Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Mike Mettler Posted: Dec 02, 2015 0 comments
Performance
Sound
“Be cool or be cast out.” So goes one of the pivotal lines in “Subdivisions,” the indelible lead track from Rush’s transitional 1982 album Signals, and it’s also a statement that aptly describes the band’s own fortunes as it navigated a hard-won ascendance from perennial cult favorite to mass acceptance over the course

of its five-decades-and-counting career. The band recently completed a triumphant 40th anniversary tour dubbed R40, celebrating its genuine Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legacy by performing a 23-song set in reverse chronology. (Actually, “Reverse Chronology” sounds like a lost track from the band’s mid-’80s synth-centric period.) I saw Rush’s late-June stop at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, and marveled at the ever-present breadth of the band’s sound and how bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart were able to modernize decades-old material like “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Lakeside Park” without compromising each track’s initial, individual compositional integrity and charm.

Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 27, 2015 0 comments
When it came to the final edit of D.A. Pennebaker's groundbreaking 1967 documentary Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back, everything was destined to fit exactly how it fit. "It wanted to happen," says Pennebaker. "When you think about films, some of them want to happen, and some of them aren’t too sure." Dont Look Back is as sure as it gets, as the 90-year-old director and I discussed in Part I of our extensive interview. Here in Part II, Pennebaker shares his thoughts on surround sound when it comes to film soundtracks, that missing apostrophe, and the origin of the film’s legendary opening cue-card sequence.
Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 25, 2015 0 comments
As iconic as it remains a full half-century later, when Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back (apostrophe very deliberately missing) was being shot by director D.A. Pennebaker during the Bard’s whirlwind 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 he was trying to figure out who he was.” Here in Part I of our exclusive interview, D.A. and I discuss how he gained Dylan’s trust, the way he predicted the selfie culture, and why he had to get on his back to shoot certain live performances.
Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Nov 11, 2015 0 comments
Creative sparks don't always fly when veteran musicians get together to collaborate. But that's exactly what happened when two progressive titans, vocalist Jon Anderson and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, came together to form the Anderson Ponty Band, a.k.a. APB. Their oh-so-apropos debut, Better Late Than Never (Liaison Music), mixes fine, edgy originals with rearranged and revamped covers of classic material like Yes's "Roundabout" and Ponty's "Mirage" — renamed here as "Infinite Mirage," as it now features Anderson singing new lyrics he wrote just for the song. “We work together like family,” marvels Ponty, 73. Agrees Anderson, “We’re musical brothers, you know?” I called Anderson, 71, during an APB tour stop to discuss working with Jean-Luc, our ongoing mutual love of surround sound, and the ever-escalating legacy of Yes.
Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 30, 2015 1 comments
And as we wind on down the road, we have now officially arrived at the home stretch of Led Zeppelin mastermind Jimmy Page’s master plan of reissuing all nine of the mighty Zep’s studio offerings in Super Deluxe Edition box set form. Not only has the studio wizard’s magic remastering wand gifted us with a plethora of bonus tracks—mainly consisting of fascinating works-in-progress outtakes and alternate mixes, as opposed to troves of unreleased songs—but Page has been adamant about going the full-on 96-kHz/24-bit route in order to “future-proof” the catalog for whatever audiophiliac upgrades are yet to come. (Knowing how audio formats tend to go, however, that song may not remain the same as time marches onward.)
Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 28, 2015 2 comments
Standards: Somebody has to set them. And when it came to creating the 20th-century template for how to properly sing popular music, one need look no further than Johnny Mathis, the romantic, soulful tenor whose range and control remain just as vibrant today as when he began taking lessons in the San Francisco area in the 1950s from opera singer and vocal teacher Connie Cox. And now, seven decades (!) into such a storied career, it only seems fitting that a four-disc collection called The Singles (Columbia/Legacy) brings together 87 of his best-loved songs, including such timeless, indelible classics like “Chances Are,” “It’s Not for Me to Say,” and “The Twelfth of Never” alongside rare but chart-busting gems like “Wonderful! Wonderful!” And it’s certainly no accident that the following phrase appears in the upper-right-hand corner of the cover, right underneath the gleaming old-school/vintage Columbia logo: “Guaranteed High-Fidelity.” Mathis, still quite spry at 80, called me from his residence in Los Angeles to discuss harnessing his influences to create his original vocal style, his singular microphone techniques, and the songs he still loves to sing. Chances are, you already know many of them by heart.
Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Oct 08, 2015 0 comments
Is it fair to say everything little thing Andy Summers does is magic? It certainly seems that way, as the onetime Police guitarist is experiencing a late-career renaissance, having recently dropped a diverse instrumental album, Metal Dog (Flickering Shado), and narrated an acclaimed documentary about his former band, Can't Stand Losing You: Surviving The Police (Cinema Libre). Summers, 72, and I recently spoke about creating those signature Metal Dog soundscapes, becoming a voiceover artist, and the (sorry) arresting nature of The Police's unique chemistry. His not-so-secret journey makes us all see light in the darkness.
Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Sep 25, 2015 1 comments
Good things come to those who wait, as the saying goes. But when it comes to finally getting producer/engineer James Guthrie’s long-awaited 96kHz/24-bit mix of Roger Waters’ 1992 solo album Amused to Death in 5.1 on Blu-ray in hand, well… the word “good” isn’t quite good enough. “Great” is certainly a step up, but I’m going to have to go with a superlative along the lines of “stellar,” “outstanding,” and/or “stunning,” for Guthrie’s surround-sound treatment of Amused catapults an oft-overlooked entry in Waters’ storied canon of work into a new sonic stratosphere. Recently, Guthrie and I spent a fair amount of time going over his goals for bringing Amused into the surround universe and sharing his favorite moments from The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here in 5.1, plus he reveals exclusively what Floyd-related project he’ll next tackle in 5.1. It’s a miracle — another miracle.
Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Sep 09, 2015 0 comments
If there’s one band from the ’70s that epitomizes the literal definition of the word harmony, it’s America. Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and the late Dan Peek came together in London in 1970, three sons of U.S. Air Force personnel stationed abroad, and they quickly found their collective singing voices worked together quite well. “One of the key elements of America is that our vocal blend is very good,” agrees Bunnell. “I grew up into it myself, and I can now, in retrospect, hear the difference between blends when I hear other harmony singing. You’re lucky when you find those three or four voices that have this element that you can’t just make happen. It’s like a fingerprint — they’re all different.” Coupled with a knack for writing melodies and catchy acoustic guitar lines, America penned a score of instant sing-along Top 20 classics like “Ventura Highway,” “A Horse With No Name,” “Sister Golden Hair,” “Tin Man,” “Lonely People,” “I Need You,” and “Daisy Jane.” The band’s classic-era output has been duly remastered and collected in the eight-CD box set The Warner Bros. Years: 1971-1977 (Rhino), and its chock-full of enough audiophile-approved vocals and clear acoustic lines to keep your ears — and your speakers — in fine spirits for days on end. Recently, I got on the line with Beckley and Bunnell, both 63, to discuss the best examples of that magical harmonic blend, what it was like working with Sir George Martin as a producer, and their favorite collaborators.
Filed under
Mike Mettler Posted: Aug 26, 2015 0 comments
It’s hard to believe, but the eternally youthful blues maestro Robert Cray is celebrating five decades of plying his craft with the imminent release of 4 Nights of 40 Years Live. So, uh, Robert, do you mind if we call you an “elder statesman” at this point in your career? “Well, we’re doing what we do, and I’m having fun doing it. To me, that’s the most important thing,” says Cray. “It’s funny; whenever it’s mentioned that we’re ‘getting up there,’ I always revert back to my heroes — John Lee [Hooker], and B.B. [King] — and I just think about those guys as being ‘the guys.’ I never consider myself as being on the same ship.” Sorry to disagree with the man, but Cray is most definitely onboard with being on par with the masters of the blues art form. I called Cray, 62, at his hotel during a tour stop in the Pacific Northwest to discuss the sonics of 4 Nights, the ongoing merits of vinyl, and why live woodshedding is vital for bands who want to improve. “Oh yeah, there’s been a lot of change over the years,” Cray observes about his storied career. I guess he showed us.

Pages