On the Live 2 Album Set

This album has been a labor of love and a bold attempt at the impossible.  It has been years in the making. It attempts not only to showcase a 30+ year musical collaboration within a two album set, but to capture, on record, the feeling of being present for, and being part of, a Common Cup concert.

The material on this album has been selected from an extensive archive of The Common Cup Company’s live performances. 

This archive spans 20 years and several recording mediums of differing audio quality, from “board mixes” on stereo cassette tapes to direct to hard drive multi-track recordings, as well as some esoteric and obscure formats along the way.  Complete recordings of a 1993 tour were found in the archives, which had been encoded via a primitive Sony 14 bit digital format (which pre-dated DAT tapes) and recorded the audio on the video channel of a Betacam deck.  After a long hunt we managed to locate one of these rare Sony digital encoders, allowing us to listen again to these long lost recordings.  To our surprise, these tapes not only survived intact, but sounded fantastic, capturing the spirit of The Common Cup’s original lineup perfectly.

As the songs and spoken introduction, have been selected from many concerts, in many different locations, recorded on different equipment, across many years, there are noticeable sonic differences in the sources material.  While every effort was made during the mastering of this record to minimize these differences, some limitations of the source material remain apparent.  This is unavoidable when compiling a retrospective capturing a career of a group which has written, and performed together as long as The Common Cup Company.  We don’t feel this prevents us from hearing the magic in these performances, and we hope you feel the same.

In addition to the changes in recording technology and audio quality, and perhaps more immediately apparent, is the musical development in the material, and The Common Cup Company itself.

The group’s original lineup of Gord Light, Ian Macdonald, Jim Uhrich, and Bob Wallace, was an acoustic folk based sound, augmented by Jim Uhrich’s love of electronic midi-sampled keyboards. With the additions of Scott McDonald (Drums) and Richard Betts (Bass) in 1998 The Cup’s sound grew in depth and complexity.

Following Jim Uhrich’s death in 2009, Lloyd MacLean brought his talents & new energy to the group. And so the Common Cup’s sound changed again – not only through Lloyd’s playing style, but also due to his preference for traditional acoustic pianos, and his love of accordions.

The songs, and the voices themselves also highlight the passing of years. This is evident in the themes & perspectives shared in the group’s later material, some of which is shared for the first time with the release of this collection. 

River Runs Deep, Please Help Me Remember Your Name, Ragged Patches (Vol 1)  Dust & Ashes, Earth Beneath Your Feet (Vol 2)

If you’ve been lucky enough to experience a Common Cup Concert, you know already that hearing the story behind these songs is something very special.

In this context….the songs are really only half the story.  And the feeling of being at a CCC concert?  Well…  that’s another story altogether.

But perhaps…  just perhaps…  with this collection, we’ve managed to capture some of this feeling, in a way that those who were not present at these concerts, or those who’ve never seen The Common Cup Company live, can share in these moments.

Rory Macdonald

Producer