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the guiro makes it
November 29, 2010 6:14 PM   Subscribe


 
Capital idea.
posted by pracowity at 6:20 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


THANK YOU FALPJAX BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY I COULD HEAR THAT SONG ANEW WAS TO PLAY ALL FOUR OF THOSE CLIPS AT ONCE OUT OF SYNC WITH ONE ANOTHER
posted by not_on_display at 6:21 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


OH HEY THERES A FIFTH TRACK TOO I WILL JUST START PLAYING THAT NOW TOO
posted by not_on_display at 6:22 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


LISTENING TO IT NOW. STARTING WITH THE BASS BECAUSE YOU KNOW, I PLAY.

WOW
posted by Sailormom at 6:24 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sweeeeeeet. As an aspiring songwriter / recordist / guitarist this will help me better understand the craft of one of my favorite bands during their peak years.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:25 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by dry white toast at 6:28 PM on November 29, 2010


Step 1. Write flawless, perfect rock song
Step 2. Get Mick Jagger and Merry Clayton to go fucking crazy on the vocals
Step 3. Add reverb
Step 4. Profit
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:30 PM on November 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


From the Department of Your Favorite Isolated Track Sucks:

Let us pray that no one does this for Stairway to Heaven.
posted by y2karl at 6:30 PM on November 29, 2010




Let us pray that no one does this for Stairway to Heaven.

I'd love to see it for Bohemian Rhapsody.

Every.
Single.
Track.
posted by Jimbob at 6:34 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I had fun making Charlie Watts play reggae skank against the bass.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:39 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have to say, the vocal track did make the hair on the back of my neck go all crackly. CRACKLY.
posted by scratch at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


God, I love these sorts of things. I feel like I could listen to the Charlie Watts track and use it to point out the inadequacies of so much drumming. So tight, but so fluid. And spaaaare. It's just killer. I can't play the drums very well, but whenever I drunkenly hop on somebodies kit it's that track that I imagine I sound like. But obviously don't.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Be nice to have them as .wavs or .mp3s so we could throw them into Ableton and turn a silk purse into a sows ear.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:44 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah! And "Love to Love You Baby" by Donna Summer, next!
posted by IAmBroom at 6:47 PM on November 29, 2010


Be nice to have them as .wavs or .mp3s so we could throw them into Ableton and turn a silk purse into a sows ear.

Download Helper + Your favorite meda converter, and you're good to go.
posted by Jimbob at 6:48 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


THE GÜIRO IS A PUERTO RICAN PERCUSSION INSTRUMENT CONSISTING OF AN OPEN-ENDED, HOLLOW GOURD WITH PARALLEL NOTCHES CUT IN ONE SIDE

Thanks, I always have wondered what sort of instrument was making that sound on that song.
posted by e1c at 6:48 PM on November 29, 2010


Well, for comparison's sake, there is this from Aquarium Drunkard:

Forest National, Brussels, Belgium 10/17/73, 1st show
posted by y2karl at 6:50 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


ONE GIMME SHELTER RINGTONE, VOCALS ONLY, COMING RIGHT UP.

Weird how decent parsers will turn uppercase into capitalize, but we don't have those here. Also, a very nice find.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:52 PM on November 29, 2010


ListenToYouTube.com

(although its previous mention on Metafilter notes that it "will give you some annoying, potentially NSFW popunder ad" before providing the mp3.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:56 PM on November 29, 2010


That Wyman bassline manages to be both a solid anchor and spine of the song while still being just on the edge of collapse.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:01 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd love to see it for Bohemian Rhapsody.

Every.
Single.
Track.


There's actually a really good documentary out on the recording of Queen's "A Night At The Opera". I remember it was probably either 60 or 90 minutes long, and gets into a lot of the stuff they had to do in order to create that album. Like, old-school stuff. Like, for The Prophet's Song, they had to set up Biro pens taped to the backs of chairs for the tape to loop around outside of the recorder in order to get the proper delay to layer the vocals during the long acappella section.

Somehow, I suspect just hearing the separate tracks would probably not actually tell you a whole lot about HOW they build Bohemian Rhapsody.
posted by hippybear at 7:02 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fantastic. Thanks.
posted by googly at 7:05 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]




The clipping. It hurts. But in a good way.
posted by The World Famous at 7:13 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nobody tell Scorsese!!!
posted by Bromius at 7:17 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You hear a great song, and it's easy to forget just how much work goes into getting it right.
posted by Red Loop at 7:18 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fascinating. I love studying this kind of stuff, to reverse-engineer, as it were.

