Smithereens 11: Guitarist Jim Babjak Breaks Down 11 Essential Smithereens Tracks
Smithereens lead guitarist Jim Babjak breaks down 11 essential Smithereens tracks.
"Blood and Roses"
From Especially for You (1986, Enigma/Capitol Records)
"Blood and Roses" was one of six new songs we recorded at the NYC Record Plant in 1985. Our plan was to shop the finished tapes to all the major/minor labels and hope to beat the odds. After five years of going nowhere playing bars and clubs, we felt we were ready to move ahead.
I was really excited to be in a real big studio where gold records hung on the wall. People like John Lennon, Aerosmith, Kiss, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie all recorded there. The list was amazing!
After we completed the recordings, we submitted these songs to practically every label out there and were rejected by all except for a small label in California called Enigma. Don Dixon, who had engineered the first two R.E.M. records, was selected to produce our first album. We touched up the songs that were in the can and recorded another batch to fill out the album at the Record Plant. It took one week and about $6,000 to finish the record.
I used my 1972 Burgundy-Glo 6-string Rickenbacker through a 100-watt Marshall 800 series amplifier. I took that guitar on the road for the next three years all throughout the US and Europe.
One night in Kalamazoo, Michigan, during the first tour, I broke the neck right off where it's attached to the body. Our road crew scrambled to find a guy that night to have it glued back on for the following show. Amazingly, it plays better than ever to this day!
By the way, my brother pointed out to me that if I'd had any music theory training, I never would have come up with that guitar solo. Apparently, I'm playing notes from a major scale in a song with minor chords. I put a lot of emotion into that solo, and the fact that I had four beers right before I recorded the part might have had something to do with it.
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