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Jordan Valley Records and Steve Mannen discuss the legendary 1983 previously unreleased boogie track "Nite Time Melody" by Skytrane featuring Madeleine Davis:
Jordan Valley Records: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
Steve Mannen: No problem, it’s my pleasure.
JVR: So much great 80s Euro funk was produced in Holland such as Oattes van Schaik, Blue Feather, Sumy, Central Parque, Thunderstorm, Dedication, Steve Watson, Spence, and Skytrane just to name a few. What made the Netherlands such a hotbed of funky productions at the time?
SM: It’s the link between the Netherlands and the States. A lot of European shows that US groups did kicked off in the Netherlands. This was because the NL was more liberal. The music was more easily accepted over here then in the other European countries.
JVR: Can you describe the atmosphere in Amsterdam during this period in the early 80s? Was there a vibrant club and radio DJ scene in the city at the time?
SM: At the time Amsterdam was a bit of a starting point for a lot of music. So the club scene was very vibrant. There were a few radio shows that played soul/80’s music at the time.
JVR: Tell us about your collaboration with Udell Anderson and Madeleine Davis. How did you hook up with these funky Americans?
SM: I met Udell when he was part of Rockaway Boulevard. Dicky Lafour contacted me to coproduce some of the tracks. From there Udell and I started working together. He was my lyric writer for a long time. Madeleine was a contact from Udell. She was part of the group from Frank Farian, she did a lot of background vocals. The purpose of this track was so we could make a full album with Madeleine. Too bad it never jumped of.
JVR: Why didn’t Nite Time Melody get a proper release when it was produced in 1983? Was it supposed to come out on the Halfmoon label? What was your relationship with Halfmoon Productions?
SM: It was never approved by the A&R managers so it stayed unreleased. It was supposed to come out on the Halfmoon label but it never got to that point. I was the inhouse producer for Halfmoon Productions.
JVR: The underground funk collector community has known about this song for some time, albeit without knowing who made it. Yet it was never commercially released. How and when do you suspect the song got out?
SM: I have no idea. It could be that after Udell passed away, someone close to him passed it around out of sentiment.
JVR: How many promo cassettes were made and do you have any in your possession?
SM: Maybe 10. That was a long time ago! And no, only the reel to reel.
JVR: There is a version of the song on the internet with a few noticeable differences from the original studio version. Though it plays slow and distorted, and is poor audio quality, we can also hear some different synth elements being played. Is it possible that an alternate version was cut by Skytrane, or even someone else?
SM: Skytrane was my band. I recorded the track and mixed it myself. There is no other version of this track. I played all the instruments except for the electric bass and guitar parts. This song was made in a few hours at Fendal Sound studios and the raw mix was recorded to quarter inch reel to reel tape and 1 cassette tape. The studio reel to reel my son still has. The internet version sounds that way because it was recorded onto a dodgy tape. At least that’s what my ears tell me. A dodgy tape and misaligned tapeheads. Someone might have played the bass part over. But from what I can hear. It is a simple boosting problem (remember the hype or boost buttons on old stereo’s). You can hear what impact a poorly serviced tapedeck can have on sound.
JVR: Were there any other songs by Skytrane produced and recorded in the studio at the time that didn’t get released but you feel should have come out?
SM: Yes, a few Skytrane tracks. Wow, and also a Free Russel track. We made a lot of tracks as a band (Skytrane). So yeah.
JVR: Thanks for granting us permission to release the music and special thanks to Leroy Mannen who searched tirelessly for the original studio recording.
SM: No problem your welcome, your interest in my music is highly appreciated.