The Lines “Tunnel Party” 1982

Aw, man…Prince too? Come on!

More than any other star, Prince really could do it all.

I dunno. Do you ever feel like there’s a harsh wind blowing, and lights everywhere are blipping out? It’s hard to avoid that feeling in this disorienting year. But those lights will never go out in our memory.

Here’s an inappropriate song, for today and probably for this album, interrupting as it does the marine flow of things. In the end it succumbs to the drift.

The Lines “Stripe” 1982

Our second album Ultramarine was recorded exactly a year after the first. By the time they were recorded these songs were well honed and rehearsed, and the recording and mixing advanced like a military operation, this time with the excellent John Fryer at the controls.

Stripe kicks off the proceedings, a personal fave of mine with its cool Jo Forty riff and eerie guitar from Mick Linehan. Another tale of social chaos, it’s interesting to observe the differing tone between this and the previous album’s opener Come Home. Where that song was filled with foreboding, Stripe almost seems to welcome the disorder. A year of Thatcher’s societal destruction and warmongering had evidently inoculated us to the fear.

It took more than a year for Ultramarine to be released, by which time we’d recorded another album without even knowing it. Almost universally ignored, I don’t remember or have a record of any review, except for a single bad one dutifully trotted out by the NME, in which Jane Solonas tried to do for us what her Auntie Valerie did to Andy Warhol. “The Lines sound drunk as well as stoned” she primly objected. To which I can only offer my best Big Lebowski staredown: “…yeah…so?”

The Lines “Old Town” 1981

Wormholes into space and time…who needs ’em? Can’t the brain effectively do that already, on command? Sure it can, and here’s the soundtrack, courtesy of me and my old muckers.

Notable here is the use of a new Blackwing acquisition, the fabulous Lexicon 224 digital reverb. When I discovered you could effectively turn the knob all the way to the right (in fact it was a fader) and make the reverb go on forever, that was a moment of cranial light bulb wonderment.

The Lines “House of Cracks” 1981

Big news from Acute Records today: the countdown to The Lines third album hull down has begun and orders are being taken. I will soon be posting more information about this project, in its chronological place of course. Meanwhile I have started a Facebook page to help handle the massive upsurge of public interest. I hope all of my readers around the world will stop by to visit and befriend. And if you haven’t already you should visit the official The Lines Facebook page, curated by the goodly Mr Cash.

Meanwhile, back in the late summer of 1981 we reconvened at Blackwing Studios to record our last single. Technically speaking, one of the main points of interest is the method used here to produce the groove. Instead of playing along to a click track as per usual, we built up a few layered bars of percussion and constructed multitrack tape loops out of them. What now can be achieved in Pro Tools with a couple of clicks was then a much more complicated affair. The cycling of a 10-foot loop of 2 inch tape requires some careful ergonomic planning and finagling of pressure on tape capstans and the like. Most engineers would flat out refuse to attempt a stunt like that, but luckily we had the crack team of Eric Radcliffe and John Fryer, who were used to such shenanigans.

The rhythm constructed for House of Cracks was a straight ahead four-on-the-floor, what was then still known as a disco beat but would soon be recast as house. The backbeat is provided by a Simmons Claptrap borrowed from Laurie Mayer. The track layered over the rhythm was a slight return to the febrile funk of 1980, but more stretched out, and with added sound design. The song layered over the track was a sort of sea shanty about a bad night in Stoke Newington circa 1978. Those who were there at the time may recall how bad that could get, although any recollection is in itself a minor miracle.