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  • Writer's pictureKristian K Lassen

Revisiting the summer of 1987

BassTalk: 18.02.2024: It's summer, it's hot and the sun is shining. It is July 1987. Every day I cycle from the outskirts of Odense to the Skibhus neighborhood where the newly established Red House Studio is located in a large red house in the area behind the Thrige Tritan factory complex. Every day I fly out of bed because we have to go to the studio and create new music. We are inspired by the things that come from especially the British pop scene in the 80s. Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and ABC among others. During the break we eat warm liver pâté (danish dish) on the recommendation of our producer Kell Dalager and it tastes good.

I remember thinking that this is the kind of job you should have. A job where you almost run to work out of sheer excitement. I was in the studio with some of my best friends. In fact it was our teenage band coming of age. Technically speaking I was still a teenager that summer and along with the excitement also came the worry of whether we could accomplish it all in the 5 days we had available in the studio. We established a record company called BCR so at the age of 19 I became a record label manager a long time before entrepreneurship became a trendy word. There was a lot of work involved in making it all happen. The tax authorities in Odense realized that we were just a bunch of kids and helped us out with all the tax technical stuff. And yes we managed to record and mix the record in 5 days. I recorded on a black Japan Fender Squier Jazz Bass which at the time was just under 1000 US dollars. I had bought mine used at half the price. The Japan Squier basses of the 1980s probably roughly correspond to today's Fender Mexico basses and had good value for money. In addition I recorded directly at the desk via a TC Chorus/Flanger pedal, yes it was in 1987. As far as I remember, Kell also used a cool old outboard tube compressor.

During the recordings, we did a large interview in the daily newspaper under the headline "Five kids how wants to make it"". Yes, we got there, even though the fame was primarily limited to Funen's capital Odense and we could hardly believe the first time we were played on local radio. Later we played live on Danish National Radio, with the popular host Lars E. Christiansen behind the microphone. The music producer was a young Mik Schack and he suggested that we play live on the radio. So there was live music throughout that broadcast with over 700,000 listeners. Every second track was played by an other band. Mik Schack was right about that the music should of course be live that summer day at the Odense..

Back to Red House Studio in Odense where Kell Dalager was a big help and co-producer in the studio. It was before the digital revolution so everything was recorded in analogue on a 24-track tape recorder. Red House also had a large analog desk where nothing was automated which meant we had to help Kell run various faders up and down when we mixed the record down to 2-inch stereo tape. When I traveled to Copenhagen later that summer with the finished 2-inch tapes I was 20 years old and Kell Dalager and Henrik Daldorhp (now manager of Sony Music Denmark), who was also a co-owner of Red House were with me on the trip to the mastering studio where the plate was mastered and cut down in a matrix. Subsequently the matrix was sent to Germany where the records were printed.

It was a long expensive and patient-demanding process which also included that our cover had to be set up on film by a graphic artist, since computers were not yet used for this kind of thing. But after a long wait the records finally arrived in Denmark. And as Ole Friis who was another co-owner of Red House put it, 1000 vinyls are really heavy. When we cycled around Odense to deliver the first box of records to venues and local radio stations we felt really proud. Fortunately we are still the best of friends and as recently as summer 2023 we played together again at the lead singer's wedding for the first time since the 1980s. We meet regularly once a year for a reunion. In some way Blue Chip still exists through our friendship . 

From time to time I find a copy of one of the old vinyls which are now a rarity from Odense's rock history. So I came across this old jewel in Odense last Sunday and there were 2 things that pleased me beyond the revisit of the summer of 1987. The record now costs more than when it came out, and this particular copy was signed by lead singer Jan Schnell. However I left the record for another collector as I already have a copy.

Photo by Jette Hagen Hansen.

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