Bringing out the magic - remixing the Shuffle'n'Swing album
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
I had just finished mastering the Rattlesnake Love album and after listening to its tracks, mixing, burning trial CD's for try out on different sound systems, remixing, repeating try-outs and so on for the best part of 3 weeks until I got satisfaction on the album tracks, I decided after it was over to give the Shuffle'n'Swing album another listen. Maybe it was because of the time I was able to devote to Rattlesnake Love and the ear-tuning that went on in mixing and mastering that I didn't feel satisfied with what I was listening to. Shuffle'n'Swing came out in December 2018. It was supposed to have 10 tracks, but I wasn't able to secure permission at that time to use the Christmas medley I'd dueted with Lou, the medley being the reason the album was scheduled for release about 4 weeks before Christmas. I had a feeling I should have waited.
Final mix and mastering therefore was a bit of a compromise with a pair of tired ears deciding what was 'good enough'. Once you release an album, that's it. It's out there. Leave it long enough and you might be able to do a 'digital remaster' or some such. The digital version is pretty good on iPhones and the like, but I wasn't satisfied with a hi-fi playback. Some of the vocal subtleties were missing. The horns had lost the sparkle I could remember from the recording sessions and sounded lack-lustre. And of course, when you're intimately related to a released album you'll always hear that part that could have been played better, more expressively or more subtly.
As I still had time and the creative feeling was still lingering after the completion of Rattlesnake Love, I decided to devote a couple of weeks to remixing Shuffle'n'Swing. This started with removing the automation on all the tracks, taking each fader back to -12dB and rethinking the panning. A few minor glitches were found and cleaned up. Hi-Pass filtration was revised on instruments such as piano, organ to 'scoop' out some remaining muddy frequencies as was the stereo imaging. Electric guitar Line 6 tones were replaced with others more suitable to the track accompanied by a Lo-pass filter. The horns were completely re-EQ'd to bring back the missing sparkle, as were both male and female vocals, which now had edge and bite. Lou's voice, especially in her solo vocal on "Call Your Name" was given room to breath which was important as she is such a superb vocalist. Some re-panning was done and imposed reverb was minimised to make the sound sharper. In the case of one song, "Angelina", the bass line - which used a software Ableton instrument upright bass - was replaced with an alternative bass line played on a 5-string Fender Dimension bass to augment the piano 'left-hand' in the chorus and give the song more 'punch' (so I guess that's not really a remix in the strictest sense). Then I decided to remaster using T-Racks Custom Shop rather than the Abelton mastering suite (which is great for EDM, but this material needed something else to help it shine on hi-fi). Yep, that's the reason it took me two solids weeks!
But finally the album was remixed and mastered. And it sounded 'just-so' on hi-fi. So, once intended for download only, it had to be turned into a CD. And so it was!
Now the 2020 remix can be also be downloaded from the www.jimmythedog.com website in FLAC or MP3 format, but the iTunes and other download sites still have the original version in compressed format only. If you want the tangible product, CD's will be available for sale at gigs or you can order them from the website. What do you think - should I have it remastered for vinyl too?