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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
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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 5 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 15, 2016 1 comments
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The first brick of The Wall was set in place over 72 years ago on February 18, 1944, the day British Army Second Lieutenant Eric Fletcher Waters was deemed “missing in action, presumed dead” during the Battle of Anzio in Aprilia, Italy in World War II. Ever since then, his son, Roger Waters, has attempted to come to grips with that loss and the ensuing ripple effects of the spoils of war in both his lyrics and music, best realized in Pink Floyd’s 1979 magnum opus, The Wall. Waters later took The Wall Live on the road in 2010–13 for 219 performances as a fully realized audio/visual extravaganza, and I can personally confirm it as being the bestlooking and best-sounding stadium concert I’ve ever attended.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Apr 06, 2016 2 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.
Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 29, 2016 1 comments
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Revisionist history is just as much a part of rock & roll as guitars, cars, and odes to love and lust are. Some albums initially looked upon as noble but failed experiments more often than not semi-mysteriously improve with age and hindsight when viewed through the prism of time, wherein listeners finally catch up to the scope of the artists’ originally over-their-heads intentions.
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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.
Mike Mettler Posted: Mar 16, 2016 0 comments
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As iconic as it remains a full half-century later, when Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back was being shot by director D.A. Pennebaker during the Bard’s whirlwind acoustic tour of England in May 1965, there were literally no rules to follow. “It’s the idea of the home movie, the kind of movie that was always made by one person,” says Pennebaker, still as sharp as ever at age 90. “I had gotten the notion in my head not to make a pure music film. I decided to make it about him, right at the time he was trying to figure out who he was.”
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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.
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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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