There's No Place Like Hollywood -
making the CD
Journal Page Four: Making the CD
The original cast of "There's No Place Like
10/1 - Original cast members
HEIDI GODT and PATTI DIAMOND rejoined us today as we started recording
the original cast CD of "THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOLLYWOOD" at Private Island Trax Studios
in Hollywood. The studio is appropriately located in a Hollywood landmark:
THE CROSSROADS OF THE WORLD complex
on Sunset Blvd. one of the oldest "shopping malls" extant. The studio
once belonged to Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and Nash. I've
recorded several albums there; I love the place. It just feels
In the lobby at Private Island Trax to begin recording.
I played candid cameraman throughout the sessions and the pictures
are on this page.
There's an "in" joke in "Bump"
for those who listen. At every performance JEFF
GRIGGS would imitate Clay and yell "Sell it!" upstage (away from
the audience). It's on tape now for posterity's sake.
The accompaniment to some of the songs could be pre-recorded
by drummer DAVE LOFTI and I before the actors
came into the studio, but other songs have tricky tempo changes where the
band (piano, bass and drums) has to follow the actor, not the other way
around. So we're starting with those songs, and we finished four today,
right on schedule. In fact, CLAY ADKINS
got his Elvis song "Bump" in one take!
Many of our busy actors had to leave before the end of the session, so the
only two girls left to scream for "Elvis" were AMY
COLLETT and MELISSA BRANDZEL. They screamed their little hearts out ...
between giggles. There was a lot of laughing today. It's a joy
to work with people you genuinely like!
Amy & Melissa
Jeff Griggs in front on the right: "Sell it!!"
Stephanie Andersen as Louella Parsons, Anette Michele Sanders
as Rita Hayworth, Amy Collett as Betty Grable and Melissa Brandzel
as Hedy Lamar in "Pin-Up Girls"
9/5 - Last nights session started
with a make-shift photo shoot. When RICK FRIESAN,
Ducy Lee's premiere album designer, took the production shots of the show
(including the artsy one on the left for the "Pin-Up
Girls" number) original cast member PATTI DIAMOND
had left the show, replaced by the fabulous ANETTE
MICHELE SANDERS (2nd from the left).
I had no picture of Patti to put on the CD. She and SCOTT DAVIDSON would be together to record their comedy
duet "Jeanette and I".
BUT ... Rick was out of town! I frantically called my buddy radiologist
ED ZARAGOZA. Ed grabbed his camera
and we set up in front of the studio recording booth in the costumes I nabbed
closing night of the show. Ed got this great shot which I plan
to use on the back cover of the CD!
Patti & Scott as Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy
9/5 (continued) - STEPHANIE ANDERSEN and HEIDI
GODT arrived for their respective solos and stayed all night,
everyone cheering on everybody else. I've made a lot of albums and this
patently NEVER happens! But, perhaps because this incarnation of the
show is closed now, this cast truly likes hanging out together. And
engineers BRIAN FRIEDMAN & IAN CONE and drummer DAVE
LOFTI have definitely become part of the family. We're having
altogether too much fun!
Stephanie, Heidi and Patti
Fashion-challenged Ian and Brian
My primary concern in making this CD is to translate
everything that was primarily visual on stage to an aural experience and the
two big numbers we recorded last night were chief concerns of mine.
"Listen to Mammy" featuring Stephanie
as Hattie McDaniel has her stripping off the "Mammy" drag to reveal
a sophisticated woman underneath. And Heidi Godt's "Special" - the emotional heart of the show - is sung
to the cement footprints in front of Grauman's Chinese
Theater. In both cases, the ladies came through brilliantly.
I couldn't be more pleased!
Scott Davidson and the Company singing "Busby
10/7 - Whew! This was
a long night! The full cast came in and the usual level of hysteria
was quickly regained ... but as always the cast worked hard between the laughs
and we got a lot of "gold" recorded. We started off with everyone singing
the "Busby Berkeley" number. In the show
- which has no intermission - this song segues directly into the "Hollywood Canteen" section. I decided to come
to a full ending for the CD. This means the cast had to learn it and
record it in one sitting! They did wonderfully. SCOTT DAVIDSON and CLAY ADKINS
as Busby Berkeley and Fred Astaire, respectively, were especially
Re-learning "Busby Berkeley"
In fact when we started to record Melissa's vocal to
"Kiss Me, My Fool" we faced an additional
challenge: I realized I had set too fast a tempo for the pre-recorded
trax! Melissa and I quickly switched to "Plan B" and recorded a live
piano/vocal version that drummer DAVE LOFTI is
going to have to match at a later session. (We have two more!)
The slightly slower tempo gave Melissa the opportunity to milk this comedic
number for all it's worth.
The winners of the longevity award for the evening
were unquestionably DAVID BARNATHAN and MELISSA BRANDZEL. David recorded a "scratch
vocal" for his song as Gulch, the evil Hollywood Agent at about 8:30pm
and then had to hang around until after midnight to finish it! Meanwhile,
the background singers finished their tracks on that song and we moved to
three consecutive star turns for Melissa! First she was Hedy Lamarr
in "Pin-Up Girl" (with PATTI DIAMOND as Rita Hayworth and AMY COLLETT as Betty Grable) then she was
Greta Garbo in "Divas" (with
Patti again as Betty Davis and STEPHANIE ANDERSEN
as Mae West) and then she sang her featured number as the schizophrenic
Theodosia Goodman/Theda Bara in "Kiss Me, My Fool"! (Patti gets first-runner-up
for longevity and a gold star for her turn as Ms. Davis!) Melissa faced
every challenge with amazing "cool" and her wonderful voice.
