Adrian Snell: Re-recording his classic album 'Alpha & Omega'

Friday 15th December 2017

Tony Cummings spoke to singer, pianist and composer ADRIAN SNELL about his 'Alpha & Omega: 30th Anniversary Recording' album



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Adrian: I agree with you. There's clearly a new generation discovering vinyl. Just as 'Alpha & Omega' was one of the first CDs that Word UK ever made, it could be one of the first re-vinylised albums as well. That's a disappointment: I know that people will download it. The thing I find frustrating about that - even more than the lack of artwork - is that I know what happens because I do it too. You choose your favourite track. 'Alpha & Omega' is a story that needs to be told from the beginning to the end: you're asking your audience to stay the course and sit there for 60, 70 minutes and breathe deep as we take them from "Kaddish" to "Alpha And Omega". They might do that once, but then most people will say, "These are my three, four favourite tracks." That's hard to swallow as a composer, but I have absolutely no control. You just have to accept.

Tony: I read in a review you had to re-do the guitar part.

Adrian: I first heard this rumour some months ago. We tried to trace where it had come from, because it was such an unlikely rumour, so completely untrue that it had to come from somebody. We think we know, although I'm not going to say. I think it was somebody mischief-making. What actually happened was very simple. We had a guitarist on the album, a Dutch guy - if you've got the CD, you'll see his name - an absolutely wonderful guitarist, and there was this one section, the intro to "Guns Of Peace", that originally had been recorded by Neil Costello, that for all of us involved in the production - a little bit like the lyrics by Phil - was the most extraordinary solo. Neil expressed the anger, the pain, the heartbreak in this two-minute solo. When we'd completed the live recordings and we were listening back, we found ourselves saying, "We've got to go back to Neil for that. For those two minutes, we need Neil to do his solo." We talked to the guitarist and he was absolutely fine about it: he accepted that he wasn't part of the original recording. So we went to Neil and it was just that two-minute solo, and it was absolutely glorious. But the guitarist is this Dutch guy, and there was never a case of anybody saying it wasn't good enough: it was just those two minutes.

Tony: One mild disappointment for me was that Joanne Hogg didn't sing on "Child Of Darkness" as she did on the original 'Alpha & Omega'.

Adrian: Sera van der Vijver was chosen only for a very direct reason. What happened was, when we were trying to think about the other solo vocalist on the album - you're right it's "Child Of Darkness", but we wanted to go further with it. We wanted a voice that would occur in various parts of the album that, although not singing a solo, would nevertheless be identified as a second solo voice. What we specifically wanted was something of the child but also the woman. We were looking for a childlike voice, but professional. I don't know whether you know my album 'The Cry', but we did exactly the same thing. We were looking for a singer who could sound like a teenager. So the search began, and then our choir director said he knew of this girl, Sera van der Vijver, who, believe it or not, was only 16.

We listened to her and I immediately knew she was the person I wanted on this album. It turned out when we met her and we started to work live that she was extraordinarily gifted at not needing incredibly tied-down parts; she did a lot of improvisation, she matched my voice, and, of course, did "Child Of Darkness" too. So the decision to use her was a) because I do love her voice and b) because there's something very powerful about the father figure and then a child who is singing with and to the father-figure throughout the storytelling. It's almost like she, through her voice and the way she sings, she's almost questioning the father's voice, she's almost questioning God as she sings. So there's a dramatic aspect to it as well. She became part of the team. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


 
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