May 15, 2014
It has been expressed that Norrie Paramor passed away without getting any recognition for his services as producer of various Cliff Richard recordings, but the one’s that I find the most interesting is his work with The Shadows. His recordings of the pre-fab-four are to this day the most haunting to me. When I hear Hank Marvin/Jet Harris recording from the early 1960s, it sends me to a world where I can smell the polluted River Thames, and the “Man of Mystery” overwhelms me with a sense of melancholy.
I think their masterpiece is “Wonderful Land” due to not only Hank’s brilliant guitar playing, but also how Paramor’s strings fit over the song like putting a coat over a drunk man in some Soho street in the middle of the night. Of course there’s great skill in making these sounds, but it's the magic aftertaste that gives me goose-bumps. Eno is another favorite of mine, but in the long run, ironically enough, he hits against a wall, like a car speeding towards its final destination. He is all about thinking and sound making, but there is something vacant regarding the emotional aspect of his music making. His records all have roots from someplace else, mostly from the avant-garde recordings of the 50’s, but also the classic low-budget recordings from the 60s as well. The big difference between Eno and say someone like Joe Meek, is that Eno is totally aware where he is, and what his place in history will be. Meek, like Oscar Wilde, thought at the very the end no one will pay attention to him. Norrie Paramor I think should be considered to be as important as Meek and of course, Brian Eno.
Paramor reminds me of certain portraits done by Richard Avedon, in that you’re looking at an image that is very stark, but the emotional aspect of that subject matter really yells out to the viewer. The Shadows’ “A Place in the Sun, ” especially in stereo is like overhearing a conversation between the two guitars. It’s intimate, and the track on the right is slowly embracing or chasing the guitar track on the left. The sensuality of the tension being built up is so subversive with respect to a recording made in the early 60s. One of my all-time favorite authors is Arthur Schnitzler, because the way he portrays the main character’s struggle to reach out for some sort of reality, in a world that is slowly going insane. The tension between the culture and the individual is therefore very strong, especially in his short novela “Dream Story.” For a man who kept track in great detail of his sexual experiences, he writes poetically about the nature of sex as it is placed in the context of 19th Century Austria. So he is a writer who can record his times accurately, yet play with that information and turn it into a profound piece of art, that is an odd juxtaposition of being turned-on and horrific at the same time.