Soda Stereo Pt II

27 Jun

Having worked with such great artists as David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger, you might ask how I compared Soda Stereo’s artistic level to theirs. Well, the answer is simple. I couldn’t compare them. Yes, artistically, musically, and mechanically Soda Stereo were awesome musicians. But there was something else. We were speaking in Spanish, communicating on a heartfelt level in our own language. A secret language, a language that did not interpret into the Anglo vernacular, and with that came a trust that only comes from speaking in your own tongue, it drove me. I immediately knew that this project would define me. The need to give back to the music business that had been so good to me, the need to work with “Rock In Spanish”, the need to find a band that could deliver on any idea that I, as a producer, would have, the need for Soda Stereo to work with a known Latin-American Rock guitarist. All of these factors lead us all to believe that we were on a mission, and that we could not afford to fail.

The rehearsals went very well. They came prepared with over 20 songs. We decided on eight of them, but agreed that as soon as we had the right arrangements, maybe we could write a few more. It’s always good to do something fresh, unexpected and spontaneous in the studio when you have a great band and they now have a clear understanding of their new sound. Why? Simply because, you can! It’s not that simple to do, when the artist is a singer and you have to put a band together for them. Soda Stereo was self-contained and they were all there, able, willing and ready.

In the summer of 1988 we met at Sorcerer sound studio In New York City to record the album. Andy Heermans, who had worked on my solo album “Dream Generator” was contracted to record and mix the sessions. We decided on this studio because we could buy it out cheaply and knew that no one would disturb our sessions. We would basically own the place for the time we were there. The sessions went well and additional musicians were brought in on Keyboards and horns as were needed. A few songs stood out above the rest. Songs like “La Cúpula”, and “En la ciudad de la furia”, they sounded like actual classics from the start, with guitars sometimes up front and then guitars wailing in the back. We were very happy and I knew that for “Argentinian Rock” these songs would forever represent greatness.  Sometimes it is not possible to be fully aware that you are creating a hit, and sometimes you are blessed to have one fall right in your lap.

While in the studio Gustavo and I traded guitar licks as he questioned me about my life and times with David Bowie, as well as how I came up with the guitar riffs in “Fame”. I would show him things and tricks that I wanted him to play in parts of the solo that he was about to record. I usually don’t like to play guitar on an album that I’ve produced because I would rather show the part to the band guitarist, to have him be able to play it “live”. But Gustavo would not have it….

”Oh yes! You are going to play on this song… are you crazy, the great Carlos Alomar is not going to play on our record? Oh no … you are going to play this solo!” proclaimed Cerrati in his broken English.  The fierce leader of this power trio had not traveled all the way to America, to not have me play on his record, this was certain. As the others chimed in their approval, I agreed to take the solo on “La Cupula”.

I entered the studio and asked them to lower the lights for added ambience. I looked through the double glass partition at the band as they leered back. Gustavo now poised at the helm, sitting in my producers seat. Zeta standing to his right, arms crossed and waiting and Charly giving me the thumbs up in recognition and smiling.  Needless to say, I nailed it in one take. Having auditioned the parts a few minutes ago for Gustavo, they were all still fresh in my head. Additionally, all the years of playing around with licks and practicing endlessly in hotel rooms, had always paid off. These random licks had finally found a home in the solo on “La Cupula”.

With hearty backslapping and accolades I finally reclaimed my “throne” from Gustavo behind the mixing board. We all continued laughing and “Woo-ing” about my performance (a usual ritual amongst musician, when a great time and a great performance is being had). But, I realized that Gustavo was right. Why should he try to sound like me, when I was already there, ready, willing and able.

There was one last song that had to be done “En el border” (On the edge). It was Zeta who first uttered the words that sent a cold chill down my spine.

“Why doesn’t Carlos lay down a RAP track on this track? Yeah, a RAP track is just what is needed, chimed in the rest”… Silence ensued, as they all turned to me…with that look in their eyes.

NO WAY!, NO F*@#$%~ WAY!, was all I could say and laughed at the thought of it!

It had been almost 8 years since Kurtis Blow recorded the track for one of the most famous RAP lyrics of our times…”The Breaks”.

I know great Rappers, and I do not consider myself to be one of them. I certainly did not want to enter the battle arena of rap to later be scrutinized by others…. especially Rappers!  But again, the boys wouldn’t hear of it. They dogged me, pestered, pleaded and insisted. I went home that night and wrote the lyrics for “On the edge”. I returned the next day and reluctantly but wholeheartedly laid down the rap on “En El Border (on the edge)”. It was great! I actually enjoy it very much. But I vowed that that would be the first and last time I ever rapped on a song…thank God, I have kept true to my word.

“DOBLE VIDA” was released in 1988 with great acclaim and reviews. The album went on to be known as the true launching of Soda Stereo and the Album that would bring them the most recognition.  I think it remains one of their greatest achievements, as well as one of mine. Over the years I would correspond with all of them individually, as I continued on in my musical odyssey. I would read reviews of their ensuing albums, of their eventual break-up and of their individual endeavors and I would rejoice in their continued success. The memory of our time together, forever giving me reason to smile.

In 2007, and after almost 20 years of having recorded “Doble Vida”, I received a surprise invitation from Soda Stereo to participate in the last show of their comeback tour at the River Plate Stadium. Well, you could have blown me over with a feather. I of course, said yes, and prepared to go to Buenos Aires to be reunited with my old friends.

End of Pt.II

2 Responses to “Soda Stereo Pt II”

  1. Sebastián December 23, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Great post . Your work was important for Soda. Greetings from Buenos Aires


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