Patterns in the Chaos by David Scott-Morgan

An extract from the book....

It was just a photograph in a magazine.
They were orbiting the moon in the LEM – the ‘Lunar Expedition Module’ - and as they swung around it’s ‘dark’ side, the earth came into view above the moon’s horizon - a semi-circle of blazing colour emerging out of the lifeless undulating blanket of the moon’s grey surface beneath them[1].

I looked at the photograph and it’s enigmatic inscription: ‘Earth rise.’ (Earth rise or earthrise - is that one word or two??). It was a photograph of a view that no human being had ever seen before, and no words had ever been set to describe it. ‘What a lovely expression’ I thought, ‘earth rise’ - and immediately a song percolated into my thoughts.
It was in 1969 when man first stepped out of a spaceship and stood on the Moon. Everyone on planet Earth was looking up at the sky and everyone worshipped at the temple of NASA, the keeper of the Holy Grail, a future of unbridled excellence, the dream of the entire planet.
The moment I saw the picture I was there in that LEM, and I knew that although I was a born-again, evangelical, NASA-believing pragmatist, in that moment I was nothing but one solitary, lonely, human being.
The song just wafted up from the picture. Another song, and then another just fell off the back of the first one forming a medley, and before long I had a suite of music which I recorded on my old B&O (Bang & Olufsen) recorder. I had written nearly half of what was to become, some years later, the album ‘Earth Rise.‘

Richard was to be the prime mover in getting ‘Earth Rise’ into production. He heard those original ‘Earth Rise’ tracks and fell in love with the idea. Later I re-recorded some of the tracks on a Teac 4-Track recorder in the front room of my girl friend Sheila’s house in Yardley and some of those early demos made it onto the final record – but only after we had tried unsuccessfully to re-record them.
Between ELO tour dates Richard and I would meet up through the 70’s and he would often mention ‘Earth Rise’ as an album project he would like to record one day. But it wasn't until after the TIME tour of 1981 that an opportunity came up to do that.

In Los Angeles, Richard’s friend Debbie Spencer Rose, had introduced the ‘Earth Rise’ demo tapes to a British entrepreneur named Brian Leahy. One thing led to another and by 1982 a deal was struck and we began recording at Ridge Farm Studios, a sumptuous country residence in Sussex, kitted out as a hotel and studio replete with a swimming pool and all the trimmings of fame.

Yes, Earth Rise took a long time to come to completion. It was quite an epic project and without Richard's dedication it would never have made it.
Richard was an omnipresent witness to every detail of the project, and every note that was played. He only missed one session of recording: One day, he had to keep an important appointment in London. It was agreed that I would get on and tidy up ‘Princeton’, a song already virtually complete and ‘in the can’ as it were. (Princeton had been recorded some years before and Brian Leahy had purchased the tapes for Earth Rise project). Richard arrived late that evening to listen to the mix that producer Steve Lipson and I had worked on.
’Hmm’ he said pensively, ‘I feel I have to do something on it, but I don’t want to spoil it.’
Steve and I proffered some suggestions for overdubbing various things, but he just shook his head darkly. Eventually he said:
’How about if you turn the mic on and just record me breathing on it!’
’Okay’ said Steve, always ready for the zaniest ideas.
We were about to do just that when he got the inspiration to play a subtle guitar part over the long fade at the end. I can still hear it way back in the mix, Richard breathing on ‘Princeton’.
That’s what having Richard around was like. No matter if he played or not, he breathed on everything and that made the difference. You couldn’t have Richard around and not be influenced by his restrained gentleness and good musical taste.
There are many songs on Earth Rise that I can’t listen to without being immediately transported to the antics that went on while we were recording them, and the canvas of rich suburbia that they were painted against.

Our engineer-cum-producer Steve Lipson looked like a cross between Rasputin and the pictures of Jesus you see in children’s books. He looked like that all the more first thing in the morning when he would often appear silently and suddenly along some dimly-lit corridor, draped in a grey flannel dressing gown that resolved a short distance above scantily shod feet, his unruly beard locked in a coalition of anarchy with his uncombed hair. To see Steve before breakfast was to have a vision of the second coming. Steve was a revolutionary in any and every way, a subversive to anything you might treasure as normality.
One morning Richard was late finishing breakfast and I left him to go on ahead to the studio. I walked in the control room to find Steve down on his knees beside the effects rack. He was holding up a microphone to his nostrils and every now and then, he would make a rather aggressive sniffling sound.
I watched in quizzical awe as he made several samples of this nasal affectation until, satisfied he had achieved the right level of retch, he got up smiling and strode over to the desk. After making some adjustments, he played me the track with this snort inserted in it to form part of the beat. It was really quite magic - it fitted great. I can still hear Steve’s nose every time I play the song ‘Spaceship Earth.’

Like on nearly all my records, I sang most of the vocal parts on Earth Rise, building the block harmony pieces bit by bit by successively singing each part. It’s not quite as laborious as it sounds. Once you know what you are aiming at, it can be a quick, straightforward process. One of the songs had a bit where the words: ‘Morning’s come’ was to herald the start of a new verse in three-part harmony. I was in the middle of doing the singing when Richard cut in over the headphones to tell me a vision that had just crossed his mind – It was of a Roman Emperor appearing on a balcony, one arm raised imperiously, greeting the gathered crowd below with the words: ‘Morning Scum.’ That was it. We all fell about laughing. From then on every time we got to that part of the song I just fell apart. It cost us a lot of money in studio time to record that one line in ‘Pictures in my Pillow.’

We worked on Earth Rise throughout the summer of 1983, mostly at Ridge Farm in Sussex but also at other state-of-the-art studios in and around London. As well as the almost-complete ‘Princeton’, the song ‘Ria’ was lifted off my eight track recorder and grafted onto 24 track studio tape, so that everything except the singing and Tony Clarkin’s guitar parts could be re-done. Right at the very end of the project we met Martin Smith, and he actually contributed a guitar part on the closing track of ‘Earth Rise.’

Finally, the album was finished. We climbed out of the driving seat and became passengers in the back while deals and rumours of deals passed by like signs pointing to heaven. Eventually the signs became more infrequent and by early 1984, they had disappeared altogether. In the end, the Earth Rise album was never to get the major label release that Richard and I had hoped for, and was taken up by small independent labels only. Such is rock ‘n’ roll.

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[1] It was on Christmas Eve 1968 that Apollo 8 sent back the first Earth Rise pictures from the moon.