TED CARFRAE, MY LIFE IN MUSIC: DAVID CASSIDY ‘THEN AND NOW’ – PART 1

Ted Carfrae My Life In Music: The Making Of David Cassidy’s ‘Then And Now’ Album – Part 1

Ted Carfrae of TCM Music Group recounts his meeting with David Cassidy…..

I first met David Cassidy when I went over to Las Vegas, where he was appearing in a show called ‘At The Copa’ with Sheena Easton. We met in his dressing room after the show and we discussed briefly the idea of making an album together.

David Cassidy ‘Then And Now’ Album Cover.

Universal Records then approached me a few weeks later. We had a meeting to discuss the possible concept and we came up with the idea of a ‘Then and Now’ collection of songs – which involved faithfully re-recording David’s massive hits and recording some new songs as well. I had never done this before, so for me it was very interesting and before I knew it, Universal had done the deal and I was on a plane to meet with Cassidy again in Las Vegas.

This time we met at his sumptuous house and discussed the songs that we wanted to record and some other ideas as well. David is very hands on and by the time I left to come back to the UK, we had decided the track listing and the new songs we wanted to include in the project.

David had just finished working on a TV movie about his life and he had recorded some of his original hits for the movie with his original arranger/producer, Mike Melvoin and we decided to use some of those recordings on the album as well, so we were essentially ready to go. We had the material sorted out and agreed, we had dates in the diary and now it was a matter of returning to the UK and putting the project together.

Pre-production and planning is probably the most important part of the recording process. For a major project like this one, I will usually allow around three months to plan everything. This will include thinking about musicians, checking availability and booking them, selecting and booking recording studios and sound engineers, planning accurate budgets, working on all the arrangements and having the music part written out and scored. I also had to think about all the logistical issues that naturally arise, working with Universal to schedule David’s flights and hotels to coincide with the recording dates exactly and of course all of this had to be worked around David’s prior commitments.

So as you can imagine, it can be a fraught and stressful time. But this is what I love about making music. It is always challenging for many reasons and it’s not just about going in and having a great time. It has to be a well oiled machine because I am personally responsible for the budget and I need to deliver the finished product on time and to specification.

Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz Project.

For this project I enlisted the help of arranger Michael Smith. Mike was a member of Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz band and we had been working together developing a new singer/songwriter called Rosabella Gregory.  I really liked Mike’s musical background and versatility and I felt he would be perfect for this project.

Mike and I got together regularly over a matter of weeks to work on the arrangements and at the same time we were thinking about musicians and started committing them to the project. I remember that everyone was really excited about working on this album and the atmosphere was amazing in the recording studio.

I chose to record at RG Jones Studios in Wimbledon, South London. I had made several albums there before. The room could comfortably hold up to 30 musicians and for me it was a place of history and magic because it had an amazing atmosphere and countless great artists and records were made in that room.

RG Jones Control Room In 1985, With SSL Mixing Desk And Studer Tape Machines.

It was always a bit like coming home for me, so the fact that the studio is now gone altogether is very sad. It had one of the early SSL desks with mix recall and a fine selection of classic microphones to work with and the resident sound engineer Gerry Kitchingham (engineer on A-ha’s Take On Me) is one of my all time favourite engineers.

Recording commenced on 4th July 2001. I remember being really excited about getting started, a bit like a race horse at the starting gate. All the months of planning were done. The arrangements were ready, all the musicians were set up and ready to go. David had arrived to sing guide vocals and with the first notes of the intro to ‘Could It Be Forever’ it all came together in that moment.

I assembled my usual crack rhythm section with the exception of my usual drummer, Ralph Salmins who was unavailable. So we enlisted the talent of Mike Bradley on Drums with Steve Pearce on Bass, Pete Murray on Keys and Piano, Mike Smith on Fender Rhodes, ‘Frizzy’ Karlsson and the great Hugh Burns on guitars and Frank Ricotti on percussion – a truly stellar line-up of musicians.

Ted Carfrae, David Cassidy and Singer/Songwriter Rosabella Gregory.

Everything was recorded live on this project and there was no way I wanted to make this record sound inferior to the originals, so it had to be the real deal. We recorded onto my newly acquired Radar 1 Digital Recorder. The sound off that machine is like tape but with great editing facilities and instant playback and to this day I think the sound produced by the Radar 1 is hard to beat.