So at least Keith's rhythm guitar & the drums were tracked at the same time, judging from mic bleed. That's kind of amazing by today's standards. I've always thought the drum sounds on this were just monster, especially the toms. There's a little guitar in the bass track, but no drums. so maybe the bass was overdubbed, and the guitar is tape bleed from an adjacent track?

Definitely a high-water mark in rock history.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:26 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


ONE GIMME SHELTER RINGTONE, VOCALS ONLY, COMING RIGHT UP.

I too want my phone to scream "Rape! Murder!' when someone phones me
posted by Hoopo at 7:32 PM on November 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Flagged as maybe the greatest discovery I've ever made on MetaFilter.

And I'm here a lot.

The clipping. It hurts. But in a good way.

Does this material exist in greater fidelity... elsewhere on the Internet?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:33 PM on November 29, 2010


hippybear is right, Classic Albums: Queen: Making of a Night at the Opera is actually streaming on netflix right now. There's also ones for:

Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell
Metallica: The Black Album (Doh, somebody shoot me! Why not somethin' earlier?)
Classic Albums: John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band (streaming now on netflix)
Classic Albums: The Doors (streaming now on netflix)
Classic Albums: U2: The Joshua Tree (streaming now on netflix)
Classic Albums: Rush: 2112 & Moving Pictures
Classic Albums: Steely Dan: Aja
Classic Albums: Duran Duran: Rio (streaming now on netflix)
Classic Albums: The Grateful Dead: Anthem to Beauty
Classic Albums: Iron Maiden: Number of the Beast
Classic Albums: The Who: Who's Next

Eh, there's apparently many (Judas Priest, Phil Colins, Lou Reed, Elvis, Stevie Wonder, etc.) more if you search for "classic albums."

I watched the Iron Maiden one a while ago which I totally enjoyed, but it wasn't as technical as I had hoped. They touched on many topics (including life, from what I vaguely remember) and didn't focus completely on the recording/engineering process. Still, as a perpetually aspiring musician I totally love this kinda thing and this Rolling Stones deconstruction is something I want more of (thanks flapjax!).

I've been told if you write to musicians or labels and say you want to make a remix you can often receive the separate tracks ... though I've not tried that yet. Now that i've perpetually passed 30 years old, perhaps I will someday soon ...
posted by mapinduzi at 7:34 PM on November 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


Oh is this a song by that magazine?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:34 PM on November 29, 2010


Thank you. I'm in the middle of Keith's book. Just this morning I was thinking... could I just hear it without the vocals? Just to understand what Keith was doing?
posted by R. Mutt at 7:35 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey, at 41 seconds on that first guitar track, there's a tape edit where the lead comes in - the drums drop out there -- they must have been bouncing stuff to save tracks, and dubbed over the first track after it was bounced. Yikes -- I hope they made a safety copy first. Crazy stuff. (I need to go piece this together in Logic & dissect it) I'd love to see a track sheet.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:36 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


screw the isolated tracks, Merry Clayton's Version is HOLYSHIT!that'sawesome!!!11!. man do rolling stones songs sound awesome when musicians are playing them.

only partially joking. the guitar layering from the rolling stones recording was a huge influence on my approach to rock rhythm guitar.
posted by mexican at 7:42 PM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh man, I enjoyed hearing all the parts of that. Thanks for the post flapjax.
posted by nickyskye at 7:46 PM on November 29, 2010


Man, listening to the guitar tracks...they're all over the place, then get right back into it. And the bass...dead on the beat, seemingly, and not anything special. Until your put 'em together. The push and pull, the the disorienting lurch of the song, *now* it's apparent why Gimme Shelter always gave me the willies.

This is excellent.

