Monday, March 31, 2008

Above You: In The Can

No, that's not to say that I'm located inside a can (or toilet), geographically/spatially situated vertically to you, dear reader. What I mean is that Black and Blue has completed the recording of the old Stickmen hit "Above You".

Billy Fischer got it in his craw to re-created the original four track recording of this song. I'll leave it to him to disclose his motivations. The original four track master has disappeared, but a couple of mix downs remain. Bill recorded one such tape to his compyoodie, and we used that as the basic track for the recording.

Guitar went down first. A couple hiccups due to the imperfect nature of the original recording, but it panned out. A breif discussion was had about ditching the original recording, and just starting from scratch. Next to go down was tambourine. One take. Booya.

Bongos came next. One take. Nice.

Bill did vocals, then me.

And I think that was it! In the absence of drums, things moved much faster. I suppose there were no real "challenge" instruments to be had on this recording. I'm not drummer, and Bass is not Bills main gig. So when we record those, there's usually some "challenges". But this was easy.

Overall, I'd say the resulting product ranks as "OK". Bill wore the "engineer" hat for this song, meaning that he has final say on all decisions regarding the song. I'm allowed to comment and sugges, but ultimately I defer to the authority of the engineer. Typically without much fanfare. I personally think that the shortcomings of the final recording are the results of the methodology. I think it was a faulty concept to build upon the decades old recording, as we inadvertantly (perhaps subconsciously) responded to the timing issues inherent in the master recording. I think we could have avoided those had we started from scratch. BUT, to Bill's credit, he had a vision of what he wanted from the song, and he stuck to it tenaciously. So from the perspect of reproducing a historical artifact, I think we accomplished that goal well. And besides, it was a bunch of fun, so who the heck am I to knock that!! :)

The sound quality is fantastic though. It wails on the original recording by leaps and bounds. I've also learned to hit the occasional note from time to time, which was something I had not quite mastered back in the day :) To be precise, I used to sing the song in a way that didn't quite resolve each line properly. I always ended on the wrong note, and in the original recording, you can hear me "fishing" for the note at the end of each line. This time around, I knew what I wanted, and hit it. Then again, perhaps this violated the Fischer-schemed ethos for this song. If so, he didn't say anything. I was singing the same melody, I was just singing it RIGHT.

I've got some pictures and video that I will post later, but that's the long and the short of it.

Oh, also of note, today was the first run of the split-studio set up. The "board operator" sat up in the office, while the "talent" was out in the garage making noise. Kinda fun. We even hooked up a microphone for the Op to speak to talent. Good stuff. There were minor technical difficulties, but overall, the operation ran very smoothly. As mentioned, sound quality was awesome.

For the next song, I THINK we're going to do Big Tin Truck. Not sure, but I'm leaning towards it. I will be producer on that one, so there will be lots of yelling and hat throwing.

No comments: