Picture Gallery
Jammin!

 The Billy Walton Band

 

Twitter

« Hurdy Gurdy, Esraj and Bagpipes..OH MY!! | Main | New Website for Aala Recording »
Saturday
Oct092010

Bob Jones "Michael and Me" a labor of love.

Released in July 2010, this grassroots project was what really took my studio to the next level. Everything I had learned about recording music over the years (or thought I knew) were put to the test. This was the first real project I would do on a professional level. Two years in the making from the planning stage to tracking the basics to over dubs to mixing to the final mastering and release it was truly a labor of love with many trials and tribulations along the way.

From the beggining Bob abd Nils brought me in and treated me as one of the band. Their thinking was everybody had to buy in. The approach was a simple one. Get good players in one room with great instruments and amps focused and having a good time. The vibe was great and at the end of each session the now legendary Mango margheritas were flowing.

All the basic tracks for all the songs were recorded live in one room (bass, drums, vocals, guitars). Bob and Nils wanted to capture the magic of everybody playing together. He was willing to sacrifice some of the separation of sound for that. So I embraced the challenge and bleed became my friend.

We recorded 23 songs in five days. We used what came to be know as the "3" rule. No session was longer than three hours and no song was to be played more than three times or we moved on to the next song. We really wanted to capture the freshness and spontaneity among the players. And good players they were! We were not looking for perfection as much as we were looking for magic. Most songs where done in one or two takes and not one song was passed on. One of the 23 songs was not usable for the project and we had a hell of a time deciding which tracks made the final play list.

I remember sitting there in the room listening with a smile on my face and goosebumps on the back of my neck thinking "god dont let me screw this up"! Good music and good friends were made during that time. One of the greatest experiences of my life.......Tom Lelli

 

Album Notes
Bob Jones played drums on what is arguably Michael's best album (Michael Bloomfield and Friends – Live at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West) and went on to play with him for the final ten years of his career. You can hear that Michael And Me was mostly recorded live in the studio with crack players (Jimi Bott, Greg Marsh, etc.) and yet the recording quality transcends a mere live document thanks to the painstaking care taken by the engineer. The album’s performances benefit from both the rich cache of material culled from Bob's touring years with Michael in the 70s, and Bob Jones’ remarkable vocals. The latter cannot be emphasized enough – this is not just another record of killer guitar jams over pedestrian backing tracks. Michael himself compared Bob to Otis Redding when he first heard him, and it is this that firmly plants Michael and Me on the same level as the very best classic blues albums. As if that weren’t enough, the album also features guest appearances by Bloomfield Band mainstays Nick Gravenites and Mark Naftalin,

The album was originally the idea of Nils Rosenblad, a Bloomfield aficionado who learned his first guitar licks (at 9!) from the Butterfield albums. But it soon caught fire in the hearts and minds of Bob and the rest of the members of The Drive. Nils plays most of the lead guitar on the album and the chemistry between he and Bob is the driving force behind the project.

Michael and Me is a return to a style of playing and recording that has been almost completely lost in the modern age of ProTools and overdubbing. It is this authenticity and traditional methodology that makes the album 'fresh' and a great modern recording that can compete with the originals from back in the day on their own terms. Michael and Me will remind people that the style of blues that informed their earliest experiences with the genre did not end in 1958, or '68, or even '87, as well as inspire and astound every new generation of Blues and Americana fans that have come along since then.

The Tunes and Their Connection to the
“Mike Bloomfield and Friends” Band
By Bob Jones

1) Michael Bloomfields’ intro to my song “Backroad” from a live performance in the late 70's.

2) Backroad - Our modern version. Mike loved to play this song ‘cause he loved the topic. Great harp and lead guitar. Drummer Greg Marsh shows why he is first call from Chicago to Maui.

3) Blue Movies - Written by “Gashouse” Dave Shorey, one of the bass players in “Friends”, about the porn tracks Mike and I played on for the Mitchell Brothers. The “mambo, mambo, Little Sheba on the side” line is a direct Mike quote about carnal events.

4) Minglewood Blues/.45 Blues - A stormer with the floor tom groove we used in the Michael band all the time.

5) Lollipop Mama - You’ve got to have a great shuffle on a Mike tribute album. Jimi Bott, six time winner of the Blues Drummer of The Year award, plays a solo that only he could. Jimi has told me he was also heavily influenced by the Fillmore West album.

6) Knocking Myself Out - Mike’s ode to his love of consciousness alteration.

7) Mary Ann - The only tune from Super Session we do. We do it the way the “Friends” band did it, much more like Ray Charles’ original. Nils so invokes Mike on this.

