The digital revolution is changing quite a few things about the music industry – in particular, how we purchase music. Instead of driving down to the music store, we can hop on iTunes and instantly have the songs we want. Until recently, however, if you wanted the original performance trax to your favorite gospel music, you still had to go to the local Christian bookstore and buy the accompaniment CD, often for around $10 per CD. For someone like me who uses tracks such as these frequently, it can become quite time consuming (and costly). You can imagine my surprise, I’m sure, when I saw that record companies were now offering original accompaniment trax on iTunes.
One of the trax I found on iTunes was Jimmy Fortune’s I Believe project, all in accompaniment form. This project has long been a favorite of mine, and I’ve wanted to do several songs from this project for a while, but just couldn’t justify shelling out $25 (plus shipping) to order the accompaniment disc. Turns out, on iTunes, you can purchase the same disc in digital form for $10, or just order the individual songs for $0.99. Not a bad deal! I ordered three of the songs to start off.
As I’ve noted in the past, sometimes you find some interesting things while listening to the “accompaniment trax” versions of songs. A good engineer can often perform audio slights-of-hand by doing some digital splicing and editing until we are presented with a finished product, and often times, these edits are done at the last second, long after the recording sessions themselves have ended. The end result is a tight recording, but when making accompaniment tracks, you are making them based on the ORIGINAL studio recordings, not the final edits.
In this case, one of the trax I purchased, “He’s Getting Me Ready,” is actually a minute and a half longer compared to the final retail version. Apparently, the original studio session included two instrumental breaks, an extra chorus or two, and a much longer ending (that actually repeated the intro), but before the album was released, the song was shortened by cutting out one instrumental break, a chorus, and trimming the ending. This was not a matter of just fading the song out early….these edits were done in the middle of the song. To the engineer’s credit (whom I believe is Kelly Schoenfeld), there is virtually no evidence of any major edits; the only indication I can find is at the end, where Fortune’s vocals tend to fade a little as the instrumental tag begins (possibly an overlap in waveforms?), and that was something I thought was entirely intentional anyway.
Now, what I am unsure of is whether or not this was a decision made by Song Garden Music Group. Originally, I Believe was recorded independently by Fortune; I know when Song Garden released the project to retail, they removed one song and replaced with another; I don’t have the original independent version of this album to tell if there is any difference between the two with “He’s Getting Me Ready.” I DO know that Song Garden is who released the performance trax, so it may just be a case of using an original studio cut to make the accompaniment version.
Because I’m such a stickler for such quirks, I am actually surprised that this one got past me….it took my purchasing a different version to even know something had been changed!