Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone’s Yellow King

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone‘s Yellow King

Review by Roy Elkins

This is one of those reviews that I am going to struggle writing as I can find almost nothing to improve upon in this song. When a person has so much respect for the two songwriters who wrote it, it is hard to give them constructive input. Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone‘s Yellow King made my day and is why I started Broadjam – to get the opportunity to hear songs like this.

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone Roy Elkins

Donovan Tucker

This is an instrumental that begins with an “outlaw surf” guitar sound reminiscent of Eddy, Orbison, etc. It is played so tastefully that I could have stopped the song at 25 seconds and been completely happy with it. Behind the incredible guitar tone, percussion filled the spaces. A ratchet-like sound, along with some other effects, were strategically placed to support the snare landing on 4 (if you count like I do.) Brilliant use of simple instrumentation to make a great piece of music. I don’t know if I have ever listened to an instrumental ballad that was produced to this level of quality.

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladstone Roy Elkins

Mike Gladstone

The first guitar continues with a beautiful melody until approximately 47 seconds and then a classy flamenco guitar sound enters and tears it up. The feel of the performance and the tone of this guitar sound and performance is inspiring. As I am listening, many guitar gods are going through my head, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Mark Knopfler, Lee Ritenour, Joe Walsh, Jon McLaughlin, maybe a little Hendrix, etc. One can always tell when a player has put their 10,000 hours in…..because they know when NOT to play. The spaces between the notes in this piece are as strong as the notes that are played. If this is the same person playing both of these parts, I am blown away. This is some of the best and tasteful work I’ve have ever heard.

Ok, now on to the song. This could easily find a place in a film. When one closes their eyes and listens to this, the scenery just flies by in your head. Instrumentals need to invoke an emotion or vision to be good, this does both. This made my personal playlist immediately within one minute and will be heard by many of my friends.

It is so hard to find anything constructive to say when a piece is done this well. So I will preface my comments with, “don’t change a thing.” But I also know that writers of this caliber want that detailed input to make their next project better.

If this was my song, there are just a couple of things that I might consider tweaking (if I was totally bored and didn’t have anything else to do.) 1.) The bridge comes in around 1:32 and a backup up synth pad is behind it. (Sounds like an old M1.) Since the tone of the patch is similar to the frequency range of the guitar, I might play a couple inversions up on the keyboard, or an entire octave. 2.) At 2:13 when the song and melody return to the verse, the ratchet-like sound and guitar are slightly off each other – the first time through I thought it might be distortion. So in a re-mix, I would edit these to begin at same time and bring the percussion slightly down in the mix for that first hit. Again, I emphasize that I find myself digging to really find something that I would improve. I am not sure either of these suggestions would advance the song or it would just sound more appealing to my own ears.

Mike GladstoneDonovan Tucker are both great songwriters on their own. Working together they have produced a home run and certainly captured my attention. Great work to both of these writers and I hope they continue working together.

Donovan Tucker Mike Gladston‘s Yellow King

Additional links & good organizations

Press & educational links Hangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Industry Projections, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, A Music Platform, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms

Toby Tune’s song Gotcha Gotcha Review by Roy Elkins Broadjam

Toby Tune‘s song Gotcha Gotcha reviewed by Roy Elkins

This is an interesting piece with many moving parts to it. And because of so many moving parts, I have lots of moving opinions. Although I have listened to Toby’s music for about 10 years and like just about everything he does, I didn’t connect with this the first time through. But after listening numerous times, it has begun to grow on me and I am starting to get into it.  Many of the parts that initially turned me off, but I am beginning to like more and more with each listen. Roy Elkins

Toby Tune‘s Gotcha Gotcha

It starts off with an acoustic guitar (ag) loop and the snare landing on 2 & 4, a pan flute sits on top for an added effect. The opening ag sounding sample drives the feeling of this track. Numerous sounds make their appearance throughout the piece.  One of my favorites comes in at :48 seconds, this is a female vocal sample with a slight bend on it. A break at 1:30, drums cut out and the oboe like sound takes the lead.  This part is very tasteful. Very nice part at 2:05, nice vocal part works well with the oboe. In the 2:30s, this song begins to cook.  This is the heart of the song.

If this was my song, here are the things I might re-visit: At 1:06 to 1:13, the female vocal sample could be played a little better to give it a more realistic performance. At 1:30, let these two bars evolve a little longer. It almost sounds out of context, but it is a strong groove and would love to hear it more in the song. At 1:59, it sounds like a crack was played or there is slight distortion on the low end.  It could an errant mix of one note as well. The Pan Flute sample that I mentioned up front is bending a lot of notes throughout the song. At times, it’s a little uncomfortable and distracting. I might try mixing this lower, removing it altogether or playing samples that are not pitch-bent. The dynamics of this is struggling to shine through.  While there are instrumental peaks and valleys, it seems as if the mix is ignoring them. The mix could reflect and possibly mirror the dynamics of the instruments a little better. I would spend a bit more time experimenting with this. If this was mastered, I believe it would go to a whole new level.

Toby Tune Roy Elkins Broadjam

Toby Tune

One other thought that doesn’t necessarily apply here, but it was going through my head as I was listening so I thought I would talk about it. Sometimes when using a sample of a guitar chord and the triggering note simply changes the pitch of the whole chord, it can be an sub-conscious “flag” to the ear.  For example; If I was playing a D chord on the guitar and the next chord was E, the note configurations would be D(X-A-D-A-D-F#) and the E(E-B-E-G#-B-E). So if a loop is a sample of the same D chord strummed on a guitar and is triggered by an E note, the E Chord is now (X-B-E-B-E-G#.) It can diminish the “color” of the song. Now these are not the chords in question here, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I think if my goal was to get consistency in the strumming, then I would probably sample all of the chords used in the song and assign the triggers prior to recording.

Toby’s entire list is here.  He is very prolific and I am sure you will find something you like.

Toby Tune‘s song Gotcha Gotcha


Additional links & good organizations

Press & educational linksHangout June 6, 2014, “Blanket” Music Licensing, Industry Projections, Celebrating Sonic Foundry, A Music Platform, Project Famous – Great Photographer, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms