Some amusing and informative sleeve notes by guitarist and singer Alan Jenkins:
October 1983. American forces invade Granada, at the Old Bailey Dennis Nilson confesses to killing several people and flushing parts of them down the toilet, Karma Chameleon is number one in the charts and the Labour party have just elected Neil Kinnock as leader but something tells me that this won't be enough to rescue Britain from the horror of the Margaret Thatcher apocalypse. Something has to be done, but what?
It was then that I remembered buying a copy of the Deutsche Grammaphon seven L.P. boxed set "Aus Den Sieben Tagen" by Karlheinz Stockhausen on Leicester market. Based on a collection of 15 text compositions, this was a suite of improvised, or rather "intuitive", music that was produced by musicians using various rules such as "each player should successively play vibrations in the rhythm of his body", "play to the rhythms of the cosmos" or "only play to get revenge on another player". I just made that last one up, but it's a good idea. Immediately I sprang into action and got various people together to record some weird music. In addition to the Deep Freeze Mice (this was Peter Gregory's first recording as our new drummer) there were Andy Nicholls (alto sax - he hadn't switched to tenor yet) and Mark Orphan (double bass) who we met when John Grayland (trumpet and euphonium on this recording) was attempting to put together his own version of Sun Ra's Arkestra, and Paul Devlin who was a Mice fan who played the cello. We borrowed Andy Nicholls' four track TEAC tape recorder and took this round to the house on Melton Road, where Neil Stout had a rehearsal space at that time, and recorded two long improvisations in a darkened room while burning candles. The rules we used were: 1) you could only play in response to something that somebody else had played, 2) you weren't allowed to play tunes or rhythms and 3) John Grayland had to stop talking before we started. Sun Ra was our other main inspiration. When the Impulse label re-released some of his original Saturn records in 1973 I read a review in the NME that made them sound ever so interesting - I remember there was a subheading that said he was into space 20 years before Pink Floyd. So I looked in all my favourite second hand record shops for them and found "The Magic City" which I played approximately three times a day for the rest of my life. Record hunting was exciting in those days. [I eventually discovered that Sun Ra and I were both from Birmingham - the "Magic City" of the title - so I too recorded an album called "The Magic City" in 2012]. The first take we recorded became side two of this album and the second one is included as a bonus track.The real title of "Untitled #1" is the picture you can see on the back cover but apparently if I try to call it that on a digital release it will break iTunes. Amateurs.
Meanwhile we had also written some new songs which we recorded in four days in November and another four days in January 1984 in Ricky Willson's eight track recording studio at Barkby Road, Leicester. Ricky is one of those brilliant musicians who can pick up your guitar and play it better than you can even though he's left handed and plays it upside down, and he was very good at suggesting ideas for things like backing vocal arrangements and little recording tricks. Around this time he was putting together a band called Diesel Park West who almost made it big in show business a couple of years later. He was also the first person in the country to be into Big Star and he introduced us to Moby Grape. It was Ricky who suggested playing back the finished mix of the opening bars of the album through a guitar amp and then editing it onto the real version so that it starts out sounding more lo fi than it really is. I remember the look of dismay on George Peckham's face that this caused when we were mastering it in London. We may have tested Ricky's patience occasionally. When I was recording the long guitar solo on “A Trillion Sprods” I could see his face through the control room window and he looked as if he wanted to hang himself, and then, when I suggested doing another take, he looked really alarmed and started trying to think of things he liked about it.
Ok, what else is even marginally interesting? The tracks OP1 and OP2 are computer programmes for the Oric computer which was a thing that John Grayland had. I haven't seen them working for thirty years but I think the short one draws random shapes and colours and the long one draws a picture of a cat that walks along.
The last track on the album, "A Trillion Sprods (Version)", has Mick playing a lead guitar version of his bass part. This was our first ever surf instrumental.
The original L.P. sleeve was a big, three colour screen print that I made at the Leicester Community Printing Press - a fine '80s counter cultural organisation that eventually fell victim to the Thatcher Apocalypse. You only had to pay for the materials you used - that and the fact that we initially pressed only 250 copies and used the same label design four times on different coloured paper made pressing this double album affordable. The photographs of the Mice and my cat, Cordelia (on the label), were taken by Mick's friend Michel Bechirian. We sold the first 250 copies, pressed another 500 and sold those too. Those were the days. The screen prints came in five main sets of colours and there were a few odd ones where I put extra ink on the screen at the end of the run. The two used for this cassette are both non-standard ones.
-A. Jenkins, 2015.
Bass – Michael Bunnage
Drums – Peter Gregory
Edited By – David Wells
Engineer – Ricky Willson
Guitar, Vocals – Alan Jenkins
Mastered By – Porky
Organ, Piano, Vocals – Sherree Lawrence
Producer – Ricky Willson, The Mice*
Written-By – The Deep Freeze Mice
Recorded at Barkby Road and Neil's studio Leicester, in between October 1983 and April 1984 (in about 8 days)
Produced by the Mice and Ricky Willson
All songs by the Deep Freeze Mice
Published by Octagonal Rabbit Music © 1984