Viva Las Vegas: Or LRF's contribution to reality TV and the downfall of society.
ELVIS! ZZ TOP! Dread Zeppelin! BRUCY! THE BLUES BROTHERS!...Dead Kennedys?
This song has been overdone. Elvis* started it, but enough is enough. Can't it just go away for a few decades?
*Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman deserve the composition credit
Got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn...
"Littlerubberfeet, we are doing a cover of Viva Las Vegas for some reality TV show", says Chris, Eva Cassidy's former fiancé and engineer.
"Ok. Why didn't they just license the recording?"
"It has to fit the open, and they want us to do it."
"Ok." Often, we did covers of pop songs arranged just for a specific sequence of shots. Covers are also cheaper then licensing a performance. When we wrote original music for TV shows, we wrote to accent the picture.
"Can you get some other versions of the song? We can't rip off someone else's cover too closely." says Lenny, my other boss and virtuoso keyboardist.
"LRF, the drummer is coming early to set up."
I’ll always remember that I had a swingin’ time
The drummer walks in at 4 PM and sets up. I mic the drum set and tell Chris to double-check me. The damn AKGs have those screwed up plugs. I still don't trust my mic jobs, but he didn't change a thing. It is done, and slowly, the rest of the musicians wonder in. Mike, the guitarist is late as usual. We put up with it. The guy is fucking brilliant. The female vocalist and our very own Elvis wonder in. This male vocalist is in his late 50's, has a very quiet demeanor and a soft voice. I was skeptical.
The producer walks in with his entourage. He is a good guy and plays a little guitar. Ok. Lets get to work.
Turnin’ night into daytime...
The drummer lays down his shit first. A percussion bed makes things easy for the other musicians. 100 beats per minute. It takes a few takes, but the marvels of Digital Performer and computers make the job easier. Chris subtly adjusts some measures so they aren't out of time. Mike lays down the guitar part. He gets it in two takes and a punch. The male vocalist runs through it a few times and does a take.
"Ok, need more accent on those "F" and "H" words. Also, add some grind. Remember: Elvis was black." says Chris.
After his take, I say "Shit".
This guy belted it like Elvis on stage. The next take was very good, though he always seemd out of tune on the LAAAAAAAS in the chorus. It wasn't my place to say anything. I am just a studio rat. Viva Las Vegas. Dammit. We had all the tracks laid, and now some things were cleaned up, a guitar chord change, some of the vocals...I was sent off to get two large pizzas. I got back, and it was break time. Chris was playing some bass in. The producer had the version he needed.
Problem: There was no WAY that version was Gonna set my soul on fire.
The editors had cut the open of the show to a slow tempo. It dragged like RuPaul. We insisted on another version at 120 beats per minute. The damn lazy editors might have to re-cut their open. Luckly, the producer knows music. He wasn't going to force everyone into something that wouldn't work.
The drummer started again. He couldn't change tempos. Finally, Chris cut his can playback and gave him nothing but a tempo track. He could hear is playing just fine. Drums are loud, and headphones aren't gonna stop the noise. Two more takes and we had drums at 120. The rest came easily. We didn't even have to do the vocals over. Digital Performer allows one to tempo-adjust sound bytes.
The producer left, as did the musicians. All that was left was a few hours finishing work. Chris would do that after some sleep. I broke down the mics and cleaned up. Musicians are messy. Viva Las Vegas was done. Dammit.
If you see it once, You’ll never be the same again
Notes: Welcome to my life. Usually, this would have meant 2 or more days in any other studio. We work insane schedules. We can write (have written) an original score for an hour documentry, run it through samplers and send it off in 36 hours. I will add the name of the TV show and network once it is formally announced. Suggestions would be appreciated. I hardly ever node stuff like this.