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"tributo a
Dan Hartman" (1950-1994)
fu produttore di Paul King per l'album "joy".
L'intervista risale ad ottobre 2002

paul king joy recordin
Dan Hartman with Mavis Staples and Paul King at
Multilevel during the making of Paul's Joy album (photo

When did you first meet Dan Hartman and how did your collaboration on your album 'Joy' come about?
I first met Dan in the late spring of 1986. At the time the band King, a British rock pop group, were looking to beef up our recorded sound. Having toured the USA we felt that American recordings no matter what style of live performing musician just sounded more raw and punchier than anything coming out of the UK at the time.

So we began a search for a stateside producer who understood both rock and dance music and that eventually led to my meeting with Dan at his hotel near Swiss Cottage.

What were your impressions of Dan when you met him?
Confident, charming, witty and very knowledgeable on the current UK pop scene, which surprised me a little. My interest in Dan as a producer was mainly based around his then recent work on the James Brown ‘Gravity’ Album. The band was not James’s group but players that Dan had put together and recorded. It had all the right funk power andrhythmic ingredients that we were seeking but I wanted to see if Dan shared my vision of taking that sound and throwing lots of noisy guitar over the top. Also to be honest I was checking to see if we could get some of those players from Gravity onto our album. We discussed his Edgar Winter years, the disco hits and his song writing credentials. I remember walking away from the evening very impressed.

'Joy' was recorded at Multilevel - can you tell us how long it took to do the recording and what was it like working with Dan in the studio?
Later that summer, following a Japanese tour with King I flew to Dan’s home to meet up with Charlie Midnight with the aim of collaborating on new material. The intention was that any songs created would be for Kings next album but apart from the dates in Japan by this time the band had pretty much fallen apart.

In truth this situation suited Dan better as now he was free to pull together the kind of players he felt more confident recording with. We taped 85% of what was to become the ‘Joy’ album at Multi level during late fall and winter of 1986-87. As well as being a talented musician, composer and producer, Dan was also an excellent recording engineer. He was responsible for all areas involved in running the sessions be that controlling the desk to microphone placements on drums and instruments. I remember when we had finished the sessions sitting in the control room in Multilevel with a friend who was a sound engineer listening back to the master tapes. As we sat raising the faders it was an incredible realisation that the tracks sounded as if they were already finished. Dan had recorded the songs so perfectly that very little fixing was required to create the impression of what was the final record.

Did you meet any other artists whilst at Multilevel?
Not so much at Multilevel. As I said the majority of the tracks were taped in Westport but this mainly involved the rhythm and percussion parts along with bass, guitars and keyboards. Other artists such as Nona Hendrix who was a good friend of Dan’s, Carlos Alomar the guitarist and the Uptown Horns whom Dan had used on the Gravity sessions with James Brown, we recorded in New York at Green Street Studios.

The one exception was the backing vocals session for the album at Multilevel with Aretha Franklin’s backing singers. I remember this as a wonderful day. Caroline Franklin, Aretha’s sister and composer of some Aretha’s best songs, was part of the group and it was a genuine ‘joy’ listening to them offer so much soul and beauty to the tracks we were creating.

How did you collaborate with Dan and Charlie Midnight when writing the songs for the album? How did the songs evolve?
I remember it all being very comfortable, relaxed and quick. Dan and Charlie had put some homework into myself as singer and performer. They’d listened to King material watched the concert footage and videos as well as reading some press interviews. They had a vision of what material they could bring to the table to develop the groups sound and direction. We had two days of writing, Charlie had some lyrical themes we agreed to work with, Dan had some tunes up his sleeve and so did I so it felt like a very easy creative atmosphere. In those two days we sketched out around 6 songs, in fact it was such a positive session and experience it became the deciding factor in my leaving the band.

Did you do any other work with Dan?
Yes we did. This would have been the late summer of 1987 after the album was released; Dan came to London and suggested we get together to work on some more tunes. We spent a couple of days writing in a Soho studio and recorded four songs.

What is your favourite Dan Hartman song and why?
I can dream about you’ I’ve always been a sucker for blue-eyed soul when it’s done well. It’s a beautifully crafted tune with a great vocal performance.

Can you tell us when you last saw Dan- how he was doing at the time-and any projects he was planning on working on in the future?
The last time I saw him was in a restaurant in Chelsea where he and a number of other writer producers were having dinner with Tina Turners manager pitching material for her next album. That must have been around 1988.

The last time I spoke to him would have been 1993; I was producing at VH1 and MTV had asked me for some ideas on names and contacts to approach for a special on Disco they were creating. I called Dan to see if he would be interested in being a contributor.

He wasn’t too well at that time but pleased to hear from me. I guessed because of his illness he didn’t want to be involved in the Disco show.

Can you share a few personal memories of Dan?
Lots really. Plenty of pasta cooking, Dan had found a company in Arizona who supplied different sorts of fresh pasta which was the mainstay of our diet during sessions at Westport. He liked sitting and talking in the evenings with a nice wine and good music. We played a lot of records in the evenings I recall him playing me Tom Robinson’s record that he really loved. Also I remember Dan taking me to Paradise Garage in New York a nightclub that has since taken on legendry status for the dance and house music fraternity. I thought the whole thing was amazing, the club, the people and the music; Dan was less impressed; he thought it was merely a poor versions of disco. We went a number of times as Dan knew most the DJ’s and we seriously discussed changing the whole approach on my album into the Paradise sound or what were calling a dance record but has since come to be known as house music.

What do you miss most about Dan?
He was a huge talent and fun person. We only worked with each other for about a year and although I would not describe us as great friends I do think on Dan with fondness and affection. I learnt from him during what was a growing period in my career and life. I miss the fact that we no longer have the opportunities to hear music from a man who so obviously loved the thing that he did and did so well.


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