All posts by myinspiration

History of the 11th Hour

11th hour at prayer?
11th hour at prayer?

1991 After several years as a rock music fan, Paul Jackson buys a guitar and tries to emulate his musical heroes. Tries to record a Beatles song on a cassette machine and pens a few (thankfully) long-forgotten songs.

Paul playing guitar 1992
Paul playing guitar 1992

1992 With help from a guitarist friend called Alan, masters the guitar further and writes another song, Private State. Not too good, but playing and singing coming on well.

1993 Becomes a born-again Christian – still interested in music, but begins to write songs about his new-found faith.

1994 Paul meets Russell Dyer at Grove Free Evangelical Church, Oxfordshire. Russell is also a guitar player and songwriter. The two hit it off immediately and begin playing and writing together. ‘Spirit From Above’ is first significant effort. Paul buys a Fostex 4 track cassette machine and gets stuck into making demo recordings.

1995 Paul & Russell write and record more songs. They meet guitarist and songwriter Steve Gascoyne whilst the duo are leading a service at Hanney Mission. It is nearly a year before all three work together. ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ written this year.

Paul in the 'studio' 1995
Paul in the ‘studio’ 1995
Russell recording 1995
Russell recording 1995

1996 Paul, Russell and Steve start to work together with various jamming sessions. Paul makes more demos at home. Not so many new songs this year, but the threesome are gelling well. Band work on each member’s strongest material.

Russell, Paul & Steve 1996
Russell, Paul & Steve 1996

1997 Jez Fernandez joins as drummer upon returning to Wantage from university. First gig, as the ‘Jesus Loves You Free Electric Band’ in Abbey Meadow, Abingdon. Pretty hot – weather wasn’t bad either!

Abbey Meadow gig 1997
Abbey Meadow gig 1997
Russell at Abbey Meadow gig 1997
Russell at Abbey Meadow gig 1997
Jez at Abbey Meadow gig 1997
Jez at Abbey Meadow gig 1997
Steve at Abbey Meadow gig 1997
Steve at Abbey Meadow gig 1997

Later in the year, Paul buys an 8 track tape machine and a decent mixer – the sky’s the limit! They play at roadie Dave Owsnett’s engagement party at Abingdon school in December. Paul prefers to forget his attempt at ‘Everybody Needs Somebody to Love’ singalong with Afican gospel choir. Cue stoney faces and silence in the hall!

1998 Band plays at a youth event in Garford as ‘11th Hour’, a name coined by David Henderson from church. Many of the songs have evolved well and the band seems to be getting more and more proficient. In December band start recording three songs in two days at ‘Stanford Sound’. Project actually finishes at end of May 99!

Stanford Sound

Jez & Russell recording at Stanford Sound 1999
Jez & Russell recording at Stanford Sound 1999

1999 Big Christmas gig for friends and family in Grove village hall. Quite good actually – even if ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ will never be the same again! Paul Hazell joins band as keyboardist. Paul J writes ‘Marred’ (about Northern Ireland) and ‘My Inspiration’.

Grove December 1999
Grove December 1999

2000 Year begins with the ‘Calling Earth EP’. Recorded with help from Mike Parsons at Grace Baptist Mission studio, Abingdon. Three songs are attempted, and finished off at ‘Stanford Sound’. EP is a bit of a mixed bag but certainly the most professional sound yet achieved. Copies of the EP are sent out to various organisations. Band plays UCB ‘Cross Rhythms’ festival in July (how did we land that gig??) and youth events in Faringdon (Sept) and Littlehampton (Nov).

Cross Rhythms 2000
Cross Rhythms 2000
Cross Rhythms, Okehampton, July 2000
Cross Rhythms, Okehampton, July 2000

Russ’s ‘Hope In The Saviour’ helps give the gigs a very direct focus on the Gospel. The 11th Hour’s star is rising and there is talk of it fast becoming Wantage’s best contemporary Christian band! 😉

2001 Unbeknown to them, band plays last gig at the Q Gundersen’s ‘Impulse’ event in Faringdon in February. Also performs four songs ‘live to air’ at UCB Cross Rhythms radio station in Stoke, the day before final gig.

Outside UCB, Feb 2001
Outside UCB, Feb 2001

The band can now go in a new direction, but not all are keen to pursue the commercial route via Cross Rhythms. By now the band is taking up a lot of time and, with wives and babies on the way, the band goes into hibernation….

