The Windmills of Your Mind.com
Life is a Dream (2003) compilation
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Sleeve Notes: by Noel Harrison
“Well. I never…” my grandmother used to say when she was astonished by something.
That was my reaction when Bill Inglot told me that Rhino hand-made was planning to put out a compilation of my ‘60s recordings for Reprise, some of which I never expected to hear again.
The titles on this CD take me back to what was an extraordinary period of my life; 1966-1969 the birth of the counterculture, when the youth of the West were filled with Idealism, and psychedelics.
I’d been a guitar picker and singer since 1949, when I was 15. (I’m quite old now — almost 70. What a Kick!)
When I Was 20, I started playing professionally, around the tables in a Greek restaurant in London, for meals and tips.
I graduated to cabaret and private parties. Princess Margaret came to one of them, with her entourage of Lords, Ladies, and gentlemen.
The flustered MC introduced me as Rex Harrison (my illustrious and brilliant father). I came on onstage and said. “It’s only me,” Well, it was and it still is.
I made a living playing in bars and nightclubs all over Europe at the beginning of the 60s.
It was fun, but l didn’t really feel like I was getting anywhere, and considered going into the restaurant business.
I’d played in New York (at the Blue Angel, opening for Shelley Berman, the comedian and satirist), and decided to give American showbiz one more try before quitting.
For one reason or another - mainly thanks to my managers Bob Chartoff and lrwin Winkler, who went on to produce the Rocky films among many, other distinguished achievements - I hit it of with the press and public, and before I knew it I had a record on the charts (A Young Girl which unfortunately is not on this CD —wrong record company) and was starring in an NBC -TV series with Stefanie Powers, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
The TV series, plus my top 40 record, landed me a contract with Reprise, and the tracks on here are some of the results.
There are several different producers involved, and many wonderful musicians from the L.A. music scene of the period, Jimmy Bowen was my first overseer at Reprise. He had started out as a rockabilly bass player, a contemporary of Elvis. In the 80s he became the number one producer in Nashville, that town in Tennessee where the waiters and waitresses all carry demos in their aprons.
Also involved in this collection were Peter Pilafian, producer of the Stone Ponies, Lind Ronstadt’s first group; John Phillips of the Mammas and the Pappas and David Platz of Essex music in Britain.
And there were arrangers galore: among them Michael LeGrand, who did the unique “Windmills of Your Mind”, my pal Don Peake, one time guitarist for Ray Charles and The Everly Brothers; Don Randi, Jimmy “guitar” Smith. who wrote the title song. ‘Life is a Dream, the late Luis Enrique who wrote “Blue Island” with Oscar Brown jr, and taught me the Brazilian groove - “American music is one, two, three, four, Brazillian music is one for you, one for me, one for you, one for me…
So, let’s to the songs themselves, each one having its own little history.
Other than “Windmills Of Your Mind”, which was assigned to me by the director of the original Thomas Crown Affair, Norman Jewison, I chose them all myself because I liked the poetry.
The accompaniment is a little dense at times. The large recording budgets allowed me to be like a kid in, a toy shop as far as musicians were concerned: “I want one of those and one of those and ten of those and six of these ..! And a brass band!’