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John Bradley

Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie cover

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Ashes to Ashes

Very early '80s (September 1980). Not as 'fun' as some of my previous offerings, but definitely one of those "songs nobody covers". Possibly for good reason.

Recorded this one 4 years ago in SPLAT, with fewer toys than I have now. Went back in and gave it a bit of a once-over with my current 'stuff'.

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Drums: Session Drummer 3. Running 5 outputs (kick, snare, hat, toms, cymbals). Added a common "drum verb" on each, as well as a "drum comp" send on the kick/snare/toms with a BOZ Manic Compressor sitting on that aux to do the NYC big drum sound thing. An Ozone 8 Maximizer on the drum bus. 

Bass: Rapture Pro using some preset I built. Running into ProChannel EQ/Comp/Tube and then into a Blue Cat Axiom for bass amp/cab emulation, and a BREVERB for a bit of room verb ("Drums up Front")

Percussion: Two instances of Rapture Pro. One does the shaker that runs through most of the song, the other adds a variety of random percussion sounds during the two verses. ("Do you remember a guy that's been...")

Synths: Opening hook is an Arturia Piano running through a Cakewalk Multivoice Chorus/Flanger (told you this was an old recording - I can barely read the UI on the thing at this point!) and a long BREVERB plate (based on "Wide Open Chords"). When the verse comes in an Arturia Wurly provides a quarter-note chord rhythm. It's very quiet, but if you look for it you can hear it peek out in between lines. An Arturia Solina enters at the prechorus ("The shrieking of nothing is killing...") for some period-correct stringage. 

During the outro, 3 additional synths join in, along with the intro Piano. There's an Arturia SEM doing a low brass drone, an Arturia Jup-8 doing the same 3-note thing as the SEM, but up a couple of octaves. Finally, there's an Arturia Prophet (probably my favorite of their recreations) doing the high outro lead. The chorus & delay is done in-synth, with a BREVERB added afterwards.

Guitars: Two of them, panned l/r. On the left is a moderately crunchy thing doing the weenie-weenie-weenie things during the intro. On the right is a mostly-clean chorused sound doing answering stabs. Both done using BIAS FX. Soloed, don't care for either's sound, but in the mix they're fine. Both done on the Strat I've had since I was 21... I've got 20+ guitars hanging around the house and I only ever play one of them. Sound familiar?

Just as an aside, I love love love the Ab - Adim transition that ends the verse and leads into the prechorus. ("Sordid details following.") That's just super tasty.

There's also a 'sitar' that comes in during the choruses, played on this first-gen Line 6 Variax I got in either the late '90s or the early 2000s. I almost never use the thing: can get any guitar sound I need from the strat, and I have a real acoustic for acousticy things, but it does do a passable sitar.

Vocals: The lead vocal is single tracked, with some ProChannel stuff (comp, eq, tube) running into a BT DeEsser, a VX-64 doing some more de-essing and a bit of doubling, and a BREVERB plate ("Neutral Vox Space").

Backing Vocals: There's a second voice that doubles part of the verse ("They got a message from the action man") and diverges for some 2-part harmony in the chorus ("strung out in heaven's high..."). A third voice comes in for the lo-fi spoken bits in the prechoruses ("The shrieking of nothing"). Most of the effect is just the ProChannel EQ (HP filter 18db/oct at 300Hz, LP filter 12db/oct at 2.8kHz) plus some Tube distortion, a BT Tempo Delay and some BREVERB. A fourth voice comes in to do the low note in the outro repeat ("My mama said, to get things done...")

Melodyne Studio 4  to at least partially make up for the severe lack of a iconic British pop stars hanging around in my bedroom.

Added a GW MixCentric and Ozone 8 on the master to add a little bit of 'magic' and loud, respectively. I don't know exactly what the MixCentric is doing, but I like it in small amounts (3-4 leds lit on the big knob).

Edited by John Bradley
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On 8/17/2020 at 1:08 PM, John Bradley said:

Bass: Rapture Pro using some preset I built

Well done there!

On 8/17/2020 at 1:08 PM, John Bradley said:

Vocals: The lead vocal is single tracked, with some ProChannel stuff (comp, eq, tube) running into a BT DeEsser, a VX-64 doing some more de-essing and a bit of doubling, and a BREVERB plate ("Neutral Vox Space")

No Nectar this time? Just me, but I think this is a big improvement; but as always so much is material dependent...

Another solid cover John!

t

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This is excellent mixing work. Great cover tune. 

I like your detailed descriptions on the mix. I find it most helpful.

Thanks for sharing!

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