(...if you wanna blog the blues)
OK, Thanksgiving has come and gone (except for my amazing turkey soup) and I am happy to announce that just last night (Nov 27th 2016) Frank and I laid down the bass track to 'Middle of the Night'. After relentlessly practicing that bass line to improve stamina, I also spent many hours writing tons of lyrics and rap, with the idea of taking some 20 pages and throwing out 90% of it, keeping only the best. In this case, the lyrics are geared toward being catchy and cliche', making it, well, catchy and cliche'!
So, today, for the first time in the three weeks I've been working on this tune, I actually get to rehearse vocals along with the bass and drum trax, so I can see what fits where. Very exciting!
"In the Middle of a Dream, cold cold sweat; heart pumpin' rhythm like an air force jet..." Ha ha!
'Blondie'....1979 American Standard Fender Stratocaster...
Nov 12th and working in the studio in a slow but determined fashion. Just when I fell back in love with my guitars I find myself in the nether-world of bass again, but I learned long ago that bass is the song. Any song. You know I'm all about dat bass bout dat bass no treble....
I'm at the point on the second song that I'm waking from bed at weird hours to write down lyrics that pop into my head. Can't let them slip away! So far from what I can see this is a silly, self indulgent party song that makes no sense whatsoever but is a total jammie. In other words, "I'm in the pipe, 5-5-5" like the lady who piloted the shuttle from the movie Aliens said.
Lix coming along, building up stamina, hope to lay the bass track down next week.
"In the middle of the night, rollin' down the street
Lights on my speakers changing colors to the beat"
Just in case anybody reads this, I'm sure it's the year 3550 and you're the lone survivor of atomic war, so let me say on the outset that there should still be some cans of soup in the RV. And some matches. Good luck!
Anyway, see that picture? Done by the second grade class at Templeton Grammar School, California. It's a whale. I've got a hundred more like it. I am in love with those excellent little creative minds, and so sad knowing what they will have to face trying to save the world with the mess we left them. Well, not we. Actually, just those backward idiot contractors and tradesmen driving the white pickup trux with spackle all over the side of the drivers door. Jerks!!
So, the latest CD, entitled, 'LEGEND OF THE LOS OSOS KIDD' is done and it came out perty darn good. :) I had to sing while sick, jam in between cars passing by on the highway outside the studio, and deal with an engineer who was always looking to get out of the studio as fast as he could. :/
But I decided that would all just add flavor and so I pushed on through and kicked a lot of ass baby.
Then, because I like to feed all the animals, a family of packrats moved into the walls of the studio and ate the wires, so the studio is out of commish for a spell. :(
But let's face it, with the last two CD's, and like 12 total, I have gotten to a point where I want to be out performing rather than in a dark box recording! And I am sooooo sick of solo acoustic mello blues, putting everyone to sleep, including my left leg, which ALWAYS starts to tingle second set!
Meanwhile, I'm busy saving the world out in the field and on facebook. Check me out, I got skillz: On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spiritpen
Oh! That's right! I brought some old tapes in and had them digitized at Sutton Sound, and I had an 8 track multi sent to Thin Brown Line in Aneheim Hills, where they had to BAKE the fuc#@$ng thing to get the music back out of it after 30 years!! On the 28th of this month (April 28, 2014) I go into Sutton Sound and re mix from WAV files! Like a 30 year time machine! Amazing. I'll let you know.
love and respec
After almost settling for a recording of Woodstock featuring a double lead vocal, I got Frank into the studio to try a new approach. I had done a lead vocal track on track 2 and then did another on track 5. Same vocs, just gave it another go 'round. Honestly, neither take, in my mind, was stand-alone good enough. Especially since I know I can really sing.
1. Did you feel that earthquake?
2. High on root beer soda.
3. Miley Cyrus's fault mostly.
4. I suck.
Anyway, I knew going in that at A440, I couldn't hit the notes in the key of Em. So I tuned down 1/2 step and played it like that. That's why the bass and guitar and everything else sound out of phase and 'tune challenged'. But it worked. Especially the solo because guitar solos sound good slightly malnourished in rock and roll. So Frank and I spent time listening to trax 2 & 5, and I picked out the flat notes and switched trax at the problem spots and the two trax were actually melded into one track with a single vocal, avoiding a double vocal, which, I said to Frank, is basically giving up on the song. And wouldn't ya know it, with just a bit of help, the recording came out *bitchen* !! Good work Frank!!
Now, I'm back at it with a drum track for a version of Tobacco Road. I'm ready to record the rythym guitar and once again, waitin' on Frank, who says maybe tomorrow or so. This time, I won't do the rythym direct in to the board. Instead, I'm gonna mic the Peavey and use some balls. The 59 strat ('smoke') just got a truss adjustment and such, at Central Coast Music in Morro Bay. Ed's got a new guy working tech there and he is expensive but majorly excellent. The only thing keeping this axe from being dreamy is that F*ing factory overhang. WTF???
Stick around, I'm about to bust a move! Tell those chicks from Victorias Secret to stop giggling outside the studio when the red light is on! POW!!
