Category Archives: Music and Recording

Take 3… Rolling!

A happy item in the New York Times today: Power Station Studios, where I was a staff engineer from 1978 to 1987, has been bought by Berklee College of music and will be re-opening after a long-overdue renovation. Power Station, Studio A: my alma mater. This is the second time this magnificent facility, which in […]

This Brother Is Free

I didn’t see this coming: Walter Becker is dead at 67. If you’re a musician of my generation, or a fan, that’s a heavy blow.

R.I.P.

I had sad news today: my old friend and colleague Jason Corsaro died yesterday of cancer. I’m not sure of his age, but he must have been about my age, 61. Jason and I came up together as assistant engineers at Power Station Studios (now Avatar); he was promoted to full engineer just before I […]

Coda

I’m saddened today to hear of the death of guitarist Chuck Loeb. I hadn’t seen Chuck in many years (we worked together on many records and other sessions back in the 80’s and 90’s), but he was one of the finest musicians I ever knew, and a good man besides. He was only 61. Chuck […]

Where Do They All Come From?

So many talented people! Here’s a splendid solo version of Eleanor Rigby by a gifted young musician named Josh Turner.

Plug

Tired of the crap the kids are listening to? Do yourself a favor and buy this album, made by grownups. Trust me on this; I know about these things.

Eat A Peach

I’m saddened to note the death of yet another important musician of my generation: Gregg Allman, at the age of 69. They seem to be going faster and faster now. Related content from Sphere

No One Sings Like You Anymore

I note with great sadness the death of Chris Cornell. He was a musician of exceptional gifts; in particular, I consider him one of the greatest vocalists in the history of rock music. He will be deeply missed. Related content from Sphere

Breather

I’ve been too busy over the past few days to put pen to paper (or pixels to page). The world seems more frantic than ever, and it’s hard to keep up. So, here’s a pause, a musical interlude, for you; let it be a little five-minute fermata. The music is by the lavishly gifted composer […]

And Now For Something Completely Different

Sorry for the lack of original content here lately – I’m weary of the news, and temporarily abandoned by the Muse. Here’s something out of the ordinary for you, then: a huge clown in whiteface channeling Johnny Cash to sing “Pinball Wizard”. (That would be extraordinary enough all by itself, but this man has a […]

Roll Over, Beethoven

I was saddened yesterday to hear that Chuck Berry had died. (He was 90, and so it was bound to happen soon, but it was a jolt nevertheless.) He was a majestic, and majestically stationary, feature of my generation’s musical landscape. He was always there, a great peak on its eastern horizon, and the shadow […]

Thanks In Advance

I’m sure you all have it marked on your calendars, but my birthday’s coming up in April. (I’ll be 61!) If you still don’t know what to get me, have a look here. Related content from Sphere

Feeling Their Pain

This ruction over “Fake News” is fascinating. There are so many angles and interests. I won’t say much here (tonight, at least) about some of the more widely discussed angles on this story — freedom of speech, the struggle for power, or the general deliquescence of the very idea of Truth, of which this latest […]

Reverse Engineering

Here’s a treat for you music fans, and especially my old friends and colleagues in the recording biz: producer Tony Visconti in his studio doing a track-by track breakdown and analysis of what I’ve always considered David Bowie’s best song ever: his 1977 classic Heroes. Many thanks to my old friend (and former bandmate) Joe […]

Another One Bites The Dust

I was very sorry yesterday to hear that yet another New York recording studio — Manhattan Sound Recording — will be closing its doors at the end of the month. As some of you may know, before shifting my focus to software development a few years back, I made my living as a recording engineer […]

David Bowie, 1947-2016

I was shocked and saddened to read this morning that David Bowie has died of cancer at age 69. He was one of the greatest artists of my age. He touched nothing that he did not adorn. I consider myself enormously fortunate to have had a slight personal acquaintance with Mr. Bowie. (I met him […]

A Ghost of Christmas Past

It being Christmas Eve, earlier this evening I found myself humming the “Christmastime Is Here” song from the old Charlie Brown Christmas special. (The show originally aired in 1965, when I was nine, and Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful score has stayed with me ever since.) The tune got me thinking about the show itself, which is […]

Beyond Time, Beyond Strife

From the ridiculous — see yesterday’s posts — to the sublime: The Lark Ascending, by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Switch Off The Future

I don’t write about music much these days (though it’s starting to seem so pointless to write about the things I have been writing about that I should probably do so more often). But if any of you are fans of the musical genre known as “progressive rock”, I have something for you, something that […]

Coda?

Here’s another story from the Times, and for me, it’s a mighty sad one: The Music May Stop at a Storied Manhattan Studio The facility in question is Avatar Studios, which has for almost forty years been one of the finest recording studios in the world. It is now up for sale, and if history […]

And Now For Something Completely Different

Here’s a treat: Dick Cavett interviewing the great Oscar Peterson at the piano. And when you’re done with that, check this out.

Off Topic

OK, for a change of pace, here’s a tribute to Ringo from Vinnie Zummo, a guitarist I used to work with. Very Beatle-y indeed.

