Session File: Recording Lou Reed's 'Berlin', Part 2

I walked into London’s Morgan Studio in 1973, feeling the occasional pang of anticipation, because I would be playing with Aynsley Dunbar and the great Jack Bruce.
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I walked into London’s Morgan Studio in 1973, feeling the occasional pang of anticipation, because I would be playing with Aynsley Dunbar and the great Jack Bruce. Being such a huge fan of Cream, Jack was one of my heroes, and, today, this country boy from Decatur, Illinois was going to make music with him. I should have felt intimidated, but, strangely, I didn’t. My youthful ignorance and naiveté probably kept me from turning into a pile of rubble.

Aynsley and I stayed at the same hotel, so we traveled to the studio together in a late ’50s Rolls Royce with a fine Scotsman as a driver. I loved that car, and the driver was a character straight out of Dickens. Thus began my longtime love affair with England. Not long after Aynsley and I arrived, Jack drove up in a British racing green Ferrari. It certainly sounded like it meant business.

We had our little cordial niceties, and then it was time to get down to business. I believe the first song we did was “Men of Good Fortune.” I don’t remember what amp I used, but I do remember I had the Univibe I borrowed from Steve Howe. I wrote out a quick chord chart, and when we ran the tune down for the first time, it hit me—“My God! I’m playing with Jack Bruce!” When I heard Jack’s bass through my headphones, it reminded me of all the times I had listened to Cream through headphones, and the most wonderful thing happened—instead of feeling intimidated, I felt inspired. I wanted to play all night. Remember, this was my second album project ever, and it was utter bliss.

I loved the way we listened to each other and played off each other. As Joe Walsh puts it—that’s when the mojo happens. And it certainly did with those guys. We also did a song called “Caroline Says II,” in which the three of us tear off in wild abandon at the end. I could have done that forever. Jack and I got on very well, and he later asked me to play on his solo record, Out of the Storm.

I learned volumes playing with Jack and Aynsley, and I used those lessons throughout my career. I have seen many changes in the recording business—some good, some bad—but, to this day, when you put players in a room together, there is no mistaking when the mojo happens.

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