From The Desk…Re-Issues

Mr. Bing’s by JOtwell

There was time when re-issues (or sometimes first issues) of bygone recorded music was almost exclusively the territory of jazz or classical musicians, and I would try to imagine the feeling of hearing one’s contributions to music from one’s past. After fifty plus years of recording, I think I now know.

The advent of CDs fueled re-issues on a much larger scale, and like many musicians of a certain vintage I’ve been able to hear music I was a part of so many years ago all gussied up for both nostalgia buffs and newer ears.  Older studio recordings nowadays are almost infinitely malleable, via digital manipulation and editing, but filmed live performances from way back in the day tend to be closer to the bone, I feel, because the sound and visuals have to be in sync, so there’s not as much leeway to change or “improve” things.  To me they are the more interesting things to re-view, or re-hear, so to speak.

What I remember most about the recordings I was involved with in the 60s and early 70s in the U.K., which have been the subject of extensive re-issue, was the fact that I was shit-scared, with my heart in my mouth, most of the time, yet the re-issued records don’t convey anything but calm professionalism on my part, and on the part of everyone else involved.

The live concert records and TV performances I did  from that era, with Doris Troy and, particularly Chuck Berry, are alive with swagger and hot licks all round … living in the heady moment, I guess. Mr. Berry, in particular, used to encourage me to play looong piano solos, and he’d whip the crowd up no end, which I appreciated at the time, and still do viewing the footage today.

When I get a compliment from a younger musician about a certain track I played on, it’s a wonderful feeling, whether a studio track or a live one. My idol and dear late friend Larry Knechtel, who played on so many monster records, told me once … and I paraphrase …”The only record that matters is the next one.”  Wise words indeed, but when one has a less extensive track record than someone of his epic achievements, the opportunity to savor highlights of yesterday are something to be savored.

In Nashville there are legions of players who have played on legions of records, both old and new, and the same goes for the brotherhood in the great recording centers around the world, who all deserve the greatest respect. To my brothers and sisters in arms, I would counsel y’all to smell the faded roses whenever they’re available. They may be fresher than you remember!

From the Desk…Hello, Goodbye Part 2

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There’s nothing like on the job training, they say, and I gradually got conversant with the gear and the different skill set required to run the recording side of things. At the time, analog home studios were a rarity, so my publishing and  writing cachet was not hurt at all as I signed an administration deal with Bug Music, and began writing and recording with some notable talents, particularly Dennis Locorriere, who had just exited Dr. Hook for a solo career, the legendary studio ace Larry Knechtel, newly arrived from the Wrecking Crew in L.A. and British guitar star Ray Flacke. The new room proved to be a friendly and conducive place for creating, and as I upgraded fairly frequently, I soon moved on from a home demo situation to full blown albums. The studio was both a plaything and a luxury, and it gradually became the center of my creative universe.

Over the years the room hosted wonderful collaborators, including British hit-makers such as Alvin Lee, Peter Skellern, Joe Brown and Brian Willoughby, and American studio legends like Bob Babbitt, Steve Turner, Pat McInerney, Dave Pomeroy, and Craig Duncan, who all made magic for me.

I’ll also be bidding a fond farewell to Pub Snow, which doubled as the live recording space, and our very own Irish Pub, the site of memorable Boxing Day parties for 20 years and creative adventures too numerous to mention, particularly on winter days with a fire blazing in the hearth.

The new space in East Nashville awaits….a conversion of a carriage house, in Historic Edgefield on the East Bank across from downtown. It is by no means as humble a place as here, as it’s been custom designed to accommodate a replica of this dear old control room, with the vintage recording gear and modern amenities co-existing in a less cobbled-together manner than the original. I hope it will provide as many warm memories as did it’s predecessor…..

Troubadour…Timeless Dancers

Timeless Dancers photo by JOtwell Lyrics by Michael Snow and Larry Knechtel
Timeless Dancers photo by JOtwell
Lyrics by Michael Snow and Larry Knechtel

We are furiously preparing for The Southern Festival of Books here at Michael Snow Presents which has unfortunately affected the frequency of my posts. Please put the festival on your calendar and make a trip out to see me and pick up your own signed copy of Mersey Me! A Liverpool Lad On The Loose In The Swinging 60s