Oliver's Hound of the Baskervilles
The idea for the Hound of the Baskervilles album probably first came to us when we were deciding on a story on which to base our first collaboration. Along with the "Jabberwocky" poem (which we would eventually decide upon), we discussed many other ideas such as Jekyll & Hyde, Sherlock Holmes and a few others. We were pretty certain that the Sherlock Holmes story would be the one that we were going to write and record when we had a call from Rodney Matthews about a picture he'd done for the Jabberwocky and so that idea was the one that took shape first of all. We then decided that Sherlock would have to be next!
The first piece I wrote for 'Sherlock' (as it was loving referred to in the early days as we hadn't decided which story to do) came whilst I was sat in the studio late one night alone at Clive's electric Piano during the Jabberwocky recording sessions. It was a light lilting piano piece that I tentatively called "Irene Adler", after the only character to have outwitted Sherlock Holmes. During the other sessions I sat and thought about other images and stories from the novels and then wrote a piece called the "Baker Street Dozen", about the young kids that Sherlock Holmes would employ to gather information. This piece was an altogether jauntier piece that I felt captured the mood of a bunch of little hooligans quite well.
Neither piece is on the album.
The ideas for Sherlock then took a back seat as the whole promotion of Jabberwocky took precedence. I was then pre-occupied with the recording of two tracks for the re-issue of my first album "Heaven's Isle" which followed six months later. Around June of 1999, I sat at the piano and decided to start writing some more stuff for the Sherlock album. I pondered what would be the most descriptive piece I could write, thought about Holmes' abode, 221B Baker Street, and penned a jaunty jazzy piece about the place he called home.
This piece doesn't appear on the album either.
Before you start wondering if any of them make it, I'll explain why they don't. Shortly after finishing '221B', Clive & I decided to base the album about probably the best known of all Holmes' cases, "The Hound of the Baskervilles". In this novel the 'Baker Street Dozen' do not appear. Neither does Irene Adler. Nor does 221B Baker Street feature in the story to any great degree and so although they are nice pieces of music, they would have just lengthened the album and would have not helped develop the story. As you can imagine we had quite a task of fitting the story onto one CD anyway!
As is the norm when Clive and I write, we both went off our separate ways to continue composing sections of music based on different aspects and sections of the story. As usual, we also had a few other projects on the go at the same time; Clive with Arena albums and myself writing and recording my "3 Ages of Magick" album with Steve Howe. I also had various pieces of work commissioned for different companies and record labels. Despite these, we somehow found time to write about 90 minutes of music which we together collated in early 2000. By 2001 it had been edited down to a respectable 65 minutes!
It is a strange affair to write with another person. Many people assume that you both sit and write the songs together. What tends to happen with us is that we bring our own material to the table and talk about which pieces of material we think are strong, which we think are weak and which pieces are superfluous, or don't develop the story. We then start to arrange the music into a workable frame. This is how I term our work 'a collaboration'. We both work through the arrangements of all the songs, adding our own sections to each others music, discussing lyrics, working out how long the narration should be, where it is to fit and who we would like to perform on the album.
All this has to take place before we ask a single person to come in and record a note.
Eventually we arrived at a final arrangement of the whole album in early 2001 and started to send out the demo tracks to our potential cast of thousands! Many of the final selection of artists had appeared on 'Jabberwocky' in one form or another, but we also invited a few new faces to record who all added some wonderful touches to the album.
As there are many, many wonderful musicians on the album, I will not go into detail as to how each one became involved with the recording, although one person who has helped give the album so much identity is the actor Robert Powell, who plays the part of Dr. Watson. I have known Robert for many years, and, during polite behind-the-scenes conversation when we both appeared on the 1998 TV programme "This is your Life" in Dad's honour, the subject of future projects arose. We met up again at the launch for the "Return to the Centre of the Earth" album, and Robert asked how the 'Sherlock' project was progressing. I explained how it was shaping up when Robert asked why we hadn't asked him to narrate Jabberwocky! I bit my lip.
"We might have a little job for you, Robert!" There was no way that I was going to let this opportunity get away!
So dear listener, "Hear my caution. Never cross the moor in those dark hours when the powers of evil are exalted". Enjoy!