Computer with Digi 002 Rack and Universal Audio UAD-1 DSP card, running Digidesign Pro Tools LE 7.4, Toontrack EZdrummer, IK Multimedia T-RackS, Universal Audio 1176LN and RealVerb Pro plug-ins, Digirack Compressor/Limiter, and Propellerhead Reason for keyboard parts. Neumann U87 condenser mic for lead vocals; Tapco S5 active monitors, Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs headphones. Kurzweil SP88 piano/controller, Charvel bass, Fender Strat guitar.
Production Notes & Credits:
"Dance" is a male vocal funk/R&B track. Gerald did all but the horn and vocal recording at his home studio. He lays it out for us here:
"All the parts were recorded in my home studio with Pro Tools 7.4 except the horns and vocals. The horn players came from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, and were tracked at a studio called Log Cabin Recording, owned by Kris Kolp. I wrote and arranged the horn parts. I did the mix in my studio."
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: While there is likely no such thing as a "perfect" recording, this month's Spotlight is about as close as we have heard from the thousands of one-man-band submissions that we have listened to throughout the years. If '70s-era funk/R&B (think Earth, Wind and Fire) is your bag, then Gerald "Sticks" Marshall is your new best friend! Sticks, also known as Stickmann, is the front man for the Florida-based band Sticks & Stones, but this is a solo track... and what a track it is!
We have searched high and low for anything that isn't exemplary here, and we come up empty-handed every time. The track itself is superbly written and the tight arrangement keeps it grooving with an easy, hypnotic flow.
As for the individual sound sources, everything here is aces. We love the sounds that Gerald coaxed from EZdrummer, particularly the kick, which has a great beater head clarity. The horns are superb both in tone and arrangement, and the bass has the perfect amount of pop and growl. Gerald's lead vocal is up front and present, befitting the genre, and its creamy tone showcases the obvious quality of Gerald's voice and the Neumann U87 microphone. We should also point out the fine backing vocal arrangement, which works in concert with the electric guitar to help create interest and movement in the mix.
Now, before anyone cries "Cheating!" about the horns and vocals, let's step back a moment and think about what we're trying to accomplish here. This isn't a game of "how much can we do at home just to show we can?", it's a game of "how can we get the best possible recording with the resources at our disposal?". And in this case, Gerald knew that the track needed a vocal and horn section he couldn't do at home, and supplemented his already impressive home-studio chops with tracks captured in a great room with great artists, playing arrangements he wrote but couldn't execute himself. Smart!
One of the primary goals of our Spotlight feature is to provide our loyal readers with a template that can serve as a learning tool and also as inspiration. "Dance" is a great example of what one person can accomplish with talent and effort, and a sense of perspective. Too often in O.M.B. submissions, we get the feeling that folks are failing to get all that they can out of their particular gear/setup, especially with drum programming. Gerald's basic but tasty drums are a fine example of what can be accomplished with effort and the refusal to compromise... and the same can be said of the finished product.
We urge all of you to study closely here. It can be done, kids, and "Dance" is the proof!
Summary: With gratitude, Sticks!
Contact: Gerald "Sticks" Marshall, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.sticksmann.com