BIG TOWN PLAYBOYS
- The "Crazy Legs" recordings with Jeff Beck
- The "Crazy Legs" recordings with the Big Town Playboys
- Gigging with tinnitus and the Big Town Playboys
Big Town Playboys - An interview
with lead vocalist and piano player Mike Sanchez
The "Crazy Legs" recordings
Interview by Nigel Flannigan for THE JEFF BECK BULLETIN Issue #1 / March 1993
"These guys are people from my own planet" - Jeff Beck
Leo Green.......Tenor Sax
Nick Lunt....Baritone Sax
Every Beck fan will want to know about The Big Town Playboys after hearing his forthcoming album"Crazy Legs". This band is REALLY HOT! After first meeting the group on the set of the film "The Pope Must Die", Jeff finally felt that he had met the musicians of the right calibre who could play authentic R&B, to play on his new album dedicated to Cliff Gallup, Gene Vincent's stunning guitarist.
at the end of 1985, this six piece band recreates perfectly the American
style Rhythm & Blues of the late forties and early fifties. Eric Clapton
was impressed enough to ask them to back him for three nights at the Royal
Albert Hall in 1990. Clapton also used them to back him on the soundtrack
of the hit film "The Color Of Money" starring Paul Newman and
They toured California with Mick Fleetwood and Christine Perfect. Robert Cray was so head over heels about them he chose them to play at his wedding reception. Robert Plant insisted they backed him for the Heartbeat Charity Performance at the NEC Birmingham.
I was lucky enough to interview lead vocalist and piano player Mike Sanchez, at a local gig ("The Wheatsheaf"-Stoke-on-Trent) recently and was knocked out by their performance.
How did you first get involved with Jeff Beck?
Well, we played on the soundtrack of "The Color of Money", performing Bobby Bland's "It's My Life Baby" with Eric Clapton, resulting in the offer of another soundtrack "The Pope Must Die" in the summer of 1991. We played backing to J.B. and Anne Dudley (ex Art of Noise) and had lots of fun. Over the last two years we played together many times at parties and rehearsals, messing around with covers and original songs. Then we came up with the idea of the Cliff Gallup/Gene Vincent tribute.
What was Jeff like to record with?
Brilliant! Lots of fun, totally dedicated to reproducing the accurate guitar sounds of Cliff Gallup. He was always thinking of new ideas, I believe he really enjoyed the rehearsals.
Any particular favourites on the new album?
One biggie for the J.B. fan will be Baby Blue, plus Woman Love, Catman, Double Talkin' Baby, and Lovin'Lovin'.
Did you leave any songs off 'Crazy Legs' for future reference?
Yes! A couple of songs were left off, but we will be using these ourselves on our new album due this summer.
Was Jeff moody and tempermental as often suggested in rock mags?
No, not at all. In fact quite the reverse if anything.
Have you any plans to tour with Beck promoting the new album?
Yes, late spring onwards, mostly in the U.S., although this has to be confirmed.
==> Read the interview: Jeff Beck about recording "Crazy Legs" <==
Big Town Playboys have recorded two albums to date:
"Playboy Boogie" on the Making Waves label, 1985, distributed through Celtic Music
"Now Appearing" - Blue Horizon BWH610, 1989
again, off again, on again department... THE TOUR IS ON! Well, maybe.
Small venues are at press time trying to be arrangedin the U.S. to accommodate Jeff's ears and the proper setting for promoting his new Lp with the Big Town Playboys.
did Beck do "Crazy Legs"?
He offers this one liner: "I wanted some music I could listen- to in my car!"
Rehearsals set for February 22nd with The Big Town Playboys to see if the Big-tour in smaller clubs will suit Jeff. We can only hope!
(The Jeff Beck Bulletins - published by Dick Wyzanski at JEFF BECK - The Guitarist...The Webpage)
The "Crazy Legs" recordings
© Douglas J Noble 1993
PLEASE NOTE: Only BTPs relevant partspublished here! Read the complete interview at tht Douglas J Noble Website.
(Click image for bigger version)
An affectionate tribute to Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, Jeff Beck's new album "Crazy Legs" fulfils a long-held ambition. "I had always wanted to do something like this but it wouldn't have worked as just one track on an album because it's so radically different from everything else. So it's a long time coming - about thirty years in fact!"
"I saw the Big Town Playboys on the recommendation of a friend and I fell in love with their music. They were really rockin' and they weren't even all that loud - they could get the audience excited without having to use blasting volume. You could hear everything clearly and there was more energy per square inch than any other band. They did have that kind of '50s Blue Caps aura about them even though they weren't playing Gene Vincent material. I just wanted to muscle in and try to help them in some way. So, I had a play with them but it wasn't too successful - I was just blowing too much and playing way too busy. I thought about what sort of music we could play in which I could still do my thing - you know, three solos per song! - but still have cred with them. The Gene Vincent material seemed the perfect solution."
