T-Love – Long Way Back

  • RELEASED: 2003
  • FORMAT: 2xLP / CD
  • CAT No.: ASW12818
  • DESIGN CREDITS: Openmind
  • PHOTOGRAPHY: Harriet Fuller / unknown
  • EXTRA ZEN: T-Love myspace

This has a long and protracted origin. T (Taura) came over to live in London for a couple of years around 2000 and ended up sharing the flat with Ollie Teeba from the Herbaliser after I moved out, hence my involvement (and his) in her debut album. Originally there were going to be two records: ‘Long Way Back’ and ‘Long Way Up’ and I designed logos for both of them. ‘Up’ never appeared because plans changed which was a shame because that logo worked really nicely but I was never 100% happy with the ‘Back’ version.

The record was originally slated to maybe come out on Ninja which is why T has a rogue 12″ on the label in her discography but she went with Astralwerks via Virgin in the end. No matter as I was on board and had done some roughs already using a wealth of material T had provided from old photo albums, family letters, report cards, ads and even 3D objects like tins, books and a washboard. This was every designer’s dream and she wanted a kind of photo album look to it although it was her older family who featured prominently rather than her. Lots of the photos were gorgeous faded sepia shots, some creased and decaying in books that had seen plenty of handling over the years too.

I started off by assembling a montage haphazardly across her kitchen cabinets as though they had been there for years, piling up on top of each other, vying for space. I piled up the 3D objects in with the everyday kitchen utensils too and we had a homely scene that reeked of history and references to T’s past for ‘Long Way Back’. She was going to be on the cover too but as just another photo in the collage and I photoshopped an image of her into an old photo frame, ageing it to make it blend in with all the others.

Harriet Fuller shot the kitchen montage and we set up some pictures of T where she was in silhouette against a white wall, moving on a slow shutter speed so that we got plenty of movement and grain. These were going to be used in the first version of the cover over the top of the montage but mostly didn’t get used for one reason of the other. There was a lot to cram in as T wanted her lyrics in there and all the usual production credits so it was going to be a gatefold vinyl, digitally aged to fit in with the look of her ‘Return of the B-Girl’ EP.

The album took a long time amidst re-recordings of vocals and problems with the record company and it was over a year from conception to completion, maybe more. I had plenty of other things on so it got done in fits and starts when new material came in and changed a number of times when Astralwerks said they weren’t going to go for a gatefold sleeve. I ended up putting all that info on an insert and I felt, somewhere down the line, I had lost the initial drive on the project and couldn’t see the wood for the trees. It still has some nice elements and the source material is graphic gold but I was never completely happy with it. An early mock up of the cover seems to have more life than the final thing and an unused version of the kitchen montage would have been a nicer cover in my opinion.

Postscript: seems like ‘Long Way Up’ may see the light of day now on a new label using some of my elements and many unused tracks an mixes from the original sessions.