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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Developing your own style and sound

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

I recently began production on two albums worth of material for two different artists. Rather than record these projects at an established studio in the Phoenix area, we chose instead to build a facility, allowing for greater creative freedom.

Last night we tightened the proximity on the drum mics, resulting in greater punch and articulation. We also discussed stylized recording techniques, such as the Philly or Memphis sound, and the variety in approach... and how these variations have developed over time.

Surprisingly, each city has a tendency to develop a sound that is unique to the region. NYC, Memphis, Philly, Seattle, L.A. Nashville, Toronto, Detroit... each has its own recognizable sound.

My point is that the success of a record is seldom if ever the result of the snare treatment or technical wow! A good record is the result of focusing on any number of creative factors, and nurturing an environment conducive to the creative process. Countless million dollar studios have failed, not due to lack of the latest recording innovations, but because of a lack of understanding.

When I worked at the Power Station, I noticed early on that many engineers attempted to divine magic by imitating sonic trends, rather than allow the sounds to grow and shape naturally. I also became aware of the fact that nearly everyone was afraid the next big sound would come from a kid with a broken four track in his basement. My advise... don't go there!

Instead, we are best served to develop a game plan that can be successfully implemented using the creative tools at our disposal. Expensive mics are nice to have around, but a good performance is much more important. As a vocalist, I have developed a reputation for sounding good through even the crappiest microphones. This happens because I have confidence in my voice to carry the performance, rather than rely on the mic to make me sound good. If I down a handful of suck pills before a vocal performance, there is nothing an expensive mic can do to save me.

There is a fundamental difference between a great recording and a great record. Countless great recordings never see the light of day, but a great record is instantly recognizable... Making a good recording is the easy part. Making a good record, however, requires something a little special.


B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Sound and Recording - Sound Foundation - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo - Impeachment Now! - Skate the Razor -
Skate the Razor Blog - blogment

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Alice Cooper Group to perform at Hall of Fame induction Ceremonies

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper and his original band-mates have been chosen to perform at this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies. The live telecast  on March 14th is expected to draw millions of viewers, as fans both young and old gather around the television for what is expected to be an unforgettable rock & roll spectacle, as only the Alice Cooper Group can deliver.

Alice and the boys broke into the music scene in the late sixties, trading in a burned out peace and love movement for violent images of blood and gore. The horror shtick stuck, and the Alice Cooper Group rocketed to super-stardom, scoring a bevy of hits, including the classics, Billion Dollar Babies, School’s Out, I’m Eighteen and No More Mr. Nice Guy. The  band released seven studio albums and a multi platinum Greatest Hits collection before going separate ways to pursue solo careers in 1975.

Alice, (born Vincent Furnier) continued to record under the Alice Cooper moniker, releasing eighteen solo albums do date. Alice is currently in the studio with legendary record producer Bob Ezrin recording a follow-up to his classic album ’Welcome to My Nightmare, due later this year.

The original Alice Cooper Group featured Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce on guitars, Dennis Dunaway on bass, Neal Smith, drums and Alice on vocals. Buxton, whom Rolling Stone Magazine ranked among the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." passed away in 1997.

Michael Bruce speaks fondly of those early days of rock & roll mayhem. “We were in the studio recording tracks for the Billion Dollar Babies album when Shep (band manager Shep Gordon) came in with an elaborate scale model of our new stage layout for the upcoming tour. It was all very Spinal Tap, but after the initial shock wore off, we realized it was a pretty cool stage design. When the actual stage arrived, it was magnificent, with these two reflective, vertical columns that glittered brightly under the lights. What we didn’t know was that the columns were coated with a thick fiberglass-like material which would slice our arms to ribbons by the end of each show. Some of that blood up there was real”

“We were pushing the envelope” states Michael with a broad smile. “That tour (Billion Dollar Babies) took off and just kept growing.” Ultimately, the Billion Dollar Babies tour went on to break attendance records previously held by the Rolling Stones.

Alice Cooper and the boys have announced plans to extend their re-union affair after their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction on March 14th. The band intends to take the show on the road, with performances in Los Angeles, Detroit, Toronto and more.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor
Sound and Recording - Sound Foundation - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo - Impeachment Now! - Skate the Razor - Skate the Razor Blog - blogment

Friday, December 10, 2010

Taking Creative License - Sampling Vs. Stealing

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Although I have never had the success of say, Madonna, Motown, or Metallica, I have written my share of tunes, some which have charted. As such, I may offer just a tad of insight on this subject of creative license.

Over the years, I have been confronted with a variety of these situations, in a variety of settings. I have been sampled, borrowed from, quoted, and mentioned by name. On multiple occasions, I have even had the opening act feature my songs in their set-list.

I for one, find the process amusing, and artistically satisfying. As a musician, I started out as an artist first, and my interest remains primarily at the creative level. The business end cannot be neglected, but hey, business is business.

Although I have always been the principle lyricist in my projects, I have never been under the allusion that those words belong to me, and can never be uttered in that particular order again without my consent. Lifting an entire chorus line sounds artistically intrusive, but each situation is unique.

The record companies, however, are somewhat less concerned about my artistic integrity and tend to focus on maximizing profit margins. In fact, they are contractually obligated to do so. Although my attitude may seem relaxed in comparison, the bevy of attorneys minding my books have very little sense of humor.

Keep in mind, the one thing Madonna, Motown and Metallica all have in common? Money, the most important ‘M’ word other than ‘mother’.

Here’s the low down. Chances are, unless you are seeing a substantial profit, no-one is apt to notice or even care if you have sampled without permission. Furthermore, some work like parodies for instance, are above the fray, protected under constitutional right of free speech and expression.

In closing, let’s just say this isn’t your normal cup of soup, folks, I’m afraid we’ve opened a can of unknown substance, frothing just below the surface. My advice, approach with caution. Sampling isn’t a crime, but stealing is unconscionable. Ultimately, you must make the call. Make it a sound one.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Sound and Recording - Sound Foundation - National Newswire - The Infinite Echo - Impeachment Now! - Skate the Razor -
Skate the Razor Blog - blogment




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