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Thursday, 10 March 2011

My Red Face - Mary Wells v Laurent Garnier

Mary Wells 'My Guy' vs Laurent Garnier 'The Man With The Red Face (Svek remix)'

Written by Smokey Robinson, Laurent Garnier
Arranged by IronicHide

(c) Motown 1964
(c) F Communications 2000

What is the sound of one hand clapping? I don't know, squire, and neither do you. We both know that sound of flapping your fingers in to your palm. It's not clapping. Don't kid yourself.

I do know what the sound of dozens of hands clapping sounds like. It sounds irritating after a few hundred times. Luckily, I have yet to receive applause myself.

The acapella used of Mary Wells here comes with finger snaps and hand claps. Nothing I did could get rid of them. Those that were isolated from her voice (and those of The Andantes backing her) were removed. Many had to stay as wiping them out would also lose important parts of the vocal like 'do', 'guy', 'love', y'know, the gist of the song.

So, I swung the other way. I doubled up the sounds, I emphasised them. I put back those that I'd wiped and I amplified them. This was the Funk Brothers in the studio, probably with Smokey Robinson nearby, surely, they will be on the beat everytime...

No. No, they're not. Not when you want to line the song up with some synth-built deep house. My Guy features some of the greatest talent ever on the Motown roster and they keep a beat like a one-legged copper.

With most mashups, I'd take an acapella (or the relative melodic half of a track) and chop it in to verse, chorus and bridge. About six chunks to be lined up with something that would completely spoil it for everybody. My Guy was eventually chopped in to nearly 30 parts, each individually stretched or shrunk to fit the beat. Some of those included literally going through parts of the acapella word-by-word and matching it to the stereo scope above it marked 'Man w/RF'.

Still, these were early days, bubba, and I was only starting to learn. The upside of these early days, as with any endeavour, is the freedom to play, to look at things as the whim takes you, rather than as you think will work. Doing this led to the 'G-g-g-g-g-g-g' vocal effect. It also gave me a hypnotic looped harmony that I faded back and forth between the speakers but, ultimately, cut down for time and being an indulgence of production that didn't serve the track at all. You can still hear it ruining the song for everybody around 2:20.

Originally, Wells' vocal was stuck to Smoke by Latin Soul Rock All Stars. This was ditched in favour of something more recognisable, because we all like to be recognised, if not applauded, kiddo. (Searching for a replacement led to my mashup of Herbert 'The Last Beat (House Dub)' vs Donald Byrd 'Cristo Redentor, currently unavailable due to lawyer-stuff). I'd settled on Laurent Garnier as accompaniment while still in that basement in South Ealing but abandoned the track all together by that bedroom in Brentford.

I took what I had of Wells' track and stuck it to another song, in a different arrangement and sped up, as part of a mashup concept album (time of writing, 11.5/14 complete). I liked it and fully intended to release that mashup, not this one. What changed, you ask? Starting this blog and realising I needed eight whole tracks (or more) to count as my first album.

Rummaging through my swelling folder of spare parts that every amateur music producer keeps, I found this mashup with Garnier and, blowing the cobwebs from it, realised it was a goer. I chopped nearly a minute out of it (the only changes made to Garnier's track), added more 'G-g-g-g-g-g's, including starting the track with Wells as a half-bar count in, and spent a day trying different combinations of fade and repeat on the outro until I was happy.

I'm not happy, I just can't listen to those finger clicks any more.