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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Doyle Bramhall II Interview

As some of you may know, I co-produced a television show called "Guitar Universe." Here's an outtake from the show that features Eric Clapton/Roger Waters/Arc Angels guitar player Doyle Bramhall II, interviewed by Alanis Morrisette guitarist Dave Levita.

Doyle is interesting because of his history (like playing with Stevie Ray Vaughan when he was 15) and because he also plays a right-handed guitar upside down, but you can see and hear all that for yourself in part 1 of the interview.

You can also view more outtakes from Guitar Universe on my YouTube channel.




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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Isolated Bass

Here's the isolated bass part from The Beatles classic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" off of the their White album. Usually isolated bass parts are somewhat boring but not this one. Listen closely for a number of unconventional techniques from Sir Paul McCartney.

1) The sound of the bass is interesting in that it has a lot of treble and sounds very much like a guitar at times.

2) Likewise, the part is played like a guitar. Listen to the second verse (and beyond) where Paul actually plays chords on the bass.

3) The bass is exactly doubled by a clean guitar in chorus, and it's a somewhat intricate line which is sometimes a little stiff feeling and sometimes very loose.

4) The bass part keeps changing throughout the song. Maybe evolving is a better word. Check out the way Paul plays the last verse and adds the extra notes.

5) There's a clear mistake on the outro at about 4;37, but it's at the end of the fade so you never hear it on the record.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Latest Giveaway - The Music Producer's Handbook

I'm giving away copies of The Music Producer's Handbook to two lucky winners.

The winners will be chosen by a random number generator on January 12th and will announced on this blog and via Twitter.

Here's the entry info for the giveaway.

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Clapton Isolated Guitar

Here's an absolute gem. It's Eric Clapton's isolated guitar track from George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" off the The Beatles White Album. Didn't know it was Clapton playing lead? It was a loosely held secret for a while, but EC was one of the few ringers that The Beatles used on their records. Clapton was brought in because he was a close mate of Harrison's, and since George wrote the song, he felt he had more say in who played on it.  Here are some things to listen for.

1) There's always been a question as to what gear Clapton used on the song, and none of the people at the session can remember exactly. Ken Scott (who engineered the session) told me that EC didn't bring any gear with him, preferring to use The Beatle's gear so he intentionally wouldn't sound like himself. Regardless, it sure sounds like he's using some sort of Gibson and a Marshall combo amp, although Ken says that The Beatles never used Marshalls and he never saw one in the studio. I suppose it could've been one the Fender's that they used if it was cranked. At any rate, that's one of the items that we're trying to determine for Ken's new book.

2) What struck me about the performance is how loose it is. It sounds like a single take as you hear EC switch between playing rhythm and lead. He never sounds sure of exactly what he's playing though, and you can hear the odd flub, especially in the B section and the transition between sections.

3) Listen for the toe taps as EC keeps time.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.


Monday, January 3, 2011

The $8,450 Speaker Cable

It curious how susceptible some people are to outside suggestion. The way we feel, see and hear can be easily manipulated, sometimes even by ones own self (which is the basis of the power of positive thinking or making your own reality). Here's an example.

I worked in a studio once that had a 3-way toggle switched on a panel at the edge of the console. The switch wasn't wired to anything (the console's previous owner installed it), but a bunch of us decided to label it anyway in the middle of blowing off some steam during an especially long session. The Aphex process (read here for more on Aphex the process, not the company) was especially hot during those days, so that's what we labeled the top position. Someone had the bright idea to label the bottom position as "B-phex" (there was no such thing), and the middle position was off.

You wouldn't believe the number of clients that swore that B-phex sounded much better than either Aphex or Off. Sometimes they would even fight over which sounded better, with some swearing that Aphex was brighter and more natural than B-phex, or vice versa. Even after I told them in a laugh, they still claimed they heard the difference between the positions of the unconnected switch.

Audiophiles are a lot like that only they take the powers of suggestion to an extreme, much to the tremendous detriment of the wallets. We've all heard the stories about some poor schmuck paying $800 for a wooden volume knob because it makes the sound "cleaner," but here's another one.

This time it's pair of 8 foot $8500 speaker cables by AudioQuest, which are terminated at each end with common banana plugs. The specs say that they're solid PSS silver using "dual star-quad technology" and are "optimized for full range." OK, silver is actually a great conductor but even if they're made of the 4 pounds of the stuff as they claim, that's only about $1500 worth of silver at todays market price of about $23 per ounce.

The best part is some of the comments on the advert on Amazon, which is worth looking at for a good laugh. Some examples:

"We were fools, fools to develop such a thing! Sound was never meant to be this clear, this pure, this... accurate."

"No other cable has the tensile strength to properly and efficiently garrote a lycanthrope, asphyxiate an Esquilax or even gag a mermaid."

"Not only did these cables sound ok when I jammed them into my ears directly (Painful, but worth it) they also cured my cancer, my wifes kidney disease, and the ED issues that my neighbor had."

"My cats chewed on this cable and now they can both speak. One of them is gay and the other wants to kill me. I would have rather not known."

The sad part is that some people out there actually bought these things and managed to convince themselves that they were worth it. Granted, cables can really improve your sound, but in this case you're spending about $8 grand extra for nothing but the hype and the ability to laud it over your neighbor (and that's being generous).

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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Ace Of Spades" Motorhead Isolated Vocals

Happy New Year everyone. Let's hope that your 2011 is better than 2010.

We'll start the year off with a little bit of Lemmy Kilmister and Motorhead with the isolated vocal from their iconic 1980 UK hit "Ace Of Spades." Motorhead has been around for ages, has gone through multiple lineups, but has proven one thing that's true in music - in the end, longevity counts.

The longer a band can stay together, the more likely they'll gather enough fans until one day, they become a legend. Bass player Lemmy has become an hard rock icon the last few years, and there's even a movie coming out about him soon ("called Lemmy The Movie). It's a good lesson to all bands - stay together because your chance of success grows the longer you do. Getting back to the song, here are some things to listen for.

1) Not much of a melody here, but who's to say that hard rock/metal has to have one?

2) Lots of compression of the vocal. Enough that you hear it pump a little, which also brings up the breaths and grunts in between phrases.

3) There are a number of punches, especially from the 2nd verse on. There's one very bad punch through a word at 1;22. Of course, this is something that never happens today, but was pretty common in the days of magnetic tape recording.



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You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.


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