Ladder Factory Sessions

Probe One Music POM-13, released November 2013

In August 2013 myself, CC Thornley and Claire Johnstone did an acoustic tour in England. A couple of days off gave us a chance to catch up with all-round top chap Pete Rowe at his Ladder Factory studios in Oxfordshire (Pete has had a hand in many of our previous releases). So we set up a few of Pete’s lovely vintage mics, and played a whole bunch of tunes one afternoon. All the tracks were recorded live, and all are songs we were playing regularly on the tour. What you get here is the stuff I mixed back in Melbourne a bit later, 7 in all (or 8 on the CD).

The Hot Asphalt was a long time favourite of mine, from the Dubliners recording back in the sixties. A trad tune about the Irish building the roads in England, I’ve been playing this live with CC for years now. Speaking of CC, Gold in the Loft is a song that he wrote and recorded formerly with his band the Black Swans of Trespass. I love the song, and Claire’s backing vocal and tasteful fiddle really make this version.

Dusty Windowsill is a lovely Irish jig that Claire taught us. The Happy Soldier is a song I’d threatened to write for years, as a reaction to a number of pretty miserable solider-songs we’d been playing. So I finally did it a year or so back. Much like the poor unfortunate in the Soldier Song (Stormclouds, 2010), this guy is fighting in the Napoleonic Wars, the difference being that he loves his work.

Waltzing Matilda went down very well on the tour, and this is a great version of it. Nice to hear CC taking vocal duties too, for that authentic Australian touch! The CD also features our version of Killing My Heart, a great song written by Mike Scott (Waterboys) and one that we often play both acoustically and as the full band.

So this is basically exactly what we sound like as an acoustic trio. Just the acoustic banjo – no electric – but still some ripping solos from CC. Claire’s vocals are a little more integrated into this as well – as opposed to the Coming Up for Air album recorded earlier this year where I didn’t get to use them as much as I’d have liked. A mini-album?

Phil