Nice Cuts is, unlike my other albums to date, a compilation. It was not without it’s ‘production’ aspects, however.
The fourteen previously released songs were selected based on a fan voting process. The versions you hear on Nice Cuts are slightly different than those on their original releases. This is of necessity for a couple of reasons:
1. The songs were recorded at different times over the course of many years. Every record is (or should be) it’s own sonic universe. They were mixed in a particular way to create a cohesion within their respective albums. When putting together a compilation from five previous releases; each with their own ‘sound’, one must ‘massage’ the songs a bit in order that they mix well with one another; to make a new cohesion, if you take my meaning. This can be difficult, since the songs were not chosen with the primary goal that they fit well with one another. So the way I thought of it was sort of like making a salad. I have these disparate food groups that all taste very different from one another. What sort of ‘dressing’ can I slather on top of them all to make every bite tasty. OK, maybe I didn’t think of like Wolfgang Puck. But it did require consideration.
2. With each passing year, my skills have improved. I hear better (and you would too if you were forced to listen to you every night for ten years.) And I mix better. And the recording tools have improved. So it seems only reasonable that the mixes for each song would be a bit more polished. However, let me stress that these editsconsisted solely of changes in track balance and panning. No notes were added/removed/edited or otherwise ‘effected’ in any way. One of the nice things about the digital age is that, after say five years of being told that the voice was a little loud on a particular song, or the bass a little too soft, one gets another swing at it. Sorry for the pun.
I added two new songs to Nice Cuts. These are a look back and a look forwards.
Start is the look back. It’s in the same vein as a number of songs I’ve done over the past few years. It’s pop more than prog and it stresses tight playing and ‘song’ over the usual ‘prog’ pretensions.
Detroit is basically a series of three snippets I’ve culled from the beginnings of a long form piece I’ve begun thinking about.
Nice Cuts is noticeably louder than my previous records. I did not notice this until I was well into the mastering phase with RFI CD Mastering. I may have finally drunk the kool-aid, but I got sick of having to adjust the volume on my stereo when listening to a JCHMusic CD versus a name-brand CD. The CD is still -3db from full scale zero… which translates into being wayyyyyy quieter than the worst offenders in the current CD Loudness Wars. However, part of the ‘salad dressing’ we used was a healthy application of overall compression to the record. It was necessary to do this in order to balance the disparate levels. Making it more ‘competitive’ was just an unintended benefit.
Cheezy? You bet. But this too is something of an ‘end of the line’ for me. With each succeeding record I felt myself going more ‘pop’. I don’t think I consciously meant to do so. And it certainly didn’t translate into any more sales than if I had stuck with the more ‘prog’ direction I started off with. Rather, it was just what felt right at the time. But I wanted to say, ‘Happy Trails!’ to most of that stuff and the in-your-face piccie and colours seemed to fit the bill. Part of becoming more and more of a ‘songwriter’ put me more in a sarcastic frame of mind and the cover reflects that. It’s out of my system now. I think. 😀