THE S&V INTERVIEW

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Mike Mettler Posted: Jul 20, 2016 0 comments
It’s an intriguing concept: Get a number of recordings artists who made their initial impact in the 1980s to record new music in the style of that decade for Fly: Songs Inspired by the Film Eddie the Eagle (UMC), an album to accompany a movie directed by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and starring Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton about the titular, underdog British ski-jumper who gave his all at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Among those up for the challenge were Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys of OMD, a.k.a. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, who collaborated with project coordinator Gary Barlow on a vibrant throwback track, “Thrill Me.” McCluskey, 56, called from across The Pond to discuss the genesis of “Thrill Me,” why electronic music continues to thrive and how OMD get modern/retro synth sounds, and wrestling with the concept of streaming. It’s the ultimate discovery.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Jul 07, 2016 3 comments
Just typing out the name “Rick Wakeman” instantly conjures up indelible images of flowing capes, huge banks of keyboards, synths, and pianos, and a cavalcade of great-sounding organ compositions. Currently, Wakeman is putting the finishing touches on the 5.1 mix for The Myths and Legends of King Arthur 2016 and is also readying for a fall tour with his former Yes bandmates, vocalist Jon Anderson and guitarist Trevor Rabin, as ARW. I called Wakeman, 67, across the Pond to discuss his affinity for surround sound, his unique in-studio game plan, and his thoughts about the passing of his friend and onetime collaborator David Bowie. Ground control to Grand High Wizard Wakeman...
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Mike Mettler Posted: Jun 22, 2016 1 comments
To say it’s been a banner year for Chicago might be a bit of an understatement. Not only is the band in the midst of its (yes) 49th consecutive year on the road, but it’s also celebrating a well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which took place back on April 8 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. “Rather than limping into our 50th year, we are sprinting uphill,” observes Chicago co-founding member and trumpeter Lee Loughnane (pronounced “Lock-nane”). Not only that, Rhino has just released Quadio, a collection of the band’s first eight studio albums plus their first greatest hits compilation in 192/24 DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 mixes on nine Blu-ray discs. Recently, Loughnane, 69, called me to discuss quad and surround, the challenges of mastering digitally, and the unique way the band recorded its most recent studio album, 2014’s Chicago XXXVI – “Now.” In many ways, it feels like it’s only the beginning.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Jun 08, 2016 0 comments
Could there be a better name for the first all-new Monkees studio album in 20 years than Good Times? Produced and mixed by Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne, Tinted Windows), Good Times! teems with vintage energy from all four Monkees — including the late Davy Jones. Good Times! is the perfect soundtrack to accompany the band’s 50th anniversary celebrations this year, which also include having the TV show appear for the first time on Blu-ray (The Monkees: The Complete Series) and a tour featuring Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (and sometimes Michael Nesmith, schedule permitting). Recently, I sat down with Nesmith, 74, in New York to discuss his songwriting influences, his sonic goals for his Good Times! contributions, and The Monkees’ enduring legacy.
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Mike Mettler Posted: May 19, 2016 3 comments
Rock is rock, no matter where it comes from and who’s playing it. Sure, certain sounds and styles will always get some kind of genre label attached to them, but it all really boils down to one thing: Does the music move you? “Obviously, we’re from the South and proud to be Southerners — but you know, man, we just write and play music,” observes Donnie Van Zant, co-founding 38 Special guitarist. Adds co-founding 38 Special vocalist/guitarist Don Barnes, “We derive everything from our influences from before and we’ve kept the standards high, just like they all have.” Recently, I got on the line separately with Van Zant, 63, and Barnes, also 63, to discuss the rich musical history of 38 Special and their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, working with Dan Hartman as their early-era producer, and their respective legacies as both songwriters and performers. They’re just two wild-eyed Southern boys caught up in making some good ol’ rock & roll for anyone who’s willing to listen.
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Bob Ankosko Posted: May 10, 2016 8 comments
"The problem is that the current standard audio specifications for headphones and loudspeakers are almost useless in terms of indicating how good or bad they sound." —Sean Olive

Harman International, the multibillion company that supplies infotainment technology to automakers around the world and owns such storied audio brands as JBL, Infinity, Revel, Mark Levinson, and Lexicon, to name a few, dates back to 1953 when Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon founded one of audio’s most iconic brands, Harman Kardon. The pioneering brand, which introduced the world’s first hi-fi (and later stereo) receiver, started with a commitment to pursue high-quality sound. That commitment endures through the work of Sean Olive, a 23-year Harman veteran...

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Mike Mettler Posted: May 04, 2016 2 comments
Any band can sound good in the studio, but it’s the live stage where artists really have to prove their mettle night in and night out, especially if they’re interested in a little ol’ thing called longevity. One group that owned the planks from the minute it first stepped onto them is Bad Company, the British blues-rock collective that further legitimized Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label upon the release of its mega-selling self-titled debut in 1974. Even though Bad Company became a hugely successful arena act, they never released a live album to properly chronicle their ’70s heyday — until now, that is, thanks to the double-CD offering Live in Cncert 1977 & 1979 (Swan Song/Rhino). And though he’s always on the run, Bad Company vocalist and co-founder Paul Rodgers, 66, found time in his packed schedule to get on the line with me to discuss the finer aspects of live performing, loving analog, and how to best honor the band's legacy. That Bad Company sound is their claim to fame.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Apr 20, 2016 6 comments
Photo: Joe Green

I think it’s fair to say Peter Wolf is one badass Mamma Jamma Wolfa Goofa. The fast-talkin’ onetime DJ and longtime J. Geils Band frontman proves that point to the nth degree on his eighth solo album, A Cure for Loneliness (Concord), which teems with honest energy and reflective grace. Wolf has definitive ideas about how he wants his music to be heard these days. “I’m not a fan of overly compressing things or limiting stuff,” he admits, “so I try to keep it warm with a good sonic quality. I tend to keep things dryer, which is a lot more to my personal taste.” Wolf, 70, called in from his adoptive home of Boston (he’s actually a Bronx native) to discuss the sonic choices made for Loneliness, his favorite records and gear, and the inspiration for his kinetic live performing style. When it comes to the original Wolfa Goofa, rest assured your ears are gonna have fun long past the midnight sun.

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Mike Mettler Posted: Apr 06, 2016 1 comments
Looks like they’re finally wanted enough. This Friday, April 8, Cheap Trick will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame alongside Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, and N.W.A at the 31st Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. “Well, like they say — it’s better than getting a sharp stick in the eye,” jokes Cheap Trick’s ever-jovial guitarist Rick Nielsen. “But, yeah, it’s quite an honor.”Not only that, but Cheap Trick have also just released their 17th studio album, Bang Zoom Crazy... Hello (Big Machine), and, as the saying goes, it’s all killer and no filler. Nielsen, 67, and I got on the horn to discuss the sound design of Bang Zoom, working with George Martin, and how it feels to finally get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Mar 31, 2016 1 comments
Morris Kessler with his classic SAE Mark 2 amplifier.

Even if you never heard his name you know his work. For nearly half a century Morris Kessler has been quietly designing and building world-class power amplifiers, not only for SAE—the iconic brand he founded in 1967—but for his other company ATI and a number of respected brands including Dynaco, Aragon, Crestron, Adcom, Integra Research, and B&K, to name a few. But that’s not all Kessler is known for...

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Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 24, 2016 0 comments
Consummate singer/songwriter JD Souther pours a lot of history into every line he writes and records. “I can’t consciously put my finger on it, but I can remember probably every piece of music I’ve ever heard,” he admits. “But it’s just at certain times, not all at once. I’m sure bits of it come out in everything I write.” Souther, who's co-written songs and worked extensively with the likes of the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt, also has an uncanny knack for making a melody all his own, and he has a critical ear for just how good the finished product has to sound. And now, thanks to Omnivore Records, we get to revisit Souther’s own recorded canon with the triple-threat CD reissuing of his first three heretofore hard-to-find solo albums: John David Souther (1972), Black Rose (1976), and Home by Dawn (1984). Souther, 70, and I got on the line to discuss the improved sonics of this reissue series, writing with Glenn Frey, sharing golden-ear minutiae with Ronstadt, and his passion for high resolution and great stereo gear. Some people call it music and some people call it gold, but nobody knows how to hone a mix quite like JD does.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 11, 2016 0 comments
Sir George Martin passed away at the age of 90 in Wiltshire, England on March 8, 2016. Best known for his indelible, enduring, and daringly innovative studio work with The Beatles from 1962–70, Martin also produced a wide swath of artists including Peter Sellers, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Shirley Bassey, Ella Fitzgerald, The Bee Gees, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, America, Jeff Beck, and Cheap Trick. (The list could indeed go on and on and on...) Perhaps ELO mastermind Jeff Lynne (and onetime latter-day Beatles producer himself) said it best: “His productions were brilliant. He created his own sound.” I reached out to a number of musicians and producers to get their impressions of Sir George’s legacy from behind the board, as a trusted collaborator, and as someone who forever changed the way we listen to pop and rock music.
Bob Ankosko Posted: Mar 01, 2016 Published: Feb 29, 2016 1 comments
Few have done more to advance the state of the art in audio reproduction than J. Robert Stuart, co-founder, chairman, and technical director of England’s prestigious Meridian Group, Life Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), and recipient of the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. In a recent video commemorating the honor, Meridian co-founder and long-time collaborator, Allen Boothroyd—the man responsible for the brand’s elegant designs—observed: “I never realized when I set up business with Bob that the guy’s a genius.” Genius, indeed...
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Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 24, 2016 0 comments
Three Dog Night is a band that brings together the best of many worlds. They have one of those storied catalogs that just won’t quit, so you might be forgiven for forgetting how many of their songs you automatically know. A sampling of TDN’s 21 Top 40 hits includes the No. 1 singles “Joy to the World,” “Black and White,” and “Mama Told Me (Not to Come),” along with other instant-sing-along favorites like “One,” “Liar,” and “An Old Fashioned Love Song.” (See? Toldja you knew ’em all.) I called TDN vocalist Danny Hutton while he was sitting outside his Laurel Canyon home enjoying a short touring break to discuss Three Dog Night’s unique approach to making albums, why singing harmony comes naturally to him, and his view of the band’s enduring legacy. No doubt it will all be joy to you and me.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Feb 10, 2016 1 comments
He’s a man who’s been everywhere and done it with everyone, and lived to tell the tales. He’s Dave Stewart, the production wizard best known for his indelible partnership with Annie Lennox in the uber-popular ’80s electronic duo Eurythmics. His new memoir, Sweet Dreams Are Made of This – A Life in Music (New American Library), was released on February 9, and it chronicles his wonderful life, and especially the fine sonic fruit born of collaborations with artists including Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Joss Stone, and Stevie Nicks — the list could go on and on. One of the keys to Stewart’s success behind the board is how he’s able to tap into, as he puts it early in the book, “experience and experiment,” two important touchstones for him as a creative person. “I suppose it’s not being afraid to dive into the most wild and interesting situations, just to see what’s going to happen,” he admits. Stewart, 63, and I got on the horn to discuss how to capture great vocal performances, his benchmark albums for great sound, and his futuristic view of streaming. Who am I to disagree...

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