(Another song that uses notes in front of and behind the beat to great - but different - effect is Sinatra's "In Other Words". I've never been a big Blue Eyes fan, dismissing him as my grandparents'/Las Vegas/etc schmaltz. Then I was trying to coach my dad when he was in a church revue that included a cover of "In Other Words". For having exactly zero vox training, my pop's got pretty good chops - I've never heard him miss a pitch, and the timbre of his voice is forceful and tender at the same time. But covering Sinatra? TO do that without coming off poorly is a neat trick. At any rate, we were trying to figure out what, exactly, Sinatra did to make the verses and the chorus stand so far apart from each other. Then it dawned on us - on the verses, Frank is way ahead the beat. The ability to do this - almost syncopate every beat without speeding up - is the classic mark of a proper "swing". Well, that and the ability to swing straight quarter notes, but that's another story. Anyway, on the refrain, "In other words, hold my hand," you can hear that Sinatra puts on the brakes. He's dawdling til *after* the beat to hit notes, so much that they're sycopated the other way! This push-pull is what really gives the song its pop. And I gained newfound respect for Sinatra - he wasn't just a great voice, he was chops, baby.)
posted by notsnot at 7:46 PM on November 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'd love to hear the extremely lo-fi backing track for Street Fighting Man, with Keith's acoustic & Bill's toy drum kit.
posted by anazgnos at 7:51 PM on November 29, 2010


The clipping. It hurts. But in a good way.

Does this material exist in greater fidelity... elsewhere on the Internet?


It clips like crazy on the album, as well.
posted by The World Famous at 7:52 PM on November 29, 2010


I have created a new music nerd game: try to stump each-other by playing what you think is the most obscure isolated instrument from a given track, and have other music nerds figure out the song. Increased difficulty: start somewhere other than the beginning of the song (example - except it gets obvious after a few seconds of this clip).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:58 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this where I admit that until I listened to that vocal track, I thought Mick was singing "library lights away" instead of "my very life away?"

oops
posted by Lucinda at 8:11 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It clips like crazy on the album, as well.

It sounds to me like they clipped the mics in their echo chamber. It is so glaringly obvious that it must have been on purpose though, and it never bothered me on the full mixed track. If anything, it enhances it, her voice getting destroyed while shouting rape and murder.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:11 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh my God- I just realized that THIS IS THE ONE BILLIONTH INCORRECT USAGE OF "DECONSTRUCT"!
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:29 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The sum, it is greater than the parts. The parts, they are greater than the sum. *brain explodes*
posted by gwint at 8:54 PM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


So at least Keith's rhythm guitar & the drums were tracked at the same time

And that, friends, is the exact reason that Charlie Watts' drumming on this track is so solid. Keith was always the deep rhythm anchor of the band.

Note also that the drum fills, when they occur, are always simply quarter note hits. Not an 8th or 16th note to be heard. This is another reason why Watts shines on this song. Note also, that on most occasions in other Stones songs, that when Charlie Watts plays drum fills that do include 8th or 16th notes, he rushes like a salaryman late for a meeting with his boss.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:59 PM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


For those of you who, like me, are not intimately familiar with the Stones' catalog, here's what seems to be the album version on the Youtubes to listen to so you can properly hear how it all comes together.

It is better than the weaksauce TV version linked to in the post but I still don't know if I'd call it a "maelstrom" as the comments under the bass track describe the song; I've heard more apocalyptic sounds out of my C64 but whatever works for you I guess.
posted by egypturnash at 9:17 PM on November 29, 2010


> Oh my God- I just realized that THIS IS THE ONE BILLIONTH INCORRECT USAGE OF "DECONSTRUCT"!

Disassemble.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


FWIW, (Guitar 2 & Piano) also includes harp.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:25 PM on November 29, 2010


So awesome. My favorite Stones' song, FWIW.
posted by falameufilho at 9:28 PM on November 29, 2010


lovelovelove
thanks
posted by readery at 9:37 PM on November 29, 2010


Oh my God- I just realized that THIS IS THE ONE BILLIONTH INCORRECT USAGE OF "DECONSTRUCT"!

PLEEZ ENLITEN US PERFESSER. Isn't it weird how the dictionary defines it one way but also says it's a synonym of 'anatomize' and 'break down' which both totally apply here?
posted by Hoopo at 9:44 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, the guy used the tech to separate out the tracks and you can then listen. Wurdz don't mean nuttin.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 PM on November 29, 2010


bill wyman omfg
posted by jeremy b at 9:52 PM on November 29, 2010


THE GÜIRO IS A PUERTO RICAN PERCUSSION INSTRUMENT CONSISTING OF AN OPEN-ENDED, HOLLOW GOURD WITH PARALLEL NOTCHES CUT IN ONE SIDE

Metafilter Music posts tagged with guiro.

well wouldn't ya know, one of 'em's mine
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:53 PM on November 29, 2010


when Charlie Watts plays drum fills that do include 8th or 16th notes, he rushes like a salaryman late for a meeting with his boss

Yes! To me that's his definitive move. Well put.
posted by Camofrog at 9:54 PM on November 29, 2010


