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Current Tape Reviews

SPOTLIGHT 101: Thunderbird
 
Artist Name:
J. David Taylor
  Title:
SPOTLIGHT 101: Thunderbird
 
Date Posted:
September 2016
 
Genre:
Country
Equipment Used:

TASCAM 2488neo desktop recorder, Mackie CR1604VLZ mixer, Alesis Midiverb and 3630 Compressor, ART Tube MP. Mics: Shure SM57 (guitars), RODE NT1-A (vocals), Electro-Voice RE320 (bass amp). M-Audio BX5a monitors with KRK 10" Sub. Fender Telecaster through VOX VT40X modeling combo amp, Fender Precision bass through TC Electronic BG250 bass amp, Yamaha DTXPLORER electronic drums and DGX-305 keyboard.

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Production Notes & Credits:

"Thunderbird" is a male vocal country song. J. David wrote, performed and recorded the track at his home studio.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 5
This month's Spotlight is a superbly written country rock tune that proves once again the old adage, "It ain't the gear, it's the ear"! Recorded on a standalone TASCAM 2488neo multitracker with a few classic mics and some fairly basic (by today's standards) 1990s-vintage outboard gear, J.David lets his chops do the talking here.

The track comes in fully formed; no long keyboard suspense here, friends - it's pedal to the metal (bad pun intended) time. Starting with the rhythm section, J. David has done a fine job with the tones from his Yamaha DTXPLORER electronic kit, particularly on the cymbals, which can often be the weak link in this type of setup. The fact that the drums are played rather than programmed also lends a "live band" feel to the track.

We also dug the propulsive bass guitar line that accompanied the drums. Not only did it help to drive the track (yeah I know, another pun) but the constant motion of the bass played a key role in the dynamics of the tune. It allowed the guitars, keyboards and vocals to enter and exit the arrangement without any perceptible energy drop. We cannot emphasize enough just how important this last point is. Switching sound sources in and out of a track successfully is one of the most challenging aspects of mixing, and J. David has a pretty darn good handle on it.

Speaking of those sound sources, we absolutely love the sound of the twangy, compressed, electric guitars here. Reminiscent of the late great Clarence White's work with the early 1970s version of the Byrds, the guitars slash in and out, but J. David's excellent frequency management ensures that they never distract from the lead vocal. We also couldn't help but smile at the "Baba O'Riley" quoted guitar part that hovers in the background. Sneaky!

While it is likely that guitar is J's primary instrument, he does an admirable job with the piano here - nothing fancy, but it serves the song well. Last but not least are the vocals, delivered without artifact via the modern-classic RODE NT1-A condenser mic. In keeping with the genre, they are presented forward in the mix, allowing the lyrics to weave their tale. All in all, there's lots to like and learn from here, folks... especially for you one-person-band readers out there.

Summary: A great track honoring a great ride!

Contact: J. David Taylor, jodydtaylor@gmail.com; music video at https://youtu.be/j2Dv104Ns_A
About: Marty Peters

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