Last day of basic track recording in The Magic Shop.
Two songs remaining, we start with Song #11 – Broken Record.
Learning the arrangement of this one proves fairly simple, but still takes an hour or so, and refining the drum sound takes longer than usual. Derby calls me in to approve the sound he’s finally happy with and no wonder – he’s gone completely Mick Fleetwood on us. It sounds a lot like Over and Over from Tusk – super fat and dry.
So we play and play and record and record – it’s a tough one for me because I’m used to leading the song with my rhythm in the ensemble but here I must get in Fred’s groove which is great but not easy – I’m the only one playing notes in the double time pattern (my fake fingerpicking thing) and if I rush it the vibe is lost. Anyway we eventually get some good takes and I immediately rerecord the guitar. I decide to use the Coles ribbon mic that I used on most of my last two records as it is softer and fuzzier sounding and I think the brightness of the Neumann is making me play to tentatively. Dull reading, I’m sure, but the Coles helps and eventually I settle down into some kind of groove and it is done, but it took way longer than it should have.
To hammer this point home Mark fixes the two or three tiny errors in his take in about 2 minutes.
I then record a guide vocal and we address the intro.
The intro is in 4/4 and the song is 3/4 (or 6/8, I’m not sure). When we play it with the ensemble M and M start in 4/4 and I just join in in waltz time and they follow me. This wasn’t working for Fred, so we recorded the intro separately. We now edit the two together. We thought we had it, but listening to the rough mix, now, I’m not sure. Still, we have the right shape and think M and M can overdub to make it OK. Fingers crossed.
It’s pretty late when we start song #12 – If I Were A Song and Derby is threatening to buy bourbon…
I notice (amazingly, I hadn’t before) that my guitar part is pretty much exactly the same as Broken Record and so is the tempo… so I decide to play it faster and I figure out a sort of Space Oddity type strum which seems to work, rather like the simplified strum in Flipside did.
Derby is loving the sound of the live guitar, bass and drums so we rehearse a few times with me singing the lyric to cue the band then we record without singing. Amazingly it is done in just a few takes and when we listen back there is indeed a bottle of Basil Hayden in the control room.
I record a guide vocal and we’re finished.
Geoff makes a rough mix and starts to go through the rest of the tracks, making roughs if we didn’t already do so. Mark and I start packing the gear away. Pizza is ordered, there isn’t time to listen back and go out to dinner. My old pal Parker comes over to listen. Our pal Brian has driven Mark’s minivan down to drive is back tomorrow. The mood is festive. It seems like we’re on to something and my worry that the songs recorded early on in the session would not compare so well with the later ones (Fred’s playing seemed to get better every day) is unfounded. That’s Alright (song #1) seems to be the crowd favourite. I’m changing the title to The New Yorkers, though.
Although we have 12 tracks started we are still behind the proposed schedule and I decide that we will make these 12 tracks into an album. We will not, as planned, record small ensemble versions of the songs. We will make a proper small ensemble album based on the white label, but covering my whole career and most likely 30 songs or so… When? I don’t want to think about that yet.
Mark, Geoff and Fred go out drinking. I’m exhausted and I’ve had quite enough Basil Hayden thank you very much. I go to bed.