Well, dear readers, perhaps it is time to reveal this mystery project I’ve been going on about for the past two months. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, perhaps it is time to reveal this mystery project I’ve been going on about for the past two years. So, a little history or backstory or preamble or whatever you want to call it – I call it Murgatroyd. Once upon a time, I made an album called It Might Be Fun with singer Sandy Bainum. It was, as most of you know, an album of my very own songs. The recording sessions were done at Capitol with a large band in the very room where Mr. Frank Sinatra recorded all his classic Capitol albums, not to mention Mr. Nat King Cole, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, and many, many other class acts. It is simply the best room and we all loved being there. The sessions were really fun, we had incredible musicians, and Sandy was in excellent form. We got all the band tracks done and then she did her final vocals over a couple of days. What we were hearing in the booth sounded amazing, rough as it was – so clean and beautiful. Lanny Meyers had done some wonderful charts for the songs and is always a pleasure in the studio.
Then my wonderful engineer, John Adams, began mixing. Unlike the early days, I let John do his first mixes without any comment or input from me or Lanny. He did those rough mixes at his house, but we decided for the final mix sessions to go to Westlake Audio, so we’d be comfortable and in a good listening environment. John is usually spot on in his first mixes, so it’s always just a question of finessing this or that. But, for whatever reasons, these first mixes were not to my liking. Part of the problem was we were mixing MY songs and I’m very picky. We’d already attended to the vocals, so those were all fine. But I felt the blends were weird and more importantly I felt the sound wasn’t reflecting what I heard as we were recording. So, the work became about undoing things and finding better solutions and it was time-consuming and a little frustrating for me. We got it done and then Lanny came in and he had his notes as we listened down and we then did most of those. We finally got it sounding decent and by that time we were all tired and done.
Then those mixes were sent to the mastering guy and we went through several passes and got it to where I felt it was okay. And out it came, and everyone seemed happy with it and seemed to enjoy it. So, that was nice. But I never wanted to listen to it, which I found odd. And Lanny had e-mailed me and said the strings didn’t sound as present as they had in the mixing room and he was right, but I figured that’s what we all signed off on so it must have been what we heard. And in the years since we made the album, I’ve tried to listen to it a few times and just got irritated and shut it off. It was smooth – the mixes were smooth – but listening to it I felt it had no life, no pizazz, and none of the sparkle we’d heard at Capitol. And I also felt I’d failed the album in the song sequence. It seemed okay at the time, but I think that was part of my problem hearing it – it was too herky-jerky, and songs didn’t seem to be in the right place at the right time. I pride myself on my sequencing and frankly I cannot think of another album where I didn’t get it right – nope, just this album of my songs. Again, many nice compliments on the songs and the album and Sandy but something was clearly wrong if I, the writer, and I, the producer, never wanted to hear it.
And so, in June with the pandemic in full swing, I wrote John Adams an e-mail and asked him to pull up the sessions. I told him all of the above and asked him to do a brand-new mix of the title song, It Might Be Fun. The original mix was okay, nothing wrong with it, but I just wanted to hear his fresh take on it. I asked him not to listen to the original until AFTER he finished his fresh mix with years later fresh ears. A couple of days later I got the new, fresh mix. It was like hearing a whole different song. The ambience suddenly sounded like Capitol, the orchestrations were crystal clear, and I heard things I’d never heard before, the balances were all proper, and I had not a single note other than to add the fadeout at the end. So, I told him to start doing new mixes on all the songs. And so, the mystery project began.
As each new mix came in, I’d listen, be blown away at the difference, and after sending one of them, John wrote, “I think we all must have been on drugs when we did the original mix – what were we thinking?” And he was so right. There were a couple of mixes where I’d ask to hear a little something or other, he’d do it, and I would always use the one he’d sent rather than the one with my note. He was just on fire with these. I was also sending them to Lanny as they’d come in and he, too, was blown away by them. And out of all the mixes, he had one tiny note about woodwinds on one track, we did it, it sounded better, and on we went.
John finished up yesterday and today we just raised the volume level of a couple of mixes he’d sent without his loudness plug-in being activated. So, now I have a completely remixed version of the album that I could listen to over and over again. What a pleasure to at long last be able to enjoy it. I haven’t told Sandy we’ve even done this yet but will today. I’m also going to come up with a new and better sequence. While we’re obviously not going to re-press the album (no reason to), I think what we’ll end up doing is making these available as hi-rez audio files at a nominal cost, and those who are interested can get them that way and compare and contrast. And of course, those hi-rez files can be burned to Blu-ray as Blu-ray audio without any loss of quality, or they can be burned to CD at CD quality. And there, at long last, you have the mystery project revealed. I can’t thank John enough for his brilliant work in making this live and breathe the way it always should have, and even though the vocals always sounded great, they have a whole new luster now and Lanny’s charts really sound incredible. And for the icing on an already yummilicious cake, we remixed Simply and This Christmas, so those sound even better now, and will be part of this download. I could not be happier.
Yesterday was a fun little day, mostly due to finishing up the mystery project. I got eight hours of sleep, got up, spent the first two hours of the day listening to the final couple of mixes and getting the two volume-corrected mixes. Then I went to the mail place and picked up a couple of packages, came home, made two count them two tuna sandwiches, ate them all up, then did stuff for the Kritzerland show. We’ve decided on Friday as the Facebook and YouTube Live test, so join us at either place at 6:00 PDT and 9:00 EDT and we’ll have some unfettered fun as I answer the questions that were submitted on my Facebook page. I have not looked at the questions. I also got confirmation that our core case of LA folks will all do the anniversary show, we already have one great guest and I’m waiting on a couple of other asks, which I’m really hoping work out. That was most of the day, and rather than watch anything, I just listened to music – the George Szell set of Schumann symphonies, which, for my money, is the definitive set. I listened to the CD layer, but will also listen to the SACD layer, which features the original three-track first generation recording. The CD layer sounds great so I can only imagine how good the SACD layer will sound. I also listened to the SACD versions of Bruckner’s seventh and eighth symphonies, which sounded incredible – the Eugen Jochum performances I raved about the other day but sounding even better in SACD. I also listened to the SACD of Arthur Rubinstein playing Chopin’s piano concertos one and two and that sounded spectacular. So, it really was kind of a non-stop musical day and evening.
Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, I’ll do whatever needs doing, and I’ll start coming up with a new sequence for It Might Be Fun, which might be fun. I’ll also continue choosing songs for the anniversary show now that I know our core LA folks are in. I do know what the opening and closing numbers are, so that’s good. I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, I’ll eat something fun, and then I’ll watch, listen, and relax.
Tomorrow is more of the same, Friday is our one and only Facebook and YouTube Live test and then Sunday we do our show.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, work on a new sequence, choose songs, hopefully pick up packages, eat, and then watch, listen, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like. So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have finally revealed the mystery project.