MICK UNDERWOOD - Page, Plant, Jones... Underwood? Page 3
by Martin Popoff
From your insider's point of view, what are the classics of the catalogue?
"There are two that are my particular favourites," ponders Mick. "I actually very much like Future Shock. It's quite a raw album. The band was... well, as you know, after that album, we lost Bernie. I just thought that was a great album. And I also like Double Trouble which was with Janick (Gers, previous to Gillan, White Spirit and now Iron Maiden). I'm talking about the studio album, not necessarily the live album. But the studio album, I really did like, because that was a slight change again. We had an American producer, Steve Smith for that album, and on a personal level, he just got me a great drum sound. He said, 'Right, let's get this drummer happy and everything else will fit into place,' and that's exactly what we did. He set me up with a great sound - that's the thing I quite like."
No question, Mick's manic style, with a lot of snare-centered fills and a curiously wet, echoey sound, was a big boon for this white-knuckle band of eccentric metal mavens. But man, production period was a strange, distinguishing dimension or facet to the band's fraught six records.
"I don't know," laughs Mick, perhaps slightly surprised at hearing those records called mid-rangey, trashy and perfectly so. "Eventually, the last album, Magic, was much more glossy, don't you think? And that was for a reason. The original albums... it's because the band was a bit like that, I suppose. It was pretty hard-hitting. I don't think sort of huge production techniques were used, certainly, with the early albums. I know they weren't."
Also hugely important was the thundering Lemmy-tilted bass work of John McCoy, who looked like a cross between a mercenary and a wrestler. And then (excepting, of course, a certain singer and his words of weirdness called Ian Gillan) there was the demented carnival sounds emanating from keyboardist Colin Towns.
"He's a superb keyboard player," says Mick, asked for a profile of the band's secret weapon. "Absolutely phenomenal. Absolutely brilliant. I can't give him enough accolades. Absolutely stupendously good (laughs).
His sound was a vital part of it. I think if you would've taken Colin out and put somebody else in, no matter who it might have been, the chemistry would not have been there. He was a wonderful player, very diverse, change moods at the drop of a hat, fabulous writer, I can't say enough about Colin."
MICK UNDERWOOD - Page, Plant, Jones... Underwood? Page 4