Additional notes from Richard Carter
Notes On The Instruments
Guitars - Joining his Gibson SG Junior on this album was a Fender Stratocaster, the sound of which, played clean and run through hard compression and gating was to become another of Mike's trademark sounds.
Fairlight CMI - The legendary Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument digital synthesiser workstation. It became most famous for its abilities to record sounds, alter them and play them back at different pitches using the attached piano keyboard (it would in fact accept two keyboards), although its capabilities stretched beyond this. It had a screen, which as well as displaying data, became part of the user interface where things could be selected and altered using a 'light pen'. With the case of waveforms of recorded sounds, the light pen could be used to draw alterations to the waveform directly onto the CMI's screen. Three versions of the CMI were produced - the original together with its successors the series II and series III. The first two both used 8 bit processing, which was increased to 16 on the series III (bringing it into line with other systems such as the Synclavier).
OBXa - Polyphonic analogue synthesiser, offered in four, six and eight voice versions (polyphonic meaning that, unlike a monophonic synthesiser, it was able to play several notes at a time - the number of voices is how many notes can be played at once). The OBXa had the ability to split the keyboard, so a different sound could be played on each half. It was also possible to double up voices, so two sounds could sound from each key. Digital control meant that the OBXa could store patches (that is, sounds programmed by the user) - there was space on board for 32. Many famous people used an OBXa at some time or other, including Jean Michel Jarre, Queen, Depeche Mode and Van Halen, who used one on their song 'Jump'.
DSX - A digital sequencer that was able to interface with an Oberheim synthesiser such as the OBXa and store performance data (notes and patch changes). The DSX could record 6000 notes to 10 tracks (though a single OBXa with its maximum 8 voices could obviously play back only 8 tracks at once), and could also be synchronised to a tape recorder.
DMX - A digital drum machine. The DMX was released in 1980 and contained 24 percussion instrument samples. The unit was capable of creating unusual rhythms and time signatures. It stored 100 sequences and 50 'songs' in memory, and could deliver its sounds via 8 outputs, so different drum sounds could be processed separately. The DMX could also be synchronised to a DSX sequencer.
Simmons drums - Quite possibly the Simmons Claptrap drum module used on QE2, but could equally be one of the electronic drum kits which Simmons became famous for.
Farfisa - a Farfisa organ, as found on Mike's earlier works, such as Tubular Bells and Hergest Ridge.
Quantec Room Simulator - In fact not an instrument at all, but a digital reverb unit (reverb being a type of effect that gives the illusion of sounds being in a space, like a concert hall). The QRS was quite cutting-edge for the time it was released, using 16 bit (albeit with a 20kHz sampling rate, resulting in a frequency response of 20Hz to 8kHz) digital technology to model the reflective characteristics of different acoustic spaces. If required, the QRS could produce reverb not only in stereo but also quadrophonic. This was rather a contrast to the plate and spring reverb devices of the 1970s, which sometimes sounded pleasing to the ear, but never sounded like the reverberations of a real acoustic space. More information, including a copy of the original brochure, can be found at the Quantec museum on their website.
Roland Strings - Probably either the Roland RS-101 or RS-202 string ensemble keyboards (some places list an instrument called 'Roland Strings' but I can find no more information on it than that). The RS-202 was a polyphonic keyboard which did strings and brass sounds, and included a built-in 'chorus' effect.
Adamas guitar - Spelt incorrectly in the sleeve notes as 'Adamas'. The Adamas was a creation of the guitar company Ovation, creators of the first 'electro-acoustic' guitar (that is an acoustic guitar with a piezo-electric pickup built in, which reproduces the acoustic sound when plugged in). The company was founded by Charlie Kaman, who made his fortunes in the aviation industry, with the invention of a device for making helicopter rotor blades work more efficiently. Their designs are mostly based on state of the art manufacturing and research. It was perhaps not completely surprising then, that in 1975 they released the Adamas, an electro acoustic guitar with a carbon fibre top and fibreglass back. Instead of the single soundhole found on most acoustic guitars, the Adamas has 22 of varying sizes.
