Umphrey's McGee: "The Floor"

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Amazing Grace/Glory from The Aragon 11/26/11

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Hall of Fame: The Making Of

Today marks the official launch of the Hall of Fame: Class of 2010 and I wanted to share some insight on how various parts of the project unfolded. It was a tremendously entertaining record to make & a concept I've been wanting to try for a while. Making a completely original 2 set show out of fan chosen 'best of' tracks seemed like a fun challenge & I couldn't be more pleased with the results. 

The Cover (photo by Chad Smith, design by John Engelman)

I must admit that I wasn't sure exactly what fans would come up with as "the best" versions. Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes the best but as a whole the selections really couldn't have been better. So many excellent improvisational choices made the editing & caressing thoroughly entertaining (even after the several hundredth listen). 

The Set List:

One of the first steps was to analyze the top vote getters and begin to craft a set list. This proved rather tricky as a host of factors had to be considred including keys, tempos, improv styles and transitions. Back to back tunes in the same key at the same tempo with the same type of improv would put even the most diligent fan to sleep. Additionally, many of these tunes didn't have disntinct beginnings and endings (and we weren't using the song that originally came before or after) so that required a bit of finagling. Much like UM song writing methods, it was a matter of taking all the legos and seeing what best fit together. Two different versions of All In Time were both quite popular so I decided to take some creative license and slice together both improvs inside the All In Time form. You can't force what isn't meant to be so I went for transitions that you could easily find on a "typical" set list (and might well some day). Here is an example that felt like a natural fit:

 

Wappy Sprayberry > Bridgeless (7/3/10 > 12/29/10)

 

A draft of my notes and an earlier work-in-progress set list.

 

The Remastering: 

We opted to use the 2 track recordings of these songs to maintain the live, raw essence of the shows as originally captured. But I really wanted to give the mixes something sonically special to seperate them from the existing UMLive recordings so I took them back to the studio for some good old fashioned analog sweetening. For you audiophiles out there, the mastering chain consisted of an API 1608 console > 550a EQs > Retro 176 Limiting Amps > Dramastic Obsidian Compressor. The EQ helped clean up a little cloudiness here and there & added some nice air to the top end. The Retro compressor added the most "color" by providing a warm, round, tube driven sound that you just can't fake with a computer. And you'll notice that the volume is quite a bit louder than the original recordings but the dyanmic range is still intact. This added volume is primarily for additional face melting capability when you have friends over. Compare these 2 samples & see what you notice (Note: MP3s degrade the sound quality so it's ideal to experience these recordings on vinyl or in a lossless format but you can certainly still hear the difference here).

 

JaJunk Excerpt from the original recording

Remastered JaJunk Excerpt

 

Secret Weapon

 

Look for another post featuring the making of the album artwork coming soon from designer John Engleman. If you have additional questions about the album, shoot them my way on twitter @soundcaresser & I'll be happy to answer just about anything I can. And I'll completely make up an answer otherwise.  

Finally, I'd personally like to extend a huge thanks to the entire UM crew for their continued hard work over the years. Putting on live shows takes a tremendous amount of effort, most all of it behind the scenes and under appreciated. The show couldn't happen without these guys. I had the pleasure of mixing & recording these shows but it would have been impossible without them. The gig doesn't set itself up and plug itself it in and it most certainly doesn't load itself out. Much obliged fellas. 

The Hall of Fame:Class of 2010 album can be purchased on vinyl & download directly through us here or at UMLive.net and at just about every digital reatail location you could want including iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Rhapsody so forth and so on. Thanks for checking it out and thanks for the continued support. We could never do any of this without you. 

Kevin Browning