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John Nork  |  Oct 31, 2004  |  0 comments

The Tracking Angle Interview: David Crosby

TA: Let's begin with If I Could Only Remember My Name , your first solo album. It won some awards for sound quality. You once were quoted as saying the engineer Steve Barncord did a really good job. Do you think that a record like that could be made and released today?

DC: Probably not. Things have changed in the field. It's not as loose as it was then. Nowadays, if it isn't a clone of whatever's at the top of the charts, it's very hard to get anybody to pay any attention to it at all. We (CSN&Y) had just gotten through doing Déjà vu, you know? And I had more stuff and I was just having fun in the studio. It was the only place that I was really happy right then. That was not long after that girl had gotten killed that was my old lady, and so the studio was my refuge. I would hang out there and all my friends that were loose on any given night would wind up there. It was very self-indulgent, but we had no push, there was no pressure so we could do anything that I could think of. That's not true these days. Nowadays, the prices are so huge and the game is so distorted that winning is what matters and MTV has changed it to where theatrical acts win more than musical acts. Smoke bombs and costumes, you know, how much rage you can seem to express and anything to cut through the fog. It has very little to do with music. But that was a very musical album. I think if it came out now, it would fail.

John Nork  |  Oct 31, 2004  |  0 comments

TA: Are you interested in the studio side of things, or do you just see it as a means to an end?

DC: I've been forced to get into it because I love the sound. I love making sounds. I love making it sound wonderful That's why If Only I Could Remember My Name sounded the way it did. That's me without any restraints or anybody in the way, you know? I am not a very good "tekkie" but I can hear fairly well and it's not too hard to figure stuff out. I've done things like running analog and digital off of the same recording (mic feed) and then really listening.

TA: And what did you come up with?

DC: I still like analog. I still would rather cut my tracks, anyway, on a Studer.

TA: And why is that?

DC: Two things: one transients, and the way that it handles them, you know? When a kick drum or something sort of shocks the tape, it behaves differently on the two different system but mostly overtone structures, harmonics.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 01, 2004  |  0 comments
TA: How did you select music as a career? What were the factors involved in your going that direction for your occupation?

RM: I just loved it and I kinda fell into it. I was playing it as a hobby and getting ten dollars a night at the coffeehouse.

TA: How old were you at this point?

John Nork  |  Oct 01, 2004  |  0 comments

Roger McGuinn. McGuinn co-founded the group with Gene Clark and was its nominal leader. If you disassemble the complex tapestry of the Byrds' sound into its molecular underpinnings, McGuinn's distinctive voice and unique twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar are the nucleus. Lead guitarist McGuinn's unique style simultaneously employs a flat pick and fingerpicking patterns, drawing

more from five-string banjo rolls than typical guitar scales. When this unusual picking pattern is done on an electric twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar, the resulting sound is a brilliant cascade of harmonic intervals and gleaming overtones. McGuinn also sang lead on many of the group's songs, including all of their Dylan interpretations.

John Nork  |  Oct 01, 2004  |  0 comments
It was January 20, 1965. The "British Invasion" was at its apex. Led by The Beatles, English rock bands dominated the American airwaves. Meanwhile, with little fanfare, a newly formed aggregation called The Byrds was working ardently on their first (and possibly last) single for Columbia Records. As was standard record company practice back then, the Byrds' contract called for one single. If it was successful, an entire album would be commissioned. Otherwise it would be bye-bye Byrdies.
Michael Fremer  |  Sep 30, 2004  |  0 comments
Though much has changed since this story first appeared, it still holds interest. Mike Hobson and Ying Tan have long since split, with Ying starting Groove Note, and sadly, plating guru Ed Tobin was murdered, but Bernie Grundman Mastering thrives, as does Classic Records, thanks to the vinyl revival now underway.

Spend a few days watching how they make records late twentieth century style and you'll understand why hardly anyone makes them anymore. You'll also appreciate why the good ones cost what they do.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 30, 2004  |  0 comments

Bernie Grundman Mastering is in Hollywood, Greg Lee Processing is south toward Long Beach and RTI, the pressing plant is, wouldn't you know it, way north of L.A. .So the Classic folks rack up lots of miles ferrying lacquers south and stampers north.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 31, 2004  |  0 comments

The Eno CD Re-masters From Astralwerks/Virgin

As we reported back in April, Astralwerks/Virgin has remastered Brian Eno’s four classic 1970's albums. Here Come the Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World and Before and After Science using the original masters—as delivered by Brian Eno. No re-equalization or other revisionist alterations have been made in the transfer process.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 31, 2004  |  1 comments

