Now We Are Schwa
available from schwa.space
OUR FIRST FEATURE-LENGTH ALBUM
NOW WE ARE SCHWA was a step up from Bound Away, our first recording.
Peter set to music five of his favourite selections from the work of T.S.Eliot and we were performing this around and about as our ‘Eliot Suite’.
These really grew on us and eventually these tracks became the nucleus of what would become NOW WE ARE SCHWA.
We recorded it at Barkley McKay’s Valley Wood Studio, with the express intention of making a studio album with multiple elements that we could just never achieve live - like the samba/ club band on the Alfred J, or the ‘pub’ on Rag…
But then we realised that T.S.Eliot had left firm directions to his estate - executed faithfully by Faber, ever since - that none of his words should ever be set to music. Eliot’s wife Valerie personally gave her blessing to Andrew Lloyd Webber to turn Eliot’s poems into a stage play, but Faber still insisted that only the poems be used, unedited, and so the musical Cats has no plot and has consequently baffled thousands of audiences over the last 36 years: not to mention the original cast who, lacking any script, had no idea what was going on. Judi Dench snapped her Achilles tendon to get out of singing Memory and Elaine Paige repeatedly tried to shoot herself in the face.
Anyway. We had no chance of persuading Valerie to let us use Eliot’s words, so we set to work on a completely lyrical re-write, and decided to re-focus the pieces on characters set in and around the Leeds streets we know.
Peter wrote five complete sets of new lyrics, dealing with the same themes that interested Eliot, but definitely avoiding any chance of litigation (we retained all the hooks in accordance with fair usage, so if you want to go on a Prufrock hunt, it’s all still in there…somewhere).
The result is an Eliot homage transposed to Leeds. The album also features settings of The Dipper and The Creel, poems by Kathleen Jamie whose permission was very kindly given.
NOW WE ARE SCHWA is still just Peter and Richard, before the invention of Jacqui Wicks.