A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald - Signed Limited Edition CD

from Clare Teal


1. I've Got You Under My Skin
2. Begin The Beguine
3. I Get A Kick Out Of You
4. Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead
5. Night And Day
6. Anything Goes
7. That Old Black Magic
8. Too Darn Hot

Last year record producer and audiophile Mike Valentine came onto my Radio 2 show with trombonist and bandleader Chris Dean to tell us about their new direct cut album – Big Band Spectacular.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term direct cut, it means recording straight to disc.
The interview was fascinating.  At the end of it Mike and Chris threw down the gauntlet and invited me to take part in the next one
I’ll be honest I was terrified - but at the same time very excited.  All my heroes, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra would have at one point stood in front of a beautiful old valve microphone with a band behind them recording direct to disc but usually one song at a time.
By the time Long Players (LPs) arrived in the late 40's, tape had already been introduced,  so the daunting prospect of recording an entire album direct to vinyl became a thing of the past yet here we would all be making a complete album in one sitting - recording each side in one continuous take, track after track with no safety net or stop button!
Mike would be relying on the musicians and singer (me) to give a fluff free performance.  The music would then travel through the microphones to the neve desk and onwards to the cutting lathe. It is then  the responsibility of this engineer to contain the various peaks in the music in a controllable fashion such that the cutting process will be successful.
Any sudden squeaks or squawks (not just from the singer) or kicking of mic stands or unexpected noise could render the disc useless and we would have to start all over again – and remember that’s the whole album side.
Nervous would be an understatement but I have total confidence in the producer, musicians and engineers.
What could possibly go wrong? 
And so the day arrives.  I’m standing in the legendary Studio 1 at Air Lyndhurst surrounded by Chris Dean's Syd Lawrence Orchestra - all 17 of them, waiting for the red light to come on.  In this instance it isn't triggered by the chaps in the control room who, like us are staring at the wooden plinth on which said bulb is mounted, no we are all poised ready for the cutting lathe engineer who is squirrelled away somewhere else in the building. Only when he is happy will the session begin.
The light goes on and Chris counts off the first tune, four bars later I begin to sing, the adrenalin coursing through my body is unbelievable. I never usually suffer with nerves but It's not unusual in stressful situations for me to feel a bit shaky, so in addition to trying to get the tune and words out in the right order, I'm giving myself a stiff talking to, along the lines of this is an incredible experience, to stand in the shoes of your heroine Ella Fitzgerald, to cut a record with big band direct to vinyl with no safety net.
We finish the 1st song and within a couple of seconds Chris cues the next.  I have no time to reach for my cup of tea, so spend the next song trying to ignore the fact my mouth is drying out and my tongue is in danger of sticking.
With song three is underway I'm hitting stride and starting to enjoy myself. Here’s the last track on side 1, but seconds from the end the trumpets play a little louder than they had in rehearsal and disaster strikes when the grooves being cut by the lathe cross! This renders the whole first half of the session unusable. We now have to start all over again, which I'm secretly quite pleased about.
Not wishing to succumb to sock mouth again I end up holding my mug of tea throughout the next session.  To onlookers it lends an air of nonchalance but I wonder if I'm rediscovering tricks of the trade well known to singers back in the day.

PS As this album is not on MUD Records we are not able to provide soundbites for you to listen to - sorry about that x

PPS If you are interested in a an actual vinyl copy of album let us know and we'll put you in touch with producers Mike & Françoise Valentine.

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  £20 GBP or more