Check out some personal reflections on each recording project I've undertaken, and pick up the albums if you can find them. Click this link to get started.
The Marcus Singletary Band (2004)
Produced and Mixed by Marcus Singletary; Mastered by Anthony Casuccio. Recorded at Sound Arena, Hollywood, CA. Marcus Singletary - Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass, Drums, Harmonica, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Vocals.
The artist says...
Following a hectic 2003, which included gigs in the midwest with Jupiter's Child, I decided to try performing as a solo act. The three discs the group had done had been worthwhile exercises, though, as far as becoming a seasoned producer was concerned.
I settled into a low-fidelity groove by buying some elemental computer equipment and striking some familiar blues chords like anyone just beginning to produce records within the genre. 'Delta,' a Junior Wells-style harmonica-and-drum duet, and 'Shame' utilize classic blues structures in a rock-and-roll environment. 'Best in Me' is inspired by the A-side of Led Zeppelin III, and sonic experiments follow in the forms of country-blues instrumental 'Saddleback,' the dark narrative 'Come and Get It,' and hip-hopper 'Trailblazer,' which provided a clear link between my first solo disc and earlier ones released by the band.
The best known track, 'Shame,' morphed into 'Train' for the Capitol Hill release; According to royalty sheets, 'Shame' received limited airplay in Japan. Apparently, those audiences were open-minded enough to buy a black humor tale of a statutory rapist detained by law enforcement, set to a 'Bo-Diddley Beat.'
Capitol Hill (2004)
Produced and Mxed by Marcus Singletary; Mastered by Anthony Casuccio. Recorded at Sound Arena, Hollywood, CA. Marcus Singletary - Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass, Drums, Harmonica, Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals.
The Artist Says...
My initial foray into concept album creation, Capitol Hill's track listing later became the basis of many live set lists - all of which represented a reversal from past trends (mainly symbolized by the utilization of rappers on previous discs and the vast array of sounds central to the musical diversity heard throughout those releases.)
The aural possibilities were widened by reductionist structures built upon fewer deviations ala Miles Davis' A Tribute to Jack Johnson and On the Corner. Although the electronica, hip-hop, and techno elements were either diminished or erased, I revisited the genres' production standards by sampling and incorporating the recorded voices of social commentators into tunes like 'The Music's Playin',' a song encouraging mental stability and social harmony that is often extended to great lengths when performed live.
Other examples of the Capitol Hill style are the Heartland rocker 'Johnson's Farm' (on which former President Richard Nixon is heard in a more positive light than usual) and the anti-violence lyrics of 'Train.' Its sample was taken from a dispatcher's recording during an impending train wreck, and it concludes with reassurance that amounts to a clear display of friendship amidst an atmosphere of violence and doom.
Live at the Foxx (2005)
Produced and Mixed by Marcus Singletary; Mastered by Anthony Casuccio. Recorded live at the Foxx Club, Los Angeles, CA. Marcus Singletary - Guitar and Vocals; Willie B. - Bass; G. - Drums.
The artist says...
Bar gigs led to Live at the Foxx - a collection recorded on an audience member's digital recorder. The audio's roughness inspired me to finally enter a studio, a year later, for the Marcus Singletary sessions but, here, a near-perfect recreation of the era's set lists is on display.
Four originals ('Best in Me,' 'Can't Ask For More,' 'The Music's Playin',' 'Shame') are included, along with two cover tunes: Steve Miller's 'Mercury Blues,' and the Rascals' 'Good Lovin'.' Both were rearranged to fit the standard 'Marcus Singletary style' of adaptation (as later heard in 'Misty Morning,' 'Sweet Home, Chicago,' and many others.) Five of these tracks appeared on the 2006 Rocks best-of compilation; three also appear as bonus cuts on Capitol Hill Reloaded.
Blues-rock enthusiasts can't miss with this or Rocks, which find me performing within the Eric Clapton/Jimmy Page/Robin Trower spectrum of musicality.
Produced and Mixed by Marcus Singletary; Mastered by Anthony Casuccio.
The artist says...
Rocks compiles ten blues-inspired tunes from the previous releases onto one disc. Whereas Capitol Hill mostly explores jam band terrain, this album was called by journalist Jason Scales a, 'sampling of [my] recorded blues resume.'
