MO FOSTER INTERVIEW
GERRY RAFFERTY Night Owl 1979 ‘It’s a nice album and a nice memory of the man. You’d stand next to him and out of his mouth, this imperceptible opening, comes a golden sound…’
Alembic, Jazz Bass, Precision… and the ‘wind machine’ rig of the 1980 Jeff Beck tour
Hair may change:
the Fender Jazz remains the same
JEFF BECK There And Back 1980 ‘He’s the ultimate player, the consummate player. He’s so skilled at what he does… he makes his instrument sing like no other’
MO FOSTER Time to Think 1999 Recorded live in a church, this features Mo in favoured fretless mode and is ‘a soundscape of acoustic instruments’ cut entirely live, with no overdubs wasn’t blowing me across the stage! A friend saw us at Hammersmith Odeon, and afterwards he said “That was first time I’ve ever heard bass in my neck!”’
for Mo has had many consolations. ‘It was so wideranging, so demanding and so much fun. You met so many different players; I once played with four
Session musicians always have to check their egos at the door, because there’s no guarantee they’ll appear on the finished record. ‘It became a way of life,’ Mo explains. ‘When people discovered the flexibility of having as many tracks as you want, decision-making went out the window. People would hire several players, then choose the best. Steely Dan did it a lot, but I can forgive them because the end product was so good!’
‘Sessions were fun. You met so many players and learned a lot about time and feel’
drummers in one day, which you can’t do any other way. You learn a lot about time and feel. And I was getting paid in three hours what I would earn in a week on the road!’
All Mo’s work on the new book has paid off. ‘I
One example is the Evita soundtrack, where Mo was called in by Andrew Lloyd Webber to replace friend Brian Odgers’ bass parts. No instruction was forthcoming from his Lordship. ‘I arbitrarily chose 50 per cent of the album because I knew the guy who played it was a nice bloke,’ says Mo. ‘It’s happened to me… I played on a track for Nik Kershaw and when I got the album, there I wasn’t! At first you get hurt and think “why me?”, then you realise that someone didn’t make their mind up and tell you what they wanted.’
These minor disappointments aside, session life tried to make it authentic because I researched it as much as possible to get it correct, to dispel myths and things,’ he assures us. ‘It’s many things – it’s fun, it’s jokes, it’s my little bit of autobiography but also everyone else’s, and it’s an authentic history of the period.’ Add Hank’s Strat, a dubious joke or three and contributions from, alphabetically, Joan Armatrading (who got her first guitar in exchange for a pram) through to Ron Wood (who didn’t) and you have the ideal present for anyone curious about how records are made and the people who made them.
British Rock Guitar by Mo Foster is published by Northumbria Press, priced at £24.99
By George IT’S A BEATLE!
A chance encounter in the Abbey Road canteen in 1995 led to an exclusive interview with the late, great George Harrison. ‘My friend, drummer Peter Van Hooke, had this idea of a TV show from Abbey Road that would be recorded with no audience and no presenter – just music. It was a terrific pilot but never got transmitted. He asked me if I’d do some interviews because I’d been working on this book, and I thought “Yeah, why not?”
‘One day Peter rang me and said “We’ve discovered that the Beatles are in Studio 2 control room” – they were doing Anthology. Ringo, who I knew through having worked on an album with him, came into the canteen. I bowled over to him, and he said’ – Mo speaks through his nose – ‘“Oh, Mo,
are you still playing that fretless bass?” He agreed to an interview about their early days. Suddenly we’re all at a table and I’m mesmerised. I’m sitting with three Beatles, George Martin, me and a cup of tea… it was really weird!
‘They went off and then their PR man Neil Aspinall grinned, came over and said “I’m terribly sorry, but we’re going to announce to the world in a few months that they’re all friends again, so this is impossible.” In my panic, I said “There doesn’t have to be three of them – how about two or one?” He went off, came back again and said George would do his first interview in 25 years! I had nothing planned, but George was very kind, very sweet. In effect, he answered the questions that I really should have asked him…’
40 Guitar & Bass FEBRUARY 2012