The Shaming of the True
|The Shaming of the True|
|Studio album by Kevin Gilbert|
|Recorded||San Francisco, CA (posthumous)|
|Kevin Gilbert chronology|
The Shaming of the True is a rock opera by Kevin Gilbert. It is Gilbert's second solo album, released posthumously in 2000. The album was first released in 2000 as a limited edition and later as a conventional jewel-case CD. A remastered version followed in 2008, and another in 2011 as a limited edition.
The album follows the rise and fall of a singer/musician named Johnny Virgil, whose career follows an arc common to many big rock and roll bands/stars. It starts out promisingly with a gifted young Johnny dreaming of success, but he is soon lured into the common trap of record-company exploitation and seduced by fame and substance abuse. As his career becomes larger than life, the many compromises he had to take start making him feel like he's losing touch with the person he once was. He becomes increasingly more burned out and withdrawn, until the whole thing culminates in a breakdown. He quits his career and goes through a period of disillusionment and depression, but eventually makes peace with himself. At an older age, he is down and out on the streets and occasionally hears one of his songs on the oldies radio at night.
Recording of the album started in 1995. Mixer John Cuniberti described the recording process as "extremely creative, open-ended, chaotic, or the only way an incredibly intense musical prodigy was capable of working. Bits and pieces of song ideas appeared — a bass track here, a synth track there, scratch vocals with piano, etc. There were no track sheets or notes on the technical information and song titles, just a lot of interesting music." Gilbert had recorded "Johnny's Last Song" on the street outside of the studio, as well as the rain and train whistle. The recording sessions had largely been completed before Gilbert's unexpected death, which "intensified the process of making the album in a way [Cuniberti] could never have predicted".
Gilbert's manager and friend, Jon Rubin, asked Nick D'Virgilio and Cuniberti to finish, archive, and catalog all of Gilbert's recordings for his estate, which proved very difficult as Gilbert did not make notes or track sheets, meaning they needed to piece together the takes of many instruments. After identifying material for at least five albums, Cuniberti was first asked to mix "Imagemaker" to determine if he could improve Gilbert's rough mixes they had on a Digital Audio Tape. The Shaming of the True was the first album they started mixing, on which the work began in early 1997. The mixing and additional recordings were done at Coast Recorders in San Francisco, California because of the vintage Neve console, of which Gilbert reportedly loved the sound. The final mix was based on Gilbert's rough mixes and a handwritten note that was believed to be the last running order of the opera, from which the production staff never ventured too far from. The rough mixes sometimes contained tracks that were not found on the master tracks.
Some recordings were made or added posthumously. As the vocals for "Certifiable #1 Smash" had not been recorded yet, the song was initially not considered for inclusion on the record, but was later taken from the live version from the Live at the Troubadour recording, in which the audience can occasionally be heard. The spoken word section was initially performed by Bobby Slayton, but was ultimately also replaced by the live recording of Gilbert. Guitar solos were contributed for "Water Under the Bridge" by Tommy Dunbar and for "The Way Back Home" by David Levita.
This cut was bare bones. Only drums, a piano, and a guide vocal track. Nick D'Virgilio, who worked on this cut prior to Kevin’s death, is the person most responsible for its completion. Nick knew what Kevin wanted regarding instrumentation and vocals. Nick decided to finish the track knowing how important it was to the opera. I am certain this must have been very difficult for Nick since he had been so close to Kevin and was now working at Kevin’s studio without him. Nick did a great job, and I know Kevin would have approved. The guitar solo is one of the high points of this CD, played by David Levita. Nick doubled Kevin’s guide vocal track to help reinforce it bit.
Before his death, Gilbert left out two songs originally intended for the rock opera. "Miss Broadway" was released on Live at the Troubadour, and "The Best of Everything" was released on Bolts in 2009. Both songs allude to the way Sheryl Crow propelled her career over his back, which might have distracted from the main story of Johnny Virgil.
