"Anything Less" - 9th Album Track Finally Done!

This one was a doozy!.. Took me a while, but I finally got there… Lemme know what you think - Thanks!


Love the intro. What a transition when the drums hit. Great intro right away with that modulation on that guitar riff. Lots of space for your vox at the 1:55 ish. Holy cow I am at the three minute mark and haven’t bailed yet. That lead break is scary good. Nice effects on that guitar at the3:40 ish. slow down.
The bgv’s anything less is really catchy. I have my headphones set on 6 instead of the mid twenties not to hear my damaged ears. Shit… I can’t think of one thing I would change. congrats :0 I wish there were more on this forum still making music

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Wow, that is a lot to take in! The intro is nice, melodic and moody.
You upped the game on the guitar sounds, nice and snarly, with the emphasis in just the right spot in the midrange.
Speaking of range, you’re really getting up there with your voice. It’s very out front, pitch is great, nice performance.
I’ll listen again soon, my only thing is that there are so many parts I couldn’t get it all together in one shot; not necessarily a bad thing.
This must have been a ton of work.

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Thanks, yeah I think I posted my draft of the intro that I composed with Logic Strings. This is all the real thing, recorded by a session string player. Glad that transition works to your ears as well!

Haha! I’ll consider that a success, then!!!

Thanks! I’m actually happy with that one, 'cause it was a one-take, off-the-cuff thing.

Thanks, I changed the arrangement with those, and I think it improved it - it’s kind of a “call and response” thing now, whereas it wasn’t before.

That’s nice to hear - thanks!

Agreed - me too… or even just if those who are still hanging around were interested in listening to the music that is still being made and engaging with it would be nice! :wink: There is nothing quite as dispiriting as finally posting a piece you have been working on for months, only to be greeted by the sound of crickets.

Thanks Bob - Yeah, this is me in crazy mad-scientist creative mode, going all out. 3 minute pop it ain’t!

I’m using a little more gain with the rhythm tones on this - just turned up the gain Big Ben pedal from 2 o’clock to 3:30.

Thank you Sir - that means a lot coming from you!

Yes, it is pretty adventurous - almost a suite of songs disguised as a long rock song with a hooky chorus…but as I said above, I’m not really making any apologies for that - just going all out, letting my imagination run wild, and going for it - feels good!

Indeed - days and days - I’m so happy it finally got there, though. This one took a lot of perseverance and determination to see through… It was one of those rare times where what I imagined in my head was actually realised. That made me really happy! :grin:

Thank you both for taking the time to listen and comment - I really appreciate it!

String intro is very nice, definitely up a level from the midi mock-up. The transition to the main part of the song is sudden with a sharp contrast so I had to check back but the intro theme is part of the song proper so the connection is there. I would have liked to hear some string parts included in the main part of the song or at least reprised at some point but it’s still effective as is to my ear.

I like the suite concept so I especially liked the change at 3:39 and I’d like to hear you do more with that idea and the strings. Good work!

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I got the impression of an epic anthem, with the ‘suite’ format perhaps being a necessity. Sounds great, and really impressive! I’m curious about the ‘story’ in the lyrics, if you might wish to expand on that. The chorus (anthem) seems self-explanatory, though with the dense mix I felt challenged to hear every word and syllable to cue into the story-line. And that bridge (?) at 3:39, which seems like a soliloquy, did grab me with the “philistine” and “fields of green” imagery. Early on was the sense of pulling up from the bootstraps and generational prosperity. Again, just wondering what that all means in the story you are communicating.

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Thanks Ingo… Yup, you recognised the connection between the the intro and the bridge! The intro is indeed a string quartet reprise of the bridge. I have part of the string arrangement in the bridge, but I only kept the simple chordal beds, rather than the melodies and counter-melodies, because the horns “fanfare” arrives there, and I didn’t want the arrangement to get too busy and cluttered.

Thanks so much for listening and commenting!