Its material is also linked by the low-fidelity environments in which the contents were recorded, as mentioned in the write-ups of each individual album here recorded before 2006. At this time, I still was a newbie to the professional recording studio environment and, even with Rocks' sonic shortcomings, the album was a success.
This record's chronology and musical continuity improved upon the sequencing inconsistencies of earlier albums, and such is the goal of any affordable, single-disc best-of collection. Unfortunately, it only covers a certain period in time, but the era it documents was subject to some great - albeit roughly produced - music by yours truly.
Key cuts? 'Super Tuesday' depicts a power hungry, tax cutting politician, the single version of 'Train' focuses on the sultry harmonica, and the third official appearance on record of funk-blues barnstormer 'Can't Ask For More' finally places the track next to other tunes fully consistent in sound and style.
Marcus Singletary (2008)
Produced by Marcus Singletary. Mixed by Don Casale. Mastered by Anthony Casuccio. Recorded at Clear Lake Audio, North Hollywood, CA. Marcus Singletary - Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Piano, Vocals; Ralph Parillo - Saxophone; Stefano Ashbridge - Drums; Wayne Mills - Percussion; Backing Vocals by Janelle and Vincent Unto.
The artist says...
Marcus Singletary's sessions were held at Clear Lake Audio in North Hollywood, CA, two years before its actual release. The studio is primarily famous for being the facility used by No Doubt to cut their signature album, Tragic Kingdom.
The record was eventually mixed by Don Casale - famous for his work on Iron Butterfly's platinum-seller, In-a-Gadda-da-Vida, and links to the Butterfly saga are evident in 'Greenstone Pala' - a track purposefully centered around three words located on the back of most Butterfly product. Discover the cut's true meaning, if you manage to locate those vintage recordings.
A 'context of uplift' continues with 'Love is the Answer,' a call for brotherhood that utilizes a multi-part vocal chorus reminiscent of the coda of 'All You Need is Love' by the Beatles. Further exercises within the epoch, including 'Bound to Be,' 'Say, Can You See,' and 'Start Something,' mix major-key melodies with positive messages unheard of in today's commercial music.
The diverse instrumentation includes Latin percussion, clavinets, and horns inspired by Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire; My production approach was reminiscent of Norman Whitfield's works with the Temptations, including the seminal albums Cloud Nine and Psychedelic Shack.
Reviewers noted the shock of hearing me perform in an entirely different style than had been previously attempted. In fact, I was encouraged to pursue the pop direction heard here by the negativity directed towards me by a pop festival promoter and several media outlets that had labeled me as a 'Lenny Kravitz clone.' I can say, today, that the unique juxtapositioning of lighter sounds and happy, upbeat lyrics truly reflected where I was as a person, at the time.
This and its studio follow-up, Smokin', are two of the best records you'll find on the internet. I would consider the influences somewhere in between Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door and the Beach Boys' 1971 album Surf's Up - an oft-ignored classic.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (2008)
Produced and Mixed by Marcus Singletary; Mastered by Anthony Casuccio. Recorded live at Fonda Theater, Hollywood, CA. Marcus Singletary - Electric Guitar; Stefano Ashbridge - Drums.
The artist says...
Take Me Out to the Ball Game celebrates my favorite sport in song with an extended, instrumental guitar suite that uses the title track as a springboard into total guitar improvisation. As a little league pitcher in my youth, I was able to incorporate my own special insights into the moods generated both on and off the field. For instance, while 'The Babe' obviously refers to Babe Ruth on the surface, 'Suzuki' name-checks future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki, and 'Man of Steal' speeds along gracefully like Rickey Henderson, the real Man of Steal, 'Boys of Summer' and 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' allow listeners to hear the crowd paying close attention. In fact, the crowd dynamics play a major role throughout, as does drummer Stefano Ashbridge's time keeping. Ashbridge had, months earlier, performed on the Marcus Singletary album.
Critical notices view the disc in a positive light, and some have even compared me to Jimi Hendrix. While I do not feel I sound like him as a player at all, and would actually credit the influence of the album to Larry Coryell's Lady Coryell (on which the guitarist duets with drummer Elvin Jones), I appreciate the kudos and can revel in the fact that I have finally enjoyed 10,000 sales of an album!
It would be tough to not view this album as a crucial step in the development of the Marcus Singletary saga.
Produced by Marcus Singletary. Mixed by Ross Pallone. Mastered by Anthony Casuccio. Recorded at Chet's Place, Los Angeles, CA, Wilcox Studios, Hollywood, CA, and Tumis Recorders, Van Nuys, CA. Marcus Singletary - Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Keyboards, Synthesizer, Theremin, Vocals; Cliff Starbuck - Bass; Chet McCracken - Drums; John Lugo - Trombone; Cuco Lopez Revillas - Flute; Ralph Parillo - Saxophone; Jeff Schweitzer - Trumpet; Backing Vocals by Vincent Unto and Renee Yalley.
The artist says...
Smokin''s recording sessions were quite grueling. Recorded over the course of a full year, the quickest aspect of the album's assembly was the drum tracking, which occured courtesy of Chet McCracken, who performed with the Doobie Brothers on two of their highest selling albums. His rock-solid timing helped me find time to focus on all else that was going awry, during the actual making of the music, as few players seemed to have any idea of what to play over the chord progressions - a problem that was solved when I eventually told them to, ''play whatever and I'll fix it later.' The instrumental precision on Smokin', as a result, was due to thousands of hours spent behind the console, building up each instrumental part note-for-note until the end of each tune was reached.
In retrospect, I understand why it was so tough for pros to play my music, as it is actually a totally individual sonic invention. The influences that permeate it, beneath the surface, span several artists, eras, and genres with which the 'average' musical listener of any skill level or even musician may not be overtly familiar. In short, I have not simply stolen' any songs or sounds from any other artists whatsoever.
The rock rendition of Bob Marley's 'Misty Morning' that appears on Smokin' was born onstage in clubs including the House of Blues and Hollywood's Viper Room, where the album release party was held in 2011. It is the clearest exhortation of the sound I've created, as anyone can listen to the two versions back-to-back and spend multiple hours gauging their differences and similarities.
A favorite moment, for me, is Cuco Lopez Revillas' haunting flute on 'Psychedelic People' which, to my ears, recalls the sensitivity jazz great Herbie Mann displayed on a number of classics such as 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' from Memphis Underground.
Smokin''s lyrics discuss today's social concerns. 'Drop of a Hat' refers to the plight of the historically disadvantaged, 'Farmer' urges morality and a refusal to participate in physical intimidation and violence ('I won't kill/Here's my refusal'), and 'You Could Be Lucky''s Mount Shasta-based mysticism offers benevolent spirit to anyone who is in need of it.
Holy Guitar! (2012)
Produced and Remixed by Marcus Singletary; Mastered by Anthony Casuccio. 'Highway Patrol' recorded at L'America. 'Occupy' recorded throughout the U.S.A.
The artist says...
For fun, I wanted to simply cut instrumental guitar tracks that would serve as aural statements on current social topics.
'Highway Patrol' was conceived on the Ventura Freeway while witnessing police officers search through a vehicle parked on the side of the road; Its sound can be compared to the emotions felt while watching a traffic stop and not knowing if the person stopped will be beat by the police.
After viewing reports on Wall Street protests, the semi-autobiographical, multi-part epic 'Occupy' was born. It features audio from an Occupy Wall Street rally, followed by the soothing pleasance of an off-road gas station fill-up and a very long, escapist guitar solo encapsulating my own feelings on the police brutality that students faced during the protests. The track uses The Who Sell Out, and Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy as experimental blueprints - evident in 'Occupy''s use of fake commercials and atmospheric sound effects to drive its ultimate message home.
From there, I handpicked tracks from the previous albums that fit the instrumental concept and resequenced their end results (hence, a focus on guitar soloing and the removal of vocals from the arrangements of certain tunes.) Some new creations, like 'Echo Park' and 'Move,' combine portions of five or six previously recorded songs into single recordings, and the very best tracks from Ball Game ('Boys of Summer,' 'Man of Steal') also appear in slightly edited versions.
The sonic cleansing is most apparent on the oldest recordings, 'Chicago Stomp,' and 'Friends' - ensemble performances that check in with a very high amount of vitality. As a whole, Holy Guitar! both revisits the past and reshapes it unconventionally with new creations based upon older tracks, and it is a great starting point for the uninitiated - namely, anyone who has never heard a single note I've ever played on guitar.
