Record-Producer.com (forerunner of the Audio Masterclass Newsletter) recently ran a 'Creativity Competition' that called for tracks in the style of The Beatles.
However, some of the entries were disappointing. There were some great tracks, it's true. And the winner was indeed a worthy winner.
But there were quite a number of tracks that sounded nothing like The Beatles. Clearly, people had sent in stuff they happened to have lying around, just on the off-chance it might succeed.
This is never a good plan. In the real world of the music business, if you are asked to write a song for a specific artist, then that is exactly what you should do. OK, look through your old demos and see if there is something that is an exact fit. But don't send anything that is less than your very best effort for that particular opportunity. Otherwise you will find further opportunities increasingly hard to come by.
Out of all of the entries for the competition there is one that, for me, stands out. Not just for being 'Beatley' but for being a damned good entry. Here is someone who has really gone out of their way to meet the requirements of the project 100%.
And here it is. 'Lonely Man' by Greg Milo…
And here is what Greg Milo has to say about himself, and how he recorded the track…
(By the way, if you think you can 'out-Beatle' Greg Milo, send us a freshly written and recorded track. You could be appearing here soon…)
I decided to go back to school when I was laid off the day before my wedding in 1998. I took a graphic design course and purchased a Mac from my teacher.
Shortly after I got the Internet and was going through the included bookmarks in Netscape. I clicked on a link that said MOTU. Cool!!! You can record music on your computer. There was an audio sample of an acoustic guitar – my favorite instrument. I was hooked.
I purchased a MOTU 2408 MKII. It has built up from there. I have since upgraded my computer to a dual G5 and an RME 800 using Digital Performer 4.61. I run three UAD-1 cards. I use Hafler M5 Reference monitors which have been discontinued.
Rack gear is minimal at the moment and includes a Digimax Lt, an Art Pro Channel, and an Aphex 207. My next goal is to try and purchase some higher end preamps.
My main love has become microphones. I use to EQ to death when I was first starting out. Now I try to get the sound the first time – or at least close to it. I still have so much to learn. I keep reading, have an open mind and listen to other people's opinions.
My wife and I purchased an old building in downtown Burlington, WI. Over the last 6 years we have been restoring it. We live upstairs as the downstairs is zoned commercial. There I have my recording studio and my wife has her art studio. I hope to have the rest of my rooms completed within the next two years.
I mainly got into recording to record my own music – you know, less pressure and save some money. I started recording others' music as my collection of gear and knowledge grew. I enjoy a variety of music and have had the pleasure to record bluegrass, folk, metal, rock, French rap, choirs, a civil war octet, and have a 50+ choir/orchestra performance coming up.
How 'Lonely Man' was recorded…
I read the challenge and began writing immediately. The song structure is pretty basic. I penned the lyrics and guitar in about an hour. I recorded a rough guitar to a click track to make it easier for the drummer to follow and edit if I had to.
Sorry, I live in the digital world-no tape splicing here. I re-recorded the acoustic, laid bass and added the vocal. I added electric and let the mix gel for a couple of days. I then added the backing vocals and mixed. I wanted Sir George Martin on the recording but he was busy. I thought more about it after the song extension but I believed that might have cluttered the song.
One Fathead ribbon mic in front of the kit about 3 ft out and 3 foot high run into an Aphex 207
Fairchild compressor plug, EQ roll-off's at 50 Hz and 10 kHz
I had a tube mic in the room also, but I thought it too much. Much of Ringo's drums were often buried I thought, so I pulled the other mic out of the mix.
Thanks to Stas for sitting in for a night on the drums after an 8 year hiatus. I think he did pretty good considering.
ESP LTD bass direct into RME 800, pick and palm muted.
EQ and LA2A compressor plug-in
I asked some bass playing friends about Paul's style. Lucky for me, Paul used a pick and was originally a guitarist I'm told.
Tacoma DR16 miked at 12th fret with a Heil PR40
LA2A compressor plug
Gibson ES 333 direct into RME 800. LA2A, RS-1 Reflection Engine, Masterworks EQ and Nigel Preflex
Off axis, no pop screen into Fathead ribbon mic
LA2A plug, Boss chorus ensemble plug, Plate 140 plug
Backing vocals had same plugs plus EQ
I used Autotune's 'Lennonizer' plug-in for my vocal effect (just kidding)
I maxxed the gain on an unplugged guitar cable and recorded that. I then EQed it to sound like the hiss off of the “Let It Be” album.
LA2A plug (again, I really like this plug) Pultec plug, UAD1 Helios plug trial-now expired
I bounced the song down to a stereo track and opened a new file. I duplicated the stereo track twice. I left the original straight up and panned one hard left and the other hard right. On the master track I again used the Pultec and the LA2A plugs. I don't understand all the science, but it just sounded a little bigger to me.
I kept the master volume within range of the other songs on 'Let It Be'. With my knowledge or experimenting, I did my best to emulate an analog feel. I kept the song raw. I did not want to polish it or make it too perfect.
I had a lot of fun. Check out my music and my natural voice at www.gregmilomusic.com