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Oliver's Jabberwocky
background story

The story of Jabberwocky begins about three years ago....

I was working on Jim Ling's "Friday Night Rock Show" on Lantern FM in North Devon. I used to present a section within the show called 'The Prog Spot'. Unfortunately the show has now been taken off the air.

On one occasion I wasn't due to appear and was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening with a bottle of wine and no gigs, when I received a call from the presenter, Jim Ling. He told me that he was interviewing Marillion's original drummer that evening because of his release of his band's debut album (Arena - "Songs from the Lions Cage") - did I want to pop up and say hi? I was in two minds whether or not to go to the station as I was extremely tired, but I decided it wouldn't hurt to pop up, say 'hi', and get a couple of my Marillion records scribbled on...

I met Mick and we got on extremely well. I remember him telling me that I should come up country and meet Arena's keyboard player as he was a major Wakeman fan and we'd probably get along well too.

I took him at his word and one hectic weekend, I jumped into the car and drove up and met Clive. I had previously sent Clive some of my demo's and Mick was right - we got on extremely well. We discussed the possibility of working together on a long term project. On one occasion we were discussing the project in the pub when Steve Rothery from Marillion walked through the door just as "Kayleigh" came on the jukebox and I remember wondering if he'd just put it on!

Clive then moved to the current location of the studio and the writing began. All our writing sessions were pretty frantic as I lived about 200 miles away from him, so trying to find a few days a month when our schedules agreed was almost impossible. We considered many ideas but the one we favoured most was "Jabberwocky".

One day we were discussing the possible artists we could use for the cover. I suggested Rodney Matthews, whom I had studied whilst at college. I still had his phone number and called him to find out his prices. To my amazement he told me he had just finished a piece called "the Jabberwocky"! That sealed it - the project was now officially on!

Writing continued on and off as Clive and I concentrated on our other projects - Clive with Arena and Pendragon; me with my debut album "Heaven's Isle", music for television and corporate work for companies such as Allen and Heath, the mixing desk company.

Towards the end of '97 we had nearly completed the basic arrangement of 55 minutes of music for the album. We then started planning the musicians we would like to work with.

I immediately wanted to use Tony Fernandez. I had seen him work with Dad for years and I have always been impressed with his playing. He is also one of the nicest guys you'll meet. I also wanted to work with Bob Catley. I had interviewed him on the radio show, and having heard the excellent first Hard Rain album, considered him to be 'a must' for our project. I got him to agree over too many drinks at the Classic Rock Society Awards Night in December '97!

Also in attendance at the awards night was Yes's original guitar player Peter Banks, whom I got on very well with. He was later approached by Clive to work on the album and was very keen to be involved. Dad was then offered the job as narrator, because not only does he have a great speaking voice (I remember him telling Adam & I stories as a child) but we thought it would be a nice touch to feature him on an album and not have him playing keyboards!

Clive suggested the excellent singers Tracy Hitchings and Paul Allison whom he had worked with on previous occasions. James Plumridge was drafted in for his portrayal of the Jabberwock and his outrageous personality. Ian Salmon covered the fretted bass and secondary guitar parts and was very quick, accurate and thoroughly professional (in other words he let Clive & I play on the Nintendo whilst he was recorded)!

Peter Gee, a fellow member of Pendragon with Clive, was approached for the fretless bass sections and completing the line up is Jon Jeary, a member of Threshold with co-producer Karl Groom.

The recording took place during May and August of '98 and the mastering took place in Abbey Road Studios, London, which unfortunately I had to miss as I was visiting Dad during his recent illness.

The CD's were pressed and shipped out. Initial reactions have been extremely favourable, with the Classic Rock Society hailing it as a 'Future Progessive Classic'. High praise indeed, and very rewarding after the years of hard work.

The album is due for release on January the 11th 1999. I hope you will get as much enjoyment listening to it as we had recording it!

Here's to the next one...


Oliver Wakeman
December 1998

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