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Friday, March 27, 2015

38 Special "Hold On Loosely" Isolated Vocals

Hold On Loosely Record image
Some artists and bands are lucky enough to get one iconic song that will continue to be played on the radio even decades after it was popular. 38 Special's "Hold On Loosely" from the bands Wild Eyed Southern Boys album (their 4rth) is just such a song, and today we'll take a listen inside to the isolated lead vocal. Here's what to listen for.

1. Take a listen to the reverb. There's a lot of it on the vocal (which you don't hear in the mix), and it's pretty short and delayed. Reader Bruce Coffman wrote in that it sounds a lot like a gated reverb from a Lexicon 224 with the diffusion maxed out to give it a sort of cloud at the end, hence the name "cloud delay."

2. Most of the song has the lead vocal doubled. The exceptions are in the beginning of the first verse and the ad libs on the outro.

3. The double is pretty close but not perfect. In fact, on some phrases one of the parts is dipped out, presumably because of the performance. Don't forget this song was recording in 1981 in the days before DAWs so you'd be lucky to get one perfect performance, let alone two.

4. Listen to the "Don't tell me" section of the pre-chorus. It's dry and spread out left and right, where the other doubles are up the center.


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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting reverb sound. Do you know how one might achieve this these days with plugins, and do you think it is gated?
.
Bob
Vancouver

Malcolm Pollack said...

Nice find. Good singing, and well recorded. Very professionally punched and comped, too; very few audible punches or clipped breaths.

Short bright reverb on an eighth-note predelay, by the sound of it, and then something a little longer and smoother for a nice tail.

A good example of a well-shaped vocal treatment of that period.

Anonymous said...

Bobby - thanks for posting these, I usually LOVE 'em. Growing up in the 80's, I obviously have special affinity for this genre, but something you wrote really hits home with me, as I've always thought that it's one of the main reasons why, well, music today pretty much sucks! :^)

You said "3. The double is pretty close but not perfect. In fact, on some phrases one of the parts is dipped out, presumably because of the performance. Don't forget this song was recording in 1981 in the days before DAWs so you'd be lucky to get one perfect performance, let alone two."

Exactly - it's the imperfections that make the song. These days, so much is auto-tuned, chopped, spliced, edited, tweaked, compressed, blah blah blah, that is has no soul. I really have a hang up that music quality has diminished with the invention of digital recording.

I realize all it's benefits, but it does something to the artist, the producer, the engineer. The magic is lost. My opinion, of course, and yes, there are some exceptions, but I think it's worth mentioning.

Thanks again for the blog.

Bobby Owsinski said...

Bob,
It doesn't sound gated to me (that's an effect that only came about in the 80s). It just sounds short.

Decrease the decay time to approximate the sound.

Bobby Owsinski said...

I'm going to take my last comment back and do some additional research. If you read the update above, Bruce Coffman says it could be the "cloud delay" setting of a Lexicon 224, which was a gated reverb with the diffusion set to max. He very well may be right, but I'll do my best to find out exactly.

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