Mountains Of the Moon was the first solo album by myself, Paul Kappa, leader and founder member of Liverpool cult band Amazing Kappa.
Largely inspired by long time listening to Miles Davis (although you might not guess that from an essentially acoustic guitar driven record) these recordings are from the summer of 2007 and the title track, 'Mountains of The Moon' was conceived in Atlanta, Georgia, or I should say, en route to Atlanta with my head pressed against the window of a Delta Airlines flight, as I passed high over the Atlantic Ocean one fine afternoon in May, 2007, missing my wife and my (as yet) unborn boy, who we had realised later had been conceived in Egypt in March 2007, and I made reference to the one time supposed source of the Nile. Other tracks like 'Infidelity' were acoustic workings of a song from my time with Roots and Rockabilly band Cat Scratch Fever dating 1996, when I ran into some trouble with my lover, at the time... The 'Marion Square Dance' hits the Pentangle English folk button, and dates back to 1988, when I was with my first ever band 'The Cathedral' co-written with my lyricist friend Roger Jones. 'Glory Be Grace' was inspired, not as a song, but as a sound, listening to Tom Waits, playing an old, slightly off tune, creaking piano, certainly there's no Tom Waits vocal present here!
I used to listen to my Grandfather playing pianos just such as this one and I thought of him as I recorded this.
The song itself, I had come up with many years before, as music, but my experience surviving the Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield, England in 1989 really informed my lyric, sometime later.
Nobody and Nothing was a song I thought could've been rocked up like The Stones, but here became a wholly acoustic guitar track with vocal.
Feelin' free http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSAmvRK2ar0&feature=relmfu was extrapolated from sailing on the Nile in March of 2007, dancing and partying with my wife Paula and some great Egyptian friends on their Felucca, the opening riff reminiscent of an Egyptian song that I simply never got to find the name of.
The Road To Memphis is also an Egypt song, referring to the ancient Capital and site of the Pyramids, where we stood like every one else for the last four thousand years and marvelled.
The Midnight Sun was a song I had written in the mid 1990s as I passed up and down the motorway networks of the United Kingdom and Europe on a never ending tour with Cat Scratch Fever.
This is the downside of all the rock and roll fun, as you pass through the days of the week and the cycles of the seasons, always travelling home through the nights, passing into dawns...and missing something...or someone.
Afraid Of The Dark was perhaps a companion song to The Midnight Sun. My mental fragility getting the better of me.
Lullaby Of Ra is a tune I imagined for my son or daughter, as yet unknown and unborn. I thought it would be great to have a lullaby for the baby Paula was expecting, as it turned out Curtis was born and was and is a total livewire!
He doesn't care to sleep and had colic as a baby anyway, so we didn't sleep either! It's retrospectively amusing to me to hear the idyllic tune I came up with and match it to the reality...."rewrite!!".
One thing I did get right was The Most Beauty. If i could allow myself for a moment to choose a personal favourite from this record, it'd be this one. I used a Saz, a Turkish stringed instrument I had acquired along the way. I remember jamming with an old guy on an island off the Lycian Coast in Southern Turkey once on the Saz and to the best of my recollection we played tunes like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjUEtGGHoWA 'Beni Beni'.
Paula and I have travelled quite a bit and seen some beautiful, wonderful, awe inspiring sights, but Paula was always standing in the foreground of any of these experiences and, in my mind and line of sight, she always eclipsed them.
I spent the summer during the making of this album watching the Seaforth sunsets at the top of our old Victorian house, and listening over and over to 'Kind Of Blue' by Miles Davis, with a glass of red and a curiosity for what life might be like as we were ancipating parenthood.
I decided for the first time to perform, record, mix and master this whole thing myself
My dad used to say to me (and everyone else who would listen) "If you want something done, do it yourself" ...so I did.
This album is being released for download on 17th Of December 2012, the day on which my dad would've been eighty years old.
Here is a Review of The Original Release from Paul Mullen:
Paul Kappa Mountains Of The Moon, The Kappa Band, and the Liverpool Connection
I guess I'd better start by explaining who this guy is. James Brown, the late and very great Godfather of Soul, was billed as 'The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz.' If that was indeed true then it is Paul Kappa who has surely stolen the mantle. Paul, of course, is extremely modest, and would probably squirm at the suggestion that he is in any sense 'showbiz'. For that, I apologise. This guy is the salt of the earth when it comes to hard-working musicians. He is a relentless live performer nation wide, both solo and with his fantastic three piece band 'Kappa' (featuring Martin Byrne on bass, and Vinnie Smith on drums), playing a variety of venues from pubs to clubs, music halls to castles, arenas to street stages. As a band they have no fear, and shy away from no opportunity to get the gear out and pull a crowd. They have for eight years now played a weekly residency in the world famous Cavern Pub, and, being based in Liverpool, gig furiously around the former capital of culture's many venues. In short, you've got to see it to believe it.
