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Gimme some (hi-hat)

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s a chance to compare vinyl mastering approaches between pressings – with an awesome song. Jimmy “Bo” Horne’s Gimme Some is the kind of disco that transcends eras. With an intro like that, how could you not get out there dance to it? Furthermore, the single is not hard or expensive to get, so it’s a winner on all fronts for the 7″ collector or DJ.

I have the US pressing on Alston distributed by T.K., as well as a RCA UK pressing I picked up on my last jaunt to London. The mastering engineers have taken…well…wildly divergent approaches here. Sorry that neither of these records is in pristine condition, but try to ignore the vinyl wear and concentrate on the sound.

First, the US pressing:

Note how the hi hat is really at the forefront, sizzling. Whatever the mastering choices that led to this sound (compression, EQ), the engineer concentrated on the result: the hi hat/cowbell/piano combination was the distinctive element, making the track an instant call to the dance floor for even the most reticent Leisure Suit Larry.

Now, the UK pressing, you may have to adjust volume slightly.

I noticed instantly that the sound was a bit more balanced. This is the one you’d want to listen if you like low-end, or want to listen at high volume on headphones. The drums and other instruments sound a hell of a lot more natural, the natural decay on the piano is still there. A nice cut, actually.

However, if you’re the DJ playing it out? You probably want the US pressing, or some kind of console EQ. The UK pressing, while technically more honestly mastered, lacks the excitement of the US pressing. Whether it is actually the mastering engineer’s job to so substantially change the track is another issue, but in this case it worked out rather well I think.

Categories: Funky

Getting Mighty Crowded

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Not that price is a guarantor of quality in the world of soul, but I saw a copy of this record sell for 31USD recently on eBay.  I paid about 1/62nd of that price in a great record store in Denver called Twist and Shout – for some reason this record was in the clearance bin.  I can’t fathom that – it’s not in bad shape, and it’s a great song.  Elvis Costello apparently agreed – he covered it in 1980, although considering he completely changed the arrangement for the worse, I think it was a wise decision to leave it off of GET HAPPY (it was eventually released as a bonus track).

Curtis Mayfield may have had some influence here, not only in the background vocal department, but in the use of what I’m going to start calling the “ImpressionsMayfield changes*”  (you know them – they feature repeatedly in all of the great Impressions songs).  Here thankfully the bulk of the song is quite original, and the Impressions changes only accent the arrangement.  I particularly love the horn blasts at intervals through the song, it lends it a dark edge and takes it up a notch from average Northern.

Betty Everett is one of the lost greats.  She’s better known for “The Shoop Shoop Song,” aka “It’s in his kiss…that’s where it is,” but has a deep catalog of solo and duo (with Jerry Butler) tracks to peruse.  For instance, I have a ridiculously over the top funky soul track called “Take Me” in the MP3 collection, courtesy of a blog called Shindiggit.  She also deserves credit for originating the Clint Ballard, Jr. song “You’re No Good,” later famously covered by Linda Ronstadt and Van Halen(!).

download

*Apparently “Impressions Changes” is already taken for jazz tunes based on Coltrane’s “Impressions” – can’t argue with that!

Categories: Funky

Stick!!!

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I don’t have this title digitized, and I’m not sure anyone would care, because the cover is the priceless part of the equation.  How many artists do you know that have liner notes from a plumbers union business manager?  I shouldn’t fault him for the writing, and I know I did spend many hours from childhood on a WICAT computer program called “Sentence Combining,” but it reads like something Zappa would have parodied.

Stick seems like an upright kind of guy, I’m sure he entertained tens of people at the union hall over the years, not to mention special packages and/or showing some folks around Nashville.  If anyone has a copy of his brochure, don’t hesitate to scan it in and send.  (Not paying 3 bucks for it, though, FYI.)

Categories: Irony

Zonky

October 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Sorry that I only have 2/3 of this cover pictured, and no audio sample.  But what’s here is a picture of one of my favorite retardedly enthusiastic piano duos.  Nice tuxes, too.

Categories: Irony