Classic Albums: U2: The Joshua Tree (streaming now on netflix)

Some wonderful Eno & Lanois moments in this episode, but the Edge takes it with his favorite part he played on the album. Must watch!
posted by activitystory at 10:13 PM on November 29, 2010


well, yeah - that was fascinating
posted by pyramid termite at 10:22 PM on November 29, 2010


Listening to Rick Wright deconstruct (yeah, I said it... whatchoo gonna do?) the chord progression in Us & Them in the Classic Albums for Dark Side of the Moon gives me goosebumps and a greater appreciation for not only the song, but also makes a damn good case for Rick, not Roger or Syd or Dave, being the real "Pink"...

That episode was streaming on Netflix as recently as last month, but appears to have gone away...
posted by gern at 10:37 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds to me like they clipped the mics in their echo chamber. It is so glaringly obvious that it must have been on purpose though, and it never bothered me on the full mixed track. If anything, it enhances it, her voice getting destroyed while shouting rape and murder.

I think I have to qualify my next statement by assuring you that Gimme Shelter is probably my favorite song by any artist in the history of music:

The clipping on the guitars on this song is certainly not intentional and has always driven me nuts - even when I was a little kid listening to it in the back of my parents' car on family vacations. But now, with a little bit of studio engineering under my belt, I realize that the clipping (on the guitars, especially) is a big part of the haunting power of the song. It's on my list of songs that are brilliant because every little piece of the whole thing comes together just exactly right, including "mistakes" and "imperfections" that contribute to something brilliant; sell your soul songs, as it were.

But yeah, the clipping is awful and wonderful. And there's no way it's intentional.
posted by The World Famous at 10:48 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could these parts be any simpler? Could they be more amazing? Sorry, but fuck all that shredding fret whizardry stuff - play the right five notes like your life depended on it and STOP RIGHT THERE.
posted by victors at 11:05 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


FWIW, (Guitar 2 & Piano) also includes harp.

Yes, and some harmonica too.
posted by mikeand1 at 11:05 PM on November 29, 2010


I WANT TO HEAR THIS WITH VAN HALEN'S RUNNING WITH THE DEV--

no, I don't.
posted by bwg at 11:11 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first version with the original lead vocal (by Keith Richards) is something interesting as hell, too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6NtVr9HmCY
posted by kenlayne at 11:18 PM on November 29, 2010


But now, with a little bit of studio engineering under my belt, I realize that the clipping (on the guitars, especially) is a big part of the haunting power of the song.

The guitar clips at several points in Sonic Youth's Teenage Riot, and they are fantastic moments. Sometimes music's just to much for the pathetic mediums on which we try to capture it.
posted by Jimbob at 11:57 PM on November 29, 2010


I firmly believe that after a recording is 40 years old its multitrack master should enter the public domain for all to enjoy and explore. It's an crime against our culture that that's not already the case. A travesty, actually.

On that note, here's John Bonham's drum track from Led Zeppelin's Fool In The Rain.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 12:28 AM on November 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


my guess with the vocals - there's some discussion amongst audio nerds about "UK" vs "US" methods of working, especially on the classic records 60s and 70s. One of those stereotypes that gets thrown around is of UK-trained engineers printing more effects during tracking, whereas their US counterparts might do it at mixdown. The argument for doing this during tracking is that it lets the artist react to the effect with their performance, playing off the eventual final sound.
And the counterpoint to that is that you can't change the effect later; you've either committed to it or painted yourself into a corner, depending on how you want to look at it.

It's hard to tell where exactly the distortion is coming from in these tracks - my thought is it's the condenser mics overloading from the volume of the vocal take, and the distortion is also in the reverb as it was printed to the track at the same time as the take.

in my experience sometimes you set a level, and then the actual take ends up being much louder as the performer gets into it. Sometimes the take is good enough that you just live with it; obviously Merry Clayton's performance is amazing, and I wouldn't want to say "yeah, that was pretty good, but my levels were too hot, can you do it again, just a little farther back from the mic?"

Merry Clayton's vocals were done at Sunset Sound and Electra in LA - I haven't been able to find any links specifying what mics were used on her voice.
posted by dubold at 2:13 AM on November 30, 2010


That is just insanely good. As someone said, "Bill Wyman omfg"
posted by DanCall at 2:34 AM on November 30, 2010


"Don't ever call me your drummer again. You're my fucking singer!"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:06 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jagger + Fergie + U2
posted by Optamystic at 5:01 AM on November 30, 2010


If anything, it enhances it, her voice getting destroyed while shouting rape and murder.

It's full-on awesome. That's gotta be the mic tube or Ampeg tape deck tube preamps clipping when she hits them hard. You can just visualize the old-skool VU meters dipping into the red. It's a beautiful distortion that gear and plug-in makers have been unsuccessfully chasing ever since. It's amazing how referential 60's-era gear still as as far as definitive standards.

I think it's ironic how digital is supposed to be cleaner & better, yet people chase after the dirt & noise & "warmth" from the classic gear with digital plug-ins.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:54 AM on November 30, 2010


Jesus H, that bass track.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:03 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's ironic how digital is supposed to be cleaner & better, yet people chase after the dirt & noise & "warmth" from the classic gear with digital plug-ins.

Well, in the early days of digital the "cleaner and better" banner was waved with fervor, but of course musicians, producers and engineers little by little (some sooner than others) learned that there was plenty of goodness in the old "dirt". Now, pretty much everyone knows that. And naturally enough, they're seeking it out in digital plug-ins, because not many folks can afford to outfit themselves with lots of pricey hardware.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:04 AM on November 30, 2010


November 29 issue of the New Yorker has a nice piece called My life as Keith Moon which explains to the drumless what all goes into interesting drumming. Subscription required, but worth tracking down if you're at all interested in that sort of thing

See also Sloop John B, first instruments then vocals.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:17 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


On that note, here's John Bonham's drum track from Led Zeppelin's Fool In The Rain.

Arrg! That stops half a second before the most amazing fill in the song. Anyone that doesn't get Bonham can now shut the hell up. That shit smokes. Bernard Purdie shuffle? Purdie used it to great effect on Aja -- don't get me wrong, but Bonham owns it right there. and that room sound - amazing as well. Jimmy Page is pretty underrated as an engineer/producer. So many of those decisions were his.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:08 AM on November 30, 2010


Any Beatles fans in the house?

Here you go.

Enjoy some crunch with breakfast.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:20 AM on November 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


As a kid I first experienced the Stones in their cash 'n carry late '90's or so sort of revival give us your money tour. I was struck several times by what I, as an inexperienced kid, thought was passionless drumming. Watching Charlie just sort of like an automaton, hi hat hi hat off, hi hat hi hat off. I remember being frustrated when the rest of the group seemed to be grooving and him sticking out like a sore thumb visually.

As I've grown older I've tried to find more respect for that precision, and the older I dig into the Stones material (Exile on Main St hooooly shitttt), the more appreciation I gain for his style.
posted by cavalier at 7:29 AM on November 30, 2010


See, the guy used the tech to separate out the tracks and you can then listen.

To create this would have required access to the original multitrack master recordings. There's no way to pull apart different instruments with this level of isolation after the mixdown has happened; that information is lost in the process.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:16 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


How did the author separate the tracks? Is there software that will allow anyone to do this to any song?
posted by horsemuth at 8:19 AM on November 30, 2010


Ha! Thanks Rhomboid for answering my question while I was typing it.
posted by horsemuth at 8:20 AM on November 30, 2010


More of this kind of thing.
posted by ob at 8:29 AM on November 30, 2010


holy shit, 1f2frfbf, i've always wanted what you just linked to. I'm currently having my mind blown by george. it rules.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:49 AM on November 30, 2010


How did the author separate the tracks? Is there software that will allow anyone to do this to any song?

He probably somehow got access to the actual studio tracks. It would be basically impossible to isolate these instrument and vocal tracks from a mixdown, regardless of how awesome the software is. Once you collapse a multi-track into a single mix, the layering of the sounds makes isolation impossible.

Even the best DJs end up having to use audio trickery to make their remixes sound good if they didn't have original tracks to work from. Sometimes you can isolate a lot and have it sound decent with the right drum loops and other things going on, but most of the time, if you were to listen to that sampled vocal line from that dance mix by itself... you'd hear how dirty it really is, with fuzz from the rest of the track kind of piggybacking on the software-isolated vocal.

There are whole internet communities built around acquiring stems and decent software isolated tracks, if you really decide to look.
posted by hippybear at 9:10 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I feel like there could have been a universe where Gimme Shelter set the tone for rock music in the 70s. I mean, I totally understand all the bands here in the real world who listened to Cream or the Who (or, on preview, "Helter Skelter") and said "Yes! This! More!" But I can't understand why there weren't more musicians having that same reaction to the guitar and piano lines on this track.

The spooky, intricate, precise way they weave around each other, like a kind of elastic gamelan — it just sounds like it should have set off a revolution. Instead, you hear echoes of it on a few other Stones songs from the era, and then it sort of peters out. There are echoes of it again in late 80s King Crimson, and in some post-rock from the 90s, but — and I say this as a guy who loves that stuff to death — none of it really has a soul. And anyway the similarity seems more or less accidental: I think the guys who founded Tortoise probably said "Let's borrow from all this jazz and classical and new age stuff we're listening to," not "Let's spend the rest of our lives working out all the implications of this one thing the Stones did once." But man, you could spend the rest of your life building on it, and I'm sort of bummed that nobody got on that back in 1969.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:11 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's the timing of the snare hits in the intro (up to the first cymbal crash) that keep me coming back to this record -- on the 2, 3-and, 4-and (or 3, 6, 8, if you prefer).

He never returns to that rhythm in the rest of the song, but it breathes life into the vocal line in the chorus. (Try singing "it's just a shot away" with the intro on the solo drum track and you'll see what I mean.)

Proving once again that it's all about drumming and singing (vocal or otherwise), thanks, Flapjax.
posted by Herodios at 9:42 AM on November 30, 2010


In case anyone else is interested, thanks to hippybear, I investigated further, and found that Guitar Hero, Rockband and perhaps other games use the original master recordings, and that some folks have ripped these and they are available via torrent. Now to the next step...
posted by horsemuth at 10:22 AM on November 30, 2010


I feel like I was turned on to this track via Metafilter, but there's something really endearing about this video of isolated vocal and guitar tracks from "And Your Bird Can Sing."

And somewhere in my iTunes folder there's a collection of John Bonham isolated drum tracks that's amazing that I got from a drummer friend of mine. Every once in a while a track will come up on shuffle and I'll think it's some badass new hiphop groove, then I'll realize it's familiar because I recognize it from the classic rock station I listened to growing up.

But man oh man, this post rules.
posted by elmer benson at 10:28 AM on November 30, 2010


Well, people seem to be playing around with this concept a bit...

I'd been meaning to do an FPP about stems and stuff, but never have gotten around to it.

Here's an excellent blog which links to many sources of stems, and here is an interesting website (which seems to have undergone a design change since I last visited) which may or may not have stuff people want to play with. For example, the original 8-track stems for Space Oddity.
posted by hippybear at 10:48 AM on November 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm not a musician, so I don't know what the hell some of you guys are talking about--clipping?--but I just want to say for the record that Merry Clayton's vocals on this song are just about fucking chilling. When I first heard this as a kid listening to my folks' LP, I was like, "I think the world might end right after this song does."
posted by Skot at 11:03 AM on November 30, 2010


I was going to make a comment about how much creepier the isolated vocal track is when you consider Merry Clayton's subsequent miscarriage...

and then I did one of those Google missteps where you learn that the Internet makes everything terrible, because someone seriously has her listed under Chewing the Scenery in TVTropes.

Seriously, Internet, fuck you a bunch.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:06 AM on November 30, 2010


holy shit, 1f2frfbf, i've always wanted what you just linked to. I'm currently having my mind blown by george. it rules.

I'm not dead certain of this, but I think that's Paul playing the guitar there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:24 AM on November 30, 2010


Keith's rhythm guitar & the drums were tracked at the same time, judging from mic bleed. That's kind of amazing by today's standards.

No, no it's not. Lots of bands do this all the time. I did it yesterday.
posted by Aquaman at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2010


I'm not dead certain of this, but I think that's Paul playing the guitar there.

Oddly enough, it's pretty safe to assume that anytime you hear an unbelievably awesome guitar solo on a Beatles song, it's Paul. George and John were really good, too (see "The End"). But for whatever reason, Paul did a lot of the most famous and obvious guitar solos.
posted by The World Famous at 11:28 AM on November 30, 2010


Skot: I'm not a musician, so I don't know what the hell some of you guys are talking about--clipping?

It's not a musician thing, it's an audio engineer thing.

Basically, Merry Clayton sings loud, the enginears don't turn down the gain on her mic, so what comes out doesn't accurately reproduce what went in. It is heard as distortion. When the sound is displayed graphically, instead of the nice curvey waves that went in, the tops are 'clipped' off' flat, hence 'clipping'.

This wp article and the images that go with it should help.
posted by Herodios at 11:31 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Herodios! I am obviously not an audio engineer either. Nor, apparently, someone who can be bothered with looking shit up on his own on Wikipedia.
posted by Skot at 11:35 AM on November 30, 2010


It's not hard to hear if you know what to listen for, though. You're probably familiar with the way cheap speakers or earbuds sound when you turn the volume up too high — sort of a gritty, scratchy, buzzy sound on the loudest notes. Through a lot of the song, the vocals have a similar sort of scratchiness to them.

It might not jump out at you because there's a lot of music now where the vocals are distorted on purpose. Here it was probably inadvertent.

Think of it like blur in a photograph, or spattery ink in a drawing. It's a useful technique if you do it deliberately, and a bit of a noob mistake if you do it by accident, but every once in a while there's a lucky accident and the distortion you didn't mean to add winds up making something look or sound better.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:42 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I mentioned above, though, the real clipping problems on Gimme Shelter are not on Merry Clayton's vocals. There's very little clipping on her vocals, and the parts where she sounds like her voice is about to explode are actually just that: Her voice is giving out - and it sounds awesome.

The big clipping issues are on the guitar tracks.
posted by The World Famous at 11:42 AM on November 30, 2010


(Heh. I like that we simultaneously posted "It's totally easy to hear" and "Naw dude you're hearing it wrong." To me it sounds like clipping and fraying vocal cords on the RAPE/MURDER bit, and clipping on Mick's vocal and the harmony bits. But I am also Not An Audio Engineer and could be misleading myself.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:51 AM on November 30, 2010


Yeah, Jagger's vocals have some pretty serious clipping problems. And there is some clipping on Merry Clayton's vocal. But the guitar clipping is, I think, a lot more egregious and has always bothered me, whereas the vocal clipping doesn't, for some reason.
posted by The World Famous at 11:56 AM on November 30, 2010


But guitars are supposed to be distorted.
posted by timeistight at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2010


Clipping on the recording is not the kind of distortion that guitars are supposed to have. Amp distortion is not the same thing as clipping.
posted by The World Famous at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2010


No, no it's not. Lots of bands do this all the time. I did it yesterday.

Maybe things are swinging back, then. Admittedly, I haven't been in a high-dollar session in a... long time, but it seemed like when I was actively around studios, pretty much everything but the drums was scratch, and amps were in isolation booths. I'd much rather people track in a room together, and probably the best performance a band of mine ever put down on tape was done with low partitions, sans headphones, but it wasn't sonically something we would have felt comfortable with a commercial album.

I've not met too may guitar players who would have been confident enough to record a tough part like the Keith Richards part in the FPP, either. People get pretty used to overdubbing, and being able to comp together tracks from x-number of takes (or fucking copy/paste) definitely becomes a crutch.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:00 PM on November 30, 2010


I'd love to see it for Bohemian Rhapsody.
Every.
Single.
Track.
posted by Jimbob


Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded on a 24 track desk, you can find all 24 tracks on thepiratebay.org/torrent/4170510

The whole thing loads into Garage band very nicely, a big 1GB download for a single 6 minute song but it is very instructive to see just how tight the production on that track is.
posted by Lanark at 12:08 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


mp3's of this.
posted by Xurando at 12:08 PM on November 30, 2010


There is (was?) a BBC Radio program call "Record Producers" that looked at the work of people like George Martin, Todd Rungren, Nile Rodgers etc. Very interesting stuff, even if you are not a full on studio nerd. The Motown episode is great. You can find some of the shows on torrent sites.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 12:55 PM on November 30, 2010


I love stuff like this, because it shows what utter bunkum is the quest of that certain segment of society paying big bucks for the perfect guitar tone. I mean, this song has one of the best guitar tracks ever, and in isolation, it's baldly apparent that it might as well have been any old piece of shit plugged straight into any old piece of shit--and it's not even played particularly well, either.

(The secret to good guitar tone is to stuff it just deep enough in the mix that no one is concerned with it.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:30 PM on November 30, 2010


this song has one of the best guitar tracks ever, and in isolation, it's baldly apparent that it might as well have been any old piece of shit plugged straight into any old piece of shit--and it's not even played particularly well, either.

Ah, but that's the real secret to great guitar tone. All the greatest producers have known that forever. Jimmy Page played crappy masonite guitars through terrible, tiny amps. Then he switched to les pauls through marshalls and his tone sucked. Think about the great guitar tones of the '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. It's all crappy amps from Santana's little distorted thing to Brian May's little solid state amp to everything on every Steve Albini record to Jack White playing junk guitars through junk amps. The "high end" of great guitar tone is the Fender Champ, for crying out loud. You don't get great tone in spite of terrible gear and sloppy playing; you get it because of terrible gear and sloppy playing.

p.s. - please don't tell the people for whom I play studio guitar that I think sloppy sounds better.

(The secret to good guitar tone is to stuff it just deep enough in the mix that no one is concerned with it.)

I would modify that just a bit: The secret to good guitar tone is to bury the guitar under the bass guitar in the mix. See, e.g., the first two Led Zeppelin albums.

And noisy single coil pickups help, too. Again, see the first two Led Zeppelin albums.

Rock and roll tone - for guitar, vocals, whatever - comes out best when it's right on the edge of total destruction. That's why terrible amps record better than good ones, and it's why Gimme Shelter is so great.
posted by The World Famous at 1:49 PM on November 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Rock and roll tone - for guitar, vocals, whatever - comes out best when it's right on the edge of total destruction.


So true. The guitar player in my current band has pretty much replaced his Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier with a Malaysian 18 watt Marshall knock-off. If I had any money, I'd replace my D-180 with one of the 100-watt ones, too. His theory is that it's really the power tubes you've got to push. When the amp smells like it's burning, that's when it's working just right.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:26 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oddly enough, it's pretty safe to assume that anytime you hear an unbelievably awesome guitar solo on a Beatles song, it's Paul.

As you might expect, I have "Something" to say about that.
posted by scody at 1:18 AM on December 1, 2010


As you might expect, I have "Something" to say about that.

I probably should have added the qualifier "but not particularly restrained, nuanced, or tasteful" after the word "awesome" in my prior statement. The crazy solos are Paul. The beautiful ones are George. The mean ones are John.
posted by The World Famous at 1:25 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The secret to good guitar tone is to bury the guitar under the bass guitar in the mix.

I was thinking the exact same thing while listening to XTC's Garden of Earthly Delights on the ride in this morning. The guitar is buried so far below the bass and percussion on the first chorus, but it drives the thing so, so well.

Extreme minutia detail/derail: I'd not heard the remastered version of this song until just now and holy crap do I miss the gap between the fade-in and "Kiiiid."
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:29 AM on December 1, 2010


Everything's always buried under the bass in a XTC mixes, except maybe the tambourine. I love them.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:18 AM on December 1, 2010


probably the best performance a band of mine ever put down on tape was done with low partitions, sans headphones

Many engineers (and bands) have realized this in the last decade, and there's a real effort being made to keep the live vibe whenever possible in lots of recording sessions these days.

A welcome shift in sensibilities due in part to great DIY recording magazines like Tape Op, et al. (It's free - subscribe!)
posted by Aquaman at 8:56 AM on December 1, 2010


I started getting Tape Op a few months ago -- I had actually been up late on Sunday night reading it (I.E. perusing the ads) when I made the observation about pretty much all gear and plug-ins these days being sold with the words "retro, vintage, tube, analog," etc. It really gives me a bad case of The Wants. But honey! I NEED a boutique Vari-Mu-stlye compressor. NEED! Never mind that I don't even know what it is -- look at the knobs on that thing!
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:37 AM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Copywrite takedown notices on the original links now.

And just to think that this post almost convinced me to go buy an mp3 of the song . . .
posted by Mid at 7:52 PM on December 2, 2010


Copywrite [sic] takedown notices on the original links now.

Always remember folks: download early and often!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:28 PM on December 2, 2010


The clips are back up, though. For the time being. Now's your chance to grab 'em!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:30 PM on December 2, 2010


ack - sorry about copyright. There's something wrong with my edit comment window.
posted by Mid at 10:45 AM on December 3, 2010


Actually, only the vocal track works for me. Others still in takedown.
posted by Mid at 10:46 AM on December 3, 2010


Yeah, actually the vocal track was the only one I checked, then I just assumed* the rest were back up too.

*note to self: never assume.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:24 PM on December 3, 2010


In one of the comments on the blog post there's a radpidshare link to a .mogg file with all the tracks, if anyone wants to grab the audio.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:30 PM on December 3, 2010


A Stones special edition on Ready Set Go in 123 parts (1966). [adversaria]
posted by unliteral at 9:24 PM on December 6, 2010


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