Bernie Torme

Turn Out The Lights

1981, Kingsway Studios, Central London

When Bernie finished with The Bernie Torme Band to join Ian Gillan in early 1979 I was quite devastated at the time. The last gig we did as BTB was supporting Gillan in Aberystwyth (funnily enough!!!) where Ian became convinced that Bernie was right for the job as his new guitarist, with John McCoy, Ian's bass player and Bernie's old partner in Scrapyard, rooting for him to get the job too. I always felt, and have discussed it with Bernie since, that all we had to do with BTB was keep building on our cult following, developing the music and recordings and we would have, in time, a healthy career doing what we really wanted to do. But it wasn't to be as Bernie, by his own admission, was twenty six years old when Ian asked him to join his band and it was too good an opportunity to miss for him at that age.

I think Bernie found it quite challenging being in Gillan, having been a band 'leader' for some years, and was looking to do some solo work as soon as was possible. It followed of course that being with Gillan exposed him to a whole wider culture of rock music and the fans that go with it so it was good sense to want to capitalise on that AND to get back to doing his own thing.

So ... he asked me to play bass for him again and asked Nigel Glockler, with whom I was playing in The Toyah Band, to play drums. Nige was always a frustrated 'heavy rocker' so it was perfect for the pair of us (remember Nigel did leave Toyah to join New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band Saxon after all !!!). He got some time at Kingsway Recorders, which was owned by Ian Gillan at that time, with one of his producer/engineers Bob Broglia and away we went. Kingsway was another of the great, old central London recording studios just built for musicians to perform together. Amongst many classic recordings done there were Jimi Hendrix' s 'The Wind Cries Mary', Jeff Beck's  "Hi Ho Silver Lining' and The Animals'  'House Of The Rising Sun'. The Beatles, The Stones and The Who all recorded there too in the early 1960's. Now I think about it I feel lucky to have been able to play in a lot of these studios which now, sadly, don't exist any more.

Over to Bernie ... "By the time TOTL was recorded there were severe financial restraints within the Gillan band because of Ian's financial 'mis' managers so no outboard gear had been bought for the studio in years. Whereas other studios had Lexicon 224's and other early DDL's, Kingsway had an Eventide harmonizer and really nothing much else except some nice mics and a good desk but no great compressors or anything.  The reverb was a brick room!!! Having said that Ian was very generous in giving me the time to do TOTL. Initially I just wanted to do a solo album while remaining in the Gillan band, but things went from bad to worse, as they always seem to, and I left Gillan before the album was finished, and Ian then wanted paying!!! Fair enough too; he did get paid, not as much as he wanted, but obviously more than I wanted!!! I always preferred Bob Broglia's Kingsway mixes to Nick Tauber's Marquee Studio mixes which were the ones finally used on the record, not that Nick did anything other than a great job, they just seemed to me to lack weight and rawness.

One thing I'll always remember about the TOTL sessions was Nigel and his bloody click track !!! I had never been in a band that recorded with click tracks, it was always "human"! So Nige wanted to use a click, but there were no clicks so we ended up using a metronome with a microphone on it! Those were the days, I bet it wasn't even in time !!!"

Back to ME, for myself, I remember starting really early in the morning, everybody setting up, getting the sound and then starting to fly through the songs. Nigel and I had already spent plenty of time arranging and recording songs with the Toyah band for most of that year so it didn't take us long to learn Bernie's dodgy old songs!!! We (me and Bern) always had a laugh about his songwriting style. I still find it amazing how he can continue to come up with (or get away with!!!) a style of rock and blues songwriting based around the same riffs, albeit slightly changed from song to song; definitely a style of his own that's served him well.

For myself, when I listen back to all the stuff I've done with Bernie, I realise how much I've carried that performance based attitude all the way through MY career. In fact, some of my playing on recordings I've done recently with Simon Townshend (2012) still has the same attitude, passion, sense of danger and even technique that I first found and developed while playing with Bernie due, in no small part, to HIS attitude rubbing off on me.

Track wise I think it's a pretty consistent record with a good mix of Bernie's stuff, a couple of good covers, with me getting a couple of co-writes into the bargain. Looking at the credits I see that I have a credit for additional ideas too SO I must have been doing my usual job of instant, on-the-spot arrangement, particularly for the rhythm section and song formats. Now I know Nick Tauber is credited as producer with Bernie but I know he wasn't on board until after we had done the backing tracks; why? I don't know ... I must ask Bernie sometime ...

I can't remember being particularly abusive drink and drug wise on this record (that's it ... I just CAN'T remember!!!); I was smoking spliffs for breakfast, which was quite normal for me by now, and having a few drinks during the day and after the sessions. My favourite tracks are 'America', a typical Bernie rocker that me and Nigel tore up and 'Possession' which was the one track done after the Kingsway sessions back at IBC with Andy Miller, our old engineer from the BTB sessions over there; also with Mark from the BTB on drums. As far as the BTB goes (me, Mark and Bernie) this was probably the best backing track that that combination of people had recorded, probably due to the fact we weren't actually in a band together anymore so there was less fighting and arguing and more playing!!! Hahaha ...

Turn out the lights