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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.
Mike Mettler Posted: Jun 15, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Sound
Phil Collins required rehabilitation, and stat. Not only did the noted drummer/vocalist have to deal with a bout of sudden deafness, a lingering hand injury, and recover from back surgery, he also needed to tend to the state of his image. No one could fault the man’s acuity behind the drum kit—a reputation initially forged by his creative deployment of odd time signatures with progressive rock giants Genesis and the fusion improv collective Brand X—but his level of ubiquity on the charts as a solo artist in the ’80s and beyond ultimately served to tip his musical-reputation scales in a not-so-favorable direction.
Mike Mettler Posted: Jun 10, 2016 0 comments
Performance
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When the last notes of “Trouble No More” rang out at The Beacon Theatre in New York in the wee hours of the morning on October 29, 2014—closing an epic show comprised of three full sets and a two-song encore that had commenced over 4 hours previously on the night of October 28—most agreed The Allman Brothers Band had capped their long, storied 45-year career by hittin’ all the right notes. With thousands of performances under their collective belts, the Allmans triumphantly closed out the tab on being one of the most thrilling, adventurous, and aurally exciting live bands of the rock era.
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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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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.
Mike Mettler Posted: Apr 27, 2016 0 comments
Performance
Sound
When the calendar turned to 1980, it was time for Bruce Springsteen to grow up. “How people connect and relate to one another, or don’t—I want to be a part of that, not just looking at it from the outside,” Bruce says at the outset of the new documentary on the Blu-ray Disc that lies at the very center of The Ties That Bind – The River Collection box set. And that statement is, in essence, the manifesto for the direction taken by The Boss and his merry E Street Bandmates on The River, which found the brash ’n’ brazen New Jersey singer/songwriter staring down the dawn of a new decade with a cautious combination of equal parts hope and trepidation. The River could have easily taken a wrong turn and just kept going—and, in fact, it nearly did—but Bruce held steadfast to deliver a double album that put him on a path of “writing for my age” from that point forward on each successive album.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Apr 20, 2016 7 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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