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Michael Fremer  |  Jul 31, 2006  |  0 comments

Editor's note (please read!). This story was written in the late 1980's. I don't remember the exact date. At the time, Greg Calbi and Ted Jensen were working for Sterling Sound. Between then and today (2005), Calbi left Sterling and went to work for competitor Masterdisk for a few years. He later returned to the new Sterling Sound (, a sprawling complex on Manhattan's west side near the "meat packing district," where Ted Jensen and George Marino also work as part of one of the most distinguished teams of mastering engineers anywhere in the world.-MF

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2006  |  0 comments

Back in 1987, I interviewed the young up and coming and not particularly well-known Warner Brothers recording artist Chris Isaak. Thanks to a reasonably successful recording career, an effective and consistent live show, and an unusual “reality”-type comedy series on Showtime, Isaak divides his celebrity between being a respected recording artist, and a campy “celebrity,” known in some quarters simply for being known.

With his swept-back ‘50’s hair and Eddie Cochrane-like haberdashery, Chet Baker-ish schnozz, hollow body electric guitar and especially his shiver-inducing, close-to-the-microphone intimate wail, Isaak was heralded as both a musical throwback and a “new” Roy Orbison at a time when “New Wave,” synth-based “hair bands” still dominated radio airplay.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 31, 2005  |  0 comments

At the end of Part 1, Mr. Porter had just left RCA Studios.

MF: Why did you leave?

BP: I left RCA because they tried to dictate to me and I wasn't gonna be dictated to.

MF: Dictate to you what?

BP: I had a small publishing company and they told me it was a conflict of interest. I said, 'How can that be, everybody else has got one. Chet has one.” “yes, but you work with a lot of different clients.” “Yes, but I'm not abusing the privilege.” So they said either the publishing company or you go. So I made my decision. The legal department said there was nothing wrong, but personnel did. Steve Sholes called and said “Now Bill, please don't leave.” “ I said story Steve.”

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 31, 2005  |  1 comments

BP: I didn't pull out all the live recordings I've done. This is Homer and Jethro from 1962. Now at all the live recordings at RCA, Victor went to extreme lengths to modify the tape machines to increase the signal-to- noise ratio. And I copied some of those same principles in the studio back in Nashville. And primarily, it's putting in low noise resistors-everything is tube amplified, of course-in the front end and changing to a high-quality capacitor. So they usually were able to get the S/N ratio about 10dB better. You were telling me a while ago that you couldn't hear any hiss on my recordings. That's one of the reasons. And also you're not hearing third and fourth generations on my recordings. I didn't let them out the door that way.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 31, 2005  |  0 comments

Porter, not really blindfolded, was kept in the dark about what he was listening to, then asked to comment before it was revealed. (The subsequent identifications have been edited out of the transcript).

1)Dionne Warwick: “People Got To Be Free” Soulful (Produced by Chips Moman and Dionne Warwick, no engineering credit) Scepter (German) SHA-S 401

BP: It's not bad. It's been electronically gimmicked slightly. You can hear it on the horns and voices. It sounds like, to me, a second-or third generation tape that's been equalized to compensate for whatever deficiencies they heard.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 31, 2005  |  0 comments

Back in the 1970's, your editor (me!) was doing stand-up comedy at colleges around the country. In the fall of 1976 I was invited to perform at Ithaca College. Since I was a Cornell alumnus (1969) I really looked forward to the visit. At the time I had a pet Coatimundi—a racoon like animal that ranges from Oklahoma, through Arizona, Mexico and points south. Look it up and you'll see a "stretch racoon" with a cartoon-like face. His name was Jeepy—named by a friend for Popeye's imaginary friend The Jeep, which he sort of resembled.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2005  |  2 comments

I conducted this interview with the great Steve Albini way back in 1993, before MP3, before the iPod, back when all but a few outspoken critics like Albini, Neil Young and a few others had anything negative to say about the digital recording revolution. It's fascinating to read Albini's thoughts today. He was right on target then, as he is today.

-Michael Fremer

He's the dean of alternative rock engineers, a thirty-something (now 43) veteran of literally thousands of get 'em in, get 'em out recording sessions, mostly with young, inexperienced bands who can't spend a great deal of money, but who have something to say and who don't want to be restrained in the recording studio. More than anything, they want to recognize themselves when they hear the final product.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2005  |  0 comments

MF: Do you have studio that you work out of now?

SA: I have a 24 track studio in my house-all top of the line equipment-but more importantly than the studio, I have a large collection of very high quality microphones that I tote with me whenever I go anyplace else to make a record.

MF: How did you accumulate them and what are some of them?

SA: Well I got them by buying them......There's the Calrec Soundfield- an amazing microphone that sounds really good.

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.

Robert J. Reina  |  May 01, 2005  |  0 comments

An exclusive and extraordinary interview with Gary Wilson conducted by Frank Doris

Matthew Greenwald  |  May 01, 2005  |  0 comments

BMG’s 2003 Jefferson Airplane Reissues

Q: Is this, in fact, the very first time the albums have been digitally re-mastered from the original multi-track masters?

A: No, but I’ll tell you what they are. There were some mixes that I used the multi-tracks for and I’ll get to that, but these are re-mastered from the original two-track masters. In all honesty, I’d love to put that feather in my cap, but those masters have been used before; although I can’t speak for the very first editions of CD’s that came out in the ‘80’s…

Matthew Greenwald  |  May 01, 2005  |  0 comments

When I first interviewed humble reissue genius Bob Irwin back in 1997, he told me that working as a freelance producer for Sony/Columbia/Legacy and other major labels, and having his own label, the much-respected Coxsackie, New York based Sundazed Records, has given him “the best of both worlds.”

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2005  |  0 comments

(This Interview originally appeared in Volume 1, issues 5/6 of The Tracking Angle, published in the winter of 1995/96)

Ever hear an LP copy of Maurice Jarré's soundtrack to "Dr. Zhivago"? It was released by MGM during the label's "Sounds Great In Stereo" era. They'd put that statement on the record jacket whether or not what was inside was really recorded in stereo. "It would sound great if it had been recorded in stereo, but unfortunately, it wasn't, " is what MGM meant to put on the cover, I'm sure, but they probably didn't have room.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2005  |  0 comments

M.F.: I remember when we were working on "Tron" we were in London in the Royal Albert Hall, we had about 108 pieces waiting, and the guy's sitting up at the organ waiting, while a fight broke out between Wendy Carlos and her associate on one side, and a guy named John Mosley who we'd hired to supervise the recording sessions. And there was a copy of the score being pulled back and forth till it just about ripped in half, so that was a swell time.

S.M.:All about how it was gonna be done?

M.F.:How it was gonna be miked, and.....

S.M.:Yeah, you see that's not the time to have the discussion.