I was asked by Uncut magazine to record 'Debris' for their Faces issue (I'm the "Exclusive Faces Cover" listed on the CD jacket). To capture the spirit of the lads we went back to analog tape, threw away the tuners (we tuned to the organ), got rid of the click track and recorded with everybody playing live, including the vocals.
We did three takes with Matty Muir on drums, Scott Bricklin on bass, Mike Frank on organ and me on 12 string acoustic guitar and lead vocals. After the third take, everyone felt like we'd gotten it - no fixes, no punches, just one complete performance.
We then had Scott switch to electric guitar, Mike went to electric piano, Matty picked up some maracas and I switched to 6 string acoustic and sang the harmony vocal. After one false start, we hit the overdubs all together in one take. I love the interplay between Mike and Scott from this pass.
Took a couple of hours to mix and it was done - blank tape to final mix in less than six hours. Then it was time for a drink - how much more Faces can you get?
I can't say this is a "forgotten" version, but I was surprised when I heard it how much I liked it.
Little known fact: After 'Fidelity is the Enemy' but before I was signed to Bluhammock, I had started work on a second album on my own. It was tentatively going to be called 'Side A/Magical Thinking' and I was a few tunes into it when I got signed. 'Slowly' from 'Safe in Sound' is 98% from those sessions, and a large part of 'Show My Face Around' (all the sound effects and a lot of the keyboards) as well. This version of 'Made Me So Happy' was recorded for the album, but producer Julian Coryell had the very good idea of appropriating the intro to 'I Realized This Afternoon While Driving to Connecticut' and grafting it onto MMSH, so we re-cut it, though we did take the scream from the outro (which strangely, is placed a couple beats off).
Honestly, I forgot how much energy this version has, particularly the great drumming by Roger Cox.
I think sadly in both this version AND the home demo I gave better vocal performances than what wound up on the 'Safe in Sound' version. A product of rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline to finish the album. Finding myself in month 16 of making the new record (I SWEAR it's almost done), I think it's safe to say I won't be making that mistake again (I've got plenty of others).
Not really a finished track, but close. I'm sure I would have gotten rid of the final goofy vocal exclamation points, but now they make me laugh.
My friend Jasmine sent an email asking "are there any bootleg versions of 'Made Me So Happy'?". Turns out the answer is "Yes x 2".
Here's version #1, the home demo. Pretty straightforward, recorded really quickly just to get the idea down. This demo is good at demonstrating (hey, it's a demo) how I often have a lot of the ideas for harmony and panning already in place as soon as I write the song.
Oh, both these versions still have the original penultimate line of the first verse "But ever since we met my head's been filled with goo" - a placeholder line that caused me quite a bit of embarrassment when I played it for Aimee Mann (I can still hear her incredulous "My head's been filled with GOO?!?" - ouch!).
Oh, the avalanche of percussion instruments was a piss-take at a litigious producer/drummer who never tired of having tracks end by him throwing his sticks or a tambourine down on the ground.
One final holiday treat, though I realize some might not think of this as exactly a treat. Still, this is one of my favorite things that I've ever recorded - still makes me smile. Hope you all have a great holiday season and see you in the New Year.
The second installment of holiday merriment is my re-creation of the greatest Christmas record of all-time. Originally sung by Darlene Love from the amazing 'A Christmas Gift For You' by Phil Spector. My favorite part making this was playing the Jack Nitzsche piano arrangement at the end of the song.
The holidays mean it's time to re-create my favorite Christmas records from years past. This is the first of three podcasts for the holidays, so come back soon.
A lead vocal-less version of the final mix, what we in the industry call a "TV mix." Feel free to take a turn singing the lead. Also a great way to hear pop legend Emitt Rhodes sing the background vocals with me.
I just came across this on-air performance of 'Supergirl' on WXPN Philadelphia, PA with Helen Leicht from 7.15.04. This is its first public performance.
I had written it the Thursday before (7.08.04) and it's so new that I haven't named it 'Supergirl' yet (I was calling it 'Take This Along' at the time). Also, the second line of the chorus was not finalized (and, at this time, I'd like to publicly acknowledge and thank Michael Penn for giving me the line "Up in the sky like Supergirl" - much better than what I had).
I hope someday to make a podcast out of the BBC London appearance (with Alex Thomas - check out archived podcasts of her lamentedly now gone show here) I was talking about towards the end of this broadcast (Doug in Calgary, can you help me?).
BTW - The spider bite healed, but it took about three weeks.
Dag-nabbit. Sometimes I wonder why I spend my time recordin' these here gul-dern songs that ain't got no purpose 'cept to amuse myself. Ain't like this kinda ditty's gonna wind up on on one a them there fancy LPs them city slickers put out up North. Still, it does kinda please me and I guess it ain't doin' you no harm, neither. So, enjoy it fer what it's worth. Sometimes a day makin' music just to please yerself is worth more than weeks and weeks of slavin' over one of them new-fangled computer things makin' music fer other people. Not fer anything, y'understand . . . I'm just sayin'.
A very silly one this week. I got an email today that mentioned Mike Viola and it bummed me out that we haven't played together yet this year, so this is a bit of nostalgia for the type of lunacy that happens when we play together.
This recording picks up just as we've finished "Let Me Believe (Evan's Lament)". Mike V. launched into the little harmonics riff and it went from there. Also in on the mayhem is Mike Frank who, if I can be a total downer, I'm bummed out about not playing with this year yet either.
A big thanks to Jamie Eng for providing me with this recording. Do YOU have any live stuff you've recorded at shows that you think might make a good podcast episode? If so, send 'em my way: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week's offering is another home demo, this time of 'Talk About the Weather'.
This was recorded in a couple of sessions. All of the instruments and most of the vocals were recorded on April 26, 2004. For reasons now lost to the mists of time, I didn't record the lead vocals to the choruses until June 28, 2004 (I think it really sticks out like a sore thumb in this demo that they were recorded at a different time). I also added the background vocals in the bridge at that point.
Not much else to say about this one. The inclusion of the harmonium and toy glockenspiel is pretty standard for home demos. I still like how they sound though.
Hope you like it.
We wish George Harrison a Happy Birthday with this live recording of 'Wah-Wah' recorded in 2001 at the Harrisongs Benefit Concert. Featuring Jim on Lead Vocals and Guitar, Roger Cox on Drums, Jesse Honig on Percussion, Scott Bricklin on Bass, Kevin Hanson on Guitar, John Montagna on Guitar, Amber DeLaurentis on Keyboards, Jay Davidson on Sax and everyone on Background Vocals. Live sound by George Pierson. Live recording by Lee Schusterman.
An unreleased demo recorded at home on 8.10.03.
For my first podcast I'm giving away my cover of Queen's 'Somebody to Love' that I recorded to honor WXPN's Helen Leicht on her 30th year in radio. This was recorded 10.20 - 10.22 2006. You can read about the sessions in all their glorious detail here.
Download it, subscribe to get future episodes, spread the word, and most of all - enjoy!