The seeds were planted at CES this past January in Las Vegas. I was ushered directly to the SSS, the Sweet Spot Seat (middle chair, second row) in GoldenEar Technology’s private suite at The Venetian. GoldenEar’s major audio domo, Sandy Gross, had been waiting patiently for my arrival so I could hear the company’s new speaker pair, the Triton Seven towers.
We didn’t know it until about an hour or so before showtime, but we wound up seeing Gomez’s last North American summer tour date last night at Terminal 5 in NYC.
The reason, as noted here: key bandmember Ben Ottewell — a thirtysomething British lad with the singing voice of a 75-year-old bluesman — was ordered by doctors to rest his voice for no less than 2 weeks.
“Music is astounding, isn’t it?” Graham Nash is genuinely enamored with the wonders of sound. There’s always a special twinkle in his eye whenever we get together to talk about the indelible music he’s made since the early 1960s, the new music he’s planning to make next, and how he plans to have it all, both new and old, sound even better. Nash, 71, and I met at the Broadway HQ of Random House publishing arm Crown Archetype in New York City to dive deep into his quite revelatory autobiography, Wild Tales. In addition to discussing all of the shadows, shades, and sweet sonic details to be found within Tales, we also delved into why he’s been working “under the headphones” on a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young project that may very well become the first official hi-res Pono release. Carry on...
Graham Parker has a surefire way of ensuring his longtime backing band The Rumour understands exactly how to execute the arrangements of his new songs: “You have to kick them a lot, very hard!” he says with a devilish laugh. He is, of course, joking (I think). Parker and The Rumour are quite in sync on Mystery Glue (Cadet Concept/UMe), as evidenced by the hard-edged wink/nudge narrative of “Pub Crawl,” the rollicking swing state of “Railroad Spikes,” and the silver-screen teardown on “My Life in Movieland,” which features Parker going to Tinseltown with (yes) a killer kazoo solo. Parker, 64, called from across the Pond to discuss his overall sonic goals for Mystery Glue, how and why his voice has improved over the years, and what he thinks of his earliest work. His passion for quality ain’t manufactured or just another sound.
“I want to hear what the band heard during playback in the studio. And I want to respect the sound that the engineers and producers tried so hard to capture.” It’s a mantra engineer Steve Hoffman follows whenever he remasters classic, iconic albums, and perhaps those words should be etched between the monitors perched above the mixing consoles in every mastering studio across the globe. One recent labor of reissued love is near and dear to Hoffman's audiophile heart – namely, The Audio Fidelity Collection limited-edition box set that houses four classic Deep Purple albums he remastered: In Rock (1970), Fireball (1971), Machine Head (1972), and Who Do We Think We Are (1973).
Restless creativity, thy name is Todd Rundgren. The always adventurous singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer found time in 2015 to not only release two albums of new music — the electro-melodic Global (Esoteric Antenna) and the even-more EDM-driven Runddans (Smalltown Supersound) — as well as embark on a few legs of a solo tour, but he also managed to write some material for and play on Ringo Starr's Postcards From Paradise (UMe) and be a part of the current touring incarnation of Ringo's All-Starr Band to boot. During a tour break, I called Rundgren, 67, at his Hawaiian homestead to discuss the differences between audience and artist expectations, the merits and demerits of vinyl, and his Beatles listening preferences. He saw the light, alright.
“Jeff has incredible studio I.Q. Ask anyone who makes music: he’s one of the great record producers, period.” So says Tom Petty, and? if anyone should know, it’s him, having worked with Jeff Lynne as a producer on sonic blockbusters like his own Full Moon Fever and the Traveling Wilburys’ Volume? 1.