NASHVILLE, TN—The Shaming of the True, a rock opera by an underappreciated musical talent, Kevin Gilbert, is set for a rerelease soon with a number of bonus tracks reworked by Mark Hornsby, a Nashville-based engineer and producer. Hornsby worked on a version of the song “A Long Day’s Life,” featuring a 48-piece orchestra, at Abbey Road studios recently.
Mark Hornsby recently visited Abbey Road Studios to rework songs by an underappreciated musical talent, the late Kevin Gilbert.Most of the Shaming songs were unfinished at the time of Gilbert’s untimely death in 1996 but were subsequently completed by his collaborators, including Spock’s Beard drummer/frontman Nick D’Virgilio, and eventually released. But a series of events led to Hornsby reworking two of those songs, which, in turn, has inspired the Gilbert estate to plan a rerelease of the project with the additional material.
“This is a guy that did a number of projects that have had an impact on people and they don’t even know it,” comments Hornsby. “I’ve never turned anybody on to Kevin Gilbert that didn’t call me back and say, ‘Who is this guy, and where can I get more of his stuff?’”
Gilbert first came to notice with Giraffe, a Bay Area band that won an international talent contest sponsored by Yamaha in 1988. Producer Patrick Leonard, one of the judges, encouraged Gilbert to move to Los Angeles and join his band, Toy Matinee. Gilbert went on to engineer projects by Michael Jackson, Madonna and others, and was part of the Tuesday Night Music Club behind the Grammy-winning debut album by Sheryl Crow, who was Gilbert’s girlfriend at the time.
“Toy Matinee is a staple in recording studios; people use it to show off their speakers,” notes Hornsby. “He co-wrote ‘Come What May’ from Moulin Rouge with David Baerwald. He even wrote a song for Tina Turner. He was just a creative genius.”
Hornsby recalls playing a few lines from “Long Day’s Life” on the Steinway in Abbey Road’s Studio 1 last year. “I thought to myself, it would be really cool to put orchestra on that song.” Six months later, the opportunity arose while working with Kat Bowser, who is recording her unique take on Broadway and Hollywood film songs with Hornsby. “Kat became a fan of Kevin Gilbert through me, and she loved the song ‘A Long Day’s Life,’” he shares. It was decided to include Bowser’s version of the song on her album to help bring some recognition to Gilbert.
When it became clear that Bowser’s album allowed for tracking at Abbey Road, Hornsby contacted Jon Rubin, manager of Gilbert’s estate, whom he already knew. “I said, ‘What do you think about putting a full orchestra on “A Long Day’s Life”? I’m already recording one version of the song, so it wouldn’t be that hard to do two.’”
Rubin liked the idea and sent over three 2-inch tapes. “They wouldn’t play, so we had to bake them,” recalls Hornsby, who transferred them into Pro Tools at 88.2 kHz. But the 8-minute song, which goes through time-signature and tempo changes, had been recorded without a click track, so Hornsby and his team set about carefully editing everything in order to develop a click track and tempo map for the orchestral overdubs.
Hornsby also discovered an alternate, unreleased version of “Best Laid Plans.” When John Cuniberti, who mixed and mastered the original project, also agreed to get involved, Rubin decided to package the new tracks into a rerelease of the album.
All of the orchestral tracks that Hornsby cut at Abbey Road were recorded through Prism Sound converters at 88.2 kHz. “It sounds amazing,” he says, adding, “You’re in Studio 1 at Abbey Road with the London Philharmonic. You can’t really screw it up!”
By coincidence, D’Virgilio was on tour with Cirque du Soleil in London at the time of the sessions. Hornsby has worked with him on various projects, including Rewiring Genesis, a rerecording— using Nashville session players—of the classic Genesis album, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, on which D’Virgilio sang and played drums. “It was a moving experience, to sit and listen to Kevin’s tracks performed by a full orchestra,” says Hornsby. “The estate, Nick and John Cuniberti did an excellent job of finishing The Shaming of the True, but they’d be the first to tell you it wasn’t easy because it was never really completed.”
Hornsby used SoundField’s SPS200 mic system alongside Neumann M50 microphones in standard Decca tree configuration on the orchestra. “The recordings made with the SPS200 are what I’m using to mix,” he reports.
“It’s a great, open-sounding microphone, although actually, I think of it more as a recording system than just a microphone. Having the ability to repoint microphones in the mixing environment, after the session, is amazing to me.”
A release date has not yet been announced for the rerelease. A deluxe, audiophile vinyl edition including the new score, art prints and other bonus material is also being considered.
(dist. by TransAudio Group)