Satan's Spawn: an Anthology (2012)
Produced by Marcus Singletary; Mixed by Don Casale, Ross Pallone, and Marcus Singletary; Mastered by Anthony Casuccio.
The artist says...
Holy Guitar!'s focus is the bright side of the music; Satan's Spawn symbolizes the darkest, most macabre aspects at play within the musical ethos. As a companion piece, Satan's Spawn ends the same way Holy Guitar! begins: with the instrumental reflection of social chaos, 'Occupy.'
Truly, if the mess that America finds itself mired in, today, is not perfectly symbolized by the existence of an album such as Satan's Spawn, I could not begin to consider what else could, as scenes from the ongoing cultural clash can be heard (and felt) in the romantic longing of 'Silver Lining,' the political pronouncements of 'Super Tuesday' and 'We, the People,' and the black metal riffage of 'King Down Under' - recorded at the age of ten with all overdubs performed directly into a stereo equipped with a dual cassette player.
This collection tells a wide-ranging tale, as it chronicles my childhood and much of my time as a young adult while simultaneously containing music symbolic of the social concerns from each era. The album displays how I arrived from Point A to Point B in the music game and also benchmarks crucial points in my personal life, such as the usage of 'Lead the Way' on the CNN news program The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer in 2012 and the appearance of the very first track I ever recorded in a big-league studio, 'Start Something.'
For those seeking musical (and personal) transparency, Holy Guitar! and Satan's Spawn are your gems.
Capitol Hill Reloaded (2012)
Produced and Remixed by Marcus Singletary; Remastered by Anthony Casuccio.
The artist says...
Capitol Hill Reloaded reintroduces Capitol Hill, the original album, to the public in a brand new way.
Remastered, resequenced, re-channelled, and even re-envisioned, it is a new take on the original work that adds three live performances from gigs held during the era alongside Capitol Hill's seven original recordings.
The release begins and ends with 'The Music's Playin',' a Singletary standard, and the pairing is definitely instructive for anyone weighing the two versions against one another. Each manages to utilize the same chord progression and lyrics in a different manner, as the studio version features a news report chronicling the 1992 L.A. riots, and the live one relies solely on instrumental and vocal power.
'Keep on Moving' is a historical assessment of the continual struggle to keep human rights intact, 'Johnson's Farm' blazes anti-establishment even as former President Richard Nixon's voice leads the D.C. peace march and, of course, 'Lead the Way' and 'Super Tuesday' are here in all their individualized glory.
This album's recording sessions bring back memories, as I recorded the entire disc at the Hollywood rehearsal studio formerly known as 'Sound Arena' with a cadre of female onlookers attempting to distract me during every single vocal syllable. Cheers to the good ol' days!
Sings Country Music Standards (2013)
Produced and Mixed, and Mastered by Marcus Singletary. Recorded at L'America. Marcus Singletary - Acoustic Guitar and Vocals.
The Artist Says…
Many had attempted to discourage me from recording a covers album at this point in my career, but my affinity for these tracks could not be contained any longer. Sings Country Music Standards gives listeners and fans a more intimate glimpse into the musical inner-workings of a Marcus Singletary album project and the density of its underpinnings.
I've always appreciated the minimalism of Americana - especially when powerful compositions are set to the starkest dynamics possible. Such qualities can be heard on Elvis' early Sun Records singles (produced by Sam Phillips), the most popular Willie Nelson recordings ('Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain'), Rick Rubin's revisualization of Johnny Cash's image for his American series of recordings, and rockabilly tunes of the 1950s and early 1960s as performed by legends including Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins.
An obvious strength that appears on this record is the fact that the majority of the tunes can be immediately identified by anyone with even a nominal knowledge of bluegrass, country, or folk. However, the most important facet is that each, but the most important facet to realize is that each, while staying true to the original chord charts and lyrics, winds up sounding like a Marcus Singletary original.
My favorite recording here is the cover of John Fogerty's 'Proud Mary' that was inspired by the version performed by Glen Campbell on his old television program, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. In fact, my own personal journey through the country backroads has familiarized me with the utterly massive discography he has laid out for all interested in such treasures.
I'd also consider another key cut the version of Jimmie Rodgers' 'Muleskinner Blues.' It relates the sad, yet strangely uplifting, tale of an African-American slave who plots to break free from his master's egotistical imposition. I am sure the universe planned for me to sing this song from the very beginning of time!