You don`t see an article in the mainstream music press with this man too often, so it is with great pleasure that I can re-publish this one. This man have worked with, among others, Free, The Who, Johnny Nash and Bob Marley.
Enjoy yourselves while I`m away. Tonight I will travel from Oslo to London and then further on to Doncaster in the Northern part of England. After a night in a hotel there I will go on to Grimsby and Cleethorpes to watch a great game of football between MK Dons and Grimsby on Saturday. Then on Tuesday it is back to London for a short stay there before going back to Trondheim on Wednesday evening. I will try to post here while I am away. And if you should be anywhere near the locations on my journey – look me up and we`ll have a pint and a talk!
Broken Arrows and Dark Saloons
John Bundrick (Rabbit to you folks) has been around. He`s worked with some of the hottest names in Texas as well as Johnny Nash, Suzi Quatro and the legendary Free and is currently in Kevin Ayers band. He`s travelled the world and been interviewed by Pete Makowski, not bad for a little ol` Southern boy uh? He`s also had one solo album, “Broken Arrows”, released, has another in the can and is currently working on a third, here PM finds out what makes Rabbit run…
Versatility is the keyword to Rabbit`s success… or downfall. Y`see being one of the cream session guys Rabbit`s versatility makes him compatible with any artist from say Suzi Quatro to Kevin Ayers, yet on album he can be so diverse that he feels maybe people aren`t too keen on his variation.
“I`m trying to get into my own… er bag, so`s that people can recognise me… but then again I want to keep mah versatility.”
In his mid twenties Rabbit`s an archetypal Texan dude, drawl an` all. His hair is permanently dishevelled, his eyes droop indicating that he`s permanently in need of sleep, his features are similar to Todd Rundgren; the toothy grin and general air of untogetherness.
Yet even at his most disorganised times – Rabbit`s music flows out of him like the brandy in his bottle neat, strong with a touch of finesse about it. Not unlike yer McCartneys and yer Rundgrens, Rabbit`s a musical magician, he seems to manipulate music into whichever form he wishes, like an artist selecting tones and contrasts, he seems to have complete command over what he`s doing.
It goes without saying that Rabbit`s first album “Broken Arrows” should have been a commercial smash, although Rabbit can appreciate its lack of success. “That album was me, I had total command over it, so it might have been too over indulgent.”
Still, not to worry. Rabbit trucks on in Island studios, recording overdubbing and mixing tracks that may have originally been laid down a year ago. His whole flat is littered with tapes and cassettes with Free, Jess Roden and countless other artists he`s worked with, his life seems to consist of all night recording session and gigs.
Ask him what he was doing a couple of months ago and he`ll screw his face into a pained concentration and then sigh, “Shit, y`know I can`t remember… I remember getting kicked off a gig for being drunk, but I can`t remember who it was with.”
Rabbit vividly remembers his short stint with Baldry`s band on the Faces tour. “I got that job through the band`s bassist Archie Leggett, who`s an amazing character. The basic problem about the tour was that audiences only wanted to see the Faces.
“We got kicked off that tour for drinking too much, y`know Rod Stewart just came on one night and said that`s it. But bands like that shouldn`t have support acts anyway.”
Next Rabbit lent his able keyboard playing hands to the Kevin Ayers band. “That, again, was through Archie. They were looking for a keyboard player and he suggested me.”
Rabbit refers to Ayers and Co as his “new friends”, he had never heard of Nico, Cale and is not familiar with style of music: “I found it strange, but I knew given time I could get into it. It was different, kinda freaky, so I`ve been trying to make it funky freaky, cause when I play something I like to put feeling into it.
“I really dig Eno, he`s funky. Y`know that track “Baby`s On Fire”, I`d really dig to do a funky version of that, there`s also a Cale number I`d like to do. Eno`s a really weird keyboard player, he marks out the keys on his moog for every number he does and the rest of the sounds he gets by turning all the knobs and controls… which is really amazing.
“Cale and Nico reminded me of people I knew in Texas around `69… but `74 style. Kevin`s (Ayers) attitude to life is amazing, the whole thing was so loose. It wasn`t like Free where on a bad night there`d be arguments and punch ups.
“The thing about Kevin was, that I didn`t know anything about him, before I joined. I was really surprised that he was going down so well, because I had never heard of him before. I tried to add something to the music. Ollie Halsall is good but he`s awful fucking fast… another versatile person.
“The live album`s a bit untogether, but the feel`s there. We were only together for about three days.”
Did they rehearse beforehand. “Oh sure, but that`s a different thing. We rehearsed a helluva lot, but the whole thing was relaxed. Kevin rehearses like Johnny (Nash), gets the basic thing together and lets the rest of it sort itself out.”
Another main source of Rabbit`s concentration is his new album “Dark Saloons” which has been recorded over a period of a year using different musicians, studios and facilities.
The album on first hearing is much stronger and has much more fluidity, continuation. “The album`s been ready for quite a while, but the company are looking for an angle to promote it. I think what I really need is a strong single, and to get that I think it would be better if someone else produced it. Someone who`s commercially minded.
“I`ve approached Micky Most and he`s interested, but I`ve been kinda backing out all the time. If I produced I`d just put down what I wanted but Micky`s a single maker, a hit maker and he`d know what sound to get, which song would be right, I need someone with that kind of confidence to show me the way.”
But what about on the album side, would Rabbit hand over his ticket to a reputed producer?
“Yeh, that`s what I worried about. Y`see if Micky does the single and that goes into the charts then maybe the company might want him to produce… I don`t think so, I`d like to carry on producing because that`s what I dig the most. I know I make a few mistakes, but I won`t be able to expand if I don`t carry on.
“Another thing I`m worried about is if I make it on a single level, I`ll have to somehow capture an album market.”
There`s no doubt that Rabbit is capable of writing a hit single. I mean anyone who`s produced, written and arranged songs for Johnny Nash must have a strong commercial ear.
“The last thing I heard from Johnny he was in Los Angeles and looking for strong single material. Y`see it`s singles again.
“I like the album because it sounds more like a band, tougher. The next album I want to be softer but still with a lot of bite.”
One side of the album features Johnny Nash`s band Sons Of The Jungle, orchestra conducted by Marty Ford and a Swedish band. Side two features the ripping guitar of Snuffy Walden another quality Texan musician.
“I`d really like to have Snuffy in a band or at least on a permanent recording basis. His playing adds that magical quality into my songs.”
And so Rabbit coasts along, playing sessions, recording tracks (he`s even got some songs ready for his third album) pretty unaffected by the surrounding world…
“Ah`m terrible at words”, he would sigh, “I failed English, History even Physical Education… but I passed music”. Nuff said.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Back Door, Kiki Dee, Mike Heron, Marty Wilde, KoKoMo, Fusion Orchestra, The Average White Band, Kevin Coyne, Ron Wood, Bridget St. John, Chip Taylor, Eric Clapton, Gryphon, Tangerine Dream.
The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
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