5 Amazing Isolated Vocal Tracks From Jimmy, The Engineer Hanging Out In The Studio
It feels like a treasure trove of ‘isolated vocals’ – that is to say, the lead lines laid down by some of the most electrifying singers in rock and roll – have been finding their way online over the course of the past few years. All those great Freddie Mercury and David Bowie recordings, however, pale in comparison to the work of Jimmy, a low-level engineer who worked at some of the biggest recording studios of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and who often found himself near an open mic when history was being made.
Jimmy might have died broken and alone in a back alley in downtown Los Angeles in 2002, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a wealth of vocal stylings he left behind to remember him by forever. Check out these 5 amazing isolated tracks Jimmy accidentally recorded with some of the most famous names in the music industry.
1. Fleetwood Mac – Rhiannon
Much is made of Stevie Nicks’ contributions on this soaring ode to the pain and perils of love and addiction, but this astounding isolated track of Jimmy repeatedly banging the side of a pinball machine located a little too close to the vocal booth is absolutely next-level. You rarely hear that kind of devotion to getting the most amount of play out of a single quarter in a mainstream rock recording.
2. Nirvana – Nevermind
Scrape away the wall of mid-range distortion carefully constructed by producer Butch Vig in his Wisconsin-based Smart Studios, and you’ll discover a whimsical conversation between Jimmy and his insurance agent about whether he purposely set fire to his new boat. He sounds so reasonable, right up until he breaks for Kurt Cobain’s guitar solo and screams ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP I’M ON THE PHONE YOU FUCKING LOSER!’ It’s like you’re right there in the room while both history is being made and Jimmy is setting himself up for fraud charges.
3. Michael Jackson – Thriller
Most people remember Thriller for its relentless ability to make us dance to the throbbing beat of a zombie apocalypse in the making, but the isolated track of Jimmy coughing up a lung after an entire night spent smoking hash with Vincent Price eclipses anything Michael Jackson was able to accomplish in the studio.
4. Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places
Jimmy’s on the phone again, this time with his ex-wife, Megan. Wow, he really seems to hate her, doesn’t he? Brooks claims he left this track buried in the mix to add ‘authenticity’ to his career at a time when he was being criticized for ultra-glossy, over-the-top productions.
5. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Little known fact: the reason Bohemian Rhapsody feels like several different songs all stitched together in the studio is because Jimmy kept leaning back onto the ‘Pause/Record’ button on the console and cutting off Queen while they laid down what they thought would be an entire suite of songs. After learning about the disastrous session results, the band worked frantically to salvage what they could from the hours they’d spent in the studio, inadvertently birthing a timeless rock and roll classic. So frenzied was the work in the editing booth that they left in a full 30 seconds of Brian May and Jimmy screaming the word’ FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!’ at each other as loud as they possible could, tucked in under May’s first solo.