Shadow Across The Moon album notes:
Special thanks to:
Producers Tony Berg and Frank Wolf, who helped us sound better, along with wringing the best possible performances out of all of us. Also, Dan Bates, Frank Sposato and Ken Jordan, engineers and co-mixers without peer.
David ‘Spiggy’ Miller, guitarist and vocalist extraordinaire who played and sang with Second Language from September 1987 through July 1988 and features on Rapture (Capture Me) and Believe (guest guitars in 1991) on this album (as well as three tracks on the upcoming Silent Crossing CD which covers the 1987-1989 era).
Richie Owens, a remarkable multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who was briefly a member of Second Language in late 1989 and appears on Until Yesterday Comes and Welcome To Paradise [version 2] (the earlier version of which appears as a bonus track on Second Language’s Silent Crossing CD/album along with the track Without A Net upon which Richie sings backing vocals).
Dan Nolton (guitar) and Freida Woody (vocals), both of whom performed live with Second Language in the late 1980s and/or early 1990s and are featured on bonus track Don’t Want To Know. Dan also plays some of the guitars on All Fall Down, Pictures In My Head and Sinking Feeling. Freida also provides the backing vocal on Not Your Own Man. Both had worked together previously in Field Day, a fine band that were contemporaries of ours as well as good friends.
Michael James, who co-produced our WrongSpeak CD and guested on guitar with the band during 1991 until we added Sam Graf (1993-1996) as a permanent member. Michael co-produced Time Has Come on this CD (a WrongSpeak outtake).
Mike Murray (guitar), Chris Fudurich (keyboards, bass, guitar, drums) and Akani Fletcher (percussion) who performed with the band for live performances during the band’s last two years.
Sam Graf and Katriina Huotari (1991-1995) both of whom played on WrongSpeak and are featured here on Time Has Come.
Sonja Brenna for her excellent mastering work.
And Mike Murray again for his wonderful artwork, assisted by Sonja.
AKAI for its unique 12-track recorder/mixer which allowed us to at least make some really good demos in the long droughts between studio recording sessions and Alesis whose ADATs served a similar function until Pro Tools revolutionized the business.
Online album notes by Jessie Jacobson
Double CDs featuring lots of bonus tracks by a virtually unknown band aren’t necessarily in demand. I know that and yet we persist by releasing forty unreleased Second Language tracks recorded between 1985 and 1994 over these two discs.
Though we had a record deal briefly and came close on so many other occasions, we had very little material released during the band’s time together from 1981-1989 and 1991-1996. A vinyl EP, Souvenirs in 1984 and a full-length CD, WrongSpeak in 1996 were our only releases during that time. Those two releases essentially bookend the band’s history. Both will be re-released, with bonus tracks, in 2021, the 40th anniversary of Second Language’s formation. In 2019, we released the CD Youth Is Not For Pleasure, recorded in 1985.
Yet much of our strongest material has remained unreleased and virtually unheard. So between this album, a further set covering 1987-1989, Silent Crossing, and Spread It All Around, begun 1995-1997 and currently being completed in 2021, we are looking to finally right that wrong.
I could say it’s for the sake of posterity or legacy and it is, of course, but I also believe the things we wrote about in the 1980s and 1990s are still as important as ever today. And I feel the music, while of its time to some extent, also holds up really well and might finally find its audience.
Shadow Across The Moon is the title we’ve chosen for the eleven song collection of Second Language tracks recorded between 1986 and 1991 found at the beginning of Disc 1. The title comes from a lyric in the song Say It, which, as with the rest of the material on this album, is released for the first time ever here, along with an early demo version of it on Disc 2. The other eight tracks on Disc 1 and the entirety of Disc 2 are, in effect, bonus tracks (for details, see below).
The release of all the Second Language recordings on various albums this past couple of years was a direct result of efforts by Brian Edmiston. In 1986, as a young man, he saw the film Welcome To 18 which featured our song Words Into Action. He then searched for other material by the band fruitlessly over the years. Brian finally tracked us down via social media in 2018 and persuaded us to release all our recordings that had never before seen the light of day.
CD 1 notes - Shadow Across The Moon (+ bonus tracks):
This eleven song album contains material produced in various studios by producers Tony Berg (seven tracks) and Frank Wolf (two tracks) and various engineers (Dan Bates, Frank Wolf, Frankie ‘Blue’ Sposato and Ken Jordan) over a five-year period covering 1986-1989 and 1991. The band had split up at the end of 1989 and did not exist throughout 1990 but began working together again in early 1991 on a solo project of mine (under the name Signal 2 Noise) that swiftly morphed into a full-blown Second Language reunion from 1992-1996.
The core members of the band throughout this period were Brian Bielski (drums), Jarrett Lesko (bass, vocals) and myself (lead vocals, guitars).
Of the eight bonus tracks on CD 1, Don’t Want To Know also comes from the Frank Wolf sessions in 1991; five are 12-track demos from the same period, while Tomorrow and the 1992 remake of Land Of The Living are tracks deriving from the same session I co-produced with Ken Jordan in 1992 (the other two tracks, Swing Time and Civilized can be found on our WrongSpeak CD).
Toni Zeto, Second Language co-lead vocalist from 1983-1987, features as a full band member on four of the songs recorded over 1986 and early 1987, after which she left the band. However, following her departure, she was kind enough to guest on backing vocals for two further tracks, Rapture (Capture Me) and Heaven’s Gate (an earlier version of which, sans Toni, appears on upcoming CD release Silent Crossing).
Jerome Faulkner, Second Language co-founder, keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist (1981-1986) appears on two tracks (Words Into Action and The Game) from 1986 recorded before his departure mid-year but finished shortly thereafter.
Finding a replacement for these two was impossible so the band went in a different direction and towards the end of 1987 added British expat David ‘Spiggy’ Miller on sterling guitar and vocals. Spiggy slotted in remarkably well with the Second Language improvisational method of songwriting. The band’s sound, of necessity, became more guitar-oriented though keyboards weren’t entirely abandoned. Sadly, studio time being hard to come by during his tenure in the band, only two tracks here feature Spiggy’s fine fretwork, Rapture (Capture Me) recorded in 1987 while he was a band member, and Believe, upon which he features as a guest in 1991 (though he's also featured on three further tracks on the upcoming Silent Crossing CD).
Richie Owens briefly joined the band towards the end of 1989 and features on two songs, Until Yesterday Comes and Welcome To Paradise. We always regretted that we weren’t able to keep going once Richie joined because his contributions, like Spiggy’s before him, helped to completely revitalize the band after another spell as a three-piece (joined for live performances by fine guest guitarists Jim Novak or Dan Nolton).
Say It and the remake of Long Goodbye (an earlier version can be found on Youth Is Not For Pleasure) highlight the three-piece version of the band in 1987. The remaining self-produced recordings of the three-piece lineup between 1987 and 1989 appear on Silent Crossing.
A few of the bonus tracks on this album include guest performances by Dan Nolton (guitar) and/or Freida Woody (vocals), both formerly of L.A.-based band Field Day, contemporaries and friends of 2L.
Katriina Huotari joined on keyboards in 1991 and features on the Frank Wolf recordings on Shadow Across The Moon (as well as all of WrongSpeak) as here on Time Has Come, an outtake from WrongSpeak – the first time the band boasted a full-time keyboardist since 1986. In the interim, Jarrett, Brian and I had shared keyboard duties on Second Language recordings along with Tony Berg on a few of the tracks he produced.
CD 2 notes - Bonus Tracks & Demos (1985-1987, 1991, 1994, 1999):
The second CD of this collection includes virtually all the 4-track and 8-track demos Second Language recorded between 1985 and 1987. It features the 1984-1986 five-piece lineup of Toni Zeto, Jerome Faulkner, Jarrett Lesko, Brian Bielski and myself while the demos of Say It and State Of Mind feature the four-piece lineup once Jerome left.