-jam on -joey racano
photo: That's me and the indigenous warriors of the American Indian Movement. We saved a bunch of whales and stuff. Cool. :)
Got the bass line down to a single mistake now, after 1 1/2 week working on it. It's a rocker too. I'll be ready when my engineer is. I still have to lay down the lead vocal first, but Frank is so busy working on car engines to make his car payments, I've got the bass ready too!
This version is the one I did of the song, originally by Joni Mitchell, and then done so nicely by Crosby Stills Nash & Young. It means a lot to me this song does because it embodies the spirit of 1960's, rock and roll, flower power and paradigm change.
In 1994, I did a version that included my crow, spike. I miss that boy, lemme tell ya. He was such a pain in the ass that I finally stopped trying to record around him and instead stuck a mic in front of him. You should have seen his face the first time he heard himself caw through a PA system!! Then he loved it and you could NOT shut him up. So hell, I just went with it- he, perched atop a door, and the mic stand up as high as it could go, and I just went through the rhythm guitar track. It cam out great! Now, that analog 8 track has been digitally re-mastered (the '5th Street Alley' CD), and I expect to lift spikes voice, resurrect him from the dead, and put it on this new track. Native Americans call crows 'messengers from the other side' or across the void. This will be an excellent example. Frank, where the F are you man?? Oh well, back in for more rehearsal! Miss you Spike!
Jammed at the Avila Community Center with the Troublemakers for Surfrider Foundation and had some fun. The '59 reissue strat sounded great thru the Peavey Stereo Chorus 212. Someday I hope Greg will learn the bass line to Rainbow.
photo: Sandra Brazil
Meanwhile, back in the studio...
Frank came in and we layed down the rhythm guitar line to 'Woodstock', a version once I did analog back in Huntington Beach, 1994. That version is on my '5th Street Alley' CD, features my crow 'spike' but lacked drums. So I'm doing it in digital 16 track this time around. I'm rehearsing the bass line today and the ball of my right thumb is crying!
I tuned down 1/2 step, as I always did for this song, for vocal purposes. It's worth it, or I just would opt out of doing this song. It really rocks. So did the last tune, a cool dance version of Jumpin' Jack Flash. This one will make 4, so the new CD is almost halfway done. Can't believe it really, seems like I just finished the last CD, 'Bluebird' (aka 'Blue Ray Castaway'). Let the record companies figure it out. :)
OK, stay frosty- we ain't gonna stop 'till we reach the top!
Jeez, those back ups sound hideous! Nothin' a little chorus and reverb won't solve! Ha!
Lead vocals came out strong, as I knew they would, and although I can do better, the question would be- 'why??' Who the heck wants to hear somebody do vocals or guitar that sounds perfect on the 45th try? Much better to do 1 take and keep the energy, barring some coughing fit or other disaster like a phone ringing or a rooster of passing traffic, jet, et al. And all that stuff happens here, I can assure you!
So I kept the first vocal takes, and I can live with them. The bass line killed it and my version of JJ Flash is hot. HOT. HOT. Now it's rehearsal for the supporting rythm guitar track, then I'll pop out a raunchy solo and then bounce/mix and master. I really like the way this CD is coming out, and I'm 3 songs in. Next I will be doing a version of Tobbaco Road and then Woodstock. I intend to make them my own.
Finally got myself 'ready' to record the bass line on Jumpin' Jack Flash. It seems kinda energetic and balzzy to me, so it should work out. Go time is 6:30pm Cal-ee time, trying to rest up. My hands feel like anchors after a week of solid bass rehearsals! No wonder I chose guitar! :) Seriously though, there's something fullfilling about the bass, like- you really control the music from those 4 strings. Now, there've been a lot of versions done of Jumpin' Jack Flash, but I fully expect this version to be dinosaurian. It just seems to have taken a very powerful turn and I look forward to giving it vocals and guitar to match.
I'll let ya know- joey xoxo
OK, so Frank finally gets his butt into the studio and me, I didn't even touch a guitar for 2 weeks, just so I would be fresh. And whadda ya know, first take action!! Yep- bee-utiful solo and that song is done did DONE. I looked around youtube for other versions of Ode to Billie Jo by Bobbi Gentry (1967) and none were as good as mine- sorry.
So that, coupled with the chain gang acapella thing I did first, make two. Two off the new CD that's going to be all covers. Never did that before. Never even recorded a cover in the studio- ever!
So now I got song #3, Jumpin' Jack Flash, and I decided not to cover it the funky R&B way I used to. Instead I'm rocking the mother! Drum track done, rythym guitar crisp and tight, one take (thank you jesus) and done straight through the board so no traffic noise, etc. Now I'm writing the bass line and guess what? This is way different than what I thought and it is H-O-T. Hotter than Janet Korseberg that night so many long virgin years ago! Dam, this one's gonna cook. It's got snap crackle and pop! :) I should be able to sing the sh1t out of it too, key of B, right in my wheelhouse. Stay tuned! This sh1t's egonna make Mick Jagger dance!