Thanks Stan! Glad it comes across well…

Here are the lyrics:
Anything Less (Than the Best)
Vs 1
They never had a dollar to their name
But somehow they seemed to manage all the same
And Sunday’s Best were always hand-me-downs
While fists were clenched so tight all over town
He’d had enough of it, He couldn’t take no more
Their judgin’ eyes on him, forever feeling poor
Then he vowed an oath: “No, this ain’t who I am,
When I get out of here, I’ll leave a wealthy man…
Pre 1
Gonna give my children, all I dreamed of,
So they’ll never have to feel this way”
Chorus 1
“From now on I’m never buyin’
Anything less than the best
Gonna walk right by, I ain’t tryin’
Anything less than the best
There ain’t no point in denying me
Anything less than the best
I ain’t gonna live my life with
Anything less than the best”
Vs 2
You know he gave them all that he could give
He had to work so hard, there was just no time that he could find to live
He built a palace worthy of a crown
And you know when you aim this high, there’s just no lookin’ down
Pre 2
Now their expectations, their demands are endless
It was never meant to feel this way
Chorus 2
Now how you gonna arrive in
Anything less than the best?
How are you gonna get by with
Anything less than the best?
Why should you even try with
Anything less than the best?
How you gonna live your life with
Anything less than the best?
I felt just like a Philistine, intruding on your fields of green
I was ushered through your hallowed halls
But I never felt at home at all
‘Cause this is all a fantasy
Inflating your future, slowly…dissolving your modesty
Building you up, just to let you down…
Post Bridge
And there’s always more, to aspire to
But people aren’t possessions
And you’re still just… yeah you’re still just…
Chorus 3
Now how you gonna arrive in
Anything less than the best?
How are you gonna get by with
Anything less than the best?
Why should you even try with
Anything less than the best?
How you gonna live your life with
Anything less than the best?
Outro Chorus
Now how you gonna arrive in
Anything less than the best?
How are you gonna get by with
Anything less than the best?
Why should you even try with
Anything less than the best?
How you gonna live your life with
Anything less than the best?
Anything less than the best?
Anything less than the best?

Hopefully it should be fairly self-explanatory, but if not, here’s a little further info:

Verse 1 to chorus 1 sets up the story of a guy who grows up poor, is ashamed, vows to get wealthy, and give his kids everything he never had.

Verse 2 and Pre Chorus 2 describe how he fulfils his ambition, only to realise it is a thankless pursuit that never ends, and his progeny have no appreciation for his accomplishments, or their position of privilege.

Chorus 2 has the story’s narrator asking “how can you keep all this up?” And how can kids who have only known the best of everything cope when reality finally hits?

The bridge is actually an experience that happened to me when my job required me to visit a very prestigious, exclusive and expensive private school that had every possible advantage laid on for its students…

As I walked around in the manicured perfection of the grounds, and marvelled at the out-of-this-world luxurious appointments, I reflected on my own adequate “no-frills” public school education, and had an epiphany…

Reflecting on the how I rode the ups and downs of growing up, the disappointments and reality-checks of adult life, even though I had personally grown up in a relatively poor family, I suddenly thought:

“How will these kids ever cope if, at some point, life hands them anything less than the best?” So, you’re right, the bridge is a soliloquy of sorts - It’s the internal dialogue I had in that moment… and hence the seed of the song was born!

The post-bridge part just reiterates that with all the song’s subjects many accomplishments, the fact remains that the really fundamental, important things in life can’t be bought, and that, when everything else is stripped away, you’re still left staring into the mirror of your own internal emptiness.

Uplifting stuff!.. so yeah… basically… Money can’t buy happiness!

Hope that explains it. Thanks again for listening and commenting!


I expect nothing but excellence from you and once again, you did not disappoint.
Digging the string intro and the rhythm of the song is good.
All the instruments are tight, your vocals are great and always fit your songs so well.

A lot of your songs are tales of human morality and illustrate what should have been learned from living, but are often not.

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“How will these kids ever cope if, at some point, life hands them anything less than the best?” My grandkids to a T. I just put all new brakes in my grandaughters car for $300 and not even a thanks.
Aside from the great musical work you put into this, this is a great story/read. You have a book in you ole friend.
I still think that all songs have to have a sequence pounded over and over that stands out. Like I said before the “Anything less than the best” really worked. Not this song, but something like “anything better than best you think you’re better than all the rest” Kind of a white privilege thangy. Sorry my mind wanders a bit lately. I think at one point in my life my mind was quite sharp. I can see the decline and accept it. You are awesome dude

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Ok Andy your song inspired me to write a song about my granddaughter. ha ha Here is the start


She’s got this little piece of plastic given by her mom

She had to have that special dress… she’s goin to the prom…

She always gets what she wants…this gorgeous blue eyed blonde

She’s had anxiety before… the card will keep her calm

Swipe beep…transaction done… This is her… kinda fun

Swipe beep ya know those blues…this’l keep em…on the run

Swipe beep…mommy dear…you’ll always be my number one

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So… No pressure then! :sweat_smile:

Thank you! I’d love to say it comes easily, but the fact is: It is just actually really damn hard work and persistence.