2004 After a large investment in the facilities at Stanford Sound, band begins to record semi-live album Milestone, a collection of their best tracks so far. They attempt to record the songs as live as possible in an attempt to recreate the songs as they were performed on stage. However, some of the songs evolve during practice sessions and the band decide to record these more interesting versions for posterity.

Seck mixing desk, Stanford Sound, 2005
Seck mixing desk, Stanford Sound, 2005
Andy & Russell, Stanford Sound, 2005
Andy & Russell, Stanford Sound, 2005
Let there be drums! Stanford Sound, 2004
Let there be drums! Stanford Sound, 2004

2005 Recording continues at Stanford Sound, spurred on by the fact that Paul will be getting married early 2006!

2006 Milestone released on limited edition CD in February.

March 25th 2006 – Photo opportunity at Paul & Liz’s wedding.

Paul & Liz's wedding, 2006
Paul & Liz’s wedding, 2006

Milestone LP

Milestone - 2006
Milestone – 2006

At last! After performing together since 1997, the 11th Hour finally got the album they deserved!

Sam Dallyn created the excellent cover.

The album was recorded between December 2004 and April 2006 at Stanford Sound, Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire (Paul’s home studio).

Tracks & song links:

1. Marred [2005 Version]
2. Don’t Make It Right
3. Pushin’
4. My Inspiration
5. Since I Met You
6. Lonely Road
7. Don’t Throw Your Love Away 1
8. Reap What You Sow
9. Don’t Throw Your Love Away 2
10. Unemployment Blues
11. Spirit from Above
12. Walk Away
13. Reminds Me of the Son
14. Lucy
15. Hope in the Saviour
16. Face is of a Beauty
17. Don’t Run from the Light
[ 18. I Can See Her Face – hidden track]

The Making of Milestone

This project was conceived because, even after the band’s regular gigging had ceased, Paul had long wanted to put together an album of all the songs the band performed on stage. Unfortunately, a track-by-track audit of the tapes of the 11th Hour’s gigs showed that they were neither comprehensive, or sometimes competent enough, to put together a definitive live album of their best songs. Milestone was their biggest project ever, comprising 17 tracks on one CD, all pretty much recorded from scratch. It was a tall order, made all the more challenging by the fact that, during recording of the album, Paul had met his future wife, Liz, and was getting married in early 2006.

The album was made possible due to a large investment in the facilities at Stanford Sound, centred around a Roland GD-10 digital drumkit for Jez. A massive 18-channel Seck mixing desk allowed many more permutations of monitoring and recording. Headphones were purchased, along with a headphone amplifier, which created a virtual studio in the musician’s ears – while the neighbours heard nothing! This may have allowed the band to break free of any inhibitions they may have had recording in a home environment, because the results were thrilling! It was certainly the best environment the band had ever had to record in as they were all able to play together, and crucially, properly hear one another at the same time. The upstairs bedroom became the control room and the lounge, with its tangle of wires, amps and guitars, became the ‘stage’.

The general idea was a semi-live album, with no more drum machines! Jez took to the GD-10 kit like the proverbial duck to water, which was the foundation of the live rhythm section. Where possible, all the drums, bass and rhythm were recorded live, without overdubs. Guide vocals were also laid down at the same time and the final vocals were normally re-recorded as overdubs.

‘Semi-live’ meant that the recordings could not have horrendous blunders, but they were not always going to be polished perfect either. There were, inevitably, a few damped strings and fluffed notes, but these were triflings when compared to the amazing punch and pace of the band playing live. A couple of the songs, Don’t Make It Right and Hope In The Saviour, were remixed and overdubbed from studio performances that were already ‘in the can’ from previous efforts. Quite simply, it would have been pointless reworking Russell and Steve’s existing versions of these songs. These were definitive versions: intimate, passionate – and powerful. A third song, Paul’s Reminds Me of the Son was actually a complete reworking of the ‘First version. Andy’s piano and trumpet remained, overdubbed with new drums from Jez and new bass and vocals front Paul. Again, why try to reinvent the wheel?

Andy Mckenna mode a valuable contribution to the Milestone project. In one weekend, he added brass, acoustic guitar and organ to the epic Don’t Run from the Light.

What’s the last track?

