Track Sheets…I miss ‘Em

Back in the days of Analog 2″ 24 track tape, engineers kept track of what was recorded (and when) on a piece of paper known as the “Track Sheet”. It was a roadmap for the next engineer who had to work on the project and it offered a look into the tracking techniques ( and track allocation) of the engineer.

Several artists have actually included these in their album artwork (The Rolling Stones “Black and Blue”, Todd Rundgren “Something/Anything”).

If the engineer was only working off 24 tracks (there was a way to “slave” another 24 track machine…very cumbersome and a cottage industry at the time), decisions had to be made as the song was tracked. You can see from the “Born In The U.S.A.” track sheet that,aside from the kick,snare and room tracks, the whole kit (all toms and hi hat) were sub mixed down to a stereo pair. It’s also interesting that certain outboard effects (the AMS kick and snare) were actually printed to the tape. These were probably samples, using the AMS unit’s ability to capture samples and have them be triggered by the kick and snare. Only one sample could be triggered at a time and once the unit was turned off, the sample was gone.

I’m guessing that most of the track was recorded at the same time,live in the studio. It’s funny that this massive sounding track was put together with a relatively small number of interments. As usual, it’s mainly about the song,the arrangement..and the performance. (Also kudos to engineers Toby Scott and Bob Clearmountain, two of the best).

Getting it right…on the way in…

I was doing a “live band” recording session recently (yes,they all played together at the same time..no headphones,just a small p.a. System and no click track). It wasn’t too hard getting a basic sound for them,as they can all play and sing. We tracked to individual tracks on Protools and as usual, I used a fair amount of EQ from the console on the drum tracks as I recorded them. But something in the snare just wasn’t popping the way that I thought it should. So I put a DBX 161 across the snare and dialed in some aggresiveness.
The resulting sound was so exciting that I quickly dismissed any reservations about committing to it…and this was a sound that it is simply not possible to achieve in the world of software plug ins. And in the end, it made the mixes really come alive.
Sometimes,something worth doing is worth overdoing.

Pleasantville

Last Saturday, I was invited to fill in for bassist Nick LaBate of Starnes And Shah at the Pleasantville Music Festival. Rain was predicted but it never came..we had a beautiful sunny day with a cool breeze. After a little confusion about the parking, we set up on the stage (great crew and sound company) and played a set. Dania and Zilpha took the front of the stage and drummer Scott Morehouse held down the rhythm section…it was a blast.

After the set, we wandered around, checking out the acts on the 3 stages of the festival. From the singer/songwriter ZZ Ward (and amazing band) to blues guitarist Davy Knowles (another amazing rhythm section) to the Americana folk rock (hard to categorize them) Good Old War and the rockingDelta Spirit, the performances,songs and sound were uniformly excellent. It’s hard to imagine a better mix of styles for a festival.

As the sun was setting, we piled into the car and were home in about 15 minutes..who knew it could ever be that easy..?

Kudos to the event organizers and the vendors..lots to do..Zilpha was threatening to take a jump in the Bouncy Castle..all that was missing was a Slip N Slide…hope to do it again next year.