Roy Misra's Studio
- Dave Draper
- Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
- Roy Misra
- Lead Guitar and Midi Programming
In 1998 I had been singing for about a year with the Blues Rock band Big Bad Wolf, run by lead guitarist Dave Grollman. Just before the outfit was disbanded and while the harmonica player Steve Gray was still around before moving back to Wales, he introduced me to an ex-work colleague of his called Roy Misra.
Roy lived at Coulsdon with his wife and children and was looking for someone to replace the recently departed singer guitarist of his duo. I went up to meet him at the Midday Sun in Chipstead and straight-away we decided to start rehearsing a repertoire in preparation for gigs using his programmable midi sampler, which had a full compliment of band and orchestral sounds as backup to our vocals and guitars.
In Roy’s garage we did a series of rushed recordings containing most of our repertoire as a reference tape, backed by the midi sampling that Roy had programmed in a somewhat hurried fashion so that some of the backings were not quite complete. If something needed running over again during recording, Roy’s schedule was too tight to accommodate it.
I was hoping to have some tapes of my vocals and guitar set against the wonderful sounds that these midi samplers can produce, particularly as many of the songs were introduced by me and this could have been an excellent opportunity to obtain some really well produced recordings of songs in my repertoire.
Alas, so near. Nevertheless, included here amongst what was never intended to be a showcase anyway is the best of the crop; an atmospheric version of one of my favourites that I sometimes play live, Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan. This version with its introduction, recurring riff between verses and the build-up and staggered conclusion at the coda is my own arrangement.
Unfortunately the ending of this recording is a bit wonky, partly because the backing ends so abruptly, and also because the programmed timing of the coda threw me off balance and I didn’t quite get it right. Normally in a studio, this wouldn’t matter, as you would just run over it again until you got it right. But the time for this could not be spared.
I’ve also included two other numbers in my repertoire that I rather like, though these seem to have sections deleted or spliced before or during mp3 transmission, and the vocals on them sound bizarrely nasal and constrained as if by too much compression or a touch of some voice transmogrifying gas.
Though less than perfect as a showcase, these recordings were only intended as a reference guide and they served sufficiently as such through a year of gigging with Roy.
Satisfactory or not, I’ve included them all here. I owe the fact that I even have these recordings to enjoy or criticize to Roy.
In fact, despite the blips, I rather like the overall sound and feel on this rendering of First We Take Manhattan and enjoy listening to it, so I’m really grateful that I have this recording as a historical reference.