Category Archives: Music and Recording

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.


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 […]


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.

Beck’s Big Idea

And a pretty brilliant one too, I think: his new album will not be recorded at all, but will be published only as sheet music. It’s up to the fans to render it as they see fit.

When We Were Very Young

Okay, readers of a certain age: have a look at this.

That Was Pretty Good — Let’s Keep It And Do Another

Here’s one sent our way by our reader “The Big Henry”: the history of rock music in 100 guitar riffs. One man, one Strat, one take.


Ever since seeing Fantasia as a boy, I’ve been fascinated by animated renderings of music. Poking around online today I found two very different animations of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6. Both are complete mappings of the musical score onto a scrolling visual display, and so both express the same information. I can’t decide, though, […]

Levon Helm, 1940-2012

Anyone of a “certain age” will be saddened by the death of Levon Helm, who has succumbed to cancer at age 71. His rustic voice was a big part of the soundtrack of our youth, and it hurts to see it silenced.

Beware Of Mr. Baker

Here’s a movie I want to see.

Quality Time

When my daughter Chloë was very little — just a baby — I used to rock her in my arms to send her off to sleep. Soothing music always seemed to help her on her way. One evening I put on an album by the seminal jazz ensemble Weather Report, and I could tell the […]

John Bushnell

The music biz isn’t always fair. A lot of mediocre talent makes it big, and there have always been world-class players who never get the wider recognition they deserve, and spend their working lives playing for a devoted local following far from the big-city spotlight. One such is my old friend John Bushnell, whom I’ve […]

Tom Ardolino, 1955-2011

Here’s some really terrible news that I just heard about tonight; Tom Ardolino, NRBQ’s longtime drummer and one of my favorite drummers of all time, has died. I don’t know what the cause was, but he’d been sick for a while. Tom Ardolino just whacked the hell out of the drums, and played the biggest, […]


Time for some NRBQ, I think. Here’s Wild Weekend. And here’s Get Rhythm. Man, what a band.

The Haunting of Don Carlo

An article in the current New Yorker begins: On the night of October 16, 1590, a palace apartment near Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, in Naples, was the scene of a double murder so extravagantly vicious that people are still sifting through the evidence, more than four centuries later. The most reliable account of the crime […]

Paul Motian, 1931-2011

Here’s one that I missed on Tuesday (and thanks to our friend Peter for mentioning it) — Paul Motian, a jazz drummer of sublime artistry and one of the most versatile and influential players of all time, died last week at the age of 80. (The cause was myelodysplastic syndrome, the same affliction that took […]

Jon Gomm

I don’t usually go in much for “tappers”, but this is pretty cool. HT: Devin Townsend.


OK, folks, I have what you’ve all been waiting for: the new Bohemian Rhapsody video from William Shatner — featuring John Wetton, no less. Enjoy.

No Mortal Place At All

Here’s a real treat: the great Gary Brooker at the peak of his powers, in this live performance of A Salty Dog from 1977.

Bert Jansch, 1943 – 2011

We note, belatedly, the death of the great Scottish fingerstyle guitarist Bert Jansch, who exerted a formative influence on a great many better-known musicians. One in particular was Jimmy Page; I think you’ll hear the connection in this video clip. Another was Paul Simon; readers of a certain age may recognize this Jansch song from […]

That’s A Fine Motorbike

Just ran across this clip, and enjoyed it too much not to post it here: Richard Thompson playing his classic 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. What a voice. What a song. Enjoy.


I just watched this clip again: Gavin Harrison playing Porcupine Tree’s Futile. As one of YouTube’s commenters said: “this is like porn for drummers”.

Use It Or Lose It

Here’s an encouraging item from Science Daily: Older Musicians Experience Less Age-Related Decline in Hearing Abilities Than Non-Musicians ScienceDaily (Sep. 13, 2011) — A study led by Canadian researchers has found the first evidence that lifelong musicians experience less age-related hearing problems than non-musicians. While hearing studies have already shown that trained musicians have highly […]

Perfect! Let’s Do One More

Here’s the great voice-over artist Bob Kaliban in some recently discovered studio footage. Have a glimpse behind the scenes in the ad biz of old.


Ah, the Casuals at the Beachcomber. What could be better? Here’s a live feed, if you read this in the next little while. They’ve been playing this joint for 31 years.

Big Bottom


Iko Iko

As advertised in this space a few weeks ago, Dr. John played at the Prospect Park Bandshell this past Saturday night (with go-go legend Chuck Brown and another very funky band called Red Baraat as openers). It was a fabulous show. Sorry you missed it. Dr. John is a walking encyclopedia of the American musical […]

Just For The Record

A week or so ago we posted a little poll, asking readers what they thought was the best album ever. Given the number of people who pass by here every day, I thought we’d see a lot more responses — it’s something that everyone has an opinion about, and unlike most topics, you won’t get […]

Be Vewy Quiet

If you’ve ever wondered what the Recording Industry looks like from the inside, you’re in luck. Have a peek here.


