Interviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Jul 31, 2008  |  0 comments

>(Editor's note: back in 1985, with the release of Richard Thompson's Across A Crowded Room and Linda Thompson's One Clear Moment, the two were in Los Angeles at the same time and I got to interview them, both on the same day.

The assignment brought back still-raw memories of the legendary June, 1982 Roxy appearances by Richard and Linda Thompson in support of their final collaboration, the masterpiece Shoot Out the Lights, recently reissued on 180g vinyl by 4 Men With Beards.

Everyone knew the couple had broken up and this would be the last chance to see them live. To add personal insult to musical injury, I called my ex-girlfriend who'd left me four months earlier, and with whom I was still in love, and asked her if she'd like to attend the show. She said yes, and so there we were sitting once again across from each other as we'd done so many times at concerts and clubs for the previous four plus years. Whatever was going on in our heads (or at least mine) played out that evening on stage. Here's the piece written in the aftermath of the two interviews—M.F.)

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 01, 2005  |  0 comments

You won't find Roy Halee's name on many great sounding records. Not because the veteran recording engineer hasn't made them, but because Columbia Records' policy for many years was to not credit the engineer on the jacket. So, aside from the few that do credit him, the others require you to know who they are. That's one reason I tracked Roy down through Sterling Sound's Greg Calbi who has mastered many of Halee's recent projects. But more importantly, as with Bill Porter, I just wanted to sit down face to face with someone who has consistently provided us with great sound, and find out why and how he managed to do it, when so many others failed.

Some of Halee's recording credits are well known:all of Simon and Garfunkel's records, the best sounding Byrds albums (Notorious Byrd Brothers and Sweetheart of the Rodeo), and of course, Paul Simon's two fascinating and extremely successful projects (both commercially and artistically) Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2005  |  0 comments
MF: Sonically, the 3 CD set (issued by Columbia in 1991) is a real disappointment.

RH:  Yea, well hey! It's fourth and fifth generation tapes! They lose tapes now. They had a foolproof filing system at one time. I don't know what happened. Anyway, here come these things in the studio, what am I supposed to do with this stuff? So my first reaction is send it back! I call CBS. I say “Hey, give me a break! Let's get the originals. I'll remix it. I'll  do anything. Anything you want! I don't care. It's history, I want to do it right.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  0 comments

This interview with George Martin was conducted in July of1998 and was originally intended for The Tracking Angle. Unfortunately, we ceased publication before it could be run. It appeared later in Art Dudley’s wonderful Listener magazine, also sadly defunct. Martin was in New York on a media tour publicizing In My Life his farewell production. It wasn’t particularly well received in the press, but it was what Martin wished to do, and that was good enough for him and for me. Meeting Martin was a memorable experience that I shall never forget.

The hotel door cracks open and you're startled to see Sir George Martin has answered your knock, looking just as you've seen him in the photographs, only taller and even more imposing. He welcomes you sincerely, in a polished voice that's soothing yet terribly aristocratic and proper sounding.

Foolishly, involuntarily, (and you hope surreptitiously) your eyes momentarily lose contact with Martin's to dart around the room looking for those other familiar faces always in the photos. You lock onto Martin's eyes, which say to you, "Don't worry. We're used to it. You're not the only one who's looked."

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  3 comments

MF: For the most part, you chose the material; it was only a few people who…

Martin: Pretty well, pretty well. I mean the idea of Vanessa Mae doing "Because": The idea of a mini violin concerto came first, and I had to find someone to play it.

MF: But she put so much into that. Sometimes that kind of thing doesn’t work—when you try to “classical-ify” something. But that was very good.

So aside from the Beatles, who were the most memorable artists that you’ve produced? Any standouts?

Martin: Any other artists? Well, I’ve been so lucky to produce so many people. It’s difficult to name one. It’s like saying, what’s your favorite track? Obviously, Peter Sellers comes pretty high on that list. We worked very well together.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2003  |  0 comments

Jack Pfeiffer: The Last Interview

When I sat down at last January's (1996) Consumer Electronics Show with veteran RCA producer Jack Pfeiffer, I had no way of knowing that I would be conducting the final interview he would ever give. Pfeiffer suffered a fatal heart attack on Thursday February 8th, 1996 at his RCA office where he'd worked in the Red Seal division for the past forty seven years. He was 75.

Jack Pfeiffer was a pleasant man, soft spoken and easy to talk to. When my rather limited knowledge of the classical music world became apparent, he picked up the slack so I wouldn't feel too uncomfortable.

My reason for speaking with him had less to do with anything technical, and more to do with getting his take on the work being rediscovered and appreciated by a younger generation of music lovers thirty plus years later, and how, given the usual corporate bottom line mentality (yes, even then) such a dedication to quality could prevail. So yes, it was more People and less Mix and under the circumstances that's fine with me.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2003  |  0 comments

M.F.:Now that whole "Dynagroove" thing. Do you want to....

J.P.:Well, I'll dispose of it quickly. Some of them were great, great recordings too.

M.F.:Recordings yes, but....

J.P.:Yeah.

M.F.:Once they got on to disc though....

J.P.:Well.

M.F.:The difference was in the cutting, correct? It wasn't in anything else.

J.P.:It was in two places, basically. It was in the cutting, but it was also in the mix down, because the head of our engineering department came up with a device to make the translation from a high level of listening to a moderate level of listening that most people listen to. And to make that translation from listening to it at high level to low level or lower level, it changed the whole ear characteristic change.

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