Cheeky cheesecake photo by Kim McCarthy 1983
THE JAPANESE SINGLE
One of the first people to receive a copy of “Rough Cuts” was Prism drummer and resident rock star Rocket Norton, who was working for Bruce Allen Music as a publishing rep. Rocket liked a couple of my songs and signed me to my very first publishing contract. Needless to say, I was pretty excited! This was a huge step in a whole different direction for me, and it felt pretty good.
At the time, the company was co-publishing with MCA Music, and it just so happened that I was planning a trip to Los Angeles in the spring of 1983. Of course I took the opportunity to stop in at MCA and introduce myself, since the door was open to me as a Bruce Allen writer. I met with the vice-president and played him a couple of songs from the cassette, and he seemed suitably impressed, so I left him with a copy and went on my merry way, not knowing what, if anything, would come of it.
About a year later I got a phone call at work from the very same vice-president. He wanted me to drop everything and fly to LA to record “Another Girl” for a Japanese record label. They also wanted me to sing it in Japanese for a single and a TV commercial.
Wow! I felt like Cinderella! One moment I was toiling away at the typesetting machine, and the next day I was on a plane to LA to stay at the Sheraton Universal. I wound up in the MCA studio the next day, watching some really amazing musicians* who showed up to cut my song.
Brock Walsh was assigned to produce my project. His CV included a stint as staff producer for Quincy Jones, and he wrote and produced the hit single “Automatic” for the Pointer Sisters that was just breaking out that spring. This lovely guy treated me like a total diva, making me take a nap in the office before tackling my vocals, and then waking me up with my favourite James Ingram tune (which he of course had co-written and produced), taking me out on the balcony above the city lights, and giving me the best pep talk ever. In that moment I felt like an absolute rock star!
Hummingbird Records had sent a crew from Tokyo, and they were in the studio with a full score for the song, and some ideas about how they wanted it to go. None of them spoke much English, so there were a lot of hand signals, gracious bowing and body language. They had translated the song into Japanese and gave me a phonetic lyric sheet to work with. It took about a day for the tracks to be prepared, then it was my turn to go in and sing all the vocals. There were lots and lots of layers, and I was having so much fun that I didn’t want to stop even though it was well past midnight.
When we finally quit for the night, we had it pretty much finished. All that remained to do was the Japanese lead vocal, which I did at 8 o’clock the next morning before catching my flight home, back to reality…
Before I left, the MCA execs took me aside and said there was one more thing… for the purposes of this single they wanted me to take the name of “Chelly.” I thought that was a bit strange, but went along with it, assuming they would be in touch about the kind of cover art they had in mind.
A few weeks later I got a package in the mail with the 45s in innocuous little pink sleeves like the one below. There was one at the bottom of the box that had different insert, nothing like the pink one…
[Click on the image to see how the real cover turned out!]
*Davey Farragher: bass Dennis Herring: guitar Jon Van Tongeren: synths
Brian Cummings: horns Brock Walsh: Lynn & cymbals