"We were roaring away for the first four days of recording and got four or five keepers then it slowed down. We had to fix the rhythm guitar a few times to get the right feel - the guitarist in the Blue Caps wasn't actually playing chords to be heard but for the "chunkiness" to fit with the drums. We did everything live - everyone playing together - and there was a bit of a problem with leakage, so we just had to make sure we got a good take. If there was a problem it was usually with the arrangement rather than the feel. It would take us about three takes to get a track - if you listen to the Vincent master tapes they would sometimes do 14 takes to get a song so I didn't feel so bad. But then again, we were copying rather than making a new song so it was a lot easier."
"I'm not pretending that we've done a better job than the original - in fact, I hope people go back and check out the original. This album is my first impression of what rock should sound like - I always mentioned this in earlier interviews but no one seemed to know what I was talking about."
"The original still has this incredible aura about it and we've missed that but we have been able to improve on the quality of the sound, not that that makes it necessarily better. We've got the right atmosphere and the grooves are right. There weren't any electronics to rely on - it's just four guys playing behind Mike Sanchez, the singer. I was the only electric instrument which struck me as quite frightening at first - the bass player was playing double bass. We used some old recording equipment as well - a Fairchild limiter and a battleship grey Pultec with black Bakelite knobs perched up on the desk. I don't know the technical details about how they work, but we used them to try to recreate the warmth of those early records - nowadays everything sounds very brittle, hissy and bright."
==> Read the interview: Mike Sanchez about recording "Crazy Legs" <==
(The complete interview originally was published in "The Guitar Magazine" Vol 3 No 4, June 1993)
Jeff Beck talks about gigging with tinnitus and the Big Town Playboys
DJN: I read that you suffer from tinnitus (Jeff nods). How long have you had it?
JB: Over two years. I was there this morning, real bad - and yesterday and all. (In June '93 Jeff had to pull out of a guest spot with Guns 'N' Roses due to his tinnitus.)
DJN: I've got tinnitus in my left ear.
JB: Yes, it's in my left ear. It's excruciating. I mean, it's the worst thing 'cause it's not... It never.... It does go away - it's not true to say that it doesn't but, uhh... It doesn't... The doctor says it won't... It isn't actually going away - you've just gotta suppress... They try to come to terms with what it actually... Why some people fear it - that's the psychology behind it. The know it's there but why is it such a horrible sound? Well, you can say why is a guy scratch at a window with his nails such a horrible sound - I couldn't put up with that! This is worse! Is yours that bad?
DJN: Well, yeah, I means it's permanent! Like just now...
JB: Why was that? Does it come from a hearing loss? Damage?
DJN: Uhh, no, just from using a personal stereo an awful lot and playing in bands. I'm sure different people have different sensitivities to it.
JB: Yeah, yeah. The personal, uhh, Walkman done it! But I can't believe that that is any way a match for the type of stuff I've been around. You know - Carmine, Bernard Purdie and then Terry Bozzio (laughs)! Loudest bastard's Cozy Powell, you know! You can't stand next to guys like that for twenty years and not get something! And I'm paying a heavy price for that now, so, uhh... Anybody out there - you better watch it. And I mean it because it will drive you crazy!
DJN: Do you wear earplugs now?
JB: Yeah - that's a very, umm, topical problem there because, uhh... I will have to decide whether... Uhh, the Big Town Playboys are fabulous because they don't play very loud. The front soundman can crank it as loud as he likes and I won't be affected. But it's the, uhh, it's the 1993 Beck band with Terry in it that's going to be the problem. But they have these.. Discrete monitors is it? The one that... Where you have it, uhh... You have a headphone, like earplugs, and then you can pipe in what you want provided there's a threshold, you know, that you can't go above. It would be brilliant because you could wander around and hear everybody just like a Sony Walkman. But it ain't the same as the wedge monitors, you know, and the sidefills. I mean, I'll miss that. We're gonna feel like a couple of fairies onstage, you know, not having any power but it should be out front, you know!
DJN: So you're planning on playing with a rock band again after the Playboys?
JB: Yeah. the idea was to get both things going - both pots boiling! - so I'd be opening up for myself, kind of thing, you know. I'd be playing with the Playboys - let the Playboys open up for about four numbers then I'd come on and do the Vincent project. Twenty minute interval and then I'd change persona (laughs)!
interview was made by Douglas J. Noble, a noted journalist for the U.K.
Guitar Magazine and contributing editor to the Hendrix Fan Club's Univibes
Magazine. Here you only find the BTPs relevant part of a section which
was not published in the Guitar Mag. For some more of Doug's interviews
check out his website.)
(Source: JEFF BECK Bulletin Issue #3 / Fall 1994 published by Dick Wyzanski at JEFF BECK - The Guitarist...The Webpage)
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