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Club Sandwich 62

            "It sounds ordinary to me," said Paul.
            "It's exactly the same sound, Paul," stuck out Julian.
            "It sounds too ordinary, just like a bunch of guys anywhere in the world plonking along to a rhythm section. It can't sound ordinary."
            Hamish is switched from electric to acoustic guitar to make the sound less "muddy". Julian is told to give Blair a "bigger" sound and Robbie's not happy.
            "I can't get the riff right," said Robbie, practising over and over a complexity that, I learnt, Paul had "just made up" on holiday.
            "What's the problem - you can't get it or you can't play it?", said Paul, testily.
            "Oh, I can play it."
            "You sure? Don't change the habits of a lifetime."
            Robbie practises, over and over and over, and I remembered one evening in New Jersey, backstage on the tour, when Macca was telling radio interviewer Scott Muni "With the next album I'd like to write something that will really stretch Robbie, because he's such a good player."
            Robbie is currently stretching wall to wall and saying "I'll get it in a minute."
            He gets it.
            "That's it, don't change a hair of that for me...not if you care for me, little Robbie McIntosh," larked Macca.
            They try another take.
            "Who-ell! I've seen the light and it's grooving," yelled Blair.
            Another playback and now Linda's track is scrutinised.
            "That sounds a bit stringier," said Linda.
            "A bit hornier, wasn't it?", remarked Hamish.
            "I meant, a bit reedier."
            Back to the studio they go again, Macca confiding to Hamish en route, "I want this to sound tighter than a duck's ass."
            Another take.
            "That was it, we think," Macca told Julian.
            "Pretty good but I think you should go for another," came back the voice from the control room.
            "I think I should go for a pint," said Paul.
            Another take.
            "Tight-w/i," judged Paul, still pursing.
            They stopped for a munch-break, giving Robbie the opportunity to indulge in a Mclntoshism.
            "Did you know," grinned Tony Hancock's biggest fan, "that you spend more energy eating celery than you actually get from it? So if you keep eating celery, you die — from exhaustion."
            Take fatigue, if not actual exhaustion, was hitting in now [I've actually precis-ed down the number of takes on account of I didn't want this article to use up most of the trees in an average-sized rain forest], it was 5.30pm and The Purser still wanted better. The album, he'd explained, is going to be a band album, a little rocker, but not any old band album.
            Wix, now festering with flu, appeared to have almost lost consciousness as he lay, flaked out, on the control room couch. But Paul egged them on again.
            "This is what makes it difficult, guys," he encouraged. "This is why we get paid all this money - otherwise anybody would be able to do it."
            Like Shakespeare's whining schoolboy they crept like snails unwillingly - rather than strolled - back to plug in again.
            But now The Chip Maker gave it - as they say, peculiarly, in the Midlands -some thrutch, flailing his drums like a threshing machine on amphetamines; Macca began to bop about the room with a reggae bounce and Robbie whacked at his chords like a man swatting angry flies [not this one, though]. It was grins all round. A hit in the can, surety, thank you very much and off to the pub.
            Errr...poor Julian was now on his third carton of Marlboro. "Sorry guys, pretty good but there was a mistake..."
            "But it's easily repairable," pleaded Robbie, owning up.
            They tried again. And again. And...now that was a good take. That was it, surely. OK with you, control?"
            By the sound of Macca's "What? Is that our fault? We have no control over the buttons" it sounded as if control had boobed that time. Maybe the now-anxious (but hiding it) Julian had momentarily popped out, giving up the Marlboro to build a bonfire and inhale that instead.
            It was now 7.00pm and the defeatist voice of Why I Wasn't A Beatle inside me was thinking "Sod it, give it up, forget the album, put out another greatest hits instead."
            Whereupon Mr McCartney demonstrated why, after 30 years in the business, he's sustained 30 years in the business.
            And then there were three — Paul, Blair and Robbie. The others' parts were fine. The drum intro, they'd decided, still needed something.
            Ah-onc, two, three...Bang-a-Bang-Bang-Bang-Bang went Blair, chips all over the shop.
            And again, please. Banga bangaboom-banga boomboom bangboom. We're up to our knees in wood shavings now.
            And, just...one...err, again...Booo oooombang-a-Bang-a-Bang-Bang-Boooooooooom.
            "Just relax, Blair," said Macca. "We'll get it this time."
            We're no longer in a studio, we're in a bloody saw mill. Chips everywhere. Flying tonight.
            And they've cracked it. It's 8.05pm. Control's happy — Control said it was "more than pretty good," the first time Control had lost control and let himself be so substantive — The Chip Maker's happy, Robbie's happy, Wix is happy to be still alive.
            "Can I just try that intro on the piano?", said a known voice.
What's he on about? Bloody piano? No-one's played the piano all day! Surely not? Look, we have men dying of Beijing Flu here.
            "I just wanna see...just bear with me...just, maybe a little piano here." You could see the mind working it out.
            And so Paul played piano. Jammy sod. Made all the difference. Not an ordinary note in it. Dismissed.
            And it was only 8.25pm.
            Must be easy being a rock star.

Club Sandwich 62