The Perfect Take Gone Forever (sigh)… Or So I thought!


I used to record my songs with an older software program back in 2004. That year I wrote a tune that to this day I still consider to be one of my best!

The song was called “Play With Fire” (title borrowed from that famous song by the Rolling Stones). It had some pretty tasteful guitar riffs along with one of my better vocal performances.

And you know how it is with recordings. When you get that great take, you may never be able to repeat it quite that same way again.

Years passed. And as they passed, I often thought back to that song with the intent to eventually get back to it and make it all that it should be.

But then Apple switched to the Intel platform. And when I switched along with them, those old recorded files no longer were accessible to me.

Or so I thought….

A few months back during one my more recent recording sessions I happened upon a folder, which surprisingly contained ALL the audio files from my old original sessions. Only trouble was that this folder contained every take of every audio track I ever made (both good and bad). We’re talking thousands of files here!

So in order for me to salvage my original project, a painstaking process of listening, categorizing and filtering each file down to the final end take needed to take place.

Fortunately the downtime that came with the holidays was just what the doctor ordered.

I made a list of all the audio files I had to work with. From there I placed them into their respective instrument columns and titled them to start firming up how they would come together as final tracks.

This took a handful of hours. However, with the help of Ableton (Live) software, I was able to piece together those long lost vocals as well as the acoustic and electric guitar parts (both rhythm and leads) in their entirety as complete tracks!

Ableton Screen

Ableton Screen 2

Knowing I now had the tracks compiled correctly just as they were before, I was then ready to export them into Propellerhead’s Reason (my current recording software).

And this is where the fun really began!

I pulled in some professionally recorded multi-track drum performances, which I felt fit well. Added real bass guitar in place of the synth bass that was originally in the recording. Then finally in the vocal lines and lead guitars, I slotted out the occasional areas of imperfection and replaced them with better phrasings.

I then started beefing up the vocals and guitars further with some light compression and amplification/distortion and replaced the original synth lines with some traditional, 70s-ish Roland Analog patches.

Reason Screen

Last but not least. I mixed my session using automation with Reason’s wonderful SSL modeled mixer along with its master mix bus compressor.

Reason Screen 3

Tools such as these were simply not available to guys like me and it is precisely these types of tools that make a song sound like a record!

The result of this remake of “Play With Fire”, is that a song with so much potential, that was almost lost is now found thanks to modern tech.

It is also one of the singles gifted to new Appreciators who like what I do.

If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of my musical journey, click HERE to listen to cuts from my most recent EP, ‘The Years’.

Thanks for being a listener! Harper