"(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden" Martina McBrideSingle: "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden"
Album: Timeless (RCA)
Dates Recorded: January 2005 (basic tracks) and May 2005 (overdubs) at Blackbird Studio in the Berry Hill community of Nashville, Tennessee
Single Producer: Martina McBride
Single Engineer: John McBride
Assistant Engineers: Vance Powell and Lowell Reynolds
Single Mixer: John McBride
Mastering: Richard Dodd
Other Projects: Blackbird owner and engineer John McBride has recorded and/or mixed various soundtracks and tribute releases, various works by Martina McBride, and albums for artists such as the Chieftains.
Single Songwriter: Joe South
Console: Neve 8078
Recorders: Pro Tools|HD, Sony Sonoma DSD, Ampex ATR-102 half-inch analog, Studer C37 analog tube two-track
Monitors: ATC 300 main monitors
Select Microphones: R-F-T Funkwerk CM7151 bottle microphone (lead vocal), Neumann M50 (three in Decca Tree for string overdubs)
Processing: Neve 8078 channel EQ, GML 8200 stereo parametric equalizer, Fairchild 660 and 670 tube limiters In re-recording Lynn Anderson's 1970 smash hit "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden," country songbird Martina McBride and her engineer/mixer husband John McBride chose a sonic path that is less taken these days: one overwhelmingly "analog" and comparatively void of compression. As a result, Martina's first single from Timeless an album of classic and well-written songs arguably sounds fresher than most everything surrounding it on modern country music radio."Rose Garden" - one of the first songs recorded for Timeless - was recorded in Blackbird Studio's Studio A, which features a Neve 8078 console and ATC 300 main monitors. Studio A "is so accurate," explains John McBride, that he recorded and mixed using ATC 300 mains almost exclusively. "They're my main monitoring choice."
After using Martina's favorite vocal microphone - a Telefunken 251, serial number 584 - for some time, the pair discovered a rare find during one of John's microphone shopping excursions, which ended up being perfect for Martina's striking vocal. "Part of one particular collection was a R-F-T CM7151, which sounded fantastic," he recalls. "I knew that I needed to try this on her; the mic has great low and high-end and a wonderful midrange." Because of the R-F-T's hot output, no preamp was used in the vocal chain; the mic to a Fairchild 660/670 and straight to Pro Tools did the trick.
"We did record to Pro Tools|HD at 96kHz but used it strictly as a tape machine," explains John. "We kept things very 'analog' throughout the whole process; we ran through the desk, used a bunch of great mic preamps and mics, and just kept it simple. When I set up a mix, I wouldn't have a stereo buss compressor in at all. As the mix went along, I'd put one in. If it didn't make me go, 'Wow,' I would take it out. Out of 23 songs recorded, only two were mixed with a stereo buss compressor, and 'Rose Garden' wasn't one of them."
Even when mastering with Richard Dodd (from a DSD master recorded via half-inch), John stayed a stickler about the compression issue. "We got as much volume as we could with volume," he says plainly. "This album isn't quite as loud as a lot of the records coming out of Nashville. But if you turn your stereo up one or two clicks, I believe it sounds a lot better than most."