I worked with the Housemartins as tape op on their single ‘Build’ and during the sessions spent a night recording ‘samples’ with the soon-to-be FatBoy Slim, Norman Cook. Even at that time, he had a large record collection and was already into DJing and sampling ‘breaks’ from his collection with a view to making up a library of breakbeats. These were eventually released commercially in 1990 as ‘All Star Breakbeats’.
The Sisters of Mercy recorded some of their 1988 LP ‘Floodland’ at Fairview, too. I was never a big fan of the whole goth scene, so getting to work with Andrew Eldritch and ex-Gun Club bass player Patricia Morrison wasn’t a massively big deal. I like to think that even at that age I was pretty broad minded, but that pair were off the scale fucking wierdos. The music was doom-laden and heavy going, and I don’t think I ever heard Andrew speak, apart from a few grunts and a nod now and again when Roy Neave, who was engineering the sessions, made something sound good. Patricia spent most of her time sitting in the snug drinking coffee and chain smoking.
The Farm recorded their first album at Fairview – Pete Hooton and the other lads were a smashing bunch of lads from Liverpool who were recording quite politically motivated demos around that time, prior to them exploding off the whole baggy & Madchester rave scene in 1989.
And I think I got my first credit on a record, too – Barry Palmer, who’d been the vocalist on Mike Oldfield’s ‘Crises’ LP in 1983 was at Fairview to record a charity track for Save the Children. He and I got along like a house on fire, and I ended up doing some backing vocals on the track, as well as tape op’ing for the session. Barry reckoned I had ‘the voice of an angel’ which was encouraging!
After about 6 or so months working at Fairview, Keith suggested I spread my wings and have a pop at live engineering at the infamous Hull venue, The Adelphi. Live engineering is worlds away from the safety of the studio; you’ve really got to keep your wits about you. My live career didn’t last too long; OK, I had a few gigs that went alright and paid me a bit more pocket money, but I’m afraid the final straw came one night when I had to set up and engineer a live jazz ensemble that were reasonably well known. Theirs was a big band, about ten players, and to a relative novice like me, making sure the levels were all sorted was, in truth, a nightmare. I had very little soundcheck time, so by the time they took to the stage in front of a near-capacity crowd, I was nowhere near happy with anything coming out of the stereo master. Of course, feedback was the order of the night; every time the saxophonist stepped up and blew, a cacophony of barbed, spiky, deafening distortion was delivered into the mix, and I didn’t understand what the hell the problem was… I was in deep, well over my head, and after some of the looks and shouts of disapproval I was receiving from the audience, I’m surprised I didn’t get lynched that night!
Unfortunately I didn’t last that much longer at Fairview, either. After about 20 months there, and no longer reliant on Keith and the state for an income, I simply ran out of money. I’d attempted the self-employment thing, but there just wasn’t enough work to go around. Another lad called Danny Shackleton had also started freelancing at Fairview alongside me, but he had the benefit of being local, and, as a result, knew a lot of the local bands personally – plus he was probably more sociable than I was at that time! Shit, I coudn’t even afford the rent on my flat. I wasn’t particularly happy there anyway; in fact, I’ll come clean – I was genuinely lonely and quite possibly the unhappiest I’d been up to that point in my life.
So something had to give. It was with serious apprehension that I packed my minimal belongings into my car (I’d got my license back by this point) and made the journey west back to Harrogate, back to my parents…