Tuesday, September 20, 2011
That is my producer Adam's new one word review of the work we have wrought so far at Karma Frog. Shameless like Black Eyed Peas. Shameless like Culture Club. Shameless like Chic. I'm-a take it. I don't know if I could make an earnest album. In fact, most of my favorite records are shameless. Tom Waits may not be pop but he isn't ponderous. The second word that comes to mind with these sessions is fun. I am making the album I want to listen to, that I want to dance to and this has been an utterly joyful experience and I think you'll be able to hear it in every performance.
Last night was a night of harmony. Literally. One of my favorite recording sessions ever. I got to work voice-to-voice with the Ladies of Chaos, Teresa Cowles and the inimitable Evie Sands, on three part harmonies for five tracks on the new record. In this context, I was the weak link; but better that. As I figured, Adam and the three of us put down sweet vox.
We started with the album's big ballad "Our Love Is Known By Name." There is a challenge with making ballads interesting, especially the way I write them. I tend to get to the hook and stay there. The ladies and I did the choruses and then added a counter-point on the coda that opened the song wide. Then we added some filigree to the top of the number that elicited Adam's "shameless" comment. My reply was "ZAP!"
Then we took a step back in time to the heyday of Studio 54 for the bridges of "Saffron Dancer." When I performed this one back in 2006 on my first tour of Great Britain, this was more of a power pop number. Now it is another one of my rollerskate jams. Evie and Teresa definitely know how to get past the velvet rope to the VIP lounge. Adam's vocal arrangement was spot on for the feel.
One of my chief goals with this album, even more so than it was with A Talent For Loving, is to recreate my favorite listening experiences as a kid. When I was a preteen and teen, radio was much more inclusive and you would hear different genres (disco, rock and roll, country, soul) on the same station. E.L.O. followed by Fleetwood Mac, followed by Amii Stewart, followed by Rickie Lee Jones, followed by the Spinners, followed by the Rolling Stones. This was true at the roller rink, too. As long as you could groove to it, Johnny Lee, the Knack and Donna Summer were on the same playlist. That is the aesthetic, big word, I pursue. The album is still cohesive and 21st Century.
Next, the ladies and I worked out some doo-wop harmonies for the R&B waltz "Majestic Rejection." I'm going to use the word wheelhouse, because Evie's performance anchors the backing vocals on our "hoodoo doodoo doodoo bop's." And yes, that is the lyric I wrote on the spot. For a song like this, you got to tell that girl trying to mess you up that she's working some doodoo hoodoo.
"Supermodels" got the Ladies of Chaos treatment, too. Teresa sang a guest spot at the top of the song playing the role of your little sister. By the time we got to "A Miracle Is On The Way," we were on a roll. Again, this is where Evie's soul stylings were critical, she helped inspire me on the backing parts to avoid being too sentimental. Evie is simply an angel and one of the most brilliant vocalists I've ever heard. It is always an honor to sing along with her in a live setting. To have her sweetening and bringing her encouraging spirit to my record is a dream.
I've been really blessed to have some heavyweights contribute to this record: Evie and Teresa; drummers DJ Bonebrake and Kevin Jarvis; and of course, my main man, Bryan Farrar on guitar. Adam is no slouch mind you and I certainly don't take his work for granted. If you are in the market to make a polished album without paying Ocean Way prices, ahem, please check out Karma Frog and tell them I sent you. How's that for shameless?
We have two more recording sessions before we concentrate on final mixes. In two weeks, I will add the final layers of harmony vocals. In a month: HORNS!
Peace and disco beats!
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Cruising Toward Albumdom
Today, we wrapped guitar parts for the LP. Bryan Farrar added his rock and roll axe to "Supermodels With Gatling Gun." He also put down wah-wah tracks for the album closer "A Miracle Is On The Way" and the ballad "Our Love Is Known By Name." While we were listening to playback of "Miracle" I kept thinking about how much fun this record will be for dancing.
Last week, we passed the 100 hour mark in studio time. I looked back at the notes on my lyric sheets and saw that it was four months ago today that I arrived at the rearrangement of "Miracle." Time has flown; but this has truly been the most fun and satisfying album recording experience for me yet. Matched only by the session for the single of "A Talent For Loving" at Monnow Valley.
My producer Adam said that their are moments that the record channels everything good about 1979. I'll take that. On facebook, I put up a post asking, "Who has roller skates?" It's that kind of record. You will want to rock, roll, bounce and skate to this. I'm listening to some prelim mixes as I type. Adam has captured some wonderful performances and he's gotten a few new toys in the studio to sweeten the noises. No auto-tune, mind you. I'm also making a few adjustments to the track listing since we finished the basic tracks.
Tomorrow night, I will be back at Karma Frog with the Ladies of Chaos to record backing vocals for a mess of songs. I'm looking forward to that. I always enjoy singing with them on stage when we do covers with Adam (Bee Gees, Sly & The Family Stone, etc.). I will probably have one more solo session to do specific vocal flavoring and one more dedicated to the horns. Then it will be mixing and mastering.
