What band is crazy enough to make a 'live' recording the first time they perform in front of people? Well, this band was crazy enough to do it. There was a great reaction to the release of "EYEWITNESS" in Japan and the group was immediately booked for some gigs at the famous PIT INN in Tokyo. We were advised by George Braun that fans would not really believe that we were, in fact, a 'group' until we had released three recordings. So, we thought we could immediately make record #2 while we were there in Japan. When we arrived in Japan, the 'group' had no name and "EYEWITNESS" had been released under my name because none of the other guys wanted to sign the contract. So, as we walked into the PIT INN for the first show, the poster outside read: STEVE KHAN & EYEWITNESS, and from that day forward, everyone has just referred to us as: Eyewitness.
People often ask why was the same recording released with two different titles? Well, initially the recording was to be titled "MODERN TIMES"....period, end of story. But, before we could find a label to release this recording in the U.S., Steps Ahead had just released their own LP titled, "MODERN TIMES." So, in order not to be confused with their recording, I changed the title to "BLADES" for the U.S. release on Passport Jazz. A 'miracle' release because NO ONE wanted a recording with four tunes, each over 10-minutes in length. In truth, IF this recording had been done during the height of the CD era, each tune would have been about 17-minutes long, and we had to do some serious editing to make it even fit on an LP!
The only release of this recording as a CD was in Japan, and sadly it's been out-of-print for sometime now. Highlights for me include: the drum/bass duet during the 'Intro' to "The Blue Shadow"(one of the best recorded examples of the ESP-like chemistry that exists between Steve and Anthony); the texture Anthony and Manolo create at the beginning of the guitar solo on "Blades." Steve Jordan's unique approach to the drums, to music-making, to the sound of each drum and cymbal makes this recording so sought after by drum nuts everywhere. My nightmare about the sound of this recording is that none of the wonderful Japanese recording technicians told me that one of my two Roland JC-120s was completely distorted during the entire recording, and that track became useless! Often times, it is mistakenly thought that all American musicians know exactly what they're doing at all times! In the end though, it's my responsibility to make certain these details are correct. So, I was stuck with a sound which, to me, is not representative. Monstrous bummer! I also made the huge mistake of recording myself with too much 'live' digital reverb....and, of course, once that's committed to tape, you're stuck with it!
As we are passing from the CD Era to the iTunes or Digital Download Era, I think that it is worth telling everyone that I allowed my then lawyer to talk me into one of the most stupid business decisions I ever made. As we were negotiating the terms with Passport Jazz and realized that there would be no real cash advance for the recording, my lawyer tells me, "Let's retain the CD rights and we'll sell them to another label!" What was I thinking when I went along with this? No one wanted this album to begin with, so why would another label take the CD rights without have the LP and cassette rights? So, this one horrific decision on my part is the very reason that there were never any CDs manufactured for a U.S. release. So now, as I attempt to get Universal Music Enterprises to finally upload the album to iTunes, I am, on the one hand filled with hope that people will finally be able to have the album. But, on the other side of that, it just reinforces how long one ill-informed decision can follow you around. I just had to add this corollary to the story as a lesson for all those who face such decisions.
Photo: Eyewitness live at 7th Ave. South, New York City - by Masato Hashi
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