‘House of the Rising Sun’ was a new arrangement of a song that most people associate with The Animals from their number one hit in the sixties. I had the idea of making it harder with more rhythm and punch. I think I was originally inspired by Queen and that “We will rock you” kind of beat, you know “boom boom crack, boom boom crack” etc. It worked well in my head but we never had the opportunity to rehearse it so we were running through it in the studio to see if it would work in real life. The people I had pulled in to work on it were enthusiastic and of course extremely talented ... as I guess you would expect ... but you can never be sure when you start out with these things if they are going to work or not.
I had asked Phil Spalding to play bass and Preston Heyman to do drums and percussion. The studio was in Henley on Thames...to be more precise, tucked away in a country lane a few miles from Henley. I had worked with Phil on the Mike Oldfield tour and knew what he was all about. I knew Preston but we had never worked together although I knew his reputation and he and Phil had been friends for a long time so I was content that we had the right foundation.
I had asked Phil and Preston to recommend a guitarist and they both suggested Alan Murphy. I had heard the name before and knew he had played with “Go West” so Preston asked him if he could do it and he said “yes”.
The first day we sorted out the tempo and the drum parts and just kind of went over and over it with me singing along for a guide. We all got quite into the feel of it and the arrangement got more and more stretched as the day went on. Phil was concerned that it would be way too long for a single but I liked it so much I just told him not to worry and we could edit it down later when everything was done.
Alan was clearly a very gifted guitarist who seemed to melt into his instrument. He was quiet while the three of us were loud and laughing. He was enjoying himself for sure but he was there for the music, the clowning around was for the rest of us.
He played a solo based on a little melody I sang to him but he moved way beyond my first idea and turned into something so beautiful and hypnotic that I went home that night and wrote some new lyrics to sing on top of his solo. I liked it so much that when we mixed it I kept the vocal at a much lower level so the guitar remained prominent. I was very saddened to hear about his death not long after we made this record and I regret not getting to know him better.
I took the track to several studios trying to finish it and mix it and ended up in Manchester at “Yellow 2” where I brought in my good friend Nik Green to do some keyboard and some “plinky plonky” sounds I had been hearing in my head. We spent most of a day doing Nik’s bits then did the final mix the following day. I loved it then and I still do. A hit? No chance. A good record? For me? Oh yes!
What people are saying about House of the Rising Sun...
“Great Song, Great Singer and Great Players! And Wonderful To See and Hear My Late Great Mate Alan Murphy on Guitar. Cheeers and God Speed Barry.” Preston Heyman
“Sounds Fantastic, Barry !! and your voice amazing ! Beautiful cover !” Sebastian Cornejo
“Excellent well done Barry looking forward to getting it.” Pete Buttle
“Quite spooky ... I am just listening to that very track from a couple of tears ago off YouTube... already fantastic... how can you improve perfection” Roy Salisbury
“Great version of that song Barry....I still play the version you gave me a few years back on my Breakfast Show on Kalypso Gold Radio. To me its better than the version most people are familiar with. Good Luck with it.” Peter Haynes
“Sounds great Barry “ Tim Milne
“LOVE this arrangement Barry - Phil Spalding is one of my favourites also. Hope this does really well, it should do! It needs to be heard on radio a lot.” Lorraine Holloway-White
“Nik's passing was a personal tragedy. Nik and I went back well before the Boilerhouse when I managed him as a solo artist making jingles for radio etc his studio taking up a big peice of my house.. He was so ahead of his time and an lovely fella to boot. Way too young, this genius to leavet us. P.S. I like the arrangement of this one, really suits your style. Sx “ Simon Phillips