Additionally, we've included an unreleased studio recording from the WrongSpeak sessions, Time Has Come, which was left off the original release owing to time considerations (CDs could only fit 74 minutes back then). Time Has Come is a separate song but some of its lyrics come from 1981 2L song Under The Flame (a remarkable four versions of which were recorded by the band between 1981 and 1986 – one of which features on Souvenirs [Revisited] and a third elsewhere on this album). The personnel on this track is the 1993-1995 lineup of the band: myself, Jarrett and Brian, along with guitarist Sam Graf, and keyboardist Katriina Huotari.
Also included is the rough mix of my 1991 solo 12-track demo of Not Your Own Man which features Freida Woody on backing vocal. Freida had performed live with the band for a few gigs in early 1991.
Listen was constructed in 1999 as a love letter to Second Language following the band's breakup, made up of outtakes from band studio and live improvisations and outtakes combined with samples of all sorts including vocals and lyrics from Toni's solo cassette recording of her song One Of Them.
Tracks 1-9 and 20 exist only as demos.
Tracks 13-18 were eventually re-recorded in the studio by the band; the studio versions can be found on this and other 2L CDs.
This demo of Say It has a different, earlier lyric (by Toni Zeto and me) than the final studio version on CD 1 (for which I wrote new lyrics on the spot in the studio following some cajoling by producer Tony Berg).
The demo version of Land Of The Living features an introduction/bridge addition by Jerome Faulkner that was later omitted on the studio versions.
The Call was the only 2L song to come out of the brief month-long period in late 1983 during which Scott Bledsoe played bass with the band (though he wasn’t involved in the composing or recording of the song).
The basic structure for Out Of The Spotlight came from a series of improvisations in late 1983 featuring then-drummer Rick Winward on bass along with Jerome Faulkner and myself, to which I later added lyrics and a melody. This was during the late 1983/early 1984 period when Deon Vozov was our guest bassist/keyboardist prior to Jarrett joining in February 1984 and Brian a month later.
The Fire sadly never made it into a recording studio but the bridge of the song was later added to the WrongSpeak version of Swing Time (the original version of which, sans bridge, is on Silent Crossing).
Under The Flame is the fourth of five recorded demo versions of this 1981 song co-written by Jessie Jacobson and original 2L bassist Chris Hutchinson. The third version is a bonus track on Souvenirs (Revisited), while the two earliest versions will soon be available as free downloads on the Second Language website.
ALBUM NOTES by other Second Language members:
“The two things I enjoy most playing with Second Language is the camaraderie we experience in putting our music together. It’s rare to find bands where members actually like one another for as long as we’ve been associated.
The other is the creative process in putting this music together. I used to say I enjoyed the rehearsals more than our gigs because that was where all the seeds to these songs began. Improvising is the secret sauce!
Then we would develop and polish the tunes through the recording process. There is nothing like those magic sessions when great ideas are flowing and everyone is aware of it.”
Jarrett Lesko (Bass, Guitar, Slide Guitar, Keyboard, Percussion • 1984-1999 + 2014-today)
“One of the greatest moments in my life, is moving to LA in 1984 and immediately joining Second Language, an up and coming band based there. To this day, I could not have been more fortunate. The camaraderie, and great fortune to find exquisitely talented bandmates, “the gold mine under my feet,” just amazes me. The rehearsals were my favorite times spent with the band, for the creativity just oozed from our souls. I’m a lucky man, and my passion is beating the drums!”
Brian Bielski (Drums, Percussion, Keyboards • 1984-1999 + 2014-today)
“I loved performing! I found great inspiration having the opportunity to use my entire being to express by singing, dance movement, percussion and watching the band come so colorfully alive in the spotlights. Visiting with our friends and fans sharing our hearts and souls was such a joy. Playing the historic Hollywood Palace and the other huge venues that supported seas of people instilled some wonderful and bizarre memories.
Creating in the studio was a metaphysical experience for me. One where I could hear and feel my spirit without the verbal thought process.
