The Gland Rovers - The Real Thing

Author channel Mark Nowlin   3 год. назад

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The Real Thing: At the very beginning you can hear the sound of the kitchen door at my brother Michael’s house opening with a squeak. Inside at his kitchen table I was laying down the bed tracks for this rather naked self-appraisal of my life at the moment.

I came up with the basic lyric and melody ideas just singing to myself while making that long drive up from Lansing to the U.P. during my leave of absence from the Governor’s office.

I wanted something Richard Thompson-esque, and so the gallop rhythm seems inspired by “Don’t Renege On Our Love.” I had also wanted Thompson-esque guitar breaks, something I couldn’t play and never got Blanket Party’s Mike Cohen to play, so I settled for the draw organ setting on my cheap keyboard.

Composed and recorded: May 1996, Chatham, MI
The Gland Rovers - For Collectors Only
Liner Notes

The songs in this volume all were recorded on a Fostex X-15 four-track multitrack cassette deck between 1990 and 2002. The bulk, however, were recorded between early 1993 and early 1996, a period of substantive personal upheaval and loss for The Gland Rovers. This three-year period saw a marriage end, one serious, live-in relationship dissolve, and my mother die. The material was recorded in five different locales, three of which were my homes over this period. Needless to say, the personal turmoil and coming to grips with mid-life changes are central themes in nearly all of the original songs.

In the early 2010s, I decided to transfer the analog cassette master tapes containing these songs to a digital format using Audacity. I transcribed each of the four tracks in each master sources separately, and then manually synched the audio tracks together. I cleaned up some tape hiss and tried carefully to overcome areas of degradation of the source material.

My guiding principle when starting out was to stay true to the intentions of the original production, while taking only prudent liberties to use the newer digital technology to overcome certain technical limitations of the original four-track cassette format. As such, throughout the album there are instrumental tracks in some songs that are doubled and slightly delayed, to provide more richness and depth. Guitar breaks that had been dubbed onto the same track as the lead vocal were extracted and placed on their own digital track, to be able to mix them more effectively within the entire song.

However it must be admitted that, once knuckles deep in the source material, I couldn’t resist using a few more of the available tools to enhance certain aspects of a few songs. “Radio Dedication” was doctored the most. Some extremely annoying closed high hat fills were painstakingly eliminated and effects applied to the lead vocal. Pitch correction was used sparingly in certain places in that song and some others, although it could be argued that it could have been used wholesale. There are other similar augmentations and fixes that will probably be obvious upon listening.

All of the latest technological advancements cannot step around the fact that these tracks were recorded on a cassette recorder with non-professional grade equipment. The knobs on the “mixing board” were tweaked by non-professionals, and in the original masters some of the choices of performances to “bounce” together to a single track (such as lead vocal together with bass) were regrettably impossible to do much with during the digital remastering. In all, it is pretty obvious that this is not professional output.

With some background about the production out of the way, a few words about the musicianship and songcraft. The Gland Rovers were amateur but enthusiastic musicians. The playing was very much inspired and a part of the “DIY” ethos prevalent in alternative rock music in the early ‘90s. Except for a few tracks, a real drummer or even a real drum is not to be found. As The Gland Rovers had no drummer, they used drum machines or drum settings on cheap electronic keyboards. The rhythm of one track is knocked out against the bottom of a kitchen garbage pail. The vocals sometimes stray in pitch, something that sounds particularly galling in an era faithfully reliant on AutoTune but that sounds fully in context with other songs from the alt rock scene of the early ‘90s.

What I hope you will hear emerging through the muddy production and amateurish playing are some fairly competent songwriting and interesting arrangements. They are the only reasons I bothered to pursue this project.

-uploaded in HD at

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