08. THE BEGINNINGS OF ‘THE CHRIS WHITE EXPERIENCE’ PROJECT
We all hoped this project would explode! And within hours of the website going live KNEW it would do just that... The idea of getting Chris White’s back-catalogue of songs ‘out there’ has often been mooted, but it has never materialised...until now that is. Two of Chris’ sons, Jamie and Matthew, came up with the idea of releasing high quality downloads and starting a series of albums to coincide with The Zombies getting inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 29th March this year. And wow - did things move fast!! Jamie and Matthew have been the energetic driving force behind ‘The Chris White Experience’ - making it perfect and turning it around in an impressively small space of time! Only in January this year they met to talk about the shape of the project. A few days later Jamie quizzed Chris thoroughly on the writing of all the songs and the whereabouts of all the master recordings (or any recordings at all) over the last 40 years.
Between them, they have turned the resulting piles of the once thought lost, almost vintage analogue quarter inch tapes, multitrack tapes, cassettes, DAT tapes, CDs into a magical album which is only the beginning of a very big picture!
Matthew and Jamie have worked on EVERY SINGLE aspect of this release, only ‘delegating’ parts of the puzzle to a tiny coterie of independent workers, publishers, journalists and sound engineers. They have enabled the re-connection of all of the co-writers and as many of the musicians as has been possible. There are a couple of mystery singers in the mix too. More about that in the future! ‘Job descriptions’ as such have been hard to pin down as it is truly a labour of love. Jamie has been the overall project manager - doing enormous amounts of both creative and administrative jobs necessary to make the project come to life, he has been masterminding the track-listing and the order of output.
It is not in chronological order, instead Jamie has chosen groups of songs that make up great albums. The first three albums at least will concentrate on Chris’ songwriting. Further albums will concentrate on Chris’ career in music production. Jamie also kick-started the promotion campaign.
Matthew has listened to literally hundreds of hours of audio (all sorts of sound quality) and has coordinated getting the tapes baked, transferred and mastered. Having created the
website himself (and the entire digital infrastructure surrounding the project!) he then made the songs available in the digital world - enabling us all to hear and enjoy them.
The website www.thechriswhiteexperience.com went live on 7th March 2019 (Chris’ Birthday as it happens) and Instagram on the 12th March www.instagram.com/chriswhiteexperience Sacha, Chris’ youngest son is also helping with promotion. They all remember a large portion of the catalogue - many from their childhoods, but even they were unaware of some of the songs. Chris has played me these songs over the last three decades – but some are new to me too. Chris’ memories of each song are sometimes in focus – sometimes not!!
Matthew and Jamie have done an extraordinary job thus far - choosing the songs, collating all the details of the recordings, interviewing Chris, the musicians, writers, establishing dates and places of recordings, getting all the songs cleared, getting promo CDs sent out, organising publicity and social media.
We have now collected the entire cache of tapes from Cornwall (that was a great road trip) and they are now in London waiting to be ‘studied’. The process of being listened to, catalogued and the chosen material mastered - all mammoth jobs in themselves - is now beginning. Who knows where this project will end? I am honoured that one song I co-wrote with Chris and Matthew Fisher (Procol Harum) has been chosen for this first CD. I have also had the pleasure of doing the visual artwork, creating a concept that will hopefully travel through the project.
As I said before, it will be officially released for digital downloads on 29th March. It has been really intense working to this deadline (especially for Jamie and Matthew) but I am SO happy to be involved in the beginnings of such a high quality project. And congratulations as always to Chris White for his amazing contribution to the world of great songs! I am so happy for him that this brilliantly conceived project will see these fabulous unreleased, unheard songs come to light. Big thanks also go out to Clare White, Guy Fletcher, Iqbal at Commercial Arts, Julian Marszaleck, Nick Robbins and for all of their help.
More at the end of April….