It was a bitterly cold Summer’s day, a few short years after the Wright Brothers had taken to the skies with their hair-brained contraption. And lo, Mr Bell’s invention burst into life with news of the outside world. For it was David Katz, a busy music contractor of the era. Sadly, his motive in contacting me implied no offer to my pecuniary advantage. Instead, he suggested that I contacted Richard Niles. “He’s a great arranger. I think you two will get on. He’s waiting for your call.” Which is how I came to visit his charmingly bijou apartment in London’s then affordable Belsize Park. There he sat, a quietly spoken American gent with an obscene beard and a goatee sense of humour. He appeared either to have dropped a value tab of acid or to have unpacked a parcel that had sent him as high as Annapurna. The explanation was the delivery of the Teac/Tascam 414, a quaint four-track recorder/mixer utilising digital audio cassette tape. Well may you smile indulgently while positioned strategically in front of your current Pro Tools mega rig, but this was a game-changing piece of kit. And thus we set to work. At which point I became aware within five minutes that this cove knew both his onions and his ostinatos.
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