This new double album from Ministry Of Sound / Sony has been a massive undertaking over the past year for producer Hal Ritson.
Consisting of acoustic versions of many of the greatest R&B tracks of all time, two thirds of the album is brand new acoustic versions produced and arranged by Hal Ritson specifically for the project.
With classic tracks reworked including Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing, TLC – No Scrubs, R Kelly – Bump N Grind, Mo Money Mo Problems – The Notorious B.I.G and any more, Hal painstakingly went back to the original multi track tape recordings and protools sessions for these classic songs, removed everything about from the original raw vocal takes, then rebuilt the songs with new live acoustic parts.
Ritson comments “The challenge is really to create authentic live sounding performances, where you really believe the artist is jamming the track acoustically in the room with a small number of players, even though that is not what really happened. R&B can be a particular challenge in this respect as the original productions often had the artist performed the lead vocal doubletracked, and heavily stacked backing vocals, and adlibs, leading to an effect of 20 of the same person performing at once. While that sounds great on the original, it shatters the illusion of a real acoustic performance to have 20 of the same person in the room at once, so we had to get to the core of what the artist would really perform in a live context and build from there.”
Modern space convolution tools such as AUD’s Ocean Way plugin enabled the illusion to be subtly created that the original artist was in the same acoustic space as the modern performers even if the actual recordings were made decades apart in reality.
Ritson notes “The Joy of this kind of job is revealing the underlying song that lay beneath the original production – and a great song shines in multiple context like this. Also its amazing to take some of the most iconic vocal performances of all time and expose them more like this, showing the talent of the original artists in a more natural setting.”
Jamming in the studio for this (OK the Rhodes isn’t quite Acoustic, but we get away with it LOL)