Anyone with the CD copy of Milestone will have noticed a ‘hidden’ track, number 18. This song is actually ‘I Can See Her Face’ from the Calling Earth EP.

Recording is a funny business. Your first efforts are often disappointing, but like a lot of things in life, it gets easier the more you try it. Calling Earth was one such example. The first two tracks, Marred and My Inspiration, weren’t awful by any means, but somehow didn’t capture much of the excitement that we got from playing the songs live. The third and final track, I Can See Her Face, was a different story. It wasn’t that it was a particularly good song live, it was just that it all wonderfully came together in the studio! This is without a doubt the 11th Hour’s definitive version of this track. Sure, the microphone’s weren’t up to much, and the slightly strained vocals on the key change will always knock my ear out, but this version has so much going for it. Jez is wonderful, Steve’s solos are fantastic and where would it all be without Russell keeping order with his absolutely unshakeable trademark rhythm guitar? (Interestingly, this is probably the rockiest piece of music to be recorded at Grace Baptist Mission studios in Abingdon!) Thanks to Mike Parsons for all his help.

So, this final track made it on to Milestone for several reasons: It was unlikely ever to be recorded this well again, and it provided a contrast with the band’s current output. A bit of nostalgia and a reminder that the Milestone was by no means the band’s first recording effort. Finally, it proves to us, the band, that recording is worth persisting with. We are grateful to God for our progress as musicians, both on stage and in the studio. On Calling Earth, we got it right 33% of the time. On Milestone’s 17 tracks, we probably really hit the groove on over 14 of the tracks and created definitive versions in the process. By my maths that’s a hit rate of over 80%! Good progress in six years.

To my brothers in Christ – Russell, Jez, Steve and Andy. Thank you, and well done!

Paul

Spirit From Above [Psalm 139] [First EP]

(Inspired by Psalm 139)

© 1994-5 (Jackson/Dyer)

Going away, but I know the Saviour’s love is never far
I’m led away, but with God in front the path is never dark

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, I know you’re there
And if I settle on the far side of the sea, I’ll know you’re there

Oh Lord, where can I hide from your Spirit?
Oh Lord, where can I flee from your love?
Oh Lord, where can I hide from your Spirit?
Grant me the Spirit from above

Whatever steps I may take in the journey of my life
I know that God longs to see me leave the wrong, and choose the right

When I’m away from the friends and the family that I love
It’s good to know I have a friend that cares for me from up above

Oh Lord, where can I hide from your Spirit?
Oh Lord, where can I flee from your love?
Oh Lord, where can I hide from your Spirit?

Grant me the Spirit from above (x4)

 

Paul: “This was written in late 1994. I had a chorus and a first verse, and left the rest to Russell to finish – a very Lennon/McCartney way of working! I seem to recall arriving at Grove Evangelical for an evening service after a weekend away and we were due to perform this song to the congregation. Russell showed me his further three verses and said “Is that alright?” kind of thing. We performed it there on the spot! (Well, that’s how I remember it, but who knows?) I do know the famous riff came in early 1995, and that was a pure fluke when I was experimenting with the top two strings of a guitar!

Were those verses ‘alright’? – they were absolutely wonderful! A model of elegant simplicity. Poetry. A great song about God’s fathful presence.”

PJ on ‘First’ version: “The first released version of this 11th Hour classic. A reasonable version had been attempted in 1999 but no-one was terribly happy with the wobbly tempo, which was part and parcel of the painful early recording methods.

From the first bars, there’s plenty of excitement. Unlike previous attempts, the momentum continues after the (shortened) first chorus, one of Andy’s suggestions. Also look out for the gorgeous piano counter-melody that links the verses.

For the first time, the end section’s ‘duelling guitars’ are captured. Listen out for Russell’s patient and bluesy fills giving way to another hard rock wig-out from Steve!”

Reminds Me of the Son [First EP]

© 1997 Paul Jackson

Each time I hear a song of beauty
Each time I’m lifted by a melody
I’m reminded of your Son
From whom all this blessing comes
And if all this seems too much for me to take
Just imagine how I’ll feel when I see your face!

When I walk the sand at midnight
Hand in hand with my sweetest love on Earth
And although I might pretend
That our love will never end
I remember that our lives are but a breath
And eternity with Jesus is my rest

Middle 8:
These are the things I bring to mind
When the light’s gone out and I no longer see
The world has all but turned to stone
Will Jesus ever set me free?

