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In The Beginning

Welcome to the In The Beginning web page.  Here's where you can find information on 404 Not Found's 2nd release, an amazingly personal retrospective of the early musical career of Todd Bradley.

Table of Contents

What You Get
Track Listing
About the Tracks
How This CD Was Made
Project History
How to Order

What You Get

In The Beginning is special.  Lacking the kind of mass market 404 Not Found is typically known around the globe for, this peek into the Todd Bradley archives is intended mainly for online consumption.  That means that unless you're a huge fan or a collector, you're probably not going to buy this CD.

Track Listing

  1. Take 3 (aborted)
  2. The Sweet Shop Rock
  3. X
  4. Hurricane
  5. Escape From Berlin
  6. So This Is It (only available on Special Edition)
  7. All About Potatoes
  8. A Guide to Residence Hall Living
  9. Manamana
  10. Sound Barrier, Part 1
  11. Sound Barrier, Part 2
  12. X Continued
  13. God That Was Great (only available on Special Edition)

About the Tracks

Excuse me while I slip into first person narrative.

Part 1: CLRJ-TAB

I guess you could say these tunes represent my early guitar-based songwriting.  These tunes are collaborations between Chadwick Leslie Richmond Johnson and Todd Alan Bradley, hence the name CLRJ-TAB.  Everything was probably written and recorded in 1984 or 1985.

Take 3 (aborted) (1:24)

Chad and I recorded all this stuff live (I think you tell).  Well, Chad would occasionally get out of control and let his funk loose.  In this case, he knocked his guitar neck (or something else, I can't remember) into the mic stand.  I'm sure that wasn't me making all the noise.

Unfortunately, I don't have a complete recording of this song.  I do have one other version on tape, but for some reason I recorded over a several second section in the middle.

Written by Todd Bradley and Chadwick Johnson
Performed by Todd Bradley (acoustic guitar) and Chadwick Johnson (acoustic-electric guitar)

The Sweet Shop Rock (3:54)

We wrote some words to this song, but never recorded them.  All you get is the instrumental version you hear here.  I've got those words written down somewhere.  Maybe I should type them in so you can imagine what it would have sounded like.
 

Written by Todd Bradley and Chadwick Johnson
Performed by Todd Bradley (bass guitar and rhythm electric guitar) and Chadwick Johnson (lead electric guitar and Casio synthesizer drum machine)

X (3:05)

Here, you get two takes of this song.  On both, Todd finger picked the acoustic guitar.  On the first take Chad played mandolin and on the second he played acoustic guitar.  I talked to Chad a few months ago about this and he couldn't remember ever playing mandolin at all!  "Woob"

Written by Todd Bradley and Chadwick Johnson
Performed by Todd Bradley (acoustic guitar) and Chadwick Johnson (mandolin and acoustic guitar)

Hurricane (7:02)

This was our piece de resistance!  We labored hours and hours over days and maybe even weeks recording all the different parts of this tune.  Years later, when Chad was in the Air Force, he recorded an updated version of this song.  Maybe I'll do the same someday.

This recording featured out very own brand of "noise reduction".  Due to the tape hiss from many tape-to-tape dubs and so on, we intentionally recorded the inherent noise of an analog phaser effect and the wind over the top.  This gave us a little more of the "hurricane" experience and masked the tape hiss.

Also, listen for the much ballyhooed "eye of the hurricane".  I have a tape where we recorded "The Eye Variations", one of which were just like what you hear here, but with the very last chord played "sour".

Written by Todd Bradley and Chadwick Johnson
Performed by Todd Bradley (acoustic and electric guitars and Lowry organ), Chadwick Johnson (acoustic and electric guitars), and Mother Nature (wind chimes and thunder)

Part 2: Todd's Proto Industrial

This has to be the section I'm most proud of.  I had never heard of "industrial" music until around 1987.  But, starting in high school (1984 or so), I came up with this idea of making "music" out of sound effects and stuff.

Escape From Berlin (3:38)

This music was inspired by a dream.  I haven't heard of anyone else who has these, but I occasionally have dreams which are (or seem to be) full length motion pictures.  These dreams have characters, actual real plot lines (with an introduction, conflict, and resolution), and--perhaps strangest of all--an original soundtrack, created by my own subconscious.  I can't remember exactly when this particular dream happened, but I still remember the story line to this day.

