The Leyton Rifles


Leyton Rifles cdr

During the "Reckoning" acoustic tour, Neil Leyton and Ana Isa were paid a visit by The Ghosts' Tommie Riot and the White Russians' Chris McDougall when Leyton & co. - henceforth dubbed The Leyton Rifles - put up camp at Soundpool Studios near Munster, Germany, to finish tracking the last 5 songs for the Elite Nylon Album.

The songs recorded were:

Intoxicate Me (N. Leyton)

Semtex Superstar (C. Nanders)

Miracle Machine (N. Leyton)

Slow the Dark (N.Leyton/C. McDougall)

Exorcism of Apathy (N. Leyton/C. McDougall)

Other than "Semtex Superstar", written by Carl Nanders from Aceface, the songs were all originals: "Slow the Dark", whose title was Chris McDougall's idea while the trio were on the SOUL OUT Tour in Slovenia a couple months earlier, signalled Leyton's welcoming of Chris' songwriting input. Chris had often said that in his other projects his ideas were often left out, and so this was corrected on "Exorcism of Apathy", which started as a McDougall chord progression fleshed out by Leyton lyrics and vocal melody. With Chris McDougall, at the time, involved in various UK projects (White Russians, Dave Kusworth, Darrell Bath and others) it seemed like a perfect fit and it came together in the studio in Germany.

The songs were never mixed, other than a few home mixes performed by Leyton in Setubal after the tour, and others by Tommie Riot back in Sweden. And so they remain: rough mixes.






So Not Alone


The idea of a "duets album" arose out of a duet recorded with Maria Petterson, "Some Help Tonight", which Leyton had produced at Acetone Studios. The next few home-recorded or road-recorded duets "just happened"... eventually, Johnny Thunders, Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra, and Serge Gainsbourg all served as reference points for what was to become the "So Not Alone" collection of songs:

Either/Or (feat. Rami Helin)

Some Help Tonight (feat. Maria Pettersson)

St. Louise (feat. Lieah Christine)

Further Down the Road (feat. Allison Dee)

The Objective Perspective (feat. Johnny Charmer and Nikole Wiseman)

One of the first songs to be written after the release of "The Betrayal of the Self" was an Elliott Smith-inspired piece recorded in Finland by Rami Helin (who produced the track entirely on his own, sans-Leyton). Either/Or was thus, technically, the first "duet" that would end up on Elite Nylon / So Not Alone. A 3/4 time sets the pace, that although Rami sings only a line at the end of each verse, it truly is a duet in the sense that beyond Leyton's acoustic guitar and vocal the rest of the song is Rami's.

At the time Rami was the lead vocalist in Turku Romantic Movement; now he has collaborated with Izak Kosir on The Toronto Drug Bust and is fast-becoming a renowned producer and recording engineer, as well as solo artist, in Finland.

The second track, Some Help Tonight, actually gave rise to the duets concept as Leyton co-wrote and produced Maria Pettersson's debut EP, a beautifully earthy 7-song master that remains unreleased. Some tracks can be heard on her MySpace.

This lead to Leyton covering Jim Clements and the Right to Die's St. Louise, a song about the early Hollywood-turn-Berlin starlet, Louise Brooks. Jim imagines a duet on his original composition, which Leyton materializes with the help of photographer/singer Lieah Christine during one of her visits to London.

The next track, Further Down the Road, was an attempt at writing a suicidal tale based on the traditional murder ballad style. Allison Dee sang the part during her visit to London, where she came to demo some of her own material with Leyton.

Finally, The Objective Perspective was a collaborative effort with Tommie Riot, Johnny Charmer, George Bettencourt and Nikole Wiseman all contributing ideas to the same song whilst on tour together throughout Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. It was recorded at Soundpool Studio in Germany, and Johnny has gone on the record proclaiming his dislike for the song. That sort of information is always relevant, in the interests of full disclosure!

Other duets, including a cover of the Tindersticks' Buried Bones, featuring Elsie Martins (from the London-based project Phantom) were contemplated for the album but never finished.





The Insanity of Normality


From the sessions that followed The Betrayal of the Self, at the same studio (Acetone) and featuring most of the Ghosts (Tommie Riot, Janne Olsson, and Micke Ghost), Leyton recorded 7 songs whose rough mixes were shipped to the "Insanity of Normality" supporters back in 2007. These songs included 6 new tracks and two Passion'd Flower covers, which eventually were left off the final track listing. The process began in London, with Leyton shipping some truly lo-fi demos to the Ghosts in Sweden. Micke, Tommie and Janne organized the rehearsals and arrangements, and the sessions went smoothly... if somewhat undirected or wandering. Not wanting to make Betrayal of the Self part II, but feeling somewhat the same topics and inspirations, didn't quite fill Leyton's cup, and the trials with the Passion'd Flower covers, in search of some new inspiration, didn't help things.

Stay Feeling ended up being a co-write with Micke Ghost, who contributed some great chord changes and ideas to the original Leyton demo. What's Wrong with That Girl is perhaps one of the catchiest pop-songs Leyton has ever written, and harkens back to the Suede-like feeling on some of the tracks of Leyton's Secret Avenue debut album (1998). Hearts vs the Court, Tommie's favourite track, continues the Leyton political diatribe tradition. Blythe is perhaps the strangest song on the collection, inspired by a photo book on the 70s doll of the same name (!). What it must feel like to be old is a cheerful-sounding but pensive number, a reflection on our own mortality while we go about our everyday lives - and it ends with a good last laugh. Finally, Bring on the end of the world is the drawn out sequel to TBOTS's The System is the System is the Problem, featuring yet more incendiary guitar work from Micke who makes his guitar wail with awesome feedback cries in the long instrumental ending...

And so it is, the mixes are what they are, and the tapes are lost. On to the next record!



(CC) Neil Leyton 2010. Welcome one and all.