Mastering and releases
The album was mastered three times. The mixes were on 1/2" analog tape that were out of sequence, and needed to be assembled and crossfaded digitally. Additional elements not on the mix tapes needed to be included, while imperfections such as "clicks" caused by console switches and "pops" from plosives that overload the microphone, needed to be removed.
The first edition was mastered by Cuniberti and Ken Lee at Rocket Lab in San Francisco. It was encoded with HDCD and had a fat, dynamic sound. "The mastering required a few failed attempts and a remix before I got something I felt was good enough and honored Kevin’s vision," Cuniberti explains. This album was initially released in early 2000 as a limited edition (of 1,400) hardbound book with CD, artwork and complete libretto. Later in 2000, a conventional jewel CD case version was released.
In 2008, Cuniberti was asked to produce new masters for the album, because the original parts for the first mastering were destroyed or lost when the mastering studio and pressing plant went out of business. He used his equipment at The Plant Recording Studios. Because the trend was to make albums sound louder by adding more compression, the audio was less dynamic, though the low-mid presentation was improved. It was released as a jewel CD box. Shortly after the 2008 remastering, the studio closed its doors and the backup tapes were useless without a computer running a SADiE 4 DAW. In addition, the pressing plant lost the master used for replication.
Cuniberti did another remaster in his home studio in 2011, for which he took a more strictly "purist" approach by loading the original 1/2” analog mix tapes directly into Pro Tools in 24-bit at 96 kHz, and only applying a bit of equalization and limiting, without analog or digital compression. This resulted in a cleaner, punchier and more open sounding album. He also intentionally left in some performance flaws such as "pops" and "clicks", and replaced the mix of "Parade" as he had used an incorrect one for the previous masters. This second remaster was released as a special limited edition 2-CD box set in 2011, containing fourteen 12″ × 12″ prints, and with the second disc containing an alternate version of "Parade" recorded by Gilbert, an orchestrated version of "A Long Day's Life" by Mark Hornsby, and a spoken word version of the entire album performed by Jamie DeWolf.
- "Parade" – 3:44
- "The City of the Sun" – 5:55
- "Suit Fugue (Dance of the A&R Men)" – 2:24
- "Imagemaker" – 3:38
- "Water Under the Bridge" – 5:29
- "The Best Laid Plans" – 5:38
- "Certifiable #1 Smash" – 7:20
- "Staring Into Nothing" – 5:51
- "Fun" – 5:33
- "From Here to There" – 2:11
- "Ghetto of Beautiful Things" – 4:53
- "A Long Day's Life" – 7:28
- "The Way Back Home" – 4:55
- "Johnny's Last Song" – 2:15
- Kevin Gilbert – vocals, guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, programming, sequencing
- Nick D'Virgilio – drums, bass, percussion, guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Brian MacLeod – drums
- Tommy Dunbar, Russ Parrish, David Levita, Bill Bottrell – additional guitars
- Robert Ferris, Jennifer Gross, Skyler Jett, Claytoven, Sandy Sawyer, John Rubin, Tommy Dunbar – backing vocals
- The Le Petomane Ensemble – horns
- John Cuniberti – mixing, mastering (edition 1, 2 and 3)
- Ken Lee – mastering (edition 1)
- John H. Seabury – illustrations (also numbered-and-signed all 1,400 copies of the original limited-edition hardbound book release)
- Hugh Brown – booklet designer
- Cuniberti, John. "Notes On My Experiences Mixing The Shaming Of The True by John Cuniberti". KevinGilbert.com. Retrieved 2014-11-03.
- Cuniberti, John. "Mastering history of Kevin Gilbert's 'Shaming Of The True'". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-11-03.
- Selvin, Joel (1996-09-15). "More Than `The Piano Player' / Dumped by Sheryl Crow after propelling her to success, brilliant musician Kevin Gilbert died before finding his own". San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Shaming of the True on progarchives.com