The first day went really well and over three booked sessions we laid down twelve songs. David was ecstatic with the rhythm tracks, they sounded great and we managed to get them all done ahead of time.

I remember that we had about half an hour left in the studio with the guys, so David and I decided to try and record just one more song. We both loved Bill Wither’s classic ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. So we quickly ran over the feel and arrangement with the guys, ran into the studio and hit the record button with just a few minutes recording time left.

It was amazing, we recorded the song in just one take. And the result is something that is spontaneous and real and for me personally, it was a moment in the making of this album when all the elements came together at the same moment and gelled – an incredible end to a great day and the song remains my favourite on the album.

The first day is always challenging because you never quite know what is going to happen but as it turned out the sessions flowed really well, the guys really enjoyed it and very importantly, I was right on schedule.

David Performing In Melbourne 1974 With 60,000 Fans.

A word about the importance of singing Guide Vocals…..

Having David Cassidy with us in the studio singing guide vocals was imperative to the success of the day for several very good reasons. It enabled me to immediately address any tempo issues that did actually arise, something that is very difficult to rectify later. We could address any issues with key registers and make immediate amendments to the arrangement and most importantly, the track could be constructed around David’s vocal style. He could pretty much dictate the flow of the song and the musicians could adjust their performance to fit perfectly with the vocal delivery.

It also gives the artist the ability to be spontaneous and a very good example is the fade at the end of our version of ‘Cherish’. The guys were locked in a groove and David stirred them up, speaking to the guys as they were playing, giving instructions. The room was electric because everyone was together in the moment rocking it out and it really is the most amazing feeling when that happens.

The result is incredible but that can only happen when musicians and singer are working together in the moment. So I always record with guide vocals because sometimes, the guide vocal is so perfect and amazing that you keep it and use it in the final mix….. I have done that so many times, so guide vocals are something to always consider as an integral part of the recording process.

On day two we commenced overdubs – adding extra guitar or keyboards, more percussion, recording guitar solos and making odd repairs that needed to be addressed. We also recorded new, more specialist instruments such as harmonica, recorder and harpsichord parts. Finishing up with all of the rhythm parts in the can ready for the next phase of recording – strings, brass and background vocals.

David Cassidy Teen Idol…..Made The Cover Of Life And Rolling Stone.

David had to return to the US for some concert dates. So the following week, I booked three days at Livingstone Studios in North London to record strings, brass and woodwind and background vocals. Because the Radar 1 only has 24 tracks, I decided to create stereo sub-mixes of the rhythm tracks so that we had plenty of tracks available for this next phase of recording.

With Jon Musgrave engineering for me and Mike Smith conducting, we commenced day one recording the string section over three sessions. We had a mid-size string section made up of eight violins, two violas and two cellos. I wanted strings that sounded lush but not overpowering and this particular line up worked to great effect.

With the strings done, on day two we concentrated on recording brass and woodwind. Our small brass section comprised of two trumpets and flugal horn and one trombone, which doesn’t sound like a lot but when you double them (record the same part twice) it sounds much bigger of course. So when you are overdubbing instruments, it is very easy to achieve the size you are after. I only used two virtuoso woodwind players. My dear friend Paul Fawcus and Scott Garland added the various different saxophone and flute parts as needed, bringing their own unique styles to the different songs.

On day three we started recording background vocals and I assembled a great vocal group consisting of Mae McKenna, who has performed on every record I have ever made and still works with me to this day. She is incredible and has the purist of voices. Janet Mooney, another fine voice, the great Lance Ellington, son of bandleader Ray Ellington and Phil Nicoll who came over from France where he lives to do the sessions with me. Everything seemed to be going so well.

Next week…..things don’t quite go according to plan.

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6 Comments on “TED CARFRAE, MY LIFE IN MUSIC: DAVID CASSIDY ‘THEN AND NOW’ – PART 1”


  1. it is a lot of work involved, nice album though, i do have a copy.

  2. Bryanna Saliba Says:

    Hey Rock on man Cassidy Rocks he still cool keep the soul of the 70s alive help teens everywhere about the dangers of peer pressure

  3. fmespacio Says:

    Es un gran disco, bien logrado, mis felicitaciones desde Argentina


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