Mike was sometimes seen with a Red Adamas, though he has several. He plays one in the video for 'Shadow on the Wall'. You can hear the Adamas playing some of the bright sounding parts in the background of Taurus 3. You can find out more about them from Kaman Music's website.
Ramirez Guitar - A Spanish guitar, built by José Ramirez of Madrid. Mike owned at least two guitars by Ramirez at the time of recording Crises. The guitar on Taurus 3 is probably the Ramirez flamenco (rather than classical) guitar.
Manson Guitar - Steel string folk guitar, by English guitar builder Andy Manson. It seems Mike got this guitar in exchange for a Martin D-35.
Tama drums - Drums made by the manufacturer Tama. Simon Phillips, a Tama endorser, has an impressively sized kit... You can see some details of his modern setup in this interview on Tama's site. More details can also be found on Simon's own site.
Notes On The Musicians
Phil Spalding - A session bass player. Played in the Bernie Tormé band 1977 - 79 (also some drums). Later played in band GTR (1984 - 86), which included Max Bacon on vocals. Played with Toyah Wilcox (wife of Robert Fripp) in the early 80s. Later spotted together with Rick Fenn in 'The Pheromones' who made appearances in the West London area in the mid 90s.
Rick Fenn - Was a member of band 10CC from 1976 onwards. Also played with stars such as Elkie Brooks, Cliff Richard, Rick Wakeman and Peter Green (of Fleetwood Mac fame). Produced a solo album called 'Profiles' which featured Nick Mason of Pink Floyd on drums.
Ant - Full name Anthony Glynne. Has played with Asia, Roger Chapman, Leo Sayer, Albert Collins and most recently, Rick Wakeman's 'English Rock Ensemble'. Ant has also worked as a demonstrator for Marshall guitar amplifiers, including playing a Marshall concert with Slash (of Guns'n'Roses fame). Ant has also demonstrated Fender guitars and amplifiers. In addition, Ant has played in several productions in London's West End.
Simon Phillips - Drummer who met Mike in New York at Tony Roma's Ribs, while on tour with Al DiMeola. His website is well worth a look.
Maggie Reilly - Scottish singer, who rose to fame with Glasgow pop group "Joe Cool" in the early 1970s. The band then merged with another, "Up" and became funk-rock band "Cado Belle". She met Mike in 1980 via Cado Belle keyboard player Stuart MacKillop, who had been working for Abba after leaving Cado Belle. She joined Mike on his 1980 tour, then went on to record songs with him on five albums (including Crises).
In the years afterwards, Maggie went on to record with rock musicians such as Jack Bruce, George Harrison, Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason.
Jon Anderson - Singer with progressive rock group 'Yes', Jon has also led a solo career, releasing 15 albums since 1976. Jon has also worked with many groups and artists in the rock world, including King Crimson, John Paul Jones, Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman and Vangelis (most famously with the Jon and Vangelis project, though Jon guested on Vangelis albums before that). A website for Jon is under development.
Roger Chapman - Singer and songwriter with rock group 'Family' in the late 60s/Early 70s, then later with 'Streetwalkers'. Roger went solo in the late 70s, and moved to Germany shortly afterwards, where he found greater success with his style of music than he did while in the UK.
Sally, Molly and Dougal are Mike's girlfriend Sally Cooper and their two children Molly and Dougal Oldfield.
The 8108 is a mixing console made by British manufacturers Neve. NECAM was Neve's mix automation system, which allowed mix settings to be saved and recalled. Systems such as this used digital electronics for the automation system, leading some people to call these consoles 'digital', although the signal path remained entirely analogue.
The Ampex ATR 124 is a 24 track tape recorder, using 2 inch tape.
Some CD releases of Crises included an interview done with Mike at the time of the album's release. You can read it, and see the photos which accompanied it, here.
© Richard Carter 2001