"Here, Mike. Have you got anyone to design your album cover yet?"
"Can I do it?"
Well it might have been a bit more involved than that, but that afternoon I sat down and drew a rough design for the new Waterboys album.
Or so I thought.
The plan was , shooting for 'The Miracle' was about to end, and I had asked Cullen's Funfair to stay on for another day on the seafront so that the Photographer, Executives from Chrysalis Records, Design Department, Road crew and all seven members of the Waterboys could conveniently assemble for a quick few photographs on their Waltzer.
Simple, you'd think.
Shooting overran on 'The Miracle'. I realised to my horror that unless I found an alternative Waltzer quickly I would find myself standing redfaced in the midst of Screen actors, screaming film crew, grumpy, tired rock stars and tetchy record company people all requiring the same piece of Fairground machinery on the same bit of Bray seafront at the same exact moment.
This is what I get for trying to be like Alasdair Paton.Who?
I can tell this story now because I know there is no way I am ever going to get a job in the Movies again. Which is fine.
Because this was 1990 and there was no Google or Twitter or Facebook or computers generally I was faced with the prospect of phoning Funfair operators around Ireland based on information from a maggoty old phone book and the old reliable,Word of Mouth. Mobile phones had literally just arrived. I remember standing on the roof of the Director's Driver's Mercedes Benz at the car park in Bray Head with a huge phone (with a cord attached to a car battery) trying to communicate with a confused Fairground bloke in Bundoran, just as a gust of wind arrived and ended the conversation for good. There was also the point, made by several helpful onlookers, that the chances of a Funfair operator actually being close to his phone at any time of the day, never mind at the exact moment I was calling, were slim to non existent. After several attempts, I realised I was not going to be able to sort this out here. Not with everyone watching.
So in short, I had to mitch the last two days of shooting on The Miracle. Philippe Roussellot , Neil Jordan, Beverly D'Angelo I'm sure would all have noticed I was gone. Hm yeah.
With only two days to go (there was no way I was going to call Mike Scott and cancel this photo shoot, nor Chrysalis records art department either. My reputation, after all, you know) I finally managed to make contact with the owner of the Funfair in Tramore Co. Waterford. Established that the thing worked, went round and round, looked reasonably okay and was available at 8.30 in the morning.
Frantic rejigging of various bits of drivers , accommodation and catering as I realised designing an album cover isn't a matter of sitting at a swish desk wearing a cravat and throwing shapes.
Everyone arrived in the deserted, freezing car park in Tramore at the ungodly hour of half eight, as arranged, much to my surprise.
I can tell this story now because I know there is no way I will ever get a job with The Waterboys again, which is also fine.
John Pasche leapt out of his car and bounded across the car park like a puppy, grinning and shaking my hand with the enthusiastic grip of a woodworker's vice.
I did not at the time realise it was the actual John Pasche, and being youngish and uneducated in the history of album design, was unaware of John's impressive pedigree. All right sue me. I know now.
My only excuse is I was an exhausted,hungry, panicky wreck and was busy thinking about being marked absent from 'The Miracle' Roll Call back in Bray. And the consequences of same.
John was charming, generous, modest, handsome, sympathetic and enormously helpful to me in my hour of terror. Between us we concocted an impressive air of authority and proceeded with loading the Waterboys into the Waltzer, yelling various instructions and getting down to business. After about ten seconds we realised it all looked a bit. Sort of. Boring.
"There needs to be, sort of, movement" we agreed.
All seven members of The Waterboys eyed us with suspicion. Noel Bridgeman started to wonder if it had been wise to have that full Irish Breakfast earlier.
I drew the short straw and had to ask the Fairground guy to set the Waltzer in motion. "Very slowly please".
So there we were, spinning away at a snail's pace as the photographer snapped away. Then he turned to John and me and declared "Not enough movement"
Waltzer guy cranked up the motor. We all backed away a bit.
It wasn't long before we realised we'd better get a decent photograph soon because Sharon was turning a delicate shade of green as the Waterboys spun around and around and around and around.
"We have to go again, one of them blinked."
Anyone who has studied physics and /or photography will know already that the chances of seven people in continuous double circular motion are, in fairness, unlikely to all have their eyes open at exactly the same moment. At nine in the morning and breakfast repeating at an alarming rate.
Eventually the whole thing was brought to a conclusion, partly because the light was going but mostly because there was a good bit of complaining happening.
John wrote to me afterwards and told me they'd had to "airbrush Steve in" back in the studio because his eyes were closed "in every photo" (ironic considering Steve had left the band by the time the album landed in the shops).
As rock stars staggered around the car park trying to regain their balance, like seven divers released far too early from a decompression chamber (much to the amusement of Waltzer Guy) , John and I discussed what was going to be on the back of the album, picturewise.
Oh Lord. Erm.
With that I had an idea. I spotted a lovely Buttercup Yellow wall of the Ghost Train nearby. I muttered instructions to the irrepressible John *nothing is too difficult, too mad or too annoying* Dunford, road manager, who rounded up some of the country's most gifted musicians and piled them up in an inglorious heap behind the Ghost Train wall.
For my pleasure.
|The back cover of it|
With that, everyone dispered, holding their heads and making small groaning sounds. I was reassured by John Pasche, iconic album cover designer, known to everyone, except me, that "everything will be fine. You did good Annie" .
Then he leapt into his car and was gone.
I returned to the set of 'The Miracle' the next day. I was asked where I had been.
"Well I was off in Waterford trying to make The Waterboys throw up".
"Yeah right. No really , where were you?"
I still have a polaroid that shows the remarkable physical contortions that enabled the back cover photo to be taken. I keep it on my office wall to remind me of the glory and glamour of the olden days. And also to remind me why I will probably never be asked to work with musicians again.
|John Dunford holding the whole thing together as always|