Mental Picture\Unlistenable Mess: The Completed Home Recordings
Paul Tait 1992-2000
Steve Winwood once said of his self produced self performed album “Arc of the Diver” that it was a text book case in what not to do as a recording engineer. Clearly this collection of one offs and midnight madness’, from an engineers perspective, could sit beside Winwoods without bowing in deference. In fact, you could say Mr. Tait has rewritten the book on what not to do as a recording engineer.
Recorded on a TASCAM 4-track cassette (yes, cassette) deck, mixed to a cassette (yes, again, cassette) deck and then slapped on to digital (finally some sense!) this 46 song two CD set follows a clear and precise a recipe for hiss, pop and crackle!! On some of the tracks it is evident that no attempt at noise reduction was attempted whatsoever; making for a highly agitating listen to for those of us with sensitive ears.
But should you be able to shelve your modern aural sensibilities, your digital ears if you like, and simply take in what the music has to offer; the performance, the words, the songs themselves, then this is an extraordinary collection of work. Paul Tait is truly one of music’s unsung, unsigned greats when it comes to pure pop rock expression. And by pop rock music I do not mean the fluff we accept today for contemporary pop rock music, I mean good old fashioned solid pop rock and roll songwriting delivered with passion, zeal and just the right amount of humor.
The discs are divided into two camps: Mental Picture and Unlistenable Mess though clearly the latter pronouncement (an example of Tait’s self effacing humor) could be either. The first fifteen or so songs are, though, from recent years when we assume Paul figured out what DBX meant and that the button had to be “On” before it worked. I would recommend these tracks for those of you who either A) never heard Paul before or B) listen to music for a living.
And a note to the uninformed: Paul Tait is not a new name on the Boston scene. He first debuted in 1982 with a radio friendly rocker called “Pop Musician”. Over the ensuing years, he released song after song, album after album but never quite got out of Denver, as it were (for a retrospect of his more professionally done and radio friendly recordings pick up “Survivor After All: The Best of Paul Tait”). Retiring from performing in 1994, he continued to record and release records locally up until 1999 when he hung it up for good. Or so we were lead to believe…. This newly released offering may indicate that all the “cookies” are not quite out of the jar. We just truly hope that the rest of them are recorded better!!
The Recording: No stars; forget about it; Paul should hire George Martin
The Content: Four stars; top notch; can’t beat him as a songwriter or pianist, but he needs a George Martin or a Phil Ramone to really bring his songs to life.
Boston Rock And Roll Press, 2000