In 1994 Paul Kappa won the Liverpool Echo Arts Award for best newcomer when he was fronting his former band Cat Scratch Fever, at a time when the band were embarking on over 1600 shows in six years - a remarkable feat by anybody's standards. He has appeared at Glastonbury, Cropreddy, as well as featuring on MTV and many other European commercial TV and radio stations. He is one of Liverpool's most recognisable faces, combining virtuoso guitar playing with a robust and limitless vocal, and, as a friend of mine once commented during one of our alcohol soaked Saturday afternoon's down in the Cavern, "electrifying showmanship." It was also during one of these hazy afternoon sessions that I managed to get my hands on a copy of Paul's recently recorded solo album, Mountains Of The Moon. Now, I know I have previously dealt with Floyd, Weller, Hendrix, OCS etc in my reviews of life changing records. To me, it makes no difference. Paul Kappa is not a globally successful, multi-millionaire rock star - as much of a shame it is to admit. However, he is one hell of a songwriter and performer, and this album had such a profound affect on me that it merits writing about every inch as much as Dark Side or Stanley Rd.
Mountains Of The Moon (released 2007) is an acoustic album, which is a great part of the appeal for me since my heart lies, if I'm totally honest, with the pure acoustic sound. Afraid Of The Dark - the album's mellow and somewhat haunting opening track - has almost middle-eastern sounds drifting through the layers, creating a really interesting and curious sound. This becomes, actually, a feature of the entire record. The Midnight Sun, which follows, is a beautiful tale of lament smothered in glorious harmonies, and interjected by a simple but killer solo. When Paul sings "I just need someone to shine," with all the delicacy and sincerity he can muster, the record seems to stand still along with time itself. Lullaby Of Ra is moody, though somewhat comforting - almost like the light creeping through the blinds on a summer's morning, whereas The Most Beauty is a broad landscape of imagery, both musical and lyrical.
The Road To Memphis is, without trying to invent a paradox, a rather fervent acoustic blues, with the riff providing the driving beat. For a minute you are actually on that road, until Paul's inventive and slightly off-centre solo throws the track into a lofty and somewhat imaginative state of disquiet. Mountains Of The Moon - the album's title track - is a masterpiece in every way. There is an anxiety running throughout; beginning "I fly far above you / Looking down on these wings," Kappa maintains a sense of turmoil through genius chord changes and a breathtaking vocal. The song is, literally and metaphorically, a celestial journey through the clouds. The Kappa Band, on their live DVD Pacifika (recorded in Birkenhead's Pacific Road Arts Centre) perform a thrilling version of this track with a horn section and organ thrown into the mix. A song to transcend any band line-up, and always captivating regardless.
The Marion Square Dance is a lively and eccentric track, and one that you could have imagined entertaining a Pagan festival during the middle ages! There are visions of camp fires and dancers in the moonlight. It has a feverish hook and clever lyrics, and sounds like nothing I've ever heard written in contemporary music before. Nobody & Nothing is a fantastic declaration of unbreakable love: "Nobody and nothing gonna stop me loving you." It echoes Led Zeppelin's acoustic works in many ways, and triumphs towards the end with some delightful, hazy vocal effects. Feelin' Free, which has become one of Kappa's most popular live anthems, is testament to Paul's great songwriting abilities. The album closes with a raw, Neil Young-esque piano vocal called Glory Be Grace, which also nods at traditional soul and gospel music. It is a rousing end to a brilliant all-round record.
I take my hat off to the man for this album, I really do. It was written, performed, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Paul himself, who plays no fewer than six different instruments including a Turkish Saz and Mandolin. If I'm honest it is almost upsetting to think that this music isn't out there taking over the world; that people in the vast reaches who unfortunately wont ever get to hear of this great talent in their lifetimes, would probably love the fruits of his creative labours. That is the music business for you, although it is also important to remember that notoriety of any sort is achievement in plenty. I'm sure I'm not the only one who parted with a fiver at the end of one of Paul's gigs and staggered home pissed as a fart, only to find out that I had an absolute gem in my pocket the next morning.
Now Kappa are a phenomenon in these parts. They always pull a crowd, and quite simply ALWAYS deliver. They are a band way ahead of their time. Their interpretations of other bands' music is always raucous and exciting, and their impossible 40 minute medleys nothing but astounding. Martin Byrne is quite honestly the best bass player around without a shadow of a doubt, and Vinnie Smith the rock that never crumbles at the rear. Paul Kappa is the showman extraordinaire, playing seemingly absurd guitar parts (sometimes with his teeth, sometimes behind his head) over the top of a purely unique vocal. I can't believe I've actually seen them hundreds of times for free. It borders on criminal. I have even been lucky enough to share a stage with these guys in recent times, supporting them in my own guise of Little Wing, which has been an honour and a privilege. They are a band that I hope will roll on forever, and continue to entertain all those who know about music's best kept secret until the dawn descends.