When I consider what your hands have made
Love and care in everything you’ve done
And this world can be such fun
But it’s not the only one
So be reminded of the Son that sets you free
Each time you hear that sweetest melody

PJ on ‘First’ version: “Originally attempted live in Summer 1997, soon after its genesis. Andy brings some keyboard dexterity to this interesting piano ballad about Creation, beauty, depression and, ultimately, God’s complete trustworthiness. Attempted live several times since ’97, this recorded version has a definitive feel to it, thanks to some really emotive trumpet work on the middle 8 and fade-out. And, yes, the big echo hi-hat sound in the early verses is trying to sound like the album version of ‘Let It Be’!”

In Your Presence [First EP]

© 2002 Andy McKenna & Paul Jackson

Lord, I’m climbing
Up to another day
Lord, I’m trying
To walk the narrow way
But I’m finding
My heart can go astray
Leading me away from you

Chorus 1:

But I’ll rise up on those eagle’s wings
I’ll walk and not grow faint
In your presence, there is great joy
And your holiness, lights up my tired eyes
Take evil away, remove the sorrow from my heart
Lord, do a work in me
Lord, please set me free

Surrounded by your presence
You’re Faithful and True
Lord, may I never stop thanking you
Come, Lord Jesus, fill me anew
Fill me anew

Chorus 2:
And I’ll rise up…

Verse 3:
solo

Chorus 3:
Yes I’ll rise up…

PJ: “Something new! Andy’s own song gets some well-deserved airtime. A great hymn of longing for God’s felt presence and assurance. There are a lot of musical textures in this song, as you’d expect from Andy, and a lot of space for the music to breathe. The fadeout section with piano solo (4:05 onwards) is redolent of early 80s ‘Soul Mining’ by The The, particularly the Jools Holland solo on ‘Uncertain Smile’ (just nod if you don’t know what I’m talking about!). It transpires that Andy is a fan of Essex’s finest jazz pianist, so perhaps there is some unconscious inspiration going on here!”

I Can See Her Face [Hidden Track]

© 1993 Paul Jackson

Waltzed up to me, she was just about five foot five
From that moment on, I knew what it was to be alive
The things she made me feel, a thousand poets couldn’t express
I was trying to say the words but I knew they’d come out a mess

High street, I’m looking scruffy, here she comes the other way
Wished I’d changed my clothes and I wish my hair would get up and stay
Briefest smile, eyes are touching, nothing I can do or say
Back to square one, as she walks off to another day

Time’s passed, and years later I can still remember those days
Everything’s the same with me, never making any headway
The past is always smiling and I wish it never went away
But I’ve got hope for as long as the memories don’t fade

Eleven thirty Sunday evening trying hard to slip away
Memory, image forming, just the same as yesterday
But I’m mistaken!
The image is being taken
To the little bunch of thoughts at the back of the brain
Where every little moment just remains the same..

I can see her face
I can see her face
I can see her face
It’s a perfect reproduction of a time and place

I can see her face

Paul: “An interesting one this. A song with a very simple chord pattern that seemed to be (slightly) based upon ‘R.O.C.K in the USA’ by John Cougar Mellancamp, a song I enjoyed in the 80s (although I subsequently realised it had some unhelpful lyrics in it…like so many good tunes).

The song is about that feeling of having a memory come into your mind very forcibly, so much so that you actually feel that you are back ‘there’, wherever that might be. I think it is the sort of thing that happens when you hear a certain piece of music. In my case, my post-adolescent mind remembered the face of someone I had been keen on a few years before and I thought I could remember her face particularly vividly on one occasion. Verse three is a bit self-indulgent from today’s viewpoint, twentysomething angst in the face of another rejection, perhaps? Well, it all turned out right for me in the end and Liz was worth the wait!

Steve broke up the rather cyclical pattern of this song and made it much more of an epic for the version we eventually took on ‘tour’ and recorded. An incredible Edge-like guitar delay slowly moves in, followed by bass notes and Russell’s rock-solid rhythm guitar building to a cresendo and fade-out. It’s an unusual structure with only one chorus, right at the end. I liked the way that Pete Townshend would sometimes end his songs with a chorus or a fade that was completely different from what had preceded it.

And, yes, this is the ‘hidden’ final track on Milestone, exactly as it appears on ‘Calling Earth’. We couldn’t better it!”