Wednesday, February 09, 2011

It Came From the Basement: Part III

Okay, just to recap.

Attentive readers will perhaps recall that I recently got back together with some old high school garage band pals I hadn't seen for ages. These are guys with whom I spent an inordinate amount of time in the 70s making defiantly low-fi DIY albums in a dank Jersey basement, which is to say about a decade before Guided By Voices honcho Robert Pollard did something similar in the late 80s/early 90s and thought he was so cool.

And we called ourselves The Weasels, which is a better fricking name, too.

Anyway, I haven't inflicted too many Weasels songs on you guys because, if truth be told, most of them don't really fit into the powerpop template as such, but I'm going to make an exception with this one because I think it does. In fact, when we were recording it -- which was somewhere around 1973-74 -- I definitely thought of it as our big Badfinger move.

So -- please enjoy "Only You (Nobody)." Written by long-time Weasel Glenn Leeds and recorded on the four-track Teac reel-to-reel recently acquired by fellow Weasel Dave "Heavy D" Hawxwell for an album aptly titled...

For the sake of the historical record, the personnel here is the aforementioned Dave on vocals and acoustic guitar, the aforementioned Glenn on the out-of-tune upright piano in Dave's living room, Allan Weissman on bass, and Mike "The Drummer" Sorrentino on one of those rare occasions when he graciously consented to keep the beat for us. The overdriven and highly compressed sound of my guitar solo was achieved by plugging the instrument into a Pioneer cassette deck with a built-in limiter; where the interesting tape delay (or whatever the hell it is) came from has been lost in the mists of memory.

Oh, and the flutes at the end, in emulation of the Mellotron stuff from "Strawberry Fields," are in fact actual flutes also played by Glenn, talented multi-instrumentalist that he is.


Gummo said...

That's really cute, thanks for sharing it. I can definitely hear the Badfinger. Your solo sounds like you were concentrating extremely hard on getting it exactly right.

Man, a 4-track reel-to-reel tape recorder was a serious investment in the early 70s.

Faze said...

Man, a 4-track reel-to-reel tape recorder was a serious investment in the early 70s.

No joke. And The Weasels use the precious thing well.

The song splices "Daydream Believer" with "Only You". After that too-careful guitar solo, the last verse is up for grabs. The bass player dives in and makes it his playground. GBV never gets this good.

TMink said...

Thanks, these are fun!


Anonymous said...

Bravo. While the rest of the world was falling prey to Styx and Silver Convention, you Weasels kept the faith. Props to the songwriting, the guitar solo, the great outro drumming, and the end-of-Get-Back-ish dialogue at the end.

I think recording George Martin-era music on a home four-track reel-to-reel is akin to playing 15th century music on period instruments -- ie, next to impossible and not for the faint of heart.


Steve Simels said...

Actually, the trick with recording on 4-track is to know exactly what you want to put on which track before you start recording a song.

We always winged it. Which is why this one, for example, isn't as good as it could have been if, say, the bass and drums had been recorded together on one track first.

Gummo said...

The real trouble with 4 track is when you start bouncing down 2 or 3 tracks to open'em up for overdubs. Sound quality degrades real fast, and you're locked into whatever mix you have on the bounced tracks.

The Beatles used to have to overdub fresh snare drum on some songs after multiple overdubs and that was using professional equipment.

Steve Simels said...

Actually, if you record two guitars, bass and drums on 4 separate tracks, and then mix them down to two -- i.e., stereo -- you can get a very good sounding basic. Leaving you two open tracks to play with. And you can put a lot of stuff on those open tracks.

Like I said, the trick is to plan ahead so you know how you want to arrange the song. We rarely did, which I guess could be described as part of our charm.

jackd said...

Not bad at all. To my ears it's really only the production and recording that sounds amateurish. You guys had your pop sensibilities and musicianship in order. For no obvious reason I can imagine Matthew Sweet covering it.

Anonymous said...

Gee, the singer sounds really cure in a Celtic sort of way. I bet he broke some hearts in his day...To bad he's an crusty old codger by now!