Malcolm McCallum's CD is called "Stepping Stones" and is a collection of 12 of his songs from over the last few years... none of these songs have been released before,although "It's Not A Question Of Love" was originally called "Question of Love"and released as a single in Australia in 1981. And although Mal has still been playing and performing in New Zealand, he hasn't released any music since his single "K.I.W.I ' in 1988, a duet with Mark Williams.
Mal's earlier records were three LP's in the late 70's early 80's,the first called " The Things We Need " was made for WEA in New Zealand in 1976... " I basically just got together with Julian Lee at Stebbings Studios, and recorded as much as we could within a certain time frame, doing a lot of the playing ourselves... I certainly learn't a lot about recording in a relatively short space of time, and working with Julian is one of the highlights of my career, he's hilarious, and great fun to be around, and brought all his knowledge from having recorded with some of the greats at Columbia Records in the States, as well as his expert skills as a musician ."
Then in 1978, Mal was offered a contract to go over and record for CBS in Australia, working with New Zealand Producer Alan Galbraith, who had had considerable chart success in New Zealand with artists like Mark Williams and Sharon O'Neill.
This record, "Naked To The Sky" received some airplay in Australia and New Zealand, and featured the Little River Band rhythm section of Derek Pellici on drums, George McCardle on bass, and Rick Formosa as arranger and guitarist, with the late Dave Fraser on keyboards from NZ. Mal did all the TV shows in Australia at the time, such as Countdown with Molly Meldrum, Sounds with Donny Sutherland, Mike Walsh Show , and others, and started touring as support with artists like John English, and formed his own group in Sydney.
The Malcolm McCallum Band formed the basis of his next record, "Victim In Paradise", also for CBS Records. Band members included Mark McEntee on guitar who later formed the Dvynals, Richard Harvey on drums who also joined them,and the late and truly great Ian Belton on bass, who was then an 18 year old kid who went on to play with lots of really good people, including Dave Dobbyn.
Although they didn't chart or sell very well, these discs gave Mal an entree to the recording scene in Sydney, and he soon established himself as one of the inner core of the Sydney session singing scene, and through out the Eighties he sang on all kinds of radio and TV commercials, backup on other artists records, feature vocals on compiled CDs, and began writing and producing his own work in this area .
He and his family decided to shift back to New Zealand in 1991, for personal reasons, and to give himself more time to finish a new CD... "... I don't quite know why it took so long, but there's been another house renovation,and quite a few false starts on the CD, plus recording and producing for artists such as Maruia from Tahiti, and tours there, but it's great to finally get it finished , even if it is a few years behind schedule..! I guess it's been the road less travelled, but it's been an interesting one."
"This CD was recorded over the winter of 1999, from about April through to September, in my project Studio in Ponsonby, Auckland NZ... probably not the ideal way to make a CD, as I have done the bulk of it on my own, and it's bit like trying to fly a jumbo jet on your own.... if you have to break to earn a living, or do something at home or any other activity, you have to land the 'plane' and go off and do it, and no more progress is made until you take off again...so it can be a bit stop/start at times..
"Mean Streak" is the first song on the CD, and the first song I started to sequence, as well as being one of the more recently written tunes. It features the late and truly great Mike Farrell on slide guitar, Mike and I have worked together in a few different bands, the main one being the New Zealand Blues Brothers . Mike died soon after this recording, and I hope to help get some of his own fabulous songs released. Once I had this song sorted out, I felt I had a direction and style established to work from.
Some of the older material needed re-writing, and quite often I took a different approach with them from ther way I had originally thought of the song. Won't Be Giving Up Easily started out a few years back as a guitar chord driven rock anthem, but I wanted a softer approach to go with the lyric, and got my eldest son Lewis to put the icing on with his clarinet solo... he plays a lot of jazz and has played big band stuff with the likes of Rodger Fox, so it was a little bit different for him on my stuff. I love his approach to playing, he's much more musically literate than me, and has a warm confident tone to everything he plays...
He also plays sax on "Nothing Else Matters", and has a bit more space to play it out at the end, and plays the section on "Show Feelings Again".
After I had most of my parts down I got Pat Kuhtze in ( also from the Blues Brothers band, and currently part of the "Kick" engine room) to play live drums on about 4 songs. Then mix down, going over the tracks as I went and doing some changes to vocals, and some guitars, and getting some help and ideas from Dave Bridgman on vocal sounds and recording skills, and mastered with Doug Jane, using his Yamaha O2R desk and a few other processing bits and bobs.
I think with hindsight I would rather just go to a bigger studio and record the bulk of the songs with a band, as live as possible, but with this project I had to sort out the direction I wanted to start heading in, and I hope this CD will be a the first step in re-establishing myself as a singer /songwriter, and not just a jingle writer... songs are a lot more fun, and I'm looking forward to getting out live to support this CD,and not be playing covers for a while, and to start writing a pile of new songs for the next one.
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