Thanks JayGee - I really appreciate you giving it a listen, and your kind comments. I love music that says something, and hopefully makes the listener think as well as listen, move and rock out.

Yeah, you don’t have to look far to see entitlement and selfishness in the younger generation. I think that’s a bit of a cop out, though… The inference with this song is that children mirror their parents. If the example of their parents has only ever demonstrated materialistic values, then who is to blame?

Haha - that’s awesome! Looks like you have some recording to do then! I’m looking forward to hearing what you come up with!


Can you tell us what are the instruments from there out and how did you generate them?

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Thanks for the lyrics and all the details, a really inspiring tale! It gives the sense of an Aesop’s Fable put music.

Great story, and a fantastic song inspiration. I heard someone recently say that if our highly technical civilization came crumbling down due to natural or man-made disaster, it will be the indigenous peoples that will survive since they still have essential skills and a connection to the earth.

Indeed. It’s not a message many people hear, as they have been seduced by advertising and media in the other direction.


Sure. There are 3 trumpets and 3 trombones. I didn’t generate them. They were played & recorded by Will “The Brass” Allen for me. I sent him a mock up of the horns I wanted (which I composed in Logic) and he duplicated the arrangement I sent him.


Well, that sounds like an idealistic theory… but if most places on earth are like Australia (& I’ve been to the US recently, and the story is eerily similar there) I’m afraid the sad facts are that most indigenous peoples have been displaced for so many generations that any connection to the earth they have that remains at this point is purely cultural and symbolic in nature rather than practical.

Yes, that’s true of a large portion for sure. I think it was referring to some fairly isolated and still somewhat primitive tribes in South America and Africa who have maintained their traditional ways. I recently saw some videos of The Kogi People in Colombia who are pretty close to that. A disaster example might be the recent Tonga situation, where 80% of residents were directly affected by the volcano blast (so I heard), with tsunami flooding and contamination of their water by volcanic ash. Plus their undersea internet cable was severed. Since satellites captured it all, the world had a birds-eye view and could guess their predicament, but they had to wait on supplies and so were SOL for awhile there.

Survival skills and wilderness living are catching on though, a lot of YouTube channels are coming out to educate those who want to learn. But as you say, our connection to the Earth is tenuous as “civilized” people.

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Listened again through good headphones. Everything is right where it needs to be, and the arrangement is a lot less challenging than the first listen, so it will probably keep growing on me.
If I picked a nit to pick, I would add just a touch more upper mid bite to the horn that comes in left during the bridge a touch after 4:00, and a touch more bright reverb to the horns from there out to let them decay just a bit more. Maybe a touch less volume on them so they can just punch in without grabbing your ear quite as much. Personal preference.
Great production, great song, great, precise playing.


Excellent points, Bob thanks for taking another listen and getting back to me. I’m still learning the best way to treat horns in a mix. Definitely gonna try out your suggestions!

I think the issue here is that the two different sections where there are horns have two different roles.

I envisioned the bridge sound to be really “pastoral” whereas the final choruses to be more “New Orleans” (city)/“Chicago”(band). Thankfully I do have the horns multed, so I can give them completely different treatments. (There is 150+ tracks in this mix, btw! When you start multing 6 tracks of horns, the track count grows quickly. Thanks Mr Mac M1!)

When the horns come in on the second last chorus, I really bumped up the level of the horns for just a moment before the vocal entered via automation, and then pulled them straight down again, so that they wouldn’t obscure the vocals. That’s an old trick that I’ve found really effective in the past for drawing attention to an element that might not otherwise be as noticeable, because it has to sit lower in the mix to accomodate something else…. In any case, I may have slightly overdone the “attention level bump”, so I might moderate that somewhat too.

Thanks again, Sir! Your sage advice is always greatly valued!

I’ve found that vst horns lack the attack on the note and kind of drone too much like a keyboard. I would guess you’d use a slower attack on the compressor to let the transient through, since playing a horn naturally requires a lot of initial air pressure which reduces as the note decays.
For my taste, I would refer to how the horns sit in Toto’s Rosanna. They never sound loud, they just make their point in a very tight frequency space.

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Thanks, I’ll check that out to see if I can get some cues from it.

The production and the mixing on this sounds really good. It sounds like an early 90s record. Things are balanced and guitars and drum sound good and powerful.

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