More Joan, and vocals from Dave Derby and his pal Kendall Meade.

This is our last scheduled proper studio day. I do have an option to go into Slaughterhouse for a few hours next week, but we must get all harmony vocals done today, and all Pro Tools file management.

We resume with Joan. First up Blair’s tune, now called Oh, Genevieve. The string parts I recorded with Blair may benefit from adding real violin. Maybe, maybe not. So we try. It’s not the easiest assignment, as there is nothing keeping time during these sections so Joan has to listen and then play. It’s hit or his, but she is very professional, no diva moments. It’s done, it’s great, we move on.

Next up – guitar on That’s Alright (Dave is lobbying me to revert to this less obtuse title as he thinks it is a possible single/radio song (do we do those anymore?)). The song is missing one element to drive it along in verse 3 and the second half of verse 4. Matt and I have already spent many hours banging our heads against this. Joan picks up the guitar and the first thing she plays is perfect. It takes an hour or so to figure out exactly how it should be phrased, and where it should be placed, and a few minutes in Pro Tools assembling a comp and it’s done. Another song finished (Fred may add tambourine remotely – which reminds me – my old pal and pain in my neck for many years Dave Bates has agreed to come out of retirement and help me A&R this record. It’s a big help for Dave and I to have a 3rd opinion, and more useful, really, these days, now that he has nothing invested in the project other than good will. Anyhow, he has been very encouraging in response to the rough mixes he’s heard and his only suggestion was that we add a little percussion here and there. This was already in the plan, sort of… and Fred has agreed to record some in LA.)

Thai food for lunch and then we’re on to Joan last part, the most prominent one, I hope. I want her to sing on The Flipside, but closer to a duet harmony than a backing vocal. For the BVs Joan has been channeling Dolly and Tammy, as per my suggestions, but for this I want her to be Joan. I know this actually a tougher assignment, because it’s my song, my record, not hers. I have no need to worry. The harmony idea which she recorded yesterday is fine tuned and she sings the whole second chorus with me. It’s up there with my favourite moments making this record. It’s just beautiful. Fred may add shaker in the bridge, otherwise – another one finished.

On a sour note – my U67 is broken again. We tested it again, and indeed it is the mic, not the preamp. I’m going to leave it with Dan Dryden and have the guru chap look. It’s beginning to look like this mic won’t travel. Very annoying. On the bright side – the vocal (Oh Genevieve) recorded with the studios 67 sounds fine. But there is no 67 in Easthampton, and I have at least one vocal to record next week.

As we are finishing up with Joan Kendall Meade arrives. She is Dave’s pal and his go to background vocalist on all his projects. She and Joan used to room together so there is much hugging, etc.

K is super professional and can really sing. What’s great si that she is able to dial in the appropriate degree of airiness, or breathiness, on a song by song basis. On a few songs – Oh, Genevieve, Rhinestones – she is simply doubling me, an octave up, barely audible, but it makes my vocal more effective in delivering the melody. On others she is adding harmonies, or doubling Joan’s parts. On If I Were A Song she double M Schwaber’s idea (which she loves) and then adds a fantastic new harmony to the communal LaLaLas.

K, DD and I have a little fun on Inverse Midas Touch. I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while but have never heard it in the track. It’s a response vocal in the last verse (You’re Gal is Bad Luck!) based on My Gal is Red Hot. K is sounding a bit restrained so I go in and do my best Mick Jagger impersonating Tina Turner, and it’s not bad!! I tell K that she should sing like she hangs out with this gal. Done.

I’ve left my phone at Dan’s so I have to run and get it. I leave K and DD on Oh, Genevieve and when I come back it’s done. I wonder if it should maybe have a Je T’Aime whisper idea in the instrumental chorus. I end up doing my best Serge. It might sound a little overdone, I don’t know. It might be great.

On Westchester County Jail we go full Nashville, and it is really sounding much better, I think. K joins J harmonising on the choruses and then K and DD really build up the He Looks Like a Million Bucks response in the last verse. Producers who tried to get me to do stuff like this on older records will wonder what’s going on. What’s going is I think if you’re going to do this type of this – go all the way and apply the same commitment that you apply to the lead vocal. Then they can really work.

Finally we’re done except for Double Happiness, which I haven’t sung (or finished writing). So I go in and sing the very simple chorus part (the song title) and we have K double this and then double track that so I can be in the middle and she would be L and R. Listening back DD and I both have the same idea – it might be finished. It sounds great and has a Romany Soup repeated mantra vibe. Plus this makes sense with the Neu! inspired faux krautrock coda (I love that we’re channeling Neu! and Kristofferson on the same record). I don’t know, I’ll listen when I get home. But if it can work this way, it would be good for the record which is otherwise fairly lyrically dense.

K leaves and we’re on to file management. I could try to finish Rod The Mod and sing it, but the chances are slim, plus we must get the files ready for mixing, and we’re all pretty tired already. All edits need to be checked and all audio files need to be rendered from zero on each track. Geoff thinks this might take an hour or two, but at 9.30 he’s getting cranky and he’s nowhere near being done. His hours have indeed been longer than I had suggested. I’m feeling a little guilty about this, but we ABSOLUTELY MUST get this done tonight. I tell him he’s getting paid an extra 1/2 day and I’ll run out and bring coffee, cookies and chocolate, and we’ll go to Odeon at Midnight and get burgers. This all works, coffee is scary stuff (I have tea), and we’re done by about 11. But we need to back up the drive, as I must take the master hard drive with me. This is problematic, and it’s taking forever. G figures out that it’s the fade files which are slowing down the process, I don’t need those, apparently (I know nothing of Pro Tools). We get a cab downtown, I drop them at Odeon and take the gear to Dan’s, then walk back. Dinner at 12.30 is quite rock’n’roll. But we’re all very tired, it’s a sedate scene. Burger, one beer, one whisky and so to bed.

We’’ll have champagne when it’s mastered.

(Wrote this on the train home the next day. Back now – off to watch golf and drink beer.)