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Jim Clements writes...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jim Clements
Date: Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 4:56 PM
Subject: Notes
To: Neil Leyton


Okay, I'm gonna copy out the notes I wrote in my little book yesterday while
I was listening to your record.  These make not all make sense.  This is the
order they came up on my iPod.  I haven't figured out my idea of the
sequence yet, but I'll have a stab at it when I get to the bottom of this
e-mail!

Either/Or:  Perfect.  SO well sung.  Great harmonies, I love the major-minor
chord switches.  It's a great melody, familiar but unpredictable.  It's
really heart-rending, but doesn't feel like you're TRYING to manipulate.
It's just beautiful.  I also really adore the distortion-solo (is it
backwards?).

Bring On The End Of The World: This is playing on the stereo while I type up
these notes.  Richard just came into the room and said "Who's this?  It
rocks."  Which is a good sign.  I really like this song a lot; very Abattoir
Blues with the gospel-y choir, but also very Neil Leyton.  One of your best
choruses ever.  Great guitar squeals at the end.

Ennui:  I wasn't totally keen on this on first listen, but it's grown on me
a lot.  Richard just told me he thinks this is great too (Quote: "He's good,
isn't he?").  But I'm not sure about having it on the record; let me
explain:  it's such a drop out, energy-wise, from the rest of the record,
that I think it might play havoc on the flow of the album.  It would work
great as the last track on the album, but so would Where I Want To Be, and,
if I was pushed, I'd pick Where I Want To Be, because I like it  more.  But
that's just my opinion.  Again, the distorted guitar in the background is
great, it's got a wonderful loose 3am kind of feeling.

Exorcism: Classic Leyton.  The background vocals are a great hook.  I love
the melody, and how your vocals are quite restrained, considering the energy
of the playing.  It really works.  Only criticism is that the guitars sound
a little muddier than the other tracks; anything you can do to brighten them
a touch?

Further Down: Fucking brilliant in a thousand ways.  Right up my alley.  I'm
in love with this girl (who is she?).  This is the best low-register singing
you've done.  You really pull it off.  The structure of the verses is great;
they seem to end quicker than you expect, but it totally works.  Got that
Cave/Gainsbourg thing to it, but doesn't sound derivative.  Amazing.  One of
my three favorites.  Oh, great bridge too.

Intoxicating: Great, great structure. You take something that could have
been just an 'album track' and give it some real individual character.  Good
fun; and I love 'It is better to die drunk than not to die at all.'  One for
the epitaph.  Bring on the G and T's!

Miracle Machine:  Sounds a bit muddier, murky, but it's a really good song.
Like the background vocals a lot.  And you do a great shriek at some point
in the song.  Like the Mary & Johnny stuff; like your Jack & Diane.  A
really good rocking song.

Some Help Tonight: I think this is my favorite.  This girl I love too.  I
really can't put into words how good I think this song is.  Great harmonica,
all those Neil Young bends.  I would personally have killed to have written
this.  The only minor criticism is that I might fade it out a bit sooner,
but that's just nitpicking.

Semtex Superstar:  Great version.  Provides some variety to the rock songs.
Not too much to say; it's great.  The drums sound a bit muffled, but other
than that, great, good stuff.

Slow The Dark: A real great, different, unusual song.  Beautiful lyrics; I
liked this the first time I heard you play it in Setubal.  The mix isn't
quite right though; your vocals need to be a bit louder, I think, and the
drums are too loud.  But 'The Beauty and The Truth, You and I'!  I love it,
beautiful.

St. Louise: Hard for me to comment!  I like your take on it, I really like
how the girl interprets it too.  The mix isn't quite right, but I like your
take.  It's very theatrical.  It's VERY different to the rest of the album,
but I'm too biased to tell you to leave it off!

Stay Feeling:  My other favorite song.  "Our parents fuck us up" Yep, they
do.  I get a really strong emotional feeling from this song; for some reason
it makes me want to cry.  Maybe because I know how sincerely you mean what
you're saying, and you've really lived it, and you are, you know, pretty
wonderful.  I love "If Rock and Roll is danger, why do we look the same?"
It's sung with such conviction and sincerity.  A truly moving song that
never falls victim to cheesy or cliché or false emotion.  It shouldn't work,
really, but it totally does.  This is probably the closest you've come to
writing a classic anthem to be played at Mod Clubs around the world and
making all us romantic kids cry with joy.  The single, for sure.  I love it!
The vocals DEFINITELY need to come up in the mix a bit though.

Objective Perspective: I can't believe it.  Another masterpiece.  Vocals are
maybe a little muffled or something; I can't quite make out the words.  The
mix, again, isn't quite right.  Guitar down and piano up?  But whatever;
it's a brilliant song.

Treatise: My version's only 48 seconds long.  Is that right?  Is this
supposed to lead into a song?  It's fine, I mean, I like it okay.  Maybe a
hidden track???

What It Must Feel Like:  I can't make up my mind about this one.  I didn't
like it at first, because it feels a little bit like something you can write
in your sleep.  But it's grown on me, and it's short enough not to matter
one way or the other.  I like the 70s Elvis stuff at the end.  If I was
making tough decisions, I might leave it off, but not because it's bad, but
because you've gotta lot of songs, and it doesn't add a lot.  But maybe I'm
just a grouch.

What's Wrong With That Girl:  Neil wrote a pop song!  Very catchy and feels
good.  A minor song, maybe, but one I'd hang on to.  It's infectious, and I
like it a lot.

Where I Want To Be:  Lovely hook, sung with tons of conviction.  Makes me
happy.  I'd definitely put this as the last track on the record. It's SUCH a
closing track.  The organ is lovely.  Right where I wanna be.  Beautiful,
simple, perfect, touching.  I love it.

Blythe:  Sorry to leave it on a downer, but I don't like this very much.  I
like the words, but the melody's a bit blah.  I'd snip it.  Sorry, again!



Okay, so a tracklist (I would leave off Ennui, Blythe, and What It Must Feel
Like):

Either/Or
Bring On The End Of The World
Stay Feeling
Further Down That Road
Slow The Dark
Miracle Machine
Objective Perspective
Intoxicating
Exorcism
Some Help Tonight
Semtex Superstar
St. Louise
What's Wrong With That Girl
Where I Want To Be
Hidden: Treatise

BUT, if I was gonna be a real hard-ass, I'd say leave the covers off, and
just make a Neil Leyton record that looks like this:

Either/Or
Bring On The End Of The World
Intoxicating
Further Down That Road
Slow The Dark
Miracle Machine
Objective Perspective
Exorcism
Some Help Tonight
What's Wrong With That Girl
Stay Feeling
Where I Want To Be
Hidden: Treatise

That, my friend, is a modern classic.

I've been totally honest.  Hopefully you're not offended!

Jim

 

Jim Clements is a UK-born, Canadian-raised singer/songwriter currently lost in the desert. He has released two critically-acclaimed albums, "Kill Devil Hills" and "When the Saints Go", and he wrote "St. Louise", a song that Neil Leyton covers on Elite Nylon.

Find out more here: http://www.myspace.com/jimclements1

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