In deciding to pay tribute to the 25th anniversary release of her highly successful `Racine’ album, Sass Jordan faced the task of how best to go about re-issuing the record. She could just polish up the original tapes and re-release it as is, or go the route of many re-releases by adding additional material, b-sides and live recordings, (Def Leppard’s repackaged `Hysteria’ 30-year anniversary album is contained on seven discs!)
Instead, Jordan gathered up a group of musicians, set up shop at Calgary’s OCL Studios and re-recorded the entire record track by track. “I wanted to re-record that album exactly how it was originally recorded back in 1992,” explained the former Birmingham England native. “I always imagined how my favourite albums like The Allman Brothers’ `Eat A Peach’ release was recorded and I wanted to replicate that sound. I know that The Band’s `Live From The Big Pink’ was recorded with all the instruments and gear all loaded into one room and that’s how we chose to re-record `Racine’.
Re-titled `Racine Revisited’, Jordan and band mates Chris Caddell (guitar), Rudy Sarzo (bass), Brent Fitz (drums) and husband Derek Sharp (guitar/keyboards) set about tackling the album’s eleven tracks. “There were two or three tracks that we had developed the arrangements by playing them live over a period of time but for the most part we tried to stay faithful to the original arrangements. The trick is that the re-recording doesn’t stray too much from the integrity of the first version. I wanted to record it close enough to the original that I am not saying to myself, “what the fuck is that?”
By electing to re-record `Racine’, Jordan believes she kills two birds with one stone. “We are making something old new again while re-igniting an old memory for those who remember the original record,” she explained.
Considering that the original release came at a time when the Montreal resident had just established herself as one of rock music’s hottest new talents, Jordan is candid when she says the whole signing with MCA Records in the States and her re-locating to Los Angeles in January 1990, in retrospect was a major mistake.
Fuelled by a hit single; “Tell Somebody” off her self-titled debut, released in early 1989, Jordan found herself on tour with Richard Marx, winning a Juno Award as Most Promising Female Artist and being courted by Kiss bassist Gene Simmons who wanted to manage her. “That didn’t feel right but on my trips back and forth to Los Angeles I met Liz Janzen and Bruce Bird who did decide to manager me.”
You would think securing major U.S management and being signed by MCA Records would be the ultimate dream but from the get-go Jordan had deep reservations about the move. “All I could think about was that this was a mistake, it was too much too soon. There I was in Montreal, dreaming of being a rock star and now I fucking was one – but it didn’t feel right!”
In recording “Racine”, Jordan could not have asked for a better support cast. Recorded at Cherokee and NRG Studios in Los Angeles under the direction of top producer Rick Neigher and ace session players like guitarist Steve Salas, keyboardist Kevin Savigar, bassist Greg Sutton and drummer David Brown, Jordan co-wrote most of the album’s 11 tracks with Neigher and Salas.
Released originally in March 192, ‘Racine’ was well received, charting No 2 on the Billboard Album charts, receiving strong airplay on tracks like “You Don’t Have To Remind Me”, “Make You A Believer” and “I Want To Believe” and touring constantly with Arc Angels receiving favourable comparisons to The Black Crowes who complained she was stealing their image!
“If this was happening today, I could handle the pressure but back then I couldn’t say no,” said Jordan of her U.S touring experience. “All the shows, the travelling and the media exposure and all the emotional things I was going through. And I didn’t handle things very well. After awhile it all just got to me.”
Scoring a single (“Trust In Me”) duet with Joe Cocker on the multi-platinum Bodyguard soundtrack should have cemented her reputation but Jordan didn’t get to record that next album for MCA as she was unceremoniously dropped by the label. “The whole grunge thing was going on and MCA cleared out their roster, I guess artists like me were not in vogue anymore. I felt like I had been chewed up then spat out”.
Retreating back to Canada, Jordan recorded one reasonably successful album `Rats’ (in 1994) but by her own admission, two totally unfocused albums on Aquarius (“Present” in 1997 ) and ‘Hot Gossip’ in 2000).
“I had gotten married (to current Guess Who lead vocalist Derek Sharp), had gotten pregnant and released two albums which were recorded to position me back on the pop charts but that wasn’t me.”
Next came a six-year spell (2003-2008) serving as one of four judges on Canadian Idol with Jordan enjoying an incredible concert spot on the 2004 Sar Stock Festival at Toronto’s Downsview Park on a bill with The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Rush, The Guess Who and Justin Timberlake. ‘I can’t remember much about that day, it was all a blur,” quips Jordan of her performance before some 450,000 fans. “All I remember is looking at the video clips of my performance and thinking I looked like a fat buffalo,” she laughed.
With family obligations and no real desire to tour extensively, Jordan has recorded two more albums, the last `From Dusk To Dawn” in 2009, but now with the scheduled re-release of `Racine Revisited’ on Sept.15th, Jordan has spent the summer touring in support of the release including future dates in Germany and Holland Sept. 9th to 29th.
“God knows why I’m still popular over there but I guess I am,” Jordan laughed. “Fans on social media have responded well to the re-release but they are also asking when I’m going to release new music, go figure!”