Only Life Can Break Your Heart (2012)

I originally blended Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me)” with Andrew Weatherall’s remix of Saint Etienne’s somewhat radical cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”, many years ago on the old faithful Fostex 4-Track, a process that was something of a frustrating labour of love!

Making these sort of productions on the 4-track was extremely limiting; I’d drop on the main music track first & edit it as required to create a “bed”.  Next I’d drop layers on as synchronised as I possibly could using various pitch controls, and then do literally hundreds of micro-edits to get the layers perfectly in time with each other.  Four tracks instantly becomes two tracks if you want to keep the stereo images of the source material intact, and while it was possible to bounce down 4 tracks at a time onto 2 “virtual tracks” (and then be able to overdub more layers on top) once bounced down, there was no way to go back and make any changes later – a bit like a flattened Photoshop image.

The result (as heard on the XFM Superchunk mix I did for Eddy Temple-Morris) [06:07 in] was a bit thin – sounding – a mixture of Weatherall’s mix (from an official CD) sounding like it hadn’t been mastered very well & me being too safe with what other elements I dared to throw in with the limitations of working on a digital 4-track.  

I knew the concept was a good one though, so gathered up some more relevant ingredients & joined forces with Omeron, who helped put this final version together (on many more tracks!) in Ableton Live.  This version sounds much more complete, using more of the single version of “Back to Life” (including the beats & bassline) with some new synths, guitar & vocal chops.  After maybe 3 sessions working together with Ron on this, I finally added some scratches and extra kicks which helped the glue the thing together. I wish I’d done the final mixdown on better monitors though, if I’m being honest those kicks are way too loud in the mix, but at least the result doesn’t sound as thin as the first effort!

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