Helen and The Neighbourhood Dogs, as a band, has always been very much a live entity. Songs tend to be stretched and manipulated, so that cues and endings are dictated by the feel of the moment, and communicated by nods and cues. This does not not always sit well with Fiddly, a man who prefers to operate under formal arrangements, at least in musical terms. “That’s not the way we did it last time” has become a familiar, if plaintive, refrain at Dog Central. With this in mind he suggested that we record some rehearsals in order to fix the format of our material, and put an end to all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace once and for all.
We did so, and it turned out that when we listened back to our efforts we had some pretty special performances on disk. What if, we thought to ourselves, we tidied up a few of the looser ends and mixed these down properly? And so on a few spare evenings and weekends we tramped out to The Hovel – Fiddly’s rehearsal studio-cum-shed – sometimes singly, and on occasion en masse, in order to redo a few errant harmonies, fix the odd timing aberration and generally buff up the bridges.
Sometimes we dropped things out entirely, and on one occasion a couple of us turned up to find that someone had had a moment of inspiration and added a complementary vibraphone part while no-one else was watching. It was very much an old-school approach in terms of getting it together in the country without click tracks, sans autotune, and eschewing cut and paste technology. What you have here is essentially the sound of a bunch of people playing some songs in a room (even if – admittedly - not all on the same day).
Our thanks are due to the devotion to duty of Fiddly Richard, who spent an awfully long time in his back garden either compiling endless alternate mixes for our approval, wiring up headphones, tracking down errant buzzes in the system and enthusiastically chasing pigeons away in order that their incessant cooing wouldn’t bleed onto the vocal tracks.
Singing and playing by Steve ‘Mr. Wendell’ Constable, Richard ‘Gibbon’ Hammond, Shane ‘Skirky’ Kirk, Richard ‘Fiddly’ Lockwood, Robert ‘Young, Young Bob’ Lockwood, Helen ‘La’ Mulley and Tony ‘Ellis’ Winn.
The Misfits written by Shane Kirk
There Is Nothing (The Wave) written by Helen Mulley and Shane Kirk
What’s The Moonlight For? written by Tony Winn
Harrogate written by Shane Kirk