Following UNFINISHED BUSINESS and “Memories and Fantasy”, **Unplugged** is the third and final release in the 2022 DC Star UB Trilogy. The songs are the best takes from demo tapes that were made between 1980 and 1983 and feature Kenny Taylor singing and David Simmons Playing guitar. All of the songs were written by me, David Simmons and Ray “Goliath” McCrory.
Far from being a throw-away or afterthought from all of the other material considered for the releases; these acoustic demos were the deciding reason to go ahead with the 3-album Trilogy.
These 11 songs, salvaged from the old 7” reel to reel tapes on which they were recorded, are some of the best sounding vocals Kenny ever delivered. Bear in mind that when these tracks were recorded they went down one at a time, from beginning to end and in one take without edits. The few edits that were done are crummy so you’ll hear where they are. There was no auto-tune or even a click track, just 2 passes for a guitar and 2 passes to finish the vocals. Live.
After DC Star got to work with Michael Brauer at Media Sound and really caught a glimpse of the possibilities for the group, David Simmons and Ray McCrory kicked their songwriting efforts into high gear. David had become friends with Randy Jackson, Zebra’s guitarist and front man. While Randy was doing songwriting demos for Atlantic iconic A&R rep Jason Flom gave Randy advice that he passed on: “It’s about quantity, not quality. Don’t try to make great recordings. Just cough up as many ideas as you can as fast as you can and see where they go.”
DC Star was living in an apartment building in Baltimore that the band had purchased. David’s tiny 1-room apartment with a bed in the living area was where the tracks were made. Kenny’s brother David Taylor had quit as the band’s soundman because he didn’t want to go on the road. But, he did want to help us record songs better. So as fast as we could we got started.
Dave Taylor was an audiophile and bought his TEAC 4-track reel-to-reel tape machine up to Baltimore. The only other equipment we used was a Shure microphone, a Radioshack mixer with an EQ and a single channel DBX limiter compressor. As soon as Ray McCrory and I settled on the words and arrangement for a song, I would bang it out from beginning to end sitting on my desk chair in front of the mike and then throw down a second track to fatten it up or play a theme or melody to wrap it up. Then I would bark out a reference vocal track for Kenny to learn and we’d practice while Dave would set up for the vocals. We actually put the microphone in my bathroom and had Ken sing in there for the ambiance and slap echo from the tile walls!
Then we would sit in my living room-with-a-bed, get a balance on Ken’s voice and … roll em’. After a take I would work with Ken to tighten it up and we would fly another take until we had the keeper. Then Ken would sing a harmony track and in some cases Jeff and I would jump in for a crummy 3-part harmony, singing into one microphone. Even the Beatles didn’t try to get 3 guys singing into one mike … We were so broke we couldn’t afford new spools of tape so Dave Taylor recorded the demos over top of his personal tapes of media and music by other bands. On one of the tapes says “Amtrak” while another tape box says “Blue Oyster Cult”.
In 2001 while digitally remastering all of the tape sources I had, Les Lentz and I were able to remaster the 7” reels of tape. Fortunately Les still had one of the obsolete TEAC tape machines that was in good shape and calibrated for bouncing tape to his computer. As with “Memories and Fantasy” I had hoped to have a few more never before released tracks but 3 of the 8 original reels of tape had gotten wet and couldn’t be salvaged.
The first track on **Unplugged**, “I Create A Song”, was an offbeat idea Ray brought to me about writing music. But I liked it and we finished it, and 40 years later thought it was the right tune to start off the album.
The versions of “Tell Me Like It Is”, “Play, Play, Play”, “Closer To You”, “I Like It” and “Walk Away” are the first versions of these songs that were developed by the band and released.
“Lonely” has always been one of my favorite ideas even in this early stage and with this version’s elementary lyrics. And even though the original tape was damaged and couldn’t be totally restored, I used it flaws and all because of the perfection of its cold, stark feel and Kenny’s emotional delivery. It’s so Lonely.
The other songs “Give And Take”, “No One Of Her Own”, I Just Want To Belong” and “The Sun” just happened to be the best of the remaining tracks from the 5 spools of tape.
I truly hope that fans of DC Star will enjoy these raw acoustic recordings.
Many of the comments I’ve gotten from people who purchased the UNFINISHED BUSINESS Trilogy Souvenir CDs ahead of the digital releases have been that they were shocked when they could really hear Kenny’s voice and understand the words! Ha!
Along with the other fellas in DC Star Glenn Jones and Henry farmer and my technical assistant and media manager Susan Singer we want to thank you for taking this long rock and roll journey with us. We are truly grateful for your ongoing support.
The UNFINISHED BUSINESS Trilogy is dedicated with love to the memories of:
Vocalist Kenny Taylor / Soundman David Taylor
Guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist Jeffery Floyd Avery
Drummer Patrick McGowan
© 2022 David and Goliath Music