Date: 27 Apr 2017
With the curfuffle of the release of my latest album Phantom Islands back in late January, I completely overlooked the fact that my first 'release' Fickle had its twentieth anniversary at about the same time
Unlike its descendent, Fickle was programmed and recorded in three weeks in January 1997 using a four-track machine. Most of the instrumentation was played live with the odd 'punch-in' where I had made mistakes. Like its descendent, copies were handed-out at my birthday do at the time (albiet on a C46 cassette tape rather than a CD). I had completed some album-length recordings before but what makes Fickle my first album proper was distribution, albeit amongst friends and family. I think that – somewhere out there – are twenty or so of these C46 cassettes.
The album also made other departures from previous material: the performance and recording quality were better, the genre moved away from the complexities of progressive rock to become more indie, and the whole album had a more consistent feel. This latter factor was aided by the fact that most of the material was written in 18 months from the summer of 1995. This period covered some life-defining events such as leaving university, finding work, living with mates in shared houses and seeing various girlfriends. As such, there was less naiveté and a more contemporary feel to the music than before.
The album was rehearsed in its entirety during 1997 with a short-lived band (also called 'Fickle') with James Newcombe, Paul Smith and another friend, Alex Rawlinson. The band had managed to learn all the tracks and played them pretty well, but both James and Alex’s attendance at university from September 1997 ended any live ambitions for the band.
It’s now hard for me to believe that the time I recorded and released Fickle – which still seems so vivid in my memory – was twenty years ago. Unfortunately, as most people in their forties will know, the older one gets the faster life flits by, so I shouldn’t really be surprised.
As such, I’m hoping the album’s 25th anniversary doesn’t arrive for a good while yet!