The dream was set in World War II.  I played the main character and I was an Allied special forces dude (a spy, basically, I guess) who was sent into Berlin to rescue some important civilian prisoners.  I snuck into the city by way of train .  I had to buy some chewing gum from a French street vendor, who was going to give me my forged papers (this was the first dream I ever had in a foreign language, too--French).  Unfortunately, as I entered the city of Berlin and started travelling around looking for the prisoners (who were played by friends of mine), a bombing attack got underway.  The city was in flames in the middle of the night.  I was able to use the distraction of the air raid to find the prisoners and let them loose, after an entire night of sneaking around and fighting.  The film (dream) ended with me driving a Jeep back over the border from Germany to France.  As the sun rose, snow began to fall.  And then the credits rolled.

The music I recorded here was my best attempt to put down the movie music from this dream.  This was probably sometime in early 1985.

Written by Todd Bradley's subconscious
Performed by Todd Bradley (Korg Poly 800 synthesizer)

So This Is It (1:02) (only available on Special Edition)

For those of you who don't remember or weren't paying attention, digital sampling became more and more mainstream throughout the early 80's.  The Art of Noise made entire songs out of very short samples, but they weren't very popular or mainstream.  Then, Paul Hardcastle's "19" was released and was a hit record; it was the first really popular tune that made obvious use of digital sampling.  The technology was very expensive though; some of those commonly used samplers cost in the neighborhood of $200,000 back then.

But then, in 1986 (at least by my recollection), Casio created the first easily affordable sampling keyboard.  And not only was it cheap, it was super cheap, selling for just over $100.  It was a total toy, of course, but I could actually afford my own sampler!  So I bought one and did all the things people do when they first get to use a sampler--recording belches, dog barks, words, squeaks, etc. and playing them back at different pitch.  In fact, someone made a real, professional, commercial song once (it was Timbuk 3 on their 1988 release Eden Alley) called "Sample the Dog" about this common phenomenon.  They used the Casio SK-1.

I sold my SK-1 way long ago--sometime in the late 80's.  But Chad Johnson (heard elsewhere on this CD) still has his SK-1.  And, being the sort of too-cool-for-retro guy he is, he still uses it in creating new songs.

Anyhow, "So This Is It" is one of the first things I recorded with my Casio sampler.

Written by Todd Bradley, 1986
Performed by Todd Bradley (Casio SK-1), 1986

All About Potatoes (6:25)

There's a government office in Pueblo, Colorado that is a clearinghouse for pamphlets of all sorts.  You can write to them and get a catalog of what they carry.  Some of the publications are free, others cost 50 cents or so.  So, I ordered a few, just for fun.  Then, I made Mike read this one out loud, while I improvised some crankin' tunes in the background.

I think we recorded this in summer of 1986.

Written by Todd Bradley (music), The United States Department of Agriculture (lyrics), and Webster's Dictionary (lyrics)
Performed by Todd Bradley (Korg Poly 800 synthesizer, sound effects, and Casio synthesizer), Mike Roadifer (voice), Sam Duray (occasional vocal outbursts and pushing the Start button on the drum machine)

A Guide to Residence Hall Living (8:42)

We put this together shortly after moving into Libby Hall at the University of Colorado in the fall of 1986.  Nowadays, people might call using the words from an official rule pamphlet as lyrics for a song to be "found sound".  Back then, it was just me forcing Mike to read goofy stuff I gave him.  Mike did a fairly good job of keeping his composure while all these sound effects were going off behind him.  Or maybe I didn't let him hear them--I can't remember for sure.

Recorded in late 1986 or early 1987

Written by Todd Bradley (music) and the University of Colorado (lyrics)
Performed by Todd Bradley (Korg Poly 800 synthesizer, Casio SK1, Central Scrutinizer style plastic megaphone), Mike Roadifer (voice)

Part 3: The Trendy Llamas

During my freshman year of college, I met some guys in my dorm and we formed up a band.  Ken LaBarre, our charismatic front man, came up with the name "Trendy Llamas".  We practiced many weekends at the guitarist's parents' house and then at a spare room in the football stadium.

Eventually, we played a single performance in the basement of our dormitory.  It was sponsored by the residence hall people and was extremely poorly attended.  They probably lost money on that one!  No beer, a cover charge, and a hefty fee for renting the PA and hiring a sound man.  Our set list was almost all cover tunes, things like "Walking on the Moon" by the Police, "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash, "Mirror in the Bathroom" by The English Beat, and so on.

I think all these tunes were recorded through a single stereo microphone.  Note the dramatic lack of bass response.  All these recordings were probably made during 1987 and 1988.