OK, everybody, setting aside our usual topics, here’s a question for you all: What’s the greatest album of all time? (I originally wrote “rock album”, but let’s just make it “album”.) You only get to pick one. All readers, even the most casual visitors, and all of you who usually stay on the sidelines, are […]

Funk Break

If you’re going to be in Gotham on Saturday, July 30th, you should get yourself over to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell (conveniently located just 250 yards from waka waka waka‘s New York command center) for what bids fair to be an outstanding evening’s entertainment. The headliner, Malcolm Rebennack Jr. (A.K.A “Dr. John“), is a national […]

Clarence Clemons, 1942-2011

We note with sorrow the death of Clarence Clemons, soul of the E Street Band for forty years, who died Saturday after suffering a devastating stroke. His death will leave an awfully big hole in a great many hearts. I got to know Clarence more than thirty years ago, when the E Street Band moved […]

Everything A Man Can Lose

Here’s the great Luther Allison, performing Living in the House of the Blues just a few months before his untimely death in 1997. What’s that? Did you say you want some more? Well OK, here’s some more.

Phoebe Snow, 1950-2011

We note with sadness the death of singer Phoebe Snow, whom those of us of a “certain age” will best remember for her beautiful 1974 song Poetry Man. I did not know Ms. Snow well, but I did know her slightly, having done a few recording sessions with her back in the 1990s. She was […]

A Brawlie Bairn

OK, enough politics. Time for a little Kumbaya, and maybe a reason to go on living. Here’s a young Scotsman by the name of Brendan MacFarlane. And here, and here.

Roger Nichols, 1944-2011

We note with sorrow the death, at 66, of the great recording engineer Roger Nichols — best known for the immaculate recordings and mixes he made with Steely Dan. His artistic brilliance and superb technical craftsmanship were an inspiration to me and to countless other engineers. His New York Times obituary is here.

Doyle Dykes

Who’s Doyle Dykes? Just one of the best finger-pickers alive. If you’ve never heard him play, you’re in for a treat. Here’s his version of that country classic, Wabash Cannonball.


My old friend Peter Kranzler, known to readers as the One-Eyed Man, tipped me off to an article in the WSJ about Bob Clearmountain, who is in my opinion the most gifted mixer ever to raise a fader. I was lucky enough to be Clearmountain’s regular assistant for a couple of years, back when I […]

Tale Of The Tape

I’ve been reading Here, There, and Everywhere, a memoir by the Beatles’ recording engineer Geoff Emerick, and enjoying it no end. Though Mr. Emerick’s name may not be familiar to the public at large, it’s a very different matter for those of us in the recording studio’s hermetic brotherhood; in our little pantheon, he is […]

Trout Mask Requiem

The gifted writer Verlyn Klinkenborg offered a remembrance of Don Van Vliet on today’s New York Times editorial page. I liked it so much I’m reproducing it here (I don’t suppose he’ll mind). Summer of 1969. Parents away. A 50-foot audio cable runs from the stereo through a window across the porch to the lawn, […]

Don Van Vliet, 1941 – 2010

Here’s some very sad news, just in from our California correspondent: the unique, the incomparable Captain Beefheart has succumbed to multiple sclerosis at the age of 69. Don Van Vliet was sui generis, and though he never rose to the dizzy pinnacle of fame, he was one of the most influential, most visionary, most jaggedly […]

Tech Talk

In the old days of recording, we did our work in magnificent studios, lavishly equipped with the finest consoles, microphones and signal-processing equipment, and we preserved our work on magnetic tape. But now that the digital revolution has battered the record business to its knees and ground most of the old recording studios into dust […]

Looking Back

Here’s Leon Russell, in a clip from the old TV show Shindig! I was eight years old.

Richard Hayward, 1946-2010

Here’s a sad item that I missed while I was disconnected last month: drummer Richie Hayward, who since 1969 was the rhythmic anchor of the incomparable rock/blues/funk band Little Feat, died on August 14th of liver cancer and pneumonia. I was a huge fan of both Hayward and the band, and I am very sorry […]

Music Of The Spheres

Through a process unimaginatively named “sonification”, engineers at CERN have converted the vibrations of the long-sought Higgs boson into audio. It’s not bad, actually; too bad Richard Wright isn’t around to hear it. Here.

Public Access

One of my oldest and closest music-biz pals is the great jazz guitarist Steve Khan. Here’s an interview he did recently for the new Inside Musicast website.

Walter Sear, 1930-2010

I note with heartfelt sorrow the death of the great recording engineer Walter Sear, who died on April 29th from complications of a fall. (Somehow I missed his obituary notices at the time, and have only just heard the news.) Walter occupied a very special place in the New York recording community. Having never joined […]