BOOK REVIEW: Glyn Johns’ “Sound Man”

 photo GlynJohns_cover_zpsdf6c2566.jpg If you have bought any rock albums in the last 50 years, you will have come across Glyn Johns’ name a number of times, as he was responsible for producing and/or engineering some of the music that has become a part of your life. He has been mythologized due to the work he did with The Rolling Stones and The Beatles but Sound Man (Blue Rider Press) tells the stories direct from the man himself, from his childhood tales to joining a choir that would lead him to become not only part of the recording studio, but part of the record industry.

As someone who is known as a producer and engineer, I had wondered (and perhaps hoped) that he would get technical about some of the projects that has made him someone to work with. It doesn’t get too technical or “over the head” at all but instead, he touches on meeting and working with the artists, his interaction with everyone involved and the experiences he may have had during a recording session or live shows. One is able to read about certain equipment from time to time but Sound Man isn’t a gear essay. Instead, Johns speaks from the perspective of someone who was there, yet at times he also writes as he was just a fly on the wall, observing what’s going on while putting together the process of what was and still remains his work.

The bulk of the book focuses on what he did in the 60’s and 70’s, which means extensive work with Led Zeppelin, the Stones, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, and so many others. It’s a chance to find out about the negotiations for artists, doing a lot of traveling from England to Los Angeles or New York and back, and seeing everyone pass him by as if it he was just taking a stroll through a school building and saying hello to old friends. Johns does reveal a few facts that may have been overlooked, such as certain musicians that played in well known songs and why, so if you loved Charlie Watts’ drumming in “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)”, you’re actually listening to Kenney Jones behind the kit.

The tales from the Sound Man are that from an employee and a fan, which makes it a pleasant read. By the last third of the book, we get to the 80’s and 90’s and the changes of the music industry as a whole and despite the setbacks, he moves forward and sticks with his job, occasionally having a bit of self-doubt but realizing his ears and expertise still hold a lot of value, as it has since the early 1960’s.

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SOME STUFFS: Audio Fidelity to release two volume “Legends” CD compilation

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Steve Hoffman has released a wide range of CD remasters and compilations that have demanded his expertise, and how he’s handling a new compilation, this one a two volume series in cooperation with Time-Life Music. Called Legends, one volume is called Crank It Up while the other is called Get It On, bringing together 34 of some of the best classic rock ever made, most of which were radio staples back then, as they are now.

A few of these tracks have been remastered by Hoffman before while others are brand new to the scene. The compilations feature music from the likes of Chicago Transit Authority, Grateful Dead, Foghat, Elton John, The Doobie Brothers, Phil Collins, Alice Cooper, Bad Company, T. Rex, Deep Purple, and many more. If you haven’t bought the full album remasters Hoffman has gone recently for some artists, consider these tracks a preview of what you’re missing out on.

Each album will be released on a hybrid SACD, which means they’ll play on standard CD players as they will on Super Audio CD players. All of these were taken from the original master tapes, which means they may be the best you’ll ever hear these songs. Both volumes will hit stores on June 4th.

SOME STUFFS: Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” to get the MFSL treatment

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Growing up, Little Feat always had the most interesting covers. A piece of cake on a swing, a duck wearing nylons and garters, a gelatin mountain, and then there was the cover for Dixie Chicken. Over the years the woman on the cover, drawn by the late Neon Park, reminded me of actress Kirstie Alley, maybe it had that Playboy feel to it. Of course, the hands of the lady was not quite human at all. The album covers were the lure and would become their trademark for awhile, but it was the music that kept fans coming back and going to shows.

Dixie Chicken was their third album released in 1973 and while it appealed to rock fans, the purpose of the album was to honor the music and people of New Orleans. From a hip-hop perspective, the album did supply “Lose Yourself”, the intro beat of which has been used many times in the last 19 years. The name of the album also inspired a group of ladies from Texas to form their own band, The Dixie Chicks.

36 years later, Dixie Chicken gets the remastered treatment with the help of the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, who will release the album as an Ultradisc II™ 24 KT Gold CD in May, with most likely a vinyl counterpart to follow. Fans are able to pre-order the CD by clicking here. If you’re only familiar with “Lose Yourself” and not the rest of the album, find out what you’ve been missing: