Golden Rule remix and revision thx to Rene and Early 21

This was first up here 4-5 days ago. The recording is now a little different thanks to my heeding some advice from Rene and Early21. I was a bit resistant at first to the idea of having a bit more of “gentle entry” into the song, and to the idea of somehow playing with levels or dynamics more than I’d already done. I was in general agreement with the need to make the vocals more prominent in the mix, but I didn’t feel like going back and playing with the track any more than I’d already done. I thought about it, and decided to try to take what I now believe turned out to be good advice from both of them. Thanks, guys!
I wound up taking some things out here and there (drums, piano, and bass all from the start), piano through the verses, and an electric guitar part that had been there for half of each verse. I also EQ’ed the bass a little bit differently, and moved the acoustic guitars in the stereo field. I then duplicated the lead vocal on the verse and chorus, and played with the placement of those voices in the stereo field. I didn’t keep that duplicated voice in the coda part before the instrumental section because there are still 4 voices and 2 different vocal parts there.
My feeling is that it really does present better now. Not sure if Rene and Early will totally agree that things were done as they’d suggested, but thanks again to them for some ideas that did seem to help (once I’d accepted them!).

This track started 3 years ago. I did most of the instrumentation you’ll hear then, but the vocal and electric guitar were done these last few weeks. The track sat on the side while I worked on many other things.
This song came out of playing around with DADGAD tuning on an acoustic guitar, and that’s what you’ll hear on the acoustic guitar track on this recording.
The acoustic guitar, electric guitar, fretless bass, and vocals all went direct, and were processed in Line 6’s Helix Native plug-in. If you’re a Jeff Beck fan, the electric guitar sound I used was modeled by Line 6 from Beck’s sound on Blue Wind from the Wired album. I tweaked it a little and used a semi-hollow Gretsch instead of the Strat Beck probably used.
Finally, this is a pretty simple song that calls back in some way to a lot of the mainly British rock bands I listened to in the early 70’s before fusion and prog got their hooks into me. The words are in the spirit of those songs that kind of hope people will sooner or later start to treat each other better than we usually do.
Thanks for listening, and for any comments you’re willing to share.
John

Hi John,

Interesting this piece. The feeling takes us back to a certain time. It’s cool!

However, the beginning of the piece is excessively abrupt and surprising. The mix does not highlight the main vocals as well as the background vocals. Difficulty hearing words clearly. Vocals should be more present and clear.

Otherwise, good job!

Thanks, Rene. I agree that this song is pretty retro, but I hope in a good way. I get what you’re saying about the beginning. I usually do have something of a build into the main part of a song, but in this case it was a conscious choice not to do something like that. With the retro idea in mind, songs like Allright Now by Free, or even Beatles songs (And Your Bird Can Sing or We Can Work it Out) and many others came right in.
As for the vocals and the mix, I played with that a lot. I sacrificed that modern idea of “hearing the words distinctly”, for the somewhat older, and perhaps easier in the end, idea of going for a sound. I’m thinking of examples like Immigrant Song from Led Zeppelin, which I’ve heard 1,000 times, but still can’t hear or quote most of the lyrics.
I remember a book called Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy (Hendrix’ misheard lyric “Excuse me while I kiss the sky” from Purple Haze). It was a funny book all about how lots of mega popular songs had lyrics that many listeners never could decipher, or deciphered incorrectly. Maybe that’s why, back in the day, they printed lyric sheets with many albums. On that end, anyone who opens this on bandcamp will find the words there on the track page.
Of course, I think the lyrics here are important and worthwhile, so maybe I will revisit that at some point. In any case, thanks so much for listening, and weighing in with some thoughts about this.
John

Hi John, nice recording, again. Has a good feeling. I agree with Rene’s comments. I also might suggest that you could give it more dynamics by not necessarily playing every instrument in every section. Maybe have the backing instrumentation get thinner and quieter when you’re singing the verse, for example. Just a thought. This song, and as I think about it, most of your songs, tend to sound very static from beginning to end. Not many ups and downs.

Thanks for sharing your impressions, Leon. Not sure which of Rene’s comments you were referring to when you said you agreed with him. I don’t intend to change the intro or lead in, but I may still tweak to vocals in the mix. I don’t simply want to boost them any further, as I think they’d start to distort. I may try to duplicate the track and pan the duplicated track over a bit. I’ll see what happens with that, and share it again if it seems to make the voice any more prominent.
I know we’re usually likely to just listen to things once here (and that’s fine), so it’s doubtful that any of us are very schooled in each others tracks, but I did have the electric guitar come in and out here-including in the verses. I do often have dynamics and instruments and voices coming in and out in my tracks. The last few things I shared here (Brink of Something, An Active God, and Mes Aynak Nears Midnight) should all show pretty clear instances that I do that.
In any case, that’s something definitely good to bear in mind with recordings. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
John

I agree with Rene that the start of the song is abrupt. I agree with Rene that the main vocals could be more highlighted. But as I said, I have no advice on the vocals. I don’t have experience mixing vocals.

Yes, I heard the electric guitar come in and out. I’m saying, the dynamics are static, and you could affect that by varying the acoustic guitar, the organ, etc. You could also affect that by riding the faders, I guess, but that was not what I was suggesting. But of course, it’s to your taste. I listened several times.

Thanks for clarifying, and advice that I will consider.
John

Hi John, it was very helpful that you left the previous version there to compare the new version with. It’s really quite an improvement, in my opinion. It’s a little louder, the parts fill out the stereo field better, the vocals are much easier to hear, and there are more dynamics. Everything is much more present than the previous mix. I don’t even know exactly what I mean with “present”, but the previous mix sounded very flat. So everything you did worked.

With everything easier to sort out in my ear, I was wondering if there were some notes in the bass you would want to change. I started noticing at around 2:32, and I was hearing an F in the bass line, and I thought it should have been an F#. See, you clear it up, I can hear more!

I still think the intro is abrupt. It sounds like something was cut off at the beginning.
I do like that lead guitar tone. It does sound like Blue Wind.

John,

It sounds much better than the previous mix. The voice is audible and fits much better into the whole. From an equalization point of view, this one could be a little clearer by attenuating the low midrange and raising the frequencies around between 3K-5K (looking for the sweet spot), but that’s a matter of taste. It’s much better than before. The whole mix sounds better.

Again, this is a matter of taste, but I really don’t like the abrupt start of the piece. I feel like I’m starting to listen to a piece where I seem to have missed a piece of it.

I really like the feeling that emanates from this piece. Is there room for improvement, surely, but I think it’s fine the way it is. It’s up to you whether you want to invest more in it.

Thanks, Leon. Glad you think it’s generally better. I get what you and Rene say about the intro, but I’ll probably leave it that way, at least for now. Funny thing about that is that it sounds different to me on the soundcloud vs. the bandcamp versions, although the files are identical. The bandcamp one seems a more seamless and normal start to me, while the soundcloud one can sound like you’re joining the track in progress. Listening in itunes, it’s the same as bandcamp. It seems the guitar and organ blend better hearing it there, but soundcloud seems to accentuate the guitar, and it does seem a little more in progress because of that. Not sure why that is.
Regarding the bass, this was a line that came very simply in the whole writing/recording process, and it’s pretty much a first take played right through from when I started this song 3 years ago. I was happy with the feel and movement in the line, and literally paid no close attention to it as I revisited the track to get it as you now hear it in 2022.
In listening to that part now, I didn’t really feel it was jarring, or particularly “wrong”. Since it was fretless, it might just be an intonation thing (are you one of those people with perfect pitch?). That is something I certainly might’ve been guilty of. I’ll listen a few times more, and maybe leave it as it is, but maybe try to re-do it. It’s basically an Emin-Amin vamp at that point resolving to a C, so the F# is okay with the vamp, and what I generally was trying to do. If I did hit an F or a little too close to it, that might have been iffy until that C came around.
Anyway, thanks so much for the scrutiny you’ve given this. Other ears and ideas are helpful, and I know from hearing your own material that you know what you’re doing in the writing/playing/recording world.
John

Thanks, again Rene. I think your EQ idea is good, and I will play with that. I’m not sure if you listened to this on soundcloud or bandcamp, but look at what I’ve written back to Leon about what I perceive to be a difference in hearing this on one rather than the other. Not sure if you’d agree that that’s central to your feelings about the start, but it was curious for me to hear that, since the files are identical.
I really appreciate the time you’ve taken with this, and your perspective on the song.
John

Striaght up good track my friend, enjoyed the listen!!

Sorry friends, was kind of disconnected for a while.
John , i found the overall track really good. The melody is dynamic, the voice is super clear. I know I’m bit late, so, i will not go into any other comment, other that the production is almost perfect, well balanced indeed!

Thanks, Kevin and Stephane. You guys apparently heard the version that benefitted from tweaks based on the suggestions from Leon and Rene. Glad you’ve both seemed to approve of what you’ve heard here. Thanks for listening and weighing in. Always good to get your impressions and input.
John