Friday, 26 August 2016

The Woodentops - Why Why Why (Demo)

First Woodentops Why Why Why demo 1985.
Frank De Freitas, Simon Mawby, Benny Lee Staples, Rolo Mcginty, Alice Thompson. Recorded Terminal Studios Elephant and Castle, Engineered by Martin Rex

So whats with the Why?
Why Why Why began its life early 1985 on an 8 track Teac in Peckham Rye. I had a Linn drum and made a beat, a hand recorded synth sequence, acoustic and bass was it. It was on all the time I was in the flat. In a way it was my personal thing, a kind of electro Afrobeat sound making a fun atmosphere in the place. I had a visit from Benny who had not long been with us at The Woodentops and I played him it. We started obsessing on it and pretty soon it became more percussive, the guitar was playing the sequence and so it had developed a live band shape to it. So it went to the rehearsal room to see how it worked. All the band instantly loved it. It was our new imaginary disco tune.
We had been in the habit of playing the same song endlessly all day, bits of it over and over, then putting the changes together, all of this after hours and hours of just playing the main riff and holding it until it had our legs going and had finally become tight and danceable . Why Why Why went though the process.
I came in with the chorus one day, I'd found myself singing it, knowing not 'why'. It was slowly developing from a remix kind of thing into a song. It was when we began singing why why why forever over the chorus to be able to sing and play at the same tim , that the neighbours, always tolerant to the max began to wonder how much more they wanted us in there. We got our first 'Please will you shut up or play something else for gods sake' screech-a-thon. That from a bunch of artists who did our artwork and all!
We just loved to play it. the atmosphere sounded better again than at my flat. Somewhere in the middle of it I began writing words for it, it was no longer 'Africa Satellite' it was now Why Why Why. The world was at war in the Middle East, It was a moment of chaos, peak oil anxiety and nuclear debate. Danger of all kinds for mankind. It was hard to stop writing words in fact.
So far the acoustic guitar had generally been in there not as a prominent feature just chipping away keeping time. When I started singing verses it began to come forward in the mix. Thats when the almost flamenco aspect came to the front with the African style. I had so much lyrics written by now. As work on the song had been interrupted by tours, where we played it at sound checks to keep it warm, it had taken almost to xmas that same year to the point where I asked if anyone else would like to add a verse so they could begin writing.I would just pull verses out of the bag at random. Simon and Benny did so. We did our first recording of the song at Terminal Studios, Elephant and Castle. It was that recording Adrian Sherwood made his remix from. I have it somewhere.Perhaps I will dig it out. We recorded it again for the album 'Giant'. Can you believe? we ran out of time to complete it. A big disappointment for us. It should have been on that album.
So our favourite song to play grew into a club hit. For us this was the most exciting thing, what we thought was club floor on our terms worked for others too. We went out to clubs all the time in all different countries and loved to dance instead of going to another bar or the hotel room. So our dream disco in the rehearsal room was now a reality! Its well documented how both the remix and the live version became part of the club scene. Its a great story and there's no need to repeat the story here.
In 2015 Trevor Fung, a Dj who features in the original explosion of the track, messaged me to see if he could do a modern remix. I realised there is no 80's master tape to pass on to him. The demo 24 track master disappeared long ago and there was no chance of getting the live version master either. So I asked him what tempo he wanted and The Woodentops went in to Slowfoots' studio and recorded it in an afternoon.
In the time it took Trevor (He's a busy dj) to deliver his mix I began to get more enquiries from dj's looking to do a mix themselves. All people i'd witnessed or new friends like Leo Mas coming in and it was mushrooming into more then just a remix. In the middle of it all I'd met Mark Jones, whose label Wall Of Sound I was well aware of, I was into a lot of their releases in the 90's. With him came more remixes and it was fast looking like a 'versions' album. Then the mixes began to be delivered. I began to see what happens when they are played out too. Oh my gosh! On its 30th anniversary the track has fresh new legs from people who adored the original. A few different 'scenes' are covered in the collection. Justin Strauss and Bryan Mette have somehow made it sound Paradise Garage, New York. Leo Mas and Fabrice have made it pure flamenco disco. Steve Proctor and Trevor Fung have brought out a more hard Detroit angle, Spatial Awareness's one is lyrical, wormy and dark, Lisbon Kid have a cinematic ultra modern electro chic Ritz sound to theirs and Denis The Night's version is totally rocking Panic in the party. Stampede.
A few DJ's/acts had been ' honoured' to be asked to do one but in the end were too busy to get it done in time. Shame perhaps, but Im not sure the package would be any better than it already is in my opinion.
So any second now its out there, on sale. I'ts already banging away in many a night club, the DJ reviews are amazing. Even Boy George replied to his copy in capital letters of respect. We have numerous 5 out of 5's no bad reviews, there's always one mix that they like that stops the hatchet coming down!
We had Move me, Well Well well, Good Thing, Everyday Living, Stop This car, quite a few that went down great but I think this song is really our 'biggest'. It went outside the Rock and Pop, played in the clubs as a live piece amongst mainly computerised tracks, it crossed over before anyone else knew what crossing over was at the time. Its back !
- Rolo McGinty

I have to say that Rolo is one of the nicest blokes I have ever met. 
I first came across The Woodentops pretty early in their career when they were doing the first of their month of Wednesday night gigs at Dingwalls in Camden where I was working at the time. I was working behind the bar when it came for them to do their set but even as I was pouring drinks I was very impressed by them so much so that the following week I made sure that I took my break while they were playing and the next two times I took the entire night off. I used to see them as much as I could when I was living in London (and even had the original bassist move into our house) and after moving to Amsterdam I caught them there (and Haarlem, Utrecht and Rotterdam). I did unfortunately miss seeing the funktified line up with Skip MacDonald having moved out here to Australia by then.
Anyway I saw that they were releasing a 100 copies of the new remixes CD so I sent a message to Rolo asking if he could keep me one until my next dole cheque and he said not to worry he would send me a copy. 
As I said, he truly is one of the nicest guys

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