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Geoff Baker - the human fly - swots up, makes a bee line for the studio and surreptitiously plugs in to a recent recording session for the forthcoming album

Club Sandwich 62

            At first I thought Richard Ogden, MPL's managing director, had said "Paul wants your flies on the wall", which I presumed to be like wanting my head on a plate — but marginally more painful.
            "But," I whined, "I haven't done anything wrong..."
            "Geoffrey," said Richard, using the name that people only call me when they're about to have an attack of Lotto-size irritation, "learn to listen. I said 'He wants you to be a fly on the wall.' Go to the studio, watch the recording of a track for the new album and write about it."
            Write. I mean, right.
            So I bombed down to the studio, scaring the hell out of shoppers standing at bus stops by playing Sgt Pepper at volume level 11,258 with all the windows down.
            Bzzz, bzzz, bzzz, 10.15am and the studio was a hive of activity. Well...Keith Smith (MPL's technical manager) was a hive of activity. He was Hoovering.
            "It's all these chips around Blair," mumbled Keith. "He leaves chips all over the place."
            "Uhhh...chips?" I queried, trying to imagine how Blur (as he is known) could eat and drum.
            In answer, Keith held up a drumstick that looked as if it'd been brutally gnawed by a beaver.
            "Chips. Of wood. Off this. He hits the kit so hard he makes the chips fly."
            Bzzz, bzzz, bzzz, a tour of the studio elicited that there were an awful lot of instruments. Was the Liverpool Philharmonic in on this one as well?
            "There are twenty-six guitars in here," counted I.
            "Twenty-seven," countered Keith.
            "Which arc Mac's?"
            "Over there in Horror Corner."
            "It's Horror Corner as far as value goes. You don't want to go flying around that."
            From a safe distance of 16 feet you could see that Horror Corner held that Hofner, the Rickenbacker bass from Wings and solo periods, that five-stringed bass from The Tour and a Beatley-looking thing that Keith said was a 360-12 Rickenbacker, which you presumed, too, to be worth a fortune.
            There was also a video camera, linking the recording studio to a screen in the control room where producer Julian Mendelsohn - puffing a Marlboro down to the butt [although he's since managed to give up smoking — Ed.] — sat before a bank of what appeared to be 766,000 buttons, knobs and twiddlers.
            A sniffle indicated that The Band had arrived.
            "I'm feeling rough this morning," snuffled Robbie. "I've got the flu coming on."
            "Me too," sniffled Wix, helping himself to a 12.20pm bowl of breakfast cornflakes.
            Hamish looked pensive, this being on account that today was his day; they were recording one of the songs that he and Macca had written together, 'I Keep Coming Back To Love'.
            "Funny story to that," said Paul, who'd arrived now and was sitting, balanced on the edge of the kitchen sink, agitating to start. "We were driving over Westminster Bridge and I was speaking to Hamish in Los Angeles on the car phone to ask how it was going.
            "He said, 'I'm having trouble with the words', so I said, 'Well, try love - that's a good subject'.
            "'Yeah,' he said, 'I keep coming back to love.'
            '"Well, there's your title,' I told him."
            Marginally pepped by something called Russian Caravan Tea, Macca and his little caravan of talent strolled off to plug in.
            "You just wait" said Linda, with the sort of grin that I imagine Santa Claus adopts when he's tugging some really fab present down the chimney.
            General cacophony followed as everyone relaxed and tuned up by playing completely different tunes - Linda and Wix on keyboards, Macca on the five-string, Robbie and Hamish on Stratocasters and Blair on the chip-making machine.
            "So it's C for two, D for two then E for two," said Paul, falling short of T-for-two and not speaking to anyone in particular.
            I wasn't understanding this at all and was even more confused when Bob Kraushaar, the engineer, asked "Have you got a DI for Robbie's FX?"
            "OK," said Paul, everyone now talking in abbreviations. "Let's try it...one, two, three..."
            Blair opened the track by hitting his kit so hard that I looked up, startled to see if the ceiling had suddenly caved in.
            The band tore through this track and I wrote in my notebook: "This is new; this is exciting; this is souly, with Robbie playing some sort of catchy Allman Brothers-ish hook. Not heard this stuff before."
            That paragraph explains why I was not a Beatle. If you and I had played this song like that we'd have been down the pub ten minutes later, well-pleased with ourselves for having recorded a hit.
            Macca, however, pursed his lips in thought, as if all they'd done was play 'Jack And Jill Went Up The Hill To Fetch A Pail Of Water'.
            "Uh, fine," he said.
            They tried it again.
            "Pretty good," said Julian from the control room.
            They tried it again.
            "Pretty good," said Julian.
            "Let's have a listen," said Paul, taking the band over to Julian's Marlboro haze for a playback.
            "Yee-ah! Rock and roll!", said Blair.
            Paul was not convinced. Back to the recording room.
            "OK, here we go, guys, nice and steady. You know it; if you don't, bluff it," he said.
            They tried it again.
            "That sounds something like what we want," said Paul.
            They went for another playback and Macca, who must have the hearing of an Amazonian fruit bat, said: "You're playing that hi-hat a bit much again, Blair."
            "Is this the same sound as yesterday's?", Paul enquired of Julian.