14 years to make an album? The story of Shooting Star
When UK four-piece band Saloon Dogs recorded all the tracks for their Shooting Star album in a couple of short sessions at the end of 1995 and mastered them in early 1996, they thought getting the recordings released would only be a matter of time. And they were right. But what a lot of time it’s taken.
Fast forward to 2010, two marriages, eight children, a drummer in New Zealand and two singers in Ireland and somehow, despite the distance, the band has finally managed to get the recordings together to release them.
The freshness of the songs, all recorded live in the studio with minimum amount of overdubs on top, still shines through, despite the lengthy gestation period. The harmonies stand out and the instrumentation, although simple, gives each song its own individual character.
The Saloon Dogs were formed by four ex-members of London-based band The Bogarts – Billy MacInnes (vocals, guitar), Maria Gallagher (vocals), Phil Taylor (drums) and David Longworth (keyboards) – after that band broke up in the summer of 1995. From the start, the emphasis was on music based around acoustic guitar, vocal harmonies and ‘feel’.
They started practicing in October 1995 and within a few months they were in the studio. Over the course of two weekends, they completed an album’s worth of songs, recorded by Keiron Hunter in Dalston, London. The Saloon Dogs recorded ten songs in those sessions, all of them were played live in the studio with various harmonies, lead guitar, keyboard and percussion parts recorded on top.
The songs on Shooting Star, all written by lead vocalist MacInnes, focused on love from different angles.
The pastoral contentment of When I Look In Your Eyes and the joyful anticipation of Sunday Morning (with fabulous harmonies from Gallagher) featured alongside the heartbreak of the title track and the humorous You Don’t Have To Be Crazy To Love Me (But It Helps) – enlivened by a lovely accordion flourish from Longworth.
I Never Thought She Would Ever Make Me Cry featured an African vibe (courtesy of Hunter’s electric guitar part) while Falling Out Of Love had an eerie, echoey old country sound. You Tell Me What’s Been Going On recounted a chance meeting with an ex-lover while, as its title suggests, We Fight Sometimes focused on the arguments that feature in relationships.
The jaunty sounding Just Another Winter’s Morning (In A Strange Part Of Town) took a suitably acerbic look at the immediate aftermath of a one night stand. The last song, How Could He Break Your Heart?, found MacInnes offering a shoulder to cry on (garnished with his own harmonica playing and some nifty slide guitar from Hunter).
The band had a strong live following and played many of the more prestigious pub venues in London including the Mean Fiddler acoustic room, The Half Moon in Putney and Upstairs at The Garage.
Although the band’s original line-up split up in 1997, Billy MacInnes is preparing to launch Saloon Dogs again and to begin recording another album. He’s keeping his fingers crossed that it doesn’t take as long to get the next album out.