Before we finally got to David, the "Pin-Up Girls" heated up the studio in their number,
the "Divas" brought down the house (that Stephanie
is just plain funny!) and Patti, Scott and JEFF
GRIGGS got jiggy with their bad selves in David's "The Bottom Line". We had an entourage this
evening with backstage dresser and family member Eric Lipska, my friend
Wayne McDonald and Amy's teenage sister in attendance. Also there was
the financier for this project ED ANDERSON.
I think he had the best time of anyone.
Finally, David and I could settle down to his tricky number.
Every song in this show is a tribute to a specific time and place and musical
style in the movies. "The Bottom Line" is
a contemporary piece (think "boy bands") and comments on the "sequel" mentality
of today's studios. David's nasty character gets younger and younger
as the show progresses, and by this time is practically an obnoxious teenager.
David achieved just the right mix of teen pop and mean acting! It's
my favorite song in the show!
Patti, Amy & Melissa, the "Pin-Up
"The Bottom Line" - David, Jeff & Scott
O-Town better watch their backs!
10/11 - We finished the recording
part of this project today with two back-to-back six-hour sessions ... and
Brian and I needed every minute to get everything done! The day started
with AMY COLLETT and JEFF
GRIGGS recording two very different kinds of songs: First the
robust "Don't Think Small" as Mary Pickford
& Douglas Fairbanks and then the spooky, cautionary "Be Careful What You Wish For" as Marilyn Monroe
and James Dean. It was like working with four different people!
Four months of performing the show helped a lot, I'm sure, and Amy and Jeff
were finished in record time.
Amy and Jeff
Not so for the next part of the session. CLAY ADKINS tore through "Bananas"
like he did in every performance, but the next song was a real
challenge. One of the songs cut from the show was a duet for Cher
and Barbara Streisand called "Larger Than Life"
which I'm including as a bonus track on
the CD. (These characters appeared in the show but didn't
sing.) Without benefit of weeks of rehearsal, Clay impersonated both
women - both distinctive icons - and made it funny! It took four and
a half hours. And the song works. Clay is simply amazing.
I can't listen to these tracks without laughing!
Anette Michele Sanders
10/11 (continued) - After a
quick dinner break, Brian and I returned to the studio to welcome back drummer
DAVE LOFTI. He had to put a drum
track to my piano track for Melissa's "Kiss Me, My Fool"
which was done in haste with no click track to play to! Kids,
don't try this at home. He got it in one take. Young, cute and
talented. Can't stand him.
Two members of our company from the beginning were ANETTE MICHELE SANDERS and BRYAN
SHINE. As noted above, Anette replaced Patti in the show and
actually did her part more times than Patti did! Bryan was the understudy
to all the men in the show and learned all their parts, actually going on
for Clay one night. I wanted to include them on this CD to honor their
hard work. (GINA NEAL would have been part
of this too, but she got married and went on her honeymoon when we were recording!
As you can see, Gina has her priorities straight!)
Anette and Bryan joined DAVID BARNATHAN
and myself to record another song cut from the show and included as a bonus
track. It's a quartet for movie fans in love with movie stars
called "Once Again, I'm In Love". Like
Clay's song, we had to create the number right there in the studio.
It's so good, I'm ending the CD with it! And I'm including one of the
demo tracks I recorded 'way back when. (I warned you about this!) "A Night Like This" is the song written for the Hollywood
Canteen scene that opened the 2nd Act and was then cut.
10/11 (continued) - I
finished out the rest of the night putting the bass tracks on all the songs
and planning the final mix with Brian. We start tomorrow - just me,
Brian, lots of lovely music tracks and a six-pack of Diet Pepsis!
Amy Collett, Melissa Brandzel, Heidi Godt & Jeff Griggs
10/29 - The final mix is finished! BRIAN FRIEDMAN and I fiddled and picked and cleaned
and changed and did all those hundreds of little things that make a professional
recording sound so professional. We recorded each final mix directly
into the ProTools program in the studio computer and then edited those recordings
into the final mix for the CD. When we were done, Brian asked rather
plaintively if there was anything else I needed to record for the album.
He had such a good time on this project he didn't want it to stop!
I, on the other hand, can't wait to hold the finished product in my hot little
hands. I gave Brian a copy of the Master CD so he can listen to CLAY ADKIN's "Bananas" song whenever he needs to cheer
The folks at Private Island
Trax Studios surprised me with an end-of-mix ice cream cake on the last
day which I promptly offered to everyone else in the studio. (The rap
group in Studio A seemed especially pleased!) Altogether, this has been
one of the best recording experiences I've ever had.
Brian's cheer-me-up song: "Bananas"
Just for fun, here's a picture of Bryan Shine, Amy Collett and
Stephanie Andersen I took at our opening night party at Micelli's in Hollywood.
10/29 continued - My favorite
CD designer is RICK FRIESEN who took the production
photos that will be in the booklet for the CD and who designed the whole
look of the project based on the original poster by SHIRLEY HILLARD and incorporating my requests.
I wrote a synopsis of the show and a brief history of it as well. That
plus 15 photos and a lot of credits make a full and happy little booklet!
Rick and I are editing it now and the final step - delivering the negatives
of the art and the Master CD to my packaging company - should be sometime
next week! The end is near!
11/1 - Well, tomorrow I take
everything to DocDATA, a company that will print
the CDs and the booklets, put all the pieces together and shrink wrap everything.
On the left is your first look at the cover of the new CD! The next
thing you'll read in these pages is an announcement of the CD as a
"New Release" (my two favorite words!)
Any reviews I get of the album will go on my "Ducy
Lee Reviews" page, but this Journal will
continue with news of future productions of "There's No Place Like Hollywood". Thanks
for reading. - Wayne Moore