Marc Bolan was going to produce Join Hands but well...

So I got hold of Mike Stavrou (Bolan's engineer).  Mike Stavrou was a mistake.  I made a mistake there.  I had my gripes against Lilywhite but I never realised just how hard it was to produce them.  I had been executive producer on everything to maintain a sort of 'quality control'.

Apart from Hong Kong Garden I'd never sat through the whole recording process of anything until Staircase and it was bloody difficult.  Simple things like "John, give me more feedback."  he couldn't!  All you've got to do is point the guitar at the amp and it goes Whoooooooooooo.  He couldn't get it.  So I borrowed one of Steve Jones's Les Pauls... nothing, then I got Jonesy's Fender amp.  John eventually got a little 'piip'.  I thought he was earthed or something.  So we put that wimpy little feed-back through echo and delay an harmoniser and double track it to make it sound ballsy.  That was the beginning of Staircase, and Kenny... "Can you do any other sort of beat?"  "Yeah!  Course I can!" so he'd play the same beat faster!  John and Kenny really wanted Lilywhite back.  I'd heard enough of the 'Lilywhite Sound' and tried to make the group feel the same way.  They'd done that sound, they should move on.  Commercially, that sound may have been a good idea but was too easy.  I wanted to get onto something new, completely different.  Let's get bells on it... and thunder... dry drums... right up front, none of that echo on everything - the opposite.  I was really into sound effects, I wanted the album to be full of them.  Well, I got this through to Steve and Sioux, but not John and Kenny.  They didn't like it at all, they wanted Lilywhite and the 'space'.

there were no agruments about me producing Join Hands but I didn't know enough about the desk so I got in Mike Stavrou and took on the role of executive producer again.

I booked Air Studios for three weeks solid.  No-one else was allowed in.  Real big-time! 30,000!  The atmosphere there was terrible.

John said he wasn't ready - he wasn't happy with the tunes he had.  But we just had to get the album out for the tour.

The recording just dragged and dragged.  I couldn't get any ideas through.  They wanted The Lord's Prayer on the album.  I said "If you're going to have one whole side of the Lord's Prayer, then let's really go for it!  We'll get a choir, an orchestra, go completely over the top, get Marco to do a bit, splice the tapes, play 'em backwards, open the song up to the studio."  But I just couldn't do anything not even over dubs!  They just thought I was being silly.  There's two or three good tracks on the album but it could have been a great album.

Even the bloody sleeve for Join Hands was a problem, John Maybury came up with a design, it was really good but it involved using a drawing of two little kids getting married, but I couldn't find out who owned the copyright and had a hard time explaining to Kenny that we would be bankrupted if we were sued.  Then I thought, let's have an embossed sleeve.  No ink at all, just the four soldiers indented in the card, because we were rushing everything we never got any proofs.  Came release of the album there is is, bloody PRINTED.  We went mad, really mad... got a new label manager.

The whole point was not the soldiers, but the embossing, not that John and Kenny liked the idea anyway, they still wanted John Maybury's idea.

Nils Stevenson

  Ray Stevenson's Photo Book Click Here For Full Scan Ray Stevenson's Photo Book Click Here For Full Scan