The Thrill Is Gone

Those of us of a “certain age” will note with sorrow the loss of Sam Houston Andrew III, the guitarist and co-founder of the psychedelic-era band Big Brother and the Holding Company. He died last week at 73, of complications following a heart attack. Related content from Sphere

Coda

I realized today that I had been remiss in failing to note in these pages the death of the guitarist Jeff Golub, who succumbed on January 1st, at the age of 59, to a rare and incurable brain disease. I worked with Jeff for many years. He was a charming and intelligent man, and an […]

Up Where He Belongs

We must note with deep sadness the death of the great Joe Cocker, who succumbed to cancer yesterday. He was only 70. I posthumously award Mr. Cocker a major distinction: his amazing version of the Beatles’ A Little Help From My Friends is, in my opinion, the only cover of a Beatles song that is […]

Memento Vivere

As bad as things are, all is not lost. Here are three clips of good live music. First, a farewell performance, by Crowded House, of Neil Finn’s Don’t Dream It’s Over. I’ve always thought this is a beautiful, beautiful song, and by the time this version was recorded in 1996, Mr. Finn’s voice, which had […]

What A Bringdown

It is with deep sadness that I must report the death of the great Jack Bruce, who died today in England at age 71. He was a giant to me, and my heart is heavy tonight. You can read about his life, and his long musical career, here. Related content from Sphere

Polyphonic Singing

Here.

Divertimento

The world is on fire today. At the moment I have nothing to add, other than to express my sorrow at the death of the great Johnny Winter. I did, however, just have a splendid evening, and I’d rather talk briefly about that. A couple of years ago my lovely wife Nina made the acquaintance, […]

Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue

It’s hard to believe that all the Ramones are now dead, but there it is: Tommy Ramone, the last man standing, died yesterday of cancer.

Comic Relief

I’m working late tonight, as I often do on Tuesdays. To ease my toil, I generally listen to classical music on Pandora; one of today’s highlights was the pyrotechnic allegro ma non troppo from the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra in A Minor, by Camille Saint-Saëns, as played by the incomparable, and […]

Stop The World

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Ooh La La

OK everybody, here’s a treat for you: the Faces, live in 1972. Rod Stewart at the peak of his powers, with one of the greatest old-school rock bands of all time — Ron Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, and Kenny Jones. Nicely recorded, too. Here. Related content from Sphere

And Now For Something Completely Different

One of my oldest and closest friends is a fellow by the name of Carl Sturken. We’ve been pals since the fifth grade. Carl is a fantastically (and eclectically) talented musician. We were bandmates in high school, and he went on (to no-one’s surprise) to a very successful career as a songwriter and record producer. […]

A Moment Of Silence, Please

I note with real sorrow the passing of Ray Dolby, who gave my generation of recording engineers a priceless gift: quiet recordings on analog tape. That may not sound like much, but let me tell you, friends — it was. Related content from Sphere

Pre-Cover

Here’s an unfamiliar version of an all-too-familiar tune.

Danny Gatton

I’ll wager that most of you don’t know the name. He was a guitar player from Washington, D.C. Like some other great players I can think of — Roy Buchanan and John Bushnell come to mind — Danny Gatton was revered by his peers (“revered” is almost an understatement) — but never achieved the renown […]

La Chitarra Piangente

Still swamped today, but had to pass this along. For all of you youngsters.

Christina Amphlett-Drayton, 1959-2013

Another sad loss: Christina Amphlett, the former lead singer and songwriter for the Australian band Divinyls, has died after a long struggle with cancer and MS. She had lived in New York for many years, and will be mourned by many, many of her friends here. Nina and I first got to know Chrissy way […]

Phil Ramone, 1934 – 2013

Phil Ramone, arguably the greatest record producer of all time, died on Saturday. He was a towering presence in the recording industry, and his death is an enormous loss to us all. His work, and his influence, touched every aspect of recording. (He’s even the man responsible for putting that long-familiar pair of Shure SM-57s […]

Flow, My Tears

Here is a very beautiful performance of Lachrimae Pavane, written by the English Renaissance composer and lutenist John Dowland. The player is the Swedish guitarist Per-Olov Kindgren. It’s hard to describe the emotional effect of Dowland’s music; it’s terribly sad, but just to call it “melancholy” is too one-sided. There is also something deeply comforting […]

There Must Be A Better World Somewhere

Here’s Dr. John.

Then Play On

Some very nice bass-playing here (reminds me of Paul Jackson, from Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters band). Fun to watch, too.

The Ol’ Slush Pump, Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

I’m whipped tonight. So here’s… A camera mounted on the slide of a trombone. Oddly entertaining.

Proto-Synth

The composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett died this past Christmas Eve, and tonight WQXR played a selection of his works. One of them was from his score for the 1967 film Billion Dollar Brain, and it featured an eerie, flute-like instrument. At first I thought it was a Theremin, but then I realized it must […]

West Meets East

I just realized I had neglected to note the passing of the great Ravi Shankar, who died last week at the ripe old age of 92. He was for me, of course, as for everyone else who was young in those days, the one who opened the door to the treasure-house of Indian music. I […]

As Good As it Gets

I’m working a long day today, so for tonight here’s another musical item: a clip of the one and only Steve Gadd taking some extended solos. These aren’t your typical drum solos. What I love about Gadd’s soloing is the depth of the groove that’s always playing in his head, and that he expresses just […]

Power

As I was poking around on YouTube this morning I ran across a link to this little number by the great Chaka Khan, only available on a compilation album released in 1998. Recorded and mixed by yours truly, at the now-defunct O’Henry Studios in Burbank, CA. (What a great studio that was.) Note the guitar solos in […]

Made For Each Other

Speaking of world-class narcissists, no list would be complete without including  the exquisitely unlovable Madonna. (Sadly, I learned this first-hand; you will find my name on your copy of Like a Virgin, if you have one.) Ms. Ciccone has now enlivened the campaign season in her own special way. The Huffington Post reports: Madonna brought […]

As Good As It Gets

If I were to ask you, readers of a certain age, to think of rock music’s all-time greatest guitarists, I have a feeling that the thirty-three-year-old Derek Trucks might not be among the pantheon that swims into view. He should be, though. To get an idea why, have a look here. Related content from Sphere