John Nork  |  Oct 01, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  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  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  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  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  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.

John Nork  |  Sep 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

John Nork: Let me start back in the past, Chris - how did you get into music?

Chris Hillman: Okay, that's a good question. You know, you'd think I'd get that question all the time, but I never do. I grew up in a home where my parents were not musicians but they had wonderful tastes and there was always music on the record player. Their tastes ran from big-band music, which was their era, and Duke Ellington and Count Basie was what I fact, one day when I was in my early teens I found an old 78 album of Josh White and I asked my father, "Where did you get this?" And he said, "Oh, I just picked it up at one point." And what's really interesting is that my older sister steered me into music - she went to college in the '50s and she came back from her first year or two in the early '50s, you know, with The Weavers and Pete Seeger and stuff, and I started to listen to that. I bought rock-and-roll records in 1956 and 1957, junior high school. You know, 1957: the year of rock and roll. So, I bought all that, and then, like a lot of people my age, I drifted into folk music. I didn't really get into The Kingston Trio or The Brothers Four; I lasted maybe a week with that, but I really liked the more traditional stuff. I gotta hand it to my older sister. She sort of steered me in that direction and I took it from there. Of course, I wanted to get a guitar and I got an inexpensive guitar and started banging out chords out of a chord book. I didn't take any lessons or anything.

John Nork  |  Sep 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

TA: You probably don't remember this, Chris, but when I interviewed you and Roger in 1977, way back when you were in Miami, I asked you guys why you didn't call yourselves The Byrds when you were in McGuinn, Clark and Hillman, and you said that you promised you wouldn't unless David were there, and I said, "What did he do? Threaten to write more 'Mind Gardens'?" and everyone got a good yuk out of that.

CH: (laughs).

TA: What about "Hey Joe?"

CH: Well, that's okay. I think that David did it really good, but I don't remember. I think that I don't take it as seriously because the Lees, kind of this Byrds-clone, put it out.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2004  |  1 comments

Dylan's Halloween '64 performance before an adoring Philharmonic Hall (currently Avery Fisher Hall) audience waited forty years for release but remarkably, here it is in the digital age, still available in the LP format, sumptuously packaged, mastered and pressed for Sony by Classic Records.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2004  |  1 comments

Grand Funk Railroad proclaimed itself “an American band,” but CCR was arguably, the American band of the late '60's early '70's rock era. Even if Fogerty and Co. was not your premier domestic purveyor of rock'n roll, the group's sound has stood the test of time and actually grown in stature. Dredged from blues, swamp, and rhythm and blues, and overlaid with a now-classic propulsive '60's rock sensibility, CCR today still sounds fresh and remarkably pure, even as so much of the music from back then sounds “of the time.”

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2004  |  1 comments

Originally recorded for a King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show and taken from a decent stereo board mix, this set chronicles The Ramones at their peak before an adoring home audience. The group had just returned from a triumphant European tour during which It's Alive had been recorded at the Rainbow Theatre on New Year's Eve just a week before.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 01, 2004  |  0 comments

Mining America's musical blue highways is Sundazed's specialty. This collection of Wray's Swan singles, “A” and “B” is a perfect example of what the label does best. Best known for his classic hit, the trend-setting, iconic “Rumble,” the guitar twanger had a long, if not quite as successful recording career afterwards, specializing in rock'n'surf tinged, raunchy instrumentals. When he did sing, it was Elvis all the way-and a good Elvis it was, augmented by some hard-edged falsetto screaming.

Michael Fremer  |  Aug 31, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments
Musicians have fans. Baseball players have fans. But mastering engineers? It would seem unlikely that a guy or gal who transfers tapes to CD or vinyl would garner a substantial public "following" ( a few groupie audiophiles notwithstanding), but over the past decade Steve Hoffman has managed to do just that.