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  LOOPY'S WORLD: PART EIGHTEEN - NASSAU AND THE RECORDING OF POWERSLAVE

Steve 'Loopy' Newhouse

steve newhouse



loopyworld

After a 12 hour flight with one stopover for fuel in Bermuda, we landed in paradise, but not with a capital P. It was overcast and rain was forecast for the next 48 hours.

The stop in Bermuda was strange enough, but nothing to do with the Triangle that we hear about. The runway goes out into the sea and if like me you have a window seat, getting so close to the Caribbean Sea is not good for the heart.

It amazes me even now, how they can land a Boeing 747 in such a tiny space.

But that's what the pilot did, not once, but twice, as we finally reached Nassau in the Bahamas.

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Long before the days of the internet, which meant research was pretty useless, all I knew about Nassau was what the rest of the band and crew had told me. And they didn't disappoint.

I was in Paradise after all. Well, after the storm had cleared I was.

Once the storm had lifted, the weather settled down to its routine. Beautiful sunshine most of the day, followed by a quick shower late afternoon, then more sun until it went down, and repeat.

This seemed to be the daily weather pattern the whole time we were there. Two months of glorious sunshine to come. Bring it on.

Although occasionally, you could watch a storm out at sea, and even though it never came anywhere near the island, it was still spectacular to see.

We were given our accommodation on the same complex as the studio to start with and I found myself sharing with Michael Kenney. Not really a problem as we went way back. He had his ways, but that never interfered with me and vice versa. We were here to do a job.

But that didn't last for long as other people were coming in thick and fast, so I got moved down to the sea front and ended up sharing with some of the older crew, like Dave Lights and Dougie Hall.

We had a shack with two separate rooms, one which was mine, the other was for Steve Altman, and an outhouse that could accommodate four. That's where Lightsy, Doug and Derek Riggs stayed.

The only odd thing about the shack was the amount of frogs we had climbing the inner walls. It was a bit odd to wake up of a morning to see two or three frogs staring at you from various corners of the room.

Derek wasn't with us for long as he found the humidity was affecting his work so he was sent back to Blighty and we just got on with soaking up the sun.

The wonderful thing about living down by the sea was obvious really. Having never slept that close to sea shore before, the rhythmic sound of the waves against the sand was guaranteed to send you to sleep, even if you had been up half the night with the band at the Waterloo club. But I'll come to that soon.

My job, while we were here, was to look after the band. The same as I had done in Jersey. And of course, there was a lot of down time too.

We went to the local Sealife Centre and took lots of photos of sharks and huge turtles, like any other tourist would. We used to go out for drives and stop and eat at the smallest bar or cafe we could find, just to enjoy the local experience.

We also had time to snorkel around the reefs off shore and spent an afternoon on an island in the middle of nowhere with plenty of booze and barbequed food.

But Harry had other ideas too. About a week into our arrival in Nassau, Steve would gather everyone together for a jog, and I mean everyone.

It didn't matter if you had a hangover, cramp, the plague, or diphtheria, Steve made us all run up to our nearest bar, The Traveller's Rest and back again. A round trip of about two miles, but the last 800 yards was always a sprint.

The first time I did it, I went straight out on to Harry's balcony and threw up into the sea, just in time to see a stingray glide past, which was nice.

Harry's sporting regime continued for many days, and we all became fitter for many days, until he decided it was time to actually do some work, and that was the point where everyone relaxed and started to enjoy themselves.

If truth be told the band knew exactly what was expected of them, and let's face it none of them are stupid, so the album got laid down fairly quickly.

That meant plenty of time to play. Even to the point of running up to the Traveller's Rest and having a quick banana daiquiri and running back again. Mind you, in Nassau there's no such thing as a quick anything. The pace of the island is very slow, but to the locals it's a way of life. Nothing gets done quickly.

A few of us only had visas for one month, but we needed extensions for another month, which almost took as long to organise. But I digress, yet again. That meant plenty of time to play, part two.

And that includes the time that Harry went over to watch his mate, Pat Cash, play in a tennis tournament in Miami.

Harris brought Pat back to the Bahamas with him and I was given the job of doing Pat's laundry. Thanks for that Steve. This was supposed to be a break? Like fuck it was.

As it turned out, Pat offered me a tennis lesson in return, which I took, but will not forget. I felt I was target practice for the big man's serve, and don't think I returned a serve or volley in the 30 minutes it took for Pat to demolish what little dignity I had.

But I would like to think I helped him, in some small way, to clinch the Wimbledon men's title a few years later. Aim at the skinny twat, 15 love.

Nassau was a haven for celebrities while we were there. I was privileged enough to play pool in the studio complex against Mick Jagger and Bryan Ferry, and beat them both, but only because they didn't play English pool. I'm not really a pool aficionado myself but I have noticed that different countries have different rules, but whatever the rules we used that night I beat both Mick and Bryan fairly and let them leave with their dignity.

There were also a couple of the band members from Talking Heads staying at the complex when we arrived. Tina and her husband Chris were really nice towards us.

Then there were a couple of guys from a Canadian band, Saga, who we met there too. I spent hours talking to these guys. They were more of a Prog band, and that is my first love when it comes to rock.

The one down side was John Martin who caused a bit of a stir one night but I won't go into detail. But let's just say his other half left the following day in dark glasses. Arsehole.

Going back to the Waterloo Club. This was run by two friends of Nicko's, but I can't remember their names. I don't think the club even opened before midnight, but it was always full.

The Bahamas is one of those places that is frequented by American college students when they get a break, and from my experience, Americans get a lot of breaks.

The Waterloo Club was always full. Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but that's exactly what it was like.

They used to have a live band play a couple of times a week and on various occasions some members of Iron Maiden would get up with them and jam.

I'm not saying all, but Dave and Bruce did on more than one occasion.

What I remember more than anything else was going to the Waterloo early with Nicko and sitting at the bar drinking one his favourite tipples, Peach Schnapps. We would be half cut by the time everyone else showed up.

And then there was Columbia's finest. That would always make an appearance and then the drinking would start all over again. Not that I'm saying Nicko or I ever indulged, but that was the general practice.

So, with the album almost complete, and everyone having such a great time, why did it all come crashing down for me?

The simple answer is, I was stupid.

The band were finishing off a few bits in the main studio, vocal harmonies, brushing up on the guitar solos etc. I had nothing to do but sit around and wait for somebody to ask me to do something.

I was playing pool when the band took a break and Dave joined me. We carried on playing for about half an hour, then Steve decided it was time to head back in and finish off.

As the band headed into the studio, Nick asked me to make him a cup of tea and without thinking I said something along the lines of: "What did your last slave die of?"

Right then I knew it was over. With Steve and Bruce staring at me in disbelief, and Nicko's chin hitting the floor, I knew my days were numbered.

I left the studio and walked down to the beach, and just kept walking.

About two hours later Warren found me on the beach, with my head in my hands and tears rolling down my face.

"I've blown it, haven't I?" I said.

"Not yet," Warren replied. "Come with me".

I followed him to the car, and we took a slow drive back to the studio. On arrival, there was nobody around. The studio lights were off.

A few days before one of our crew, Marcus Cowe, had borrowed one of the hire cars and managed to drive into a tree cutting his forehead. We didn't think it was serious but as a precaution Marcus was sent back to England for tests.

Some of this happened while I was being an idiot. Warren told me to forget about what happened earlier and to be ready in 15 minutes as we were going to the Waterloo.

And we did just that. I was met at the door of the club by Nicko and went with him to the bar like nothing had happened. Nothing was even mentioned about my shitty behaviour.

The rest of the band were there too and it was pretty much the same as any other night at the Waterloo. Even Rod looked like he was enjoying himself. Yep, you heard it here first.

A week later, we flew back to England, with Harry showing me pictures of a property he was interested in, near Harlow, Essex. The very same property he bought, as it happens.

On a slightly more personal note, this was the band at its finest. I was lucky enough to witness the band record probably its best album.

What that comes down to is beyond my comprehension, but I believe it was something to do with atmosphere, and surroundings.

From the time we landed to the time we left, everyone was in high spirits, even if my actions caused a stir, or Marcus' accident caused a blip to proceedings, the recording went on, and still remains my favourite album of all time.

While I was there, I learned a few things about how a proper studio works, and there were enough people around to show me where I was going wrong.

Early one morning I got up and headed over to the studio, and ran off a copy of the album onto a cassette, pre vocals and guitar solos.

Just the basic backing tracks.

I left the studio and packed it into my bag and thought I could have some fun with it later. What I hadn't realised until it was far too late was the playback volume had been set too high so what you actually hear is bearable but distorted, and badly. Typical of the way things went for me, but it's still a great album.

Even distorted.


Click here for the Loopyworld index, including Steve's tribute to Clive Burr...




18.11.14











 


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