Vanessa Fernandez Groove Note Sophomore Effort Coming Spring 2016

Vanessa Fernandez’s first Groove Note release was a terrific record musically and sonically.

It must have done well commercially because Groove Note’s (and ORG’s) Ying Tan has planned a follow up extravaganza.

When the Levee Breaks (Deluxe Edition) will be a 180g, 45rpm direct-to-lacquer triple LP, triple gatefold set that includes a bonus 12” single.

As the title suggests Ms. Fernandez covers Led Zeppelin tunes but in “unplugged” acoustic arrangements. The tunes include, among others:

“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”
“Immigrant Song
“Ramble On”
And of course “Whole Lotta Love”

The12” bonus single features hard rock versions of “Whole Lotta Love” and “When the Levee Breaks”, for a total of eleven tracks spread over six sides.

The recording is 100% pure analog engineered by Michael C. Ross at United Recordings (the former Ocean Way), one of the world’s top recording venues (and unfortunately they are disappearing fast).

Players include Use Me guitarist/arranger Tim Pierce, Jim Keltner on drums (!), ex Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney, percussionist Luis Conte (James Taylor, Santana, Eric Clapton, Al Di Meola) and keyboardist Jim Cox (Mark Knopfler, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss).

The first 2000 copies pressed on TBA colored vinyl (need not be any worse, and possibly better than black). All will be shipped in sequentially serial numbered jackets with add-ons, inserts, posters and TBA other “goodies”.

So what’s this about “direct to lacquer” mastering? Bernie Grundman will mix “live to lacquer” from the two inch multi-track masters through a vintage Neve mastering board connected directly to the cutting lathe. This eliminates a generational mixdown to ¼” production tape and bypasses the cutting room’s EQ board. Only the Neve’s EQ will be applied as needed.

This plus a recently mounted new cutter head in BG’s lathe should produce a spectacular sounding album. Is Ms. Fernandez up to covering Led Zep? If her debut album is any indication, shouldn’t at all be a problem.

Groove Note GRV1088 will cost $89.99.

Auric G's picture

My :) turned to :o then to :( when I saw that price.

groovenoter's picture

Hi Auric,
I know $89.99 seems high but it does reflect real costs. Please bear in mind:
- it's a triple album (most audiophile double 45 rpms are in the $50-55 range)
- the direct to lacquer (pretty much direct to disc) mastering is complex and very expensive
- my label Groove Note has been pricing it's double 45 rpm LPs at $35 for years and recently raised this to $40 so this pricing was set only after careful consideration with my key distributors
- it's going to be all analogue and the tape bill alone will be close to $4000!

burgmail's picture

Firstoff, I want to say I absolutely _enjoyed_ the "Use Me" album... Top notch in every way! Still, I'm a little confused as to how a "direct to lacquer" disc's retail price is being explained as "the tape bill alone will be close to $4000". Doesn't one preclude the other? I understand it's a triple LP, but how long are the two songs being included on the 12" disc? "Use Me" sold for $40, and there was 2 LP's. However, Elusive Disc is advertising "When the Levee Breaks" at $69.99, so possibly the label has already addressed concerns regarding the price?

groovenoter's picture

Hi Burgmail,

The new pricing $69.99 reflects the decision not to master the album direct to lacquer. It's still a triple 180g 45 rpm. There is one bonus side (side F) with 2 tracks (Whole Lotta Love rock mix and Babe I'm Gonna Leave You alternate mix) that will only be available on the LP and 15 ips Tape releases. Ie those two tracks will not appear on the SACD or any Hi-Rez download sites.

Re actual tape costs, the album was originally recorded on 2 inch multi track and those tapes cost $360 each. For the mix down to 1/4 inch @ 30 ips we made two sets of masters with 6 reels per master for a total of 12 reels of 1/4 inch. One set of masters will be used exclusively for LP cutting and the second set exclusively for tape dubbing.

teachscience's picture

I'm in but when will this be released. Use Me is so outstanding in both performance and sound that this is a no brainer, an expensive no brainer, but it's only money:)

teachscience's picture

Says spring 2016 in the title.

jfortun's picture

Will pre-ordering be available soon?

Superfuzz's picture

I agree, $90 is steep and will probably prevent me from buying it. I bought "Use Me" for $40 and it's a double 45RPM -- this release has one more record, which only has two songs on it, and is $90 - more than double the price. I love great sounding records, and I'm sure it will sound great, but we all have to draw the line somewhere... I guess this is targeted at rich audiophiles more-so than people who would just like to hear the music...

groovenoter's picture

I hope you'll change your mind when the record comes out and you get a chance to hear it. The direct to lacquer mastering/cutting process is rarely utilised because it's complex and expensive (in our post analogue era) but it should deliver exceptional sound quality.

Superfuzz's picture

Is Bernie actually doing the multi-track mix? Because he's not really a mixing engineer, at least I'm not aware of any records he's mixed. I understand that the process is expensive, just as I'm sure you understand the market for people spending $90 for eleven songs is very small, especially for a little known artist like Ms. Fernandez.

groovenoter's picture

Here's a brief rundown on the production process for this album:
- the actual tracking will be done at Oceanway next month by recording engineer Michael C Ross with all musicians and vocalists performing together in the studio
- Mike and I will spend a few days to pre-mix and assemble the 2 inch MT masters in late January so that when we move over to Bernie Grundman's for the mastering and cutting all the mixes will have been set and ready to go in sequence
- the actual mastering and cutting will be done by Bernie in February direct from the 2 inch MT master already premixed by Mike Ross. Bernie will make some final EQ adjustments at this stage if necessary

Finally I do understand that $90 is expensive but I think you underestimate the appeal of "a pure analogue 45 rpm direct to disc (or lacquer)" to many hardcore vinyl buyers and audiophiles all over the world. I've already had more interest and pre-orders on this album than I expected.

Superfuzz's picture

I guess I don't understand the process as you've described... if the recording is on 2-inch 24track tape, I don;t know what kind of "assembling" and "pre-mixing" you will be doing... but you will be giving Bernie another 2-inch multitrack tape to cut from? With less tracks, ie, stems? Well you're already a generation away from the 2-inch 24track master then.... you could've just mixed all the tracks down to 2-track tape by a competent engineer and had it cut as usual. Like I said, I don't understand. Whatever the case, I'm sure it will sound great.

teachscience's picture

Don't think I'd qualify for that title but I'll get the LP anyway.