Jim (Lockhart) contacted me just recently because there’s a guy in London who’s doing a history of Horslips, including a look at what they did individually afterwards (producing, writing, etc.) and Jim was just touching base to make sure he had his facts right.
I’m not sure if you guys are aware of this fact or not but Jim was actually the producer on the first two Albatross singles (Alberta and High-School Queenie). If you go to this website and scroll down a bit you’ll even see his name listed on the “High-School Queenie” single.
Of course this got me thinking about the session that produced those two singles. The line-up at that time was Gary Eglington on bass, backing vocals and harmonica and Johnny Leon on drums. We recorded down in Co. Wexford. If my memory serves me right it was a big, rambly-type house out in the country. I do remember we ate there and we must have stayed there too because it was a two-day affair. I also remember the guy who owned the studio was called Odlum. Odlums Flour is a very popular flour in Ireland so jokingly we asked him – “are you related to THAT Odlum family?” to which he answered “yes!”. That made the whole thing even more exciting!
I have to say Jim had a very steadying effect on the whole proceedings. He was able to talk to the engineer in language we barely understood but at least it prevented us from looking like complete amateurs. To our credit, we already had a tour abroad under our belts (France), as well as countless trips around the country, but it was only our second time in a studio, the first being to record a demo (PJ Curtis was in charge of that session).
I remember Johnny’s drums were set up in a small room/booth, Gary and myself were in a kind of middle room and Jim and the engineer were in another room behind us. Initially, there was a lot of talking back and forth and listening on the headset but we noticed things moved faster when Johnny leaned over and peered through a wee window in the door separating us as he talked and so we did it like that from there on. There was a window between us and the control room as well but we didn’t dare to look in that direction all that much. Anyway, we had Jim in there fighting our corner so we weren’t too worried!
Actually, the session was quite relaxed under the circumstances and Mr. Odlum (Mike) did his best to make us all feel at home/comfortable. We laid down the backing tracks on the first day and did overdubs and production on the second day. I remember laying down the guitar solo on “High-School Queenie” and then listening back to it in the control room. I was listening to Dave Edmunds a lot at that time and so I tried my best to do a Dave type solo but to be honest, I was just so happy to hear back a rhythm guitar and lead solo on the one record that it all sounded good to me. I’d never been able to hear two guitar parts at the one time prior to that (because I’d only played live as a three-piece).
Gary wanted to play harmonica on “Alberta” and he had practiced it in the back of the van all the way down, so I think he was in full cowboy mode when it came time to record it. I think what he did sounded nice and that made him a happy camper too that weekend.
At one stage we thought we were finished but then Jim starting talking to Mike about hearing a tuba on Alberta and I had no idea what he was talking about because I couldn’t hear it – but of course what he was talking about was adding a tuba to it. Ah, ok – but where are we going to get a tuba player I thought, but through the genius of technology and the creativeness of the two boys they got it from somewhere and added it to the track and it sounded brilliant. Nice one Jim!
After that, we couldn’t wait to get the records pressed and I’m happy to report that “Alberta” picked up quite a decent amount of airplay on RTE at that time. There’s another great story about that but I’ll keep that for another blog.