The FFG Sessions

It was sometime in April/May of 2001 and I had just returned from my very first trip to the United States of America. In my suitcase was a CD copy of a song that fellow Stonefield Tramper Rob and I had just written, and recorded, in a little studio in San Antonio, Texas. At the time I was making plans to release a series of CD's that would be called 'The Anthology' which would feature the back catalogue of both my solo albums and the ones that I had written with Rob. I wanted this song to round off the first album, and I also had the idea to include Brian, our dear friend and fellow S.T. man from Tewkesbury, to add something to it.

But, having previously subjected Brian to an earlier, now defunct, recording project and not wishing to put him through all that nonsense again! I decided that it would be better to find a studio close to Tewkesbury. So, I trotted off to the local library in Letchworth to look up the yellow pages for the Tewkesbury area. I found three studios in all, one in Bredon, one in Malvern, and one in Cheltenham. This was during my pre-internet days, and so the contact was made by the old fashioned snail mail. Only one of them bothered to respond, and, quite naturally, that was the one that got the job. It was the FFG studio, and it is situated in the little village of Bredon, which is but a stones throw away from Tewkesbury. In fact, David Pickering Pick, replied to my enquiry via the telephone, over which I outlined my needs and a 4 hour session was booked for a Saturday morning.

I do distinctly recall David's raised eye brows, as I informed him that I had no files for this song. Just a CD version that he would have to copy into his computer as one track and after recording Brian's Vocal and Guitar tracks, he would have to mix and master the finished song with just the three tracks involved. Whatever Rob and I had done in the first place could not have been altered at all. The recording went without a hitch and I left fully satisfied with what I had heard and seen. I immediately warmed to David, and his lovely studio, which is set in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside, almost alongside Bredon Hill. Unlike most studios, which tend to be rather gloomy and claustrophobic, this one was airy and bright, and I felt most at home here. I turned to Brian and stated 'I'm going to record my next album here!' 'Why' was his reply. 'You've got it all set up in Letchworth.' It's true, I had, and the current studio that I was using were working on my second album with them. But they were very expensive and I had the distinct feeling that I just wasn't getting my moneys worth of expertise that I was looking for. This was very unsatisfactory and I was eager to change the situation.

Change it I did, before I left I had made arrangements to return and record a whole album with David. His attitude, personality and very friendly, and helpful, manner were just what I was looking for. And, being a multi instrumentalist, he would support the recordings or bring in other musicians, as and when required. I left a very happy man, with an interesting, and more rewarding, song writing future to contemplate. I contacted Rob, with a progress report, and to my surprise he elected to join me and record some songs of his own.

That Summer, we hired the studio for a week's block booking, to get the ball rolling on our individual projects. I had the studio for the first two days, and laid down the keeper vocal and guitar tracks for ten songs. Rob had it for two days where he laid down the bedrock for 6 songs and, on the final day a drummer was brought in to lay down drums on all sixteen songs. Over the next 6 months, or so, David worked on the songs that I had laid down, including bringing in the well known Phil Beer to put fiddle down onto two of them. To have an artist of his stature on one of my albums was a bonus that gave me much pride, and pleasure.

Sufficient to say the album, and all of the work behind it met all of my expectations. So much so that I was of the candid opinion that in David, I, like the Beatles before me, had found my very own George Martin, whose input and guidance would improve my creative contemporary song writing in great leaps and bounds. Blessed indeed was the day that I stumbled over this man, and this studio. The very first album we recorded was 'Natural Noise' and many more would follow. I would never record anywhere else! And, if there are any would be Lennon and McCartney's out there reading these words. Bring your work to the FFG studio, you will not regret it!