Veteran Recording Engineer Phill Brown Interviewed by AnalogPlanet Editor Michael Fremer

A planned trip to the U.K. to attend a Chasing the Dragon Records direct-to-disk recording session at AIR Studios seemed like a good time to accomplish some other business. So in addition to covering the recording session, analogPlanet editor Michael Fremer paid a visit to Rega, where he'd not been in twenty years (factory tour video to come) and connected with veteran recording engineer Phill Brown and arranged for an interview.

If you've not yet read his book "Are We Still Rolling?" you should! Brown's recording adventures make for a highly entertaining and informative memoir.

Early in his career as a young "tape op" produced overdubs on Traffic's memorable first album, assisted Glyn Johns on the Small Faces' masterpiece "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake", in the same capacity witnessed Jimi Hendrix create "All Along the Watchtower" and later engineered albums by Stealers Wheel, Roxy Music John Martyn, Sly Stone, Harry Nilsson, Robert Palmer, Jeff Beck, David Bowie and others, and of course, what some consider his most significant musical and sonic achievement, engineering Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock. Brown was there for "Stairway to Heaven" too.

When the opportunity arose to interview him at his home south of London, analogPlanet editor Michael Fremer leaped at the chance and headed down to Phill's home to speak with him. The scheduling required him to leave in the morning the home of Rega's Roy Gandy's near the company's Southend-by-the sea headquarters and travel by train to London, drop off his bags at a Kensington hotel and take an hour long train ride to Brown's home an hour south of London where he spent a few hours talking to the delightful Mr. Brown. Then it was back to London and dinner with Chasing the Dragon's Mike Valentine and his wife Francoise, which lasted until after 1 A.M. Whew!

Here are a few images of photos on Mr. Bown's wall:

A collage of the round, fold-open cover of The Small Faces' 1967 classic Ogden's Nut Gone Flake featuring the original Olympic Studios tape box featuring Brown's handwriting.

The original artwork for Steve Winwood's eponymous 1977 Island Records debut album.

Those are but a few pieces of career memorabilia adorning the walls of Phill Brown's home. On the train ride down to Brown, the Wi-Fi network "TalkTalk52191C" appeared on Fremer's phone. Here's hoping the individual who created that network finds and enjoys this three-part interview:

COMMENTS
tlat.com's picture

What a nice, humble man Mr. Brown is. I'd love to sit down with him and have a pint or two. Buying his book now a must as well as going over my LP's that he was involved in.

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

The original UK pressing of Colour of Spring (cut by Nick Webb) is one of the best sounding LPs in my collection. Never get tired of the music or the sound!

James, Dublin, Ireland

Paul Robertson's picture

Gotta get the book now, and check out the albums I have and was unaware of his involvement with, which as with James include that more current masterpiece Colour of Spring. Guess it's not current obviously but compared to the classic 70's stuff this Sir Brown was dialed into, Talk Talk were a serious breath of fresh air in a pretty lame decade IMHO. Very cool his connection is. BTW the Glynn Johns autobio that Mike recommended is a fabulous read as well, just as a reminder.

gca's picture

That must have been a hoot... although, Mike, I didn't see you sharing the herb! Did you get to see the Small Faces memorabilia he spoke about? Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, super record.

Now, be sure and take Phill's advice and ignore Trump!

Michael Fremer's picture
Just tobacco thinly rolled. Not for me! The Small Faces memorabilia is pictured in the body of the story!
amandela50's picture

Mikey:

I didn't know quite where to put this update, so I chose this blog as the best option. Sorry if this reply is out of place.

I'm not sure if you knew, but the great Simon Yorke has ceased production of his superb line of turntables, arms and accessories. According to an announcement on the Simon Yorke webpage, Simon can no longer afford to service even existing models.

This is very sad news for the analog-loving community. Of all the super-tables I have desired over the years, none resonated in my imagination quite like the Simon Yorke S10.

OldschoolE's picture

by train though Michael is actually quite nice. Their public transit beats the stuffing out of most of the public transit in the US, hands down. Enjoy the rides!
On top of that you have that English hospitality, which is another nice pleasure. I had some of that exported to me a couple of times.
You must be having a great time!

malco49's picture

thanks what a great interview!

AndreC.'s picture

Thank you! Just watched it in a row!

pmatt's picture

From start to finish! So glad Phill mentioned vinyl quality in the 80s. I worked in record stores in the early and mid 80s when cds first appeared and I can tell you it was exciting (at first) to hear the cds compared to the crappy pressings that were being sold at the time. Both new releases and back catalog pressings were horrible. Flimsy and full of pops and noise (I still balk at buying used vinyl pressed during this period). Whether it was part of a calculated plan may be giving the major labels more credit than they are due. But I can tell you that the majors were licking their chops at the idea of doing away with their return policy. A certain percentage of vinyl was allowed to be returned as defective - with cds there was "no defective product" and so no returns were allowed.
Thanks Michael for such a great interview!

theboogeydown's picture

Michael,
What a gift for your readers and for posterity and history. That was so great, too many points to hi-light. Very grateful you made the trip. You are doing the work you have been "called-on" to do.Thank you for every bit of it!

vinyl_spinner's picture

Thanks for this interview, Michael. So many great stories! Enjoyed it very much. Great discussion regarding vinyl in the 80s.

rtrt's picture

…not been inspired to read it until now!

Thanks for these excellent videos Mike.

Great to hear the Talk Talk details and intriguing to hear that Mark Hollis has put out some stuff on the internet under another name - would be fantastic to track that down and give it a listen.

rtrt's picture

Just finished the 3rd video and something caught my ear...

Not sure Marti Pellow would appreciate being described as English by Phil - a bit like calling a Kiwi an Aussie or a Canadian an American :-)