ROCK CITY – The Backstory
Following the disappointment of the first Rock City studio recordings with Chris Bell from the early 1970s at the original Ardent Recording Studio on National Street not being picked up by a record label; Thomas Dean Eubanks spent years depressed and wandering the mean back streets and alleyways of Memphis Tennessee; seemingly with no purpose in life. Eubanks had become caught up in the revolving door of being in and out of various rehabilitation centers due to his having become hooked on phonics at an early age. The addiction to phonics was exacerbated by his not being able to hold a steady job due to chronic restless leg syndrome which would cause him to break into fits of uncontrollable improvisational dancing. This would occur at inopportune and inappropriate times during the work day and would inevitably result in termination of employment.
Over a period of several years, aided by experimental treatments involving the judicious application of aroma therapy and the wearing of copper bracelets; Eubanks was able to manage his addiction to phonics and control his restless leg syndrome. As a result, he was ready to once again become a functioning member of society; although somewhat broken in spirit and ever mindful that a relapse could occur at any time. Anxious to resume his musical career, Eubanks went abroad to seek out guitarist Jeff Smith, who had for years been living a reclusive existence in a monastery in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains as an acolyte of a certain well known mystic and shaman in Nepal. These two compadres had worked together on the few Thomas Dean Eubanks solo efforts recorded for Terry Manning’s short lived Privilege Records label, which was distributed by Stax Records.
Thomas Dean Eubanks and Jeff Smith returned to Memphis and proceeded to form a songwriting partnership similar to the partnership that had previously existed between Eubanks and Chris Bell. Eubanks and Smith spent months writing the bulk of the material found on “Who Can Find The Dreamer?” in the spring and summer of 1983; recording the material in the fall of 1983 and winter of 1984 with Terry Manning at the helm as engineer at Ardent Studio.
All songs on “Who Can Find The Dreamer?” were co-written by Eubanks and Smith with Eubanks ( bass guitar and lead vocals), Smith ( guitar), and Manning (engineering, keyboards and drum programming). Eubanks and studio vocal-ace recording artist Jimi Jamison united to tackle the background vocals.
As with the original Rock City recordings, once again there was no record label interest.
Fast forward to 2003. The 1st Rock City CD is released to critical acclaim. Eubanks, who had always thought the material recorded with Smith in 1984 to be outstanding but mishandled; set in motion the arduous and expensive process of re-establishing Cognito Studio as a base of operations from which to transform the 1984 recordings from a somewhat undistinguished mess into a unique rock classic.
The true story of “The Dreamer?” can now be told to all who care to listen! These long dormant recordings; which clock in at anywhere from 6 minutes plus to over 10 minutes per song; have now been reworked in beautiful vibe drenched Memphis, Tennessee, at Ardent Recording Studio and Cognito Studio. A huge lift has been given to the material by replacing the drum machine programming with an acoustic drum kit expertly played by Joshua Dougan of Jonah 33 fame.
Select existing guitar parts were recorded again through boutique amplifiers to obtain better tone and several new guitar parts were added to the existing recording. Utilizing his powers of mysticism honed during his years in Nepal; Smith was able to channel the presence of “The Dreamer?”; whose message was captured via a telephone answering machine. The telephone answering machine is a device which to this day many in primitive societies believe has the ability to harness and capture the very essence of the human soul! The happy circumstance of obtaining this recording from the beyond accounts for the eerie, some might say, disturbing message from “The Dreamer?” found at the end of the song “Who Can Find The Dreamer?” and the raw, unadulterated version of the message found on the “Final Message.” The fact that the spirit of “The Dreamer?” took advantage of the conveniences offered to modern society by telephoning his message to Eubanks and Smith speaks volumes as to how far modern technology has gone in simplifying and improving communication from those in the spirit world to those in the corporeal world! Truly Amazing!
The sounds now found on “Who Can Find The Dreamer?” were tamed from their free range, overly processed, overly synthesized wild state by sound wrangler, independent producer and engineering exemplar Curry Weber. Curry is based out of Ardent Recording Studio in Memphis. None of this good noise would have happened without the technical wizardry of Chris Jackson, Ardent’s head technician and master of all that he surveys in the vast impenetrable jungle of recording equipment! Chris Jackson is responsible. along with the assistance of Curry Weber, for turning the current incarnation of Cognito Studio from a roomful of gear sitting on the floor into a functioning recording studio!
Finally, and of the utmost importance; the generous access to the Ardent Recording Studio facilities and personnel by Ardent Recording Studio owner John Fry cannot be over-stated. The inestimable value of John’s advice, moral support and his words of encouragement has served to sustain this project from its resumption to its happy conclusion!
The CD is titled “Who Can Find The Dreamer?” by Rock City. Rock City is the name that Chris Bell bestowed upon the first studio project recording by Chris Bell and Eubanks in the year just prior to Bell, Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel and Jody Stephens forming the legendary band Big Star.
Thomas Dean Eubanks
Drawerings by James F. Eubanks