Jeff Slate, who’ll be at this weekend’s Fest For Beatles Fans, will release his third solo album on April 22, he told Beatles Examiner. Called “Secret Poetry,” he said the album will feature appearances from several familiar names with Beatles associations. “The core band is me, Earl Slick, Jimmy McElligott, Rick Mullen on bass, Charly Roth on key boards and Steve Holley.” Slick played with John Lennon, while Steve Holley drummed with Paul McCartney and Wings. Two songs, “Letter From Paris” and “Streamwork,” also feature the Birds Of Paradox lineup that includes with Slick also on “Paris.” Gary Van Scyoc and Adam Ippolito of Birds of Paradox were members of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Elephant’s Memory Band.
“’Dreamtime” and “Survive’ also feature Slick, along with Carlos Alomar, Mark Plati, Gail Ann Dorsey and Alex Alexander from David Bowie’s recent albums, as well as keyboard ace Joe McGinty,” says Slate. Slate said Bowie’s death occurred as the album was being completed and “Dreamtime” and “Survive” became a tribute to him. And another former member of Wings, Laurence Juber, is also on the album. “There are a lot of other New York City and UK musicians who make cameos, but that’s the core of the album, and I think it ended up a nice, cohesive whole,” he said. “There are nods to all the Fabs, of course, as well as Bowie, The Who and the Faces, and it feels like an album that will be fun to play live for our fans.”
And one song has an Abbey Road Studios sound, and how that came about is an interesting story. “The track ‘Exile’ features the piano from Abbey Road Studio 3. I was there in the ’90s on tour and had the idea for the song. It was called ‘I’m A Pumpkin,’ believe it or not. Sort of like Paul’s ‘Scrambled Eggs.’ My friend was working at Abbey Road and snuck me in to do a demo. I went away with a DAT tape and we were able to use it through the wonders of digital technology. There’s really nothing that sounds like those instruments in those rooms.”
Slate has graciously allowed Beatles Examiner to premiere the song “The Same,” which has a Wings-type sound and for a good reason. “I wrote ‘The Same’ as a tip of the hat to Paul’s Wings years. It was meant as an homage to the ‘Band On The Run’/’Junior’s Farm’ era, but I wanted the muscular ‘Back To The Egg’ sound. Steve was only too happy to play up the Wings vibe, and even used his ‘Back To The Egg’ snare drum, and some of his percussion from those days, which is pretty distinctive. Then Laurence came in and added some amazing electric guitar on his Les Paul, as well as some acoustic guitar. He is without a doubt one of the most gifted guitarists I’ve ever heard play, let alone shared a stage and recording studio with. It’s obvious to me why Paul picked these guys.
“Also, I used a 1979 Yamaha BB1200 sunburst bass identical to Paul’s and I added some Moog parts, which really rounds out the sound. I’d hoped to get Denny on the track, but it just didn’t work out in time. Regardless, it’s really just a young kid’s fantasy, from back in ’79, staring at the liner notes and imagining myself making a record like ‘Back To The Egg,’ and here I am.”
Slate and the Birds of Paradox will be performing at the Fest for Beatles Fans. “We’re kicking off the music on Saturday at 2:15, which is always a great slot for us. And as usual we have a really special set planned for the Fest.” He said last year’s show with the “Back To The Egg” suite with Laurence Juber, Steve Holley and Mark Rivera is hard to top. “But Jon Corbet will be joining us and we’ve picked some different songs to play, which people might not get to hear otherwise. And you never know who might show up to join in! But we’ll also have the album, ‘Secret Poetry,’ which isn’t out until the 22nd, for sale early for fans, and we’ll be signing and taking pictures and chatting with everybody after we’re done.”
After the Fest, Slate says he looking forward to celebrating a Bob Dylan milestone. “This spring we will be playing all over the East Coast, celebrating Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday and, of course, the release of the album,” he said. “Once the album comes out later this month we’ll be adding lots of shows to the website. And I’m already working on music for the next album, and a few special single releases beforehand!”