The Trendy Llamas were:

  • Todd Bradley: keyboards (Korg Poly-800 and Casio SK-1) and occasional electric bass guitar
  • Mike Kingdom: electric guitar
  • Kenneth LaBarre: vocals and electric bass guitar
  • Scott Swanstrom: acoustic drums

Manamana (2:43)

The tune came from our combined 10- to 15-year old memories of a song they used to play on Sesame Street.  Ken wrote up some lyrics.  So we put it all together into a somewhat original song.  We had only played this a couple times before recording it.  You can hear Scott yelling for Ken to be quiet; Scott easily got confused playing this strange beat, especially when distracted.  And I'm sorry to say there's a little bit of feedback on this recording.

Written by The Trendy Llamas and Sesame Street (music and lyrics)
Performed by The Trendy Llamas

Sound Barrier (3:31)

I'm pretty sure I wrote the basics of this very simple tune.  We never put any lyrics to it.  We used this as a jam to get everyone warmed up to play our fine selection of cover songs.

Written by The Trendy Llamas
Performed by The Trendy Llamas

Sound Barrier, Part 2 (1:22)

I wanted to break this extremely long performance into two different tracks.  This second part is mainly the crowd pleasing drum solo.  It ends with Scott throwing his sticks at the "audience", that being Ken.  Ken would always try to find something to duck behind, but Scott almost always hit him anyway.  You can hear, at the very end of this, Scott saying "Yes!" when he scored a hit on Ken's backside.  Someone else is giggling in the background; it's probably me.

X Continued (4:05)

I came up with the name and the basic tune.  This is the only Trendy Llamas song I got to use a sequencer on, and then only at the very beginning--we had no way to keep the human drummer synchronized with the sequencer.  We were trying to sound kinda like contemporary Rush.  After hearing this tune again, I've thought it would be fun to go back and record a good sounding version of this.  But I probably never will; I have a hard enough time finishing up my new songs!

Written by The Trendy Llamas
Performed by The Trendy Llamas

How This CD Was Made

All these tunes were originally recorded between 1984 and 1988.  Medium: the amazing stereo cassette.  Technique: many tape-to-tape dubs or live direct to tape.  These were all done without the benefit of multi-track technology.  And it shows!

To prepare these recordings for the CD (and to make them sound even close to decent enough to listen to again) I did some digital twiddling.  This includes some occasional parametric EQ and noise reduction using Gold Wave 3.22 and 4.02.

Project History

8/15/98:  I think I've finished digitizing and cleaning up all the tracks.  I'm working on finalizing the CD booklet and tray and stuff and this web page.

11/10/98:  Oh, sadness of sadnesses!  In September, I upgraded my computer, which had all the sound files for the In The Beginning CD.  Well, somehow, during this upgrade, I lost about 2/3 of the songs that I had worked so hard to digitize and clean up!  Somewhere around 30 hours of work down the tubes.  Anyhow, I seriously considered just scrapping this project or taking the songs that somehow didn't get lost and just throwing them on the other CD I'm working on, Eclectronic.  In the end, I did neither.  I went back to the original analog tapes and re-digitized almost all the tunes.  I do have to say it was easier the second time around since I had already located the tracks I wanted to use.  So, I guess this project's back on track.

11/12/98:  I think I finished re-mastering the last of the songs for this CD last night.  Also, I made MP3 versions of all of them, some (or all) of which I'll upload to an MP3 website or two.

11/15/98:  I just realized this chronology section is in the opposite order of that on the "Project History" part of the Something Is Wrong web page.  Oh well.  In more important news, I burned my first test CD last night and listened to it this morning.  Perfect on the first try!  So, this baby's ready for mass duplication.  Unfortunately, I just can't get my ink jet printer to make satisfactory CD labels.  I think I'll have to print the labels onto regular paper and then take them to Kinko's to get color photocopies made onto the CD labels.

12/8/98:  The Special Edition CDs are done!  I've got a whopping 9 of them made, after spending an hour or so at the local printing company getting color copies of the booklet made.  Also, I made a dozen or so review copies which I'm sending to people who want to review the CD and to people who contributed to it.  Finally, I finally have all 11 songs uploaded and approved by mp3.com.  I created a DAM CD which they still have to approve.  Sometime real soon, the general public will be able to buy discs from them.  Also, I sent 3 copies to Broadcast.com to put up on the CD Jukebox.

 

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