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Mike Mettler Posted: Sep 28, 2016 0 comments
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These days, even the most seasoned recording artists find it difficult to gain traction with their new material. Case in point: U2, whose deeply personal 2014 release Songs of Innocence fell by the wayside with the listening public, likely due in large part to the instant backlash the band faced when the album suddenly appeared as an automatic download in everyone’s personal iTunes library without warning that September. Much collective online hand-wringing occurred until Apple acquiesced and shared instructions for how people could permanently remove the “offending” files. (Why getting any type of new music legitimately for free was such a problem for consumers used to downloading songs without paying for them continues to mystify me, but that’s another story for another time.)
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Mike Mettler Posted: Sep 21, 2016 1 comments
Charlie Daniels is an American treasure. Still going strong on the cusp of his 80th birthday, the man best known for fiddle-driven story songs like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “In America,” and “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” has just released a long-gestating passion project, Night Hawk (CDC Records), which covers all different shades of the authentic cowboy lifestyle. “It was a long time in the making,” Daniels recounts. “Night Hawk is an album I’d always intended to make for many, many years, so I had been collecting songs for it for a long time. I wanted it to be an album with songs about the working cowboy, because that culture still exists.” I got on the line with Daniels, 79, to discuss the changes in recording technology over the years, the art of storytelling, and the many ways his band transforms other people’s material into Charlie Daniels Band (CDB) songs. With Night Hawk, the Long Haired Country Boy finally comes full circle.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Sep 07, 2016 0 comments
Emerson, Lake & Palmer were always at the forefront of progressive music, and being original has been a hallmark of ELP ever since their adventurous self-titled 1970 debut. Now, the band’s sonic legacy has been distilled into a nice three-disc collection, The Anthology (Manticore/BMG), which also serves as a 39-track sampler of a full-bore catalog reissue series, which recently commenced with three two-discs sets, each complete with outtakes and bonus cuts, for 1970’s Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1971’s Tarkus, and 1971’s Pictures From an Exhibition. I Skyped with ELP vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Greg Lake, 68, across The Pond to discuss how effectively ELP utilized the stereo soundfield, why he prefers the analog format, and what the ultimate key is to making good records. Ooh, what a Lucky Man he still is.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Aug 17, 2016 2 comments
These days, Billy Sherwood — the multi-talented, multi-hyphenate musician who cites bassist, vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, producer, mixer, and engineer as being among the many caps he wears in his sonic haberdashery — is spending the bulk of his time as the bassist in Yes, having been handpicked by the late Chris Squire to be his replacement. As rewarding as being in Yes is for Sherwood, his passion project is his other band, Circa, in which he plays guitar and sings lead vocals. Sherwood, 51, called me to discuss his goals for the overall sound of circa's new album Valley of the Windmill, what it’s like backing up William Shatner, and what the future may hold for Yes.
Mike Mettler Posted: Aug 08, 2016 1 comments
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For certain musicians, creativity is sometimes fueled by a deep desire to impress their peers. That was certainly the case with Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, two members of an exclusive cross-continent mutual-admiration society who made adventurous music for the masses with an additional “can you top this” flair.
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Mike Mettler Posted: Aug 03, 2016 1 comments
It’s one of the Top 3 moments of smashed guitars in music history, right behind Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop and Pete Townshend at Woodstock. But this one happened in a movie — namely, in the 1978 comedy classic, National Lampoon’s Animal House. That man on the stairs whose guitar was so violently gutted by Bluto (John Belushi) was in fact noted singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop (“On and On,” “It Might Be You,” “Separate Lives”). I called Bishop, 64, at his homestead in Los Angeles to discuss the literal sonic blueprint for his eclectic new album Blueprint, the give and take of writing with Eric Clapton, and confirming some heretofore unrevealed tech specs about that infamous Animal House guitar.
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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 4 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 2 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 3 comments
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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.

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