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Archive for May, 2014
03 May

The Little Black Egg

Listen: The Little Black Egg

I found this song when I discovered the Nuggets collection had been re-released in the late 90’s. I loved that collection in high school and the later CD edition had twice as many “Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era”. I liked the idea of garage bands creating music for their friends and gaining some popularity. In those days, you could still have a regional hit.

I am not completely happy with the way this one turned out. My goal was to do a more psychedelic/Pink Floyd arrangement. It ended up as a chunky Whiter Shade Of Pale. Not bad, but not what I wanted.

The biggest problem is I am not the right guy to be singing this song. I tried a couple of different ways of singing this one, but I couldn’t quite capture that anxious-teenager-clinging-to-his-insecurities attitude. 35 years ago it would have been a natural.

The reason I share this one- it is the first time I have literally played every instrument. No sequencing, no computer generated parts, no pre-recorded tracks, no loops.  I had to use some tricks and make some adjustments after the fact, but I got it all to work.

Keyboards were the most tricky. I know how to play keys, but I am not good at it. For this song, I played the main organ sound into 3 separate tracks. Left hand chords, right hand chords and melody stuff. This worked out well because when the melody got buried, I was able to double the track with a little distortion to give it a better place in the mix. The clav part was played on one track, but I split it while mixing so I could eq the chords and the double of the bass riff separately.

Drums were tough. I had started with a guitar/voice version, played to a click track, which is not in the final. I had built up the keyboards and bass tracks and had a good sound going. Now I had to play drums along with the pre-existing track.

I don’t have enough i/o to record my drum kit, so I used my electronic kit, stereo out of a Roland TD-8 (borrowed from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church). I played many takes to get the final, and then I had to adjust a couple of notes that didn’t quite line up properly. If you listen to the hi hat, you can hear it pop out of and disappear into the mix. I need to work on my consistency.

I didn’t use the main guitar riff from the original (I didn’t use anything from the record), but the guitar parts are pretty straight forward. I set the guitar solo with some stereo delay to give it some depth.

I tried a bunch of different things with the background vocals. Phasing, flanging, doubling, all of which I rejected. I was trying to get a more psychedelic sound, but the end of the song has so much going on that any vocal tricks seemed to get in the way. A little delay and some reverb worked best.

I am not completely unhappy with the way this one turned out. While I had a clear goal, it took a Connie Willis turn on me, where outside forces start acting, in spite of your best intentions. The ending may not be what you expected, but it turns out to be a happy ending in it’s own way.

Categories: Recordings