There was a great deal of excitement a few months ago when Toshiba-EMI announced a new series of Beatles albums. The 1970’s EAS series from the label are considered by most collectors to be among the best sounding Beatles albums issued anywhere, but a ‘90’s series issued by the label, and cut from digital masters was expensive and sounded brittle and uninviting, though as usual, the packaging was sumptuous and the pressing quality was pristine.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  0 comments

The Tracking Angle Interview: Los Lobos- America's Band

By Michael Fremer

The goodies were stacked on a big table in the corner of the stars' dressing room: an industrial size sack of M&M Peanuts, big bags of Herr's tortilla and potato chips, a jar of Pace brand Thick and Chunky Salsa, fresh fruit, a ten pack of Kellogg's cereals, a plate of muffins, a cheese, tomato and deli platter, jars of Hellman's mayonnaise and Grey Poupon mustard, and some local color- loaves of Stroehmann's Pennsylvania Dutch and white bread and a big red box of Ivins' "Famous Spiced Wafers."

"Did the Los Lobos guys really ask for Pace salsa in a jar? Or did the Electric Factory people figure the beaners would expect it? If Al Kooper plays there do they put out knishes and Cel-Ray tonic?," I'm thinking. I was hungry, but I wasn't going to help myself to the band's food. If I couldn't eat it, I'd memorize it, which I did. And I waited. And waited.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  0 comments

MF: Why are there so many guest drummers on your records?

LP: Because I'm a guitar player. I think what happened in the ’70s with all the disco kind of stuff — all the drummers became, like, machines? So that kind of drumming became a prerequisite....

MF: And how did you feel about that? Was that pushed on the band?

Unidentified voice: The White man again! [Laughter]

MF: That was pushed on the band....

Unidentified voice: The evil White Demon! [More laughter]

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  0 comments

Los Lobos On Record

This survey omits the group's first independent release (1978), and the La Bamba Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1987)

(Album covers can be found in the Photo Gallery, accessible below the picture of the site mascot, Mr. Eno).

Frank Doris  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  0 comments

I Love the Music of Esquivel: So Zu Me!

Esquivel: Other Voices, Other Sounds/Four Corners of the World
Bar/None AHAON-090

Esquivel: Exploring New Sounds in Stereo/Strings Aflame
Bar/None AHAON-091

Esquivel: Infinity in Sound, Volume 1/Infinity in Sound, Volume 2
Bar/None AHAON-003

(1 and 2) Produced by Johnny Camacho, (3) produced by Neely Plumb
Reissue Supervision: Paul Williams for House of Hits Productions, Ltd. Digital transfers by Mike Hartrey
Digitally remastered by dbs Digital, Hoboken, NJ

This whole Cocktail Nation, Space Age Bachelor Pad Music revival thing strikes me with extreme bemusement. All of a sudden, a new generation discovers and decides that what was once unhip is now the coolest—whether martinis, leopard skin, kitschy Fifties furniture—or the "easy listening" instrumental music popular at the dawn of the Stereo Age.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  0 comments

Producer Rick Rubin born in Long Beach, Long Island, New York in 1963, graduated high school in 1981. Johnny Cash, born in Kingsland, Arkansas in 1932, graduated high school in 1950. Yet these two, separated in time by more than thirty years, and by an even wider socio-cultural gap, will forever be linked by the music they created together during Cash’s last decade of life. Rubin’s resurrection of Cash’s career with the release of American Music in 1994 is but one fascinating facet of this enigmatic figure’s twenty year career in music.

In 1984, while a film and video student at N.Y.U., Rubin met Russell Simmons at Danceteria—a New York club where downtown hardcore rockers and uptown rappers mixed comfortably—and the two immediately hit it off, sharing a common musical vision of hard beats and hard rhymes, with Simmons drawing from R&B roots and Rubin from hard rock. Rubin had a vision of melding the two seemingly disparate musical forms and though he’d never produced a record, he sought out the duo of T. La Rock and Jazzy Jay, and out of that came a 12” vinyl single, “It’s Yours,” which was released on Partytime/Streetwise records. It featured rhyming raps set to a loud, hardcore beat with metal overtones. Though the track went on to sell around 100,000 copies—an impressive number for the newly emerging musical genre—Rubin was never paid for his work.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  1 comments

MF: Just to change the subject, do you know who P.D. Ouspensky is?

RR: Yes.

MF: Did you read “In Search of the Miraculous?”

RR: Yes.

MF: That book changed my life. I don’t live it but he managed to merge mysticism with science and create a music-based universe.

RR: Have you ever listened to the Gurdjieff piano pieces?

MF: Keith Jarrett recorded some, and Thomas D. Hartmann?

RR: Yes. They are so beautiful. I listen to those quite a lot.