I treasure these life long friends that helped to make all this possible and how music took us to England, Scotland and Paris. As well as all the great people we met along the way. My LA family. ♥
These tonal rhythmic recipes paint both landscapes and portraits of our lives as well as the improvisations that reflect time, feeling, and our connection to each other.”
Toni Zeto (Vocals, Percussion, Keyboards • 1983-1987 + 1991)
“Second Language (or Deuxieme Langue, as they are far better known in Paris) are one of the best musical collaborative experiences I have had in my notable harmonic journeys. We found each other through the good old LA Recycler paper. Possibly they were broadcasting a search for an upper-class English twit with a Strat or I was listing a requirement for an up-and-coming band who would be sufficiently dazzled by my middle-class Limey accent and charms to overlook my dubious technical chops and instead focus on my sense of rhythm, funny noises, color commentary, love of improv and desire to scream into my guitar with the distortion and delay cranked to 11.
I was invited in for a mutual audition and laid down some guitar on a track called “Birds Interaction”, or something like that. I just heard it again after all these years and it sounds really good, bringing out guitar playing from me that I had trouble recognizing, as it sounded like me and yet different. The fact that what they were doing was sufficiently inspirational as to change and uplift me in such a way obviously played a big part in my wanting to join in the game - and so it came to pass.
The fun, puns, badinage and tongue-twisting word play was right up my street and thus a bonus attraction. The approach of improvising around ideas, listening back to those sessions and pulling out and polishing the diamonds was and is a great idea and I took it on and ran with it from that point on as a way to manifest those musical vibes out there waiting to come on through. A lot of wonderful songs came on through as will be heard in these compilations and I’ve been having a great time digging through them, during my tenure, and before and after too.”
David ‘Spiggy’ Miller (Guitar, Vocals, Percussion • 1987-1988+1991)
“I first heard Second Language upstairs at Madame Wong's West in the mid-1980s by accident. Because my band Waves Of Grain was a regular weekend headliner (our fanbase had the dubious distinction of knowing how to keep the bar busy), I had a standing free pass to enter the club and check out the scene. I was mesmerized by the presence of guitarist/vocalist Jessie Jacobson’s flowing red curls and androgynous leggings and tunic steeze. Singer Toni Zeto was equally compelling, a vortex of Bohemian artistry made manifest. Drummer Brian Bielski had a homemade contraption that appeared to be the lovechild of a vibraphone and a kalimba – it was Steam Punk before Steam Punk was a thing. What blew my mind, however, was the music: it was tribal and catchy, with a subtle tip of the hat to both Peter Gabriel and The Beatles.
A few years later I was reminiscing about that show with a mutual friend of Jessie. He suggested I contact Jessie. Jessie and I shared an industrial strength affinity for the Beatles, so we became fast friends and jammed together, eventually setting up camp with Second Language at Radio Tokyo Studios in Venice. We improvised and developed songs with Brian on drums, Jarrett Lesko on bass and Katriina Houtari on keyboards. Jessie was great at documenting everything so that no good riff would ever vanish into the ether before getting a shot at being developed into a bona fide song. We as a band were encouraged to explore uncharted musical territory, knowing that nobody would get fired for hitting a clam (wrong note.) The more risky the improv, the better!
Later my role switched to producing and mixing with Jessie, mostly in the basement studio of Jessie’s West L.A. townhouse. JJ and I learned the console and ADATs inside out, and came up with some terrific results as we recorded the WrongSpeak album (released on CD in 1996).
Everything is connected. It's plausible that the early Madame Wong's ‘accident’ triggered the events that led to my lifetime being filled with great music and a worthy sense of purpose. A quarter century after my time with the band, I still have fond memories of the music and lots of love for Jessie, Brian and Jarrett. I have gratitude. Namaste.”
Michael James (Guitar 1991 • Producer 1994-1995)
“Playing with Second Language was one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I have ever had. The jams that opened each rehearsal, the exciting gigs that included Spice and the China Club and recording with extraordinarily talented people. I will always be grateful!”
Dan Nolton (Guitar, Vocals, Percussion 1989+1991)