Cliff Goodwin

Double Trouble
Cliff Goodwin
Cliff Goodwin: Kathy Parella.

Veteran rocker Cliff Goodwin has worked with everyone from Joe Cocker to Robert Palmer in a long, 4/4-heavy career. Now a solo artist, his latest platter, Double It Up, stays true to form with flat-out rock and roll laced with blasts of blues, soul, and funk.

VG caught up him Goodwin to talk about his guitar heroes, philosophy, and recording the new album at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios.

Stylistically, Double It Up has a bit of everything.
Yes, it goes back to my earliest inspirational roots, mostly post-British Invasion. It even touches a bit on blue-eyed soul, such as on “Too Much Ain’t Enough Love.” I think one might say it contains all the ingredients of the larger U.K. invasion, keeping in mind most of those musicians back then would have called themselves R&B groups – just think of the Who’s brand of “maximum R&B.” You’ll also hear bits of my early guitar heroes – Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton, with a smattering of Paul Kossoff and Peter Green.

You cut the album at Abbey Road. Were you in Studio 2, where the Beatles recorded?
Yes, Studio 2 – the room with the famous staircase. Of the experience, all I can say is Wow! Aside from being a Beatles shrine, it’s also the best-sounding room I have ever recorded in, and I’ve been in some amazing studios. Back in the Joe Cocker days, we cut tracks at George Martin’s Air Studios, in London, Criteria in Miami, Sunset Sound in L.A., Compass Point on Nassau, Power Station in New York City, and Ardent in Memphis.

Since it’s so world-class, was there more pressure? Did you play more spontaneously?
We pretty much recorded live. As far as pressure, our band has been playing for decades and that came in handy. To have the best “musical” conversation, one needs someone to converse within the moment, and the other musicians in turn can speak back. So, in terms of spontaneity, the value of a little pressure is immeasurable. I was also lucky in terms of the recording budget. My executive producer, Rich “Peach” Kneeland, worked it out so we could afford to work there.

Any special memories of Studio 2?
Our keyboardist, Mitch Chakour, used the Mrs. Mills piano on a few tracks; it’s famous with Beatles fans because it was used on “Lady Madonna” and other hits. It never leaves Studio 2.

Is that a Strat on “What You Did To Me Last Night”?
Nope – a Tele! I feel sometimes Strats can box you in, while Teles are more of a multifaceted weapon.

Which guitar did you use on “I Play the Blues for You,” and how did you conjure that fat overdrive?
That’s the Tele again, using a Boss Blues Driver into a Lazy J amp I found in London.

There’s cool feedback in “Double It Up,” before the slide solo. Was your amp cranked?
That’s my trusty Yamaha SG2000 going into a Blues Driver plus a Boss Super Overdrive, and yes, it was loud. My signal was going through an amp that’s saying, “Oh no, not him again!” (laughs)

What other gear can we hear on the album?
For acoustics, a Washburn with Nashville high-strung tuning, a Yamaha AES620 in open A that’s great for slide, and a Breedlove. The amps were the Lazy J combo, which is kinda like an old Bassman, a Mike Matthews Dirt Road Special with a 12″ Celestion, and a 2×10 Fender Vibrolux with Celestion. The pedals are mostly Boss – the BD-2 Blues Driver, a Super Overdrive, TR-2 Tremolo, and an RV-2 Reverb that I cut with that tight slap sound – a sound I love. The DD-2 Digital Delay was cut in conjunction with a CE-3 Chorus, which is the main guitar sound in “Too Much Ain’t Enough Love.” Last but not least is my Heil talk box. I’ve had to replace the driver many times, as I have a habit of cooking them.

You’ve spent much of your career as a sideman, and now you’re a frontman. What did Joe Cocker teach you about running a band?
Simple. If you have guys you like to play with and respect, let ’em play! Also, the most-treasured thing Joe imparted to me and the rest of the players in his band was the undeniable duty to interpret and serve the song! If I can feel I have done that, then I’ve done my job.

This article originally appeared in VG’s November 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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