In early December I watched a documentary on the band The Sparks. Don’t know them? They have been around for about 50 years and have helped change music several times. The band is really two brothers, Ron and Russell Mael. They have a distinctive look (Paul McCartney did an impression of Ron on his Coming Up video. Russell sported a new hair cut in the late 70s that was copied by everyone, from Duran Duran to Depeche Mode) and a distinct sound (usually odd!). All of their songs have a twist or a joke to them. I would say that they are much easier to enjoy if you get the joke…
I have always known about the band but rarely heard them. In fact, I think I heard their Propaganda album twice when I was a teen and based most of my knowledge of the band on that, even though they are the truest musical chameleons of all time.
Anyway, back to the documentary – When they played the song “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth” it was like rediscovering an old friend. Sure, I had only heard it twice, but it was deeply embedded in my psyche. And so it became an earworm…
When most people get an earworm, they suffer. Me? I make a recording.
I quickly learned the song (it is pretty simple), transposed it to a new key so I could sing it (Russel can sing very high and uses high falsetto), did a little arranging and recorded it. I loved the arrangement, but hated the vocal. A few weeks later I decided to rerecord the vocal part. Although it was better, I still didn’t like it.
Last week I was playing with recording tools and decided to do a new mixdown of the second set of vocals (still original instrument tracks). It is amazing that changing the mix slightly changed the final recording so much! OK, I still hate my voice, but it is better like this.
By the way, I did not do any pitch correction at all on the voice. Most songs today are so over-autotuned it drives me crazy – it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I did play with autotune, and it was barely noticeable (didn’t make it better) until I passed a threshold and suddenly it had the fingers on a chalkboard sound I hate so much. Yes, I could have done some simple pitch correction to one or two sour notes, but I didn’t really think of it until after I had already posted the third video. After that, I experimented a little and it did help without making it worse, but I didn’t want to put up a fourth version, so I left it alone. Next time…
OK, sorry about all of that. Here is the video
Hope you enjoyed (despite my voice ;) )
For the curious – All of this was played on a Sequential Prophet Rev 2 and a Behringer Poly D with the drums coming from an Arturia Drum Brute Impact. I played the drums manually in one pass – I did the drums last and discovered that I was slightly ahead of the beat for the entire song, so the drum machine was off… back to the drawing board and time to actually play the drum part ;)