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 Blairs tune, now called Oh, Genevieve. The string parts I recorded with Blair may benefit from adding real violin. Maybe, maybe not. So we try. Its not the easiest assignment, as there is nothing keeping time during these sections so Joan has to listen and then play. Its hit or his, but she is very professional, no diva moments. Its done, its great, we move on.
Next up – guitar on Thats 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 its 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. Its 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 hes 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 were 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 its 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. Its up there with my favourite moments making this record. Its 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. Im going to leave it with Dan Dryden and have the guru chap look. Its beginning to look like this mic wont 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 Daves 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. Whats 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 Joans parts. On If I Were A Song she double M Schwabers 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. Ive been thinking about this idea for a while but have never heard it in the track. Its a response vocal in the last verse (Youre 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 its not bad!! I tell K that she should sing like she hangs out with this gal. Done.
Ive left my phone at Dans so I have to run and get it. I leave K and DD on Oh, Genevieve and when I come back its done. I wonder if it should maybe have a Je TAime whisper idea in the instrumental chorus. I end up doing my best Serge. It might sound a little overdone, I dont 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 whats going on. Whats going is I think if youre 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 were done except for Double Happiness, which I havent 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 were channeling Neu! and Kristofferson on the same record). I dont know, Ill 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 were 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 were 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 hes getting cranky and hes nowhere near being done. His hours have indeed been longer than I had suggested. Im feeling a little guilty about this, but we ABSOLUTELY MUST get this done tonight. I tell him hes getting paid an extra 1/2 day and Ill run out and bring coffee, cookies and chocolate, and well go to Odeon at Midnight and get burgers. This all works, coffee is scary stuff (I have tea), and were 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 its taking forever. G figures out that its the fade files which are slowing down the process, I dont need those, apparently (I know nothing of Pro Tools). We get a cab downtown, I drop them at Odeon and take the gear to Dans, then walk back. Dinner at 12.30 is quite rocknroll. But were all very tired, its a sedate scene. Burger, one beer, one whisky and so to bed.
We’ll have champagne when its mastered.
(Wrote this on the train home the next day. Back now – off to watch golf and drink beer.)