Hue will ever look as sexy as Peter did on the cover of his LP called that. I go all goose-bumpy just thinking about it! So anyway Paul was insisting that we did this song all in one go - he only wanted to play the guitar solo once, so just to be even more awkward Hue insisted that we wouldn't have any overdubs so we had to play all the instruments we might need all in that one go. So there weren't enough Pooh Sticks to play everything we wanted so we were helped out by Amelia and Baby Ruth (our American roadie, except she never carries anything except when she gets the stroffle-woffles from across the road for us to eat in the studio) playing acoustic guitars and Michelle playing the string machine. That was going to be one of my jobs but by the time we painted dots on the right notes for her it sounded like she'd been playing all her life. Anyway, it's another of those songs about Apollo that Hue is so fond of writing, like "Heroes And Villains", "Life's A Gas " and "Tonight", although somehow there's a bit of Charles Manson, but the Beach Boys version, in that "Never Learn Not To Love" bit, which is funny because there's another murder thing, a "Twin Peaks", going on in the last song, "WHEN SUNNY GETS BLUE" after that. The title is from Jan and Dean but we've never heard that song. I wonder what it's like. Anyway, Hue wrote this one morning on the way to the studio in Utrecht and if he hadn't been concentrating so hard he wouldn't have got knocked down by a mad girl on the sliding bicycle - me! That's the bit about me, "sometimes she rides with no hands". So then he insisted that we get that song all done that day and made me make something up to play on the piano before I could go back to Esther's and my MTV. If I hadn't been so specially talented like my piano teacher said we'd never have finished. But we did, even if it was three o'clock in their morning.

Way past my bedtime.

Love Trudi
March '91