I’ve always been a huge fan of Booker T. & the MG’s and quite some time ago wrote this instrumental with a tip of the hat to their style, It suffered from anemic GM drums in the first version I did so I pulled up the original tracks (done with CubaseVST 3.5 on Windows 98 long ago). I redid the drums with a custom hydrogen kit I did with bits and pieces from various kits including BigMono, unfortunately some of the samples are from commercial sources so I can’t share the drumkit.
For those who sweat the details this was done in AV Linux 5.0.3 with Ardour 3 built with WinVST support although for this particular track no Windows VST’s were used. Plugins of note were linuxDSP’s DT-1 guitarfx pedal to dirt up the organ, the linuxDSP SR-2B Reverb, PEQ-2A and the Calf Stereo Tools were used on the Master Bus.
The organ is a horrid old ‘metal organ’ soundfont I found years ago, I wish I had an actual Hammond B3 but hey what can you do? The guitar is a telecaster tuned down to ‘C’ running through a tweed Fender pro Junior tube amp with no other effects and the amazing bass is played by my good friend and bandmate Pete C. Everything else is played or programmed by me.
If you are too young to know who Booker T. and the MG’s are you going to think this is pretty bizarre…
Here it is, comments and critiques welcome:
I love ‘Help Me’ that progression is so unique for such a early influential artist like that, your comment prompted me to listen to it again : ). Lee Michaels is someone I’ve read about more than listened to, I know ‘Do You Know What I Mean’ but that’s about it., apparently he used to tour with a B3 and a drummer…that’s it! A two-person band that far predates the White Stripes and the Black Keys…
Got any more Lee Michaels tunes to recommend?
Heyyy the bass part is great, great music man its very refreshing “specially considering im mixing right now a thrash metal band” haha thanks for sharing!
Thanks for the comments guys and taking some time to have a listen.
Booker T. & the MG’s were the backing band behind the famous Stax Memphis soul artists of the late 1960’s early 70’s, people like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave etc. On their own they performed as an instrumental only group with the Hammond B3 organ being the main melodic solo instrument although the guitar is also prominently featured. Their biggest hit was ‘Green Onions’ which is certainly one of the most popular instrumentals in it’s genre. This is why there are no vocals in this song… hopefully I’ll get around to finishing up and improving some prior original tracks with vocals as well in the near future.
I apologize for the mini-wiki, just a little background on the genre to explain the absence of vocals. : )
Very nice, G ! To my ears it doesn’t sound much like BT, more like Lee Michaels with a good bassist and guitarist, but don’t get me wrong, it’s a great sound as-is. Excellent drum mix.
Btw, have you ever heard Sonny Boy Williamson’s song Help Me ? Check it, it’s like Green Onions with words.
That is shockingly good. If I were wearing a hat, I’d be taking it off to you.
I love the dirty, down-tuned guitar. I listened first on my laptop speakers and thought they were live drums. It all sounds really clean, and well performed. It could use some other leads, or vocals or something (note: I don’t know Booker T. and the MG’s)
Nice blues jammin’ track there. A few chord changes to keep you on your toes.
If I was you, I would have no hesitation putting a bit of soloing in there (guitar the obvious
choice followed by sax maybe).
Nice panning on the drums, in particular the cymbals. Overall a tight, polished production.
Hey thanks, best of luck with the project you’re working on, will we get to hear some of it?
Thanks for your comments. Hydrogen is an amazing tool I agree. I used the toms, hats and cymbals from BigMono, in my opinion it is a little overkill in the multilayering and some of the samples have a lot of silence at the end so I grabbed approximately every other sample from lowest to highest velocity ending up with about 5 sample layers per instrument. I also converted the samples from stereo to mono, I really don’t understand the concept of drum samples in stereo… individual drums are mono instruments. I then used Festige to host a commercial drum VSTi in it’s demo version and hooked my MIDI keyboard up to it to trigger the sounds and recorded them by striking the keys at different velocities to obtain a variety of samples for each desired drumkit piece and then incorporated them into my modified BigMono kit. I suppose it worth mentioning that I did all of this sample editing in Steinberg WaveLab 3 which I still own from my Windows days and it runs fabulously with Wine/WineASIO/JACK, it is a phenomenal wave editor without peer on the Linux platform (yet) and I’ve been using it for 10 years and basically can use it while sleeping and get the results I want.
Obviously getting the kit sampled and loaded in Hydrogen took an obscene amount of time and after that things got easier. I grabbed the archived wave files from my previous arrangement and luckily I had made a note of the tempo so I created a new Hydrogen project at the correct tempo as well as an Ardour3 session at the matching tempo and imported the other instrument wave files into Ardour and used the JACK transport in Ardour to lock with Hydrogen and started programming the drums for each section of the song. I had VMPK running and connected to Hydrogen so although I drew most of the drum hits with my mouse for a few sections I laid down the kick and snare with my computer keyboard running through VPMK. I used the Hydrogen mixer to roughly adjust each drumkit piece and the overall drumkit volume while listening to other instruments in the Ardour arrangement. I also play drums as a second instrument so I try to program things the way I’d actually want to play them taking into account stuff like not having the hihats playing when I’m doing a fill and alternating the drum strokes in a fill because I’m right handed. Lastly I panned the drums in hydrogen by simulating the relation of the drums to my ears if I were sitting behind the drum kit however I didn’t pan them extremely hard left or right.
I recorded the output of Hydrogen into the Ardour arrangement on a stereo track since I had listened to the relative drum mix about 4000 times while doing the drum programming so I didn’t feel in this case it was worth exporting/recording each drum on a separate Ardour track although I’d like to do that in the future just to try.
That was the workflow involved. I hope I haven’t bored you to death or made you regret asking…: )