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John Bradley

Covers - a Twofer! (Cracker & Maroon 5)

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Take Me Down to the Infirmary

Harder to Breathe

Here’s a pair of songs I recorded back in March 2020, when we were all going to die for some reason or other. My memory is hazy, but I believe it had something to do with a gigantic swarm of twelve foot piranha bees... either that, or the entire planet was in imminent danger of being eaten by an enormous mutant star goat. Whatever it was, it was darned terrifying, of that you can be sure!

Sadly, none of that panned out and we’re all still here. They don’t make global disasters like they used to, though of course the beatings will continue until morale improves.

---liner notes---

Take Me Down to the Infirmary – Cracker (cover)

It’s the What the World Needs Now guys, with a lovely little country ballad. Not a whole lot of secrets hidden in the sparse mix, but here’s a breakdown, just for the record.

Drums: Session Drummer 3, ‘Motown’ kit. Running a simpler version of my normal setup. 6 outputs (kick, snare, hat, toms, crash, ride). A BREVERB (900ms plate) send on each. The snare has a BOZ Manic Compressor doing some heavy parallel compression to beef it up. Each track has some ProChannel comp/eq/tube processing to fluff the sounds up a bit. No limiting on the overall drum bus for a change.

Bass: IKM's MODO Bass, ‘70s P-bass model, using the built-in amp sim plus a bit of direct.

Percussion: There’s a tambourine sample being triggered by TX16Wx (version 2), which I find superior to version 3, at least from a UI perspective. A BREVERB (500ms Room, damping at 3.5kHz) to give it some space.

Synths: none.

Guitars: Three of them.

Guitar 1 is the acoustic in the left side. Recorded from the piezo output, going to Blue Cat’s Axiom (no amp modelling, just an impulse to make it sound mic’d), iZotope Neutron for some compression, EQ, and exciter, a 2getheraudio ST3REO for stereoification, a BOZ Pan Knob to move the whole mess over to the left, and a BREVERB. Note that I put the Pan Knob before the BREVERB rather than just use the track’s built-in Pan control so that the reverb isn’t panned.

Guitar 2 is the electric on the right side. Strat going into Axiom (Twin Reverb model, no fx), eq’d fairly dark (whether on the guitar or in the amp, I don’t recall) a Pan Knob to move it right, and a BREVERB using the same Bright Dream Room preset as on the acoustic. Yes, I could have had a single BREVERB and had both tracks send to it, but I prefer going this route because I like to freeze the tracks with all their effects.

Guitar 3 is the lead, done in BIAS FX. Was transitioning over to Axiom around this time. Strat into a compressor, dual-amp config (Duo Verb & Tweed Deluxe), and another compressor. Then a Pan Knob (guess I recently bought!), a BREVERB (Hall), and an Ozone 8 Maximizer.

Vocals: The lead vocal is single tracked into a TDR Nova for de-essing, then a Nectar 2 chain (gate, de-esser, saturation, compression, eq), followed by a BOZ T-Bone just to roll off the highs a smidge, and another BREVERB (Full Short Plate).

Backing Vocals: There are two tracks of backing harmonies that come in on the “Let me sleep” at the end of the first verse, and hang around until dropping out on the final verse. There's a Nova (for de-essing) and a BREVERB on their bus.

There are another 4 tracks of vocals ‘oohing’ the chords from the first chorus through to the last chorus. Four-part harmony, albeit not especially complex or interesting. Basically serving as a sung B-3 organ, but easier to transport.

Melodyne Studio 4: Big and brassy, Vegas style!

Tokyo Dawn Slick EQ (free version) on the master 'Music' bus to thin out the mix a bit (-2db at 520Hz), giving the vox a little more space.

GW MixCentric and Ozone 8 on the master to add a little bit of 'magic' and loud, respectively.


Harder to Breathe – Maroon 5 (cover)

What’s this, a ‘new’ song!?! (It came out a mere 18 years ago.)

Things to listen for: I love how big the choruses come in, compared to the sparse verses, especially the Floyd-esque swirling organ and the falsetto harmony. Also, dig the ‘lonely guitar player’ solo which is quite different tonally from the original. You can actually hear it, for example.

Drums: Session Drummer 3, ‘Motown’ kit. Running a simpler version of my normal setup. 6 outputs (kick, snare, hat, toms, crash, ride). A BREVERB (‘MiniDrum’ preset) send on each. Varying amounts of ProChannel comp/eq/tube on each to make them decidedly un-Motowny. Ozone 8 Vintage Limiter on the drum bus for extra loud.

Bass: IKM's MODO Bass, ‘Japan Bass’ model, using the built-in amp sim set slightly crunchy, plus a bit of direct. A touch of BREVERB (‘Heavy Room’) to put a little air around it and give it a bit of width.

Percussion: Tambourine, a shakey egg, and a stick hit, each on their own TX16Wx. Also, there’s some percussive breathing during the breakdown and bridge – that’s just me, on a microphone, trying not to hyperventilate.

Synths: An Arturia B-3 organ comes in during the choruses. It’s got a lovely slow swirlyness to it courtesy of the built-in Phaser, Chorus, and Leslie.

Guitars: Three of them, each using an instance of BIAS FX. Guitar 1 plays the crunchy riff on the left side. Guitar 2 enters in the chorus, on the right side. Brighter, less crunch, different voicing. Guitar 3 is the lead: drive pedal, dual ‘plexi’ amps, tape delay (all in BIAS FX), followed by a Phasis for some some slow stereo motion, and a big ol’ BREVERB (Hall, 2 seconds, 5K damping) to make it downright soggy.

Vocals: The lead vocal is single tracked into a Nectar 2 chain (gate, compressor, harmony (2 voice unison, panned l/r), saturation, FX (distort, chorus, delay), EQ, and limiter). A BREVERB (‘Modern Plate’) follows.

Backing Vocals: The aforementioned falsetto harmony runs through a copy of the same Nectar 2 chain as the lead vocal. It also drops down to a regular harmony on the last line of the first chorus, but otherwise it stays up in the hurt-me area.

A second track comes in for the various ‘Woah-oah-oh’s and whatnot, as well as a fine impersonation of a European police siren at the end of the bridge... not that you can hear it in the final mix, but it’s there!

Finally there’s a third vocal, unaffected (other than some reverb) that harmonizes with the lead vocal on the “is there anyone out there ‘cause it’s getting harder and harder to breathe” bits.

Melodyne Studio 4: You betcha!

Ozone 8 on the master for limiting and whatever else it deemed necessary.


Previous Releases: Dirty Laundry  •  Paradise by the Dashboard Light  •  Ashes to Ashes  •  Lies  • Enter Sandman  •  Wanted Dead or Alive  •  Too Much Time on My Hands  •  Are You Gonna Go My Way?  •  Blue Monday '88  •  Fame  • One of Our Submarines

Edited by John Bradley

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