8) Corrina - Inspired by the Taj Mahal version, Mike enjoyed playing this nine bar blues.

9) Raising Cane - Another Shorey tune written at that time about me.

10) Blues From A Westside - My vocal duet with Nick Gravenites on a song which Nick wrote. Originally recorded on “Live at Bill Graham’s Fillmore West” I play drums on this as I did on the original. Nick is the most sophisticated Blues lyricist ever.

11) Do Me - A single entendre modern “Gashouse” Dave Shorey song.

12) Women Loving Each Other - Mark Naftalin’s keyboard contributions to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the “Friends” band are legendary. Here he shows he has just gotten better. In addition, Mike loved that the original writer, an old blues guy, would complain about lesbians cutting in on his action. Some verses were added by Mike.

13) Too Much Smoke - Mike came up with the intro guitar line. Nils takes that theme and extends it beautifully.

14) Cigarettes and Coffee - Originally done by Otis Redding. This is the song I was playing when Mike first met me and compared it to hearing Otis singing and Al Jackson playing.

15) Guitar King - This was Mike’s anthem. We often did it at the beginning of shows. It said “We play high energy punk blues like Wolf and if you don’t like it, leave.” Greg plays the drum part just like I would.


 

 

bob jones - blues from a westwide- witn nick gravanites by Tom Lelli

Reader Comments (2)

Thanks Tom. You have captured the experience. In the future you might write about the mixing portion of the project from your point of view. I thought we developed a great synergy in developing our method and would love to hear what you thought.

Although I have recorded 25+ studio albums, this was the best recording experience of my entire life. The team was amazing and the combination of just the right amount of planning and improvisation on all levels was to die for.

Having just come out of the "I'll do it all myself" stage of my recording career, I was particularly gratified by what I DID NOT have to do and how that freed me to concentrate on the bigger picture.

I was particularly grateful for the way You and Nils handled picking my guitar amps and setting up my tone for me, something this control freak NEVER thought he would like. I would play a few notes on the guitar at the beginning of sessions and think "Bob, if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Also, Nils' idea of planning the kind of guitars and their respective effects to use on each song BEFORE the sessions ever started was just genius to me. It gave each tune it's "signiture sound" that really helped define later mixing decisions.

Bob

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob Jones

Thanks Bob,
The mixing was one of the most interesting parts of this project. The project was mixed over a period of about 9 months and took on a life of its own.
It was kinda of cool. Bob might say something like "for this particular song this is how I would envision it. Pretend your in a dance studio and the light is shining through the glass and highlighting all the dust particles floating in the room". Or maybe I see this one sounding like you are in a dive bar with buckets of blood on the wall or some crazy vision like that. He wanted me to connect with how he wanted the song to feel, then we might talk about specific element and where he wanted them in the stereo field.
Not once did he want to sit over my shoulder while I mixed. he trusted me to find a way to get it to sound like he envisioned it.

I would mix one track and send it to Bob for evaluation and he would ask for certain tweaks and we would go back and forth like that. Sometimes it took 3 mixes, others took 19..hahah. I basically took three things into consideration.

1. Bobs vision for the project

2. The organic sounds we captured, I wanted to be true to that and mix to each song. I didn't try to change the basic sound of the tracks. Some had a lot of bleed from the vocal mic and made the drums sound huge so I embraced the bleed instead of trying to eliminate it.

3. The distinct groups of sounds/songs we ended up with due to the recording process of the basic tracks. Since we recorded all in one room, used two different drummers and ended up using some of the live "scratch" vocal tracks, we ended up with 23 tracks grouped into 4 or 5 basic categories.

Most of the songs fit into one of these categories so I mixed all the songs in one group then setup the board for the next group. I had no computer and no recall so each mix was basically a one time performance. I would leave the board setup after each mix and come back to it after Bob made his suggestions and tweak from there.

Songs like Guitar King, Women Lovin Each Other, and Dont You Lie to Me (which didn't make the record) all had Greg marsh on the drums and used the live vocals. They had bombastic drums and raw room sounds and called for basically the same EQ and compression settings.

Songs like Mingle-wood Blues_45Blues and Lollipop Mama had Jimi Bott playing drums. His drum setup effected the way I had to mic him up and his minimalist old school style ended up having a great homogeneous sound which lent to a more classic blues sound. it really added a special variety of sounds to the songs and mixes and made the record sound way more interesting.

Of course along the way there were cool little accidents that happened that added character to the overall feel and sound of the record. More on that later.......

Tom

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom Lelli

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>