Friday, November 26, 2010

Keef 'Splodin Through The Phillips

"'Flash!' Shit, what a record! All my stuff came together and all done on a cassette player. With "Jumpin Jack Flash" and "Street Fighting Man" I'd discovered a new sound I could get out of an acoustic guitar. That grinding, dirty sound came out of these crummy little motels where the only thing you had to record with was this new invention called the cassette recorder. And it didn't disturb anybody. Suddenly you had a very mini studio. Playing an acoustic, you'd overload the Phillips cassette player to the point of distortion so that when it played back it was effectively an electric guitar. You were using the cassette as a pick-up and an amplifier at the same time. You were forcing acoustic guitars through a cassette player, and what came out the other end was electric as hell. An electric will jump live in your hands. It's like holding on to an electric eel. An acoustic guitar is very dry and you have to play it a different way. But if you get that different sound electrified, you get this amazing tone and this amazing sound. I've always loved the acoustic guitar, loved playing it, and I thought, if I can just power this up a bit without going to electric, I'll have a unique sound. It's got a little tingle on the top. It's unexplainable, but it's something that fascinated me at the time.
In the studio, I plugged the cassette into a little extension speaker and put a mic in front of it so it had a little breadth and depth, and put that on tape. That was the basic track. There are no electric instuments on "Street Fighting Man" at all, apart from the bass, which I overdubbed later. All acoustic guitars. "Jumpin Jack Flash" the same.
Charlie Watt's drums on "Street Fighting Man" are from this little 1930s practice drummer's kit, in a little suitcase that you popped up, one tiny cymbal, a half size tambourine that served as a snare, and thats really what it was made on, made on rubbish, made in hotel rooms with our little toys."

From Life
Photo nicked from

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