Thursday, 1 September 2011

Mr Music - something old, something new, something borrowed, and a bit of blues

The debut of the Flying Bastardo Brothers on this blog with “Close Up the Honky Tonks” has prompted me to get back into the recording studio - so blame them for your suffering!

I’ll start with a recording I did some six years ago, a bit of Country Blues with two raucous Rockabilly breaks in the middle, just to confuse everyone (mainly myself). I made the recording before I’d learnt the importance of setting a regular tempo, and the original electric guitar and MIDI bass breaks in the middle were rhythmically challenged and loud enough to blow your speakers out, to put it mildly. As the song now only exists in MP3 format, I imported it as a track to a Garage Band project, added some percussion and electric rhythm guitar, and completely redid the two instrumental breaks. I’m not sure the song makes any more sense, and you can definitely hear the joins, but it sounds a little more polished (see above).
I was evidently going through a major acoustic phase at that time - I think the chance to record myself on my Taylor guitar went to my head, because here’s another acoustic Country Blues sort of jam thing from 2005 or thereabouts - unfiddled with (you’ll hear the Cubase digital metronome at the start, which means I’d finally grasped the importance of an even tempo, but the sound leaked into the mike from the open-backed headphones I was using at the time): here's "Chunkums":

Now for the last of my old recordings that I intend inflicting on you. It needs tidying up and balancing generally, but I can’t think of a way of doing that with an MP3 track, so I’ll just publish it as is. I don’t know why I called it “Cajun Soup” - perhaps because there’s a MIDI accordion in there somewhere: here's "Cajun Soup":

Finally, yet another surf number, done earlier this week.  I like the guitar strumming chords at the end , with the tremolo rate and sustain set to maximum. But that’s enough surf for now: "Surf, Fatman, Surf!":

And before you ask, the chap in the picture isn’t me. Glad to have cleared that up in advance.


  1. Great Stuff, Scott, particularly the Knock It On Down track. You've got a great singing voice, particularly those trademark deep rolls. Don't be shy about singing. Go for it! Cajun Soup was pretty good too, I thought. What amplifier do you use, by the way?
    Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 08:51 AM

  2. I think it's enough of a compliment to say that I had to stop my self chanting "Wipe Out" during the breaks in Fatman. I love those old Dick Dale/Ventures tunes. I remember struggling to master "Walk Don't Run" and Perfidia on my first guitar. You've captured the tone and the fun of it very well.

    I think "Kick it Down" is great too. The joins make it sound more authentic and interesting. I agree with Tropical Rob about the singing. Let go a bit Gronners! Logic Pro has a feature which enables you to boost or limit frequencies. I am not sure if Garage Band has the same but you might want to experiment a bit with boosting the middle frequencies, double tracking with a bit of echo added post-recording to the second of the vocal tracks. Even after 40 years, I would have recognised your voice!
    Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 01:34 PM

  3. CECIL INGRAM BASTARDO25 October 2011 at 15:26

    Totally agree with the above.
    Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 01:36 PM

  4. Well, thank you very much! Maybe I should stop being such a sissy about singing – after all, Johnny Ray managed to become a huge star without actually being able to sing one single note in tune. I’ve forgotten what the frequencies are that are supposed to suit vocals, but will look into it. I’ve done various experiments on my voice for the next song, which I’ll post next week – it sounds better, I think. I use a Sennheiser condenser mike, but if a mosquito farts three streets away, it picks it up – so I may treat myself to a new USB one for my birthday. First, I’m going to muck around with my Berenger pre-amp (into which the mike is plugged) to see what effect that has.

    Anyway, I’m delighted with your reactions!

    Yes, Ex-KCS – obviously I too am addicted to Surf, especially the more minatory (“d’you see?”) variants. Delighted you think I’ve got the sound right. Can’t say how much fun it was trying to crack it. (I’m always so surprised when something comes out exactly the way you wanted it to, I always burst into laughter.)

    As for the amplifier, TropicalRob, I have a little 15 watt Fender practice amp – but never use it. I plug the guitar into the back of the iMac via a £20 dongle, and then choose one of the settings on Garageband (with my old Dell PC, I had to plug the guitar into the Berenger pre-amp, which in turn was plugged into the computer – but it’s all got easier in the last few years – just listen the Flying Bastardo Brothers’ “Close Up the Honky Tonks” which I posted recently, which was all done on an iPad, with the guitar plugged into it, and (astonishingly) using the device’s inbuilt microphone to record vocals. I used to use a Zoom Effects Processor to simulate the sound of a variety of Amps, but Garageband has a choice of ready-made guitar settings (e.g. “Bell Bottom Blues”, “Country Twang”, “Big Hair Metal” and “Rockabilly”, amongst many others) and you can alter every parameter to create just about any type of guitar sound you want. I still find it positively magical.

    And a warm Grønmark Blog welcome to Cecil Ingram Bastardo – please send my greetings to your fellow Bastardos! We’re all greatly looking forward to your next production.
    Sunday, September 4, 2011 - 07:44 PM