Uncut hears the inside story of how a genius singer-songwriter learned his craft

BERKOWITZ: On the third day of the sessions, I remember Jeff finally saying, “OK, that’s it, let’s finish them.” Which meant I would listen to them and edit them down and say, “What do you think of these?” He’d say, “Forget those, but these are good,” or, “Let’s start to focus on this.” The idea was: pour it all out, record it all, and then he’d pick a few that he liked, and he could decide what was going to be the beginnings of the march towards his album. That was the goal. So this was not meant to be a big-deal recording session. In fact, as it was supposed to be a demo, it was cut straight to 16-bit DAT. That’s it! A little too much digital reverb, perhaps, but that was the times…

ADDABBO: There was no thought of it being released, it was just a scratch tape of what went down as we heard it at the time, but it’s a pretty clean recording. All in all, at the end of the third day we had seven and a half hours of recording. About five 90-minute DATs.

TIGHE: Talking to me, Jeff didn’t put a lot of emphasis on these sessions. It was just a document of where he was at that time. He was trying to sculpt that first album in his head.

BERKOWITZ: Afterwards, things start to speed up. Now Sin-é is crowded, we think he’s going to be a star. At the end of 1993 we start Grace. When we went in to record Grace it was going to sound like these You And I sessions or his Sin-é EP, but with some background musicians. That’s all it was going to be, until his brain went into overdrive: more vocals, more guitar, more developments! The ability was always there. We heard it at the Shelter Island sessions, and we knew he would bring it all one day, but we didn’t think it would be that early. With Grace, he allowed the switch to go on.

ADDABBO: It was very frustrating over the years to have these tapes on the shelf. I’ve been very protective of them, but I’m glad they’re coming out. It’s the magic of what we do, that we can hear Jeff like he’s still here.

BERKOWITZ: This was just a pathway to the record he wanted to make, but I’m happy that people get to hear it. It shows where he’s at before he becomes more polished and gets deeper into his groove. It’s a really great and important chapter. And you know what? If we’d stayed three more days, there would have been 40 other songs! You see, Jeff was never bad. He never sucked. And he could do anything.

The January 2018 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – with Bruce Springsteen on the cover. We also celebrate the best of the last 12 months with our Ultimate Review Of 2017 – featuring the best albums, reissues, films and books of the year. Elsewhere in the issue, there are new interviews with LCD Soundsystem, Bjork, The Weather Station, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Mavis Staples and more. Our free 15 track-CD celebrates the best music from 2017.

Uncut: the past, present and future of great music.

  1. 1. Introduction
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