As mentioned in a previous post, I am going to push back the release date for the CD. There is no time left in 2011 to get the record pressed, let alone organize the necessary record release shows and listening parties. This will give everyone something to anticipate for the New Year. And that way, you can use all of your gift cards to buy the record online after the holidays! This will also give me time to double-down for my return to the UK; and submit for domestic festivals and reviews.
I love all of my records, but this one really shines and there is still some polishing to do. I'm so anxious to share it with you! Dang, I'm listening to the waltz-time R&B torch song "Majestic Rejection" and it is blazing. Scorching vocal (if I do say so myself); outstanding New Orleans-inspired piano and amazing blues guitar from Adam and drumming from punk legend DJ Bonebrake. It will certainly vie for top instrumental performance on the LP. The Missus keeps saying we need to get this one to some of the choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance next season for some spotlight dances. Who has those contacts? Come on...
OK, y'all be cool and I'll report back tomorrow following the vocal session with the Ladies.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Lead Vocals Reach Logical Conclusion
today marked the end of the principal recording of lead vocals for my new album. Wow, it took a little under three hours to get good takes for the last three sides. The songs I sang are "She's My Go To," "A Miracle Is On The Way" and "Saffron Dancer." Lots of disco/dance going on. The basic tracks are stunning and the studio was a particularly conducive setting this afternoon. That made getting the work done a lot of fun. I thank God that I got through all of the principal vocals without being sick once or having an laryngitis issues, etc. And yes, that has usually happened in the past.
We passed 100 hours of studio time for this album, but Adam has kept me on target and we have maximized the time. This coming week, we have sessions with Bryan Farrar who will supply lead guitar parts on a few more tracks. Then we bring in the backing vocalists (the Ladies) and this is something that will be a thrill. Adam is brilliant at arranging vocals, so it should be one of those fun challenges. I hear a few things in my head, who doesn't, but the tracks are so fresh that there is room for experimenting.
On Sunday, plenty of you attended the 9/11 Commemoration at North Hollywood Park led by Councilman Tom LaBonge. It was an honor to be the musical prelude for the ceremony. I wound up performing George Harrison's "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" five times in a 24 hour period. I will not play that song again for a few years. Anyway, it was nice to see you there.
Today, I posted another performance video from the 5 Towers show on YouTube. This time it's the slow jam, "Done Lost My Mind." Half of the show is now available to view on demand. So go demand it!
All right, time to rest on my laurels, aka lie down.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Relive The 5 Towers
Monday, September 05, 2011
Click on the title, Fall Out, to view video taken by Phillip Mottaz of Me and the Band on the 5 Towers Stage, Universal CityWalk, 9/3/11. Dig it, share it, love it.
Sunday, September 04, 2011
Epic Show At 5 Towers [Show Recap]
Salutations, Soul Citizens.
Last night's show at the 5 Towers on Universal CityWalk was simply epic. The stage was dazzling, the audience was beautiful and the band was jumping! I'm so grateful for every opportunity to entertain the masses and there were many hundreds of people at this show.
Did I mention the band. They were tight and the mood was joyful. It helped that the sound crew for the 5 Towers were handling biz expertly. We started the show with Fall Out. It was nice to be able to make an entrance at the top of the show. Adam Beesley, the MC, did a fab job of the introduction. But we came out amps ablazin'. From the top of the show, the energy was tremendous. Bryan's playing last night was on point and he kicked off our second number, Everyone's Ingenue. His guitar work was so much fun; and since I didn't play bass, I really got to watch and hear what he was doing. Omar D. Brancato, who handled the low end strings, was also a marvel. He was all over the stage with his wireless and brought a little extra flavor. Keyboardist Adam Marsland did a very cool vamp to bring us into Done Lost My Mind and the harmonies on that one soared.
We brought the rock and roll with the new arrangement of Supermodels With Gatling Guns from my upcoming CD (So Sophisticated). I like to think every song brought down the house. Supermodels is a gas to dance to, I know it had me moving. I could see all the dancers doing their runway stroll. Then we pounced on I Can't Cry From You featuring some stellar drumming from Matt Soule and hit a bunch of songs from my current release (A Talent For Loving).
Roses flew up to the stage; very fragrant and sweet. Perfectly timed for Everything My Heart Desires. We ended the show with a disco-trifecta. U Had The Money, the Bee Gees' Jive Talkin' and by demand, and I mean demand, A Talent For Loving.
I have posted a couple dozen photos on my facebook music page so far. More to come, along with video from the show. So be sure to stay tuned. The video will hit YouTube first. I'll be sure to announce when it is available. In the meantime, check out the photos, including the sample below of me doing my "Adjust the Cuffs" dance.
Peace & Disco Beats!