Category Archives for "Video"

Glyn Johns On Recording Who’s Next

Glyn Johns InterviewI’ve always been a huge Who fan and just as big a fan of producer Glyn Johns work. This video is from an interview at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, November 19, 2012, and focuses on the recording of the seminal Who’s Next.

What’s especially interesting is how many of the main parts in several songs were actually lifted from Pete Townshend’s demos, and the band played to the parts when tracking. Also, some interesting tidbits about Keith Moon’s drum tuning.

The Who “Baba O’Riley” Isolated Track

The Who Baba O'Riley isolated trackThe Who’s “Baba O’Riley” is one of the most played tracks in the entire band’s catalog, to the point were just about every fan (and non-fan’s alike) know each note and part by heart. That’s why today’s isolated track is so cool. It strips away the arpeggiated synthesizer and, in some parts, the piano, to give you a clear listen as to what’s going on deep inside the mix. Here are some things to listen for:

1. The reverb on the vocal is pretty short, unlike many Who mixes. It’s also delayed so the vocal stands out a bit more.

2. The drums are in stereo, but have an unusual balance, with the snare and most of the kit leaning right and the ride and a crash leaning left. On the tom fill at 1:33 you can hear the rack tom on the left as well. Keith Moon also rarely plays the hat during the song, instead bashing the cymbals throughout, something that a producer would no doubt change today.

3. The big guitar power chords in the verse (0:51) are doubled and maybe even tripled, which you don’t notice in the full mix.

4. The outro starting at 3:11 sounds much different without the violin.  You definitely get to appreciate Moon’s prowess with his dynamics and machine gun snare roll.

As always, there’s always a lot of cool production techniques to be learned from an isolated track, and this one is no exception.

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Toto “Rosanna” Isolated Drums, Keys And Horns

Toto_-_RosannaToto_-_RosannaThe band Toto has some of the most acclaimed studio musicians as members, which is why it’s always a pleasure to listen inside one of their songs. Today we’ll take a listen to the isolated drums, keyboards and horns from the Grammy-winning song “Rosanna.” This one’s a real treat! Here’s what to listen for:

1. The late great Jeff Porcaro is on drums playing a version of the half-time “Purdie shuffle” feel. The isolated drums lets you hear why he was one of the most in-demand session drummers ever, with rock solid time and a feel that pushes the track along perfectly. His drums sound great, with just a touch of reverb for ambience.

2. The arrangement is based around David Paich’s (another great session player) piano, which starts in a middle register and moves up an octave for the B section of the song, then back down for the C section and chorus. It also has a nice stereo spread with the left hand panned to about 9 o’clock and the right at around 1:30.

3. Listen to the way Steve Porcaro’s synthesizer strategically weaves in and out of the song. It’s mostly on an organ patch, but you can hear the patch morph into a string patch at the end of the chorus.

4. In the solo section around 3:20, percussion is added that gives that section some movement.

5. Check out the horn section on the turnaround to each chorus and playing a fill line in the chorus. It’s a section of 2 saxes, 2 trumpets and a trombone that are doubled and panned in stereo.

6. The outro jam is a real treat.

If ever there was a track that let you hear why the guys in Toto were all first call session players, this is it.

Toto_-_Rosanna

April 14, 2016

Was “Stairway To Heaven” Ripped Off?

Was Stairway To Heaven Ripped Off?In what could become one of the more entertaining court battles in music history, Led Zeppelin is being sued for stealing parts of “Stairway To Heaven” from a song by the 60s band Spirit called “Taurus” more than 45 years after the song was written. The estate of Spirit guitarist and “Taurus” songwriter Randy California filed the lawsuit, which is going to trial on May 10th.

All this stems from the fact that Zep opened for Spirit several times during their first tour of the United States during which Spirit performed “Taurus” as part of their set. OK, we get that, but why wait 40+ years to sue?

If you listen to the Spirit song below, you’ll hear some vague similarities to the intro of “Stairway,” but it’s of a rather generic guitar pattern and nothing like the song’s melody. That said, after last year’s “Blurred Lines” plagiarism lawsuit won by the estate of Marvin Gaye, suits like this are now leaning more in favor of the plaintiff than ever before.

It’s been estimated that “Stairway” has made the Zeps $540 million over the years, and the California estate is obviously hoping for at least a reasonable piece of that, but songwriters Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (who are the only Zeps named in the suit) obviously have deep pockets and are willing to fight as necessary.

So songwriters beware, there’s nothing new under the sun given the 12 note scale that western musicians use, so you’re probably copying a previous song without even knowing it. And today, that’s enough to get you sued.

Go to 0:45 on the video below to hear what’s considered to be the similarities between songs.

Was %22Stairway%22 Ripped Off(photo: Jim Summaria via Wikipedia)

The Beatles “Drive My Car” Isolated Bass

Isolated BassPaul McCartney is one of the most influential bass players ever, and it’s always very cool to be able to listen to his isolated bass tracks. Today we’ll take a listen to The BeatlesDrive My Car” from the Rubber Soul album. Here’s what to listen for.

1. Listen to the pickup notes at the end of the bass phrase during the verse. He doesn’t play it all the time, but it makes for a very funky bass line when he does.

2. Paul plays the bass line of the chorus differently, sometimes even within the same chorus. Sometimes each note is held out, and other times it’s very staccato.

3. The bass track is far from perfect, with a major clam at 1:57 and some minor ones along the way. That said, it took another 10 years or so until production techniques really focused on each individual part and how it interacted with the other elements of the song, as well as how consistently each part was played.

In other words, it’s a great track for its time, but would have been fixed or replayed in today’s production environment.

Kevin Killen On Mixing With Limited Processing

Kevin KillenKevin Killen is a great engineer with a host of big time credits (U2, Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel, for instance) and he’s been much in demand as a mixer for a long time. When I wrote the first edition of The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook, Kevin was one of the mixers I most wanted to interview, and that interview is one of the best in the book.

Here’s a great video where Kevin explains how he mixes in the box, and how he applies his processing mostly to subgroups rather individual tracks, as well as the way he adds effects.

Recording A Band With Just One Stereo Mic

Recoding With 1 MicUsually I post an isolated track on Friday, but this is something that’s pretty close. In this video, engineer John Cuniberti uses a single stereo mic, in this case a AEA R88 stereo ribbon, to record the band San Geronimo – no overdubs, no additional mics.

For those of you who don’t know, John was the guy who came up with the idea of reamping, a technique and box that’s used every day in studios around the world.

The recording just goes to show how good it can actually sound when the band is placed at the right distances, know how to control their volume, and all come up with a good performance at the same time. Of course, having a great acoustic environment really helps as well (25th Street Recording in Oakland).

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