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Author Topic: Big Star/ # 1 Record  (Read 29431 times)

bblackwood

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2005, 10:43:47 pm »

Maybe it would be better stated "came into their own", but it's amazing when you look at who's come out of that place over the last (almost) 40 years, at both National and Madison locations...
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Brad Blackwood
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Andi Gisler

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2005, 08:47:14 am »

bblackwood wrote on Sun, 13 February 2005 03:51

About 5 years ago (while I was still at Ardent) I was put in charge of archiving all of the Big Star masters, which we did to both 1/2", 30ips analog tape and digitally at 24/44.1kHz. It was stunning to hear these mixes, cut in the early 70's, that were so clean and crisp, sounding amazing even today.


So did you hear the hybrid SACD version of  '# 1/Radio City' ? I got an older 'Twofer' reissue that actually sounds pretty good. Wonder whether the SACD is worth buying?

Andi


bblackwood

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2005, 09:58:03 am »

Andi Gisler wrote on Sun, 13 February 2005 07:47

So did you hear the hybrid SACD version of  '# 1/Radio City' ? I got an older 'Twofer' reissue that actually sounds pretty good. Wonder whether the SACD is worth buying?

I've not heard it, but remember that discussions were ongoing as I archived. IIRC, they used the original masters/safeties on those, not the archived versions...
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Brad Blackwood
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MB

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2005, 01:31:46 pm »

Fascinating stuff.

Coincidently, the superior British pop culture magazine, Uncut, has a Big Star story in the March 2005 issue.

Contrasts nicely with Terry's reminiscence. It totally misses the Gimmer Nicholson reference.

I quote: "As 1972 ends, and with no sign of sales picking up, Big Star start work on a follow-up, but tensions are high. Bell is behaving increasingly erratically, fistfights break out between him, Hummel and Manning."

Terry how does it feel that to read these types of rock mythologies? Seeing how you this is your life and all.

Also, you said that you couldn't listen to or talk about Big Star for years, but you never said why. Could I be so bold and ask?

Feel free to tell me where to stick it if this is none of our business.

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MB

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2005, 01:37:30 pm »

FYI.

I just went to reference the article in Uncut, and wouldn't ya know it, it's written by the same Rob Jovanovic's whose Big Star book Terry was mentioning.
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compasspnt

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2005, 07:17:10 pm »

MB wrote on Mon, 14 February 2005 13:31

Fascinating stuff.

Coincidently, the superior British pop culture magazine, Uncut, has a Big Star story in the March 2005 issue.

Contrasts nicely with Terry's reminiscence. It totally misses the Gimmer Nicholson reference.

I quote: "As 1972 ends, and with no sign of sales picking up, Big Star start work on a follow-up, but tensions are high. Bell is behaving increasingly erratically, fistfights break out between him, Hummel and Manning."

Terry how does it feel that to read these types of rock mythologies? Seeing how you this is your life and all.

Also, you said that you couldn't listen to or talk about Big Star for years, but you never said why. Could I be so bold and ask?

Feel free to tell me where to stick it if this is none of our business.




Hey Matt,

Thanks for the nice posts.

It is indeed strange sometimes to read things which happened to oneself which, it seems, are becoming somewhat storied incidents.  I usually miss seeing them, though, because I am always busy working on today's session, rather than dwelling on the past ones.

There are several reasons I didn't listen to Big Star for so long, or even talk much about it.  Some of these reasons I don't mind talking about, but some are better kept in the heart.  As the magazine quotation you refer to mentions, there was a lot of tension in the Big Star circle near the end (like there wasn't any in the beginning?!?!)  Fisticuffs did indeed occur between Chris and I, and I think between Chris and Andy, also.  Chris was, as mentioned in another post, a very emotional person; although I didn't realise it all completely at the time, he was struggling with several issues inside, and that spilled out onto all of us.  The band weren't making any money; they weren't having any success.  But Chris Bell had worked so hard on the first album, and was so sure of it's quality, he had become very disillusioned; this was on top of all the other real life issues he was facing.  He didn't know why things weren't going well, but he was nonetheless upset, and he started blaming others for the lack of success.  Chris became estranged from many of his friends, and he began drinking and taking other problematic substances, which only compounded his paranoia.  He did later, not long before he died, come to me (and to others) and apologise for his behaviour; he had become a devout Christian, and wanted to make amends for some things he had done or said.  He brought me a copy of his new song he'd recorded, "I Am The Cosmos," and asked me to help him overdub a couple of things.  I remember doing handclaps on it.  But I did say to him that I thought the sound was not that great, and the track would benefit greatly from a high quality recut with good audio and production.  This unfortunately upset him a bit; he had recorded a lot of it in England, with Geoff Emerick.  Chris was trying very hard to do these things on his own, without the "oversight" of me, John Fry, and Alex Chilton, so my comment came at a bad time!  I didn't hear that song again AT ALL until last year.  I have to say now that I think "Cosmos" is the greatest single emotional pop song ever written; the dichotomy of internal issues displayed is overwhelming!  But I still wish the production and sound were good.  All of these issues were part of the reasons I didn't care to hear that music for a while.

Additionally, I have always just worked very hard.  I sadly don't sit around and listen to music for pleasure very often.  And when I do, I usually listen to something completely different than what I work on.  So I didn't (and don't) very often later hear the music I've recorded.  Also, Big Star weren't on CD for a while, and I had boxed up my turntable, so I didn't have anything to listen to, had I wanted.

But finally, I did (thankfully) get back into all of it!

Anyway, thanks so much for your interest!

Terry
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2005, 08:34:49 pm »

Terry, I always enjoy your posts and like the fact that you and I generally tend to be on the same side of whatever opinions are being debated, but fuckin' A, how did I miss the Big Star connection?!?!?!  I got turned on to Big Star about 15 years ago by a friend in the band Mary's Danish.  (Coincidentally, his band mate was the former boyfriend of Susanna Hoffs, who of course covered "September Gurls.")  That music had such a huge impact on me, and back then, it was even less known than it is today.  There were very few of us in LA who dug the "power pop" thing.  Parthenon Huxley, the guys in the Grays, Rick Parker and probably I were the only ones I remember who were seriously trying to go for that thing in the Hollywood scene.  Big Star is always mentioned in my top five influences.  I almost slapped a A&R guy at Atlantic east coast when he told me he'd never even heard of them!

In '92 or so, my friend Manny and I went to go meet Jody at a Joe Cocker concert.  The sight of Chris Stainton playing a DX7 was so awful that we left after three songs and went and hung out at a coffee house for the evening.  I was obviously losing my shit over the fact that I was hanging out with Jody (I was only about 22 at the time), and I was struck that is seemed he didn't realize what a big deal those records were to some of us.  

If you remember in a thread about drum sounds, I had said that the sounds on Radio City are among the best I ever heard, and that I e-mailed Jody to find out what he was playing.  My suspicion was that they were keystone badge Ludwigs, which they were, and he said he used an Acrylite snare.  He wasn't able to tell me anything about how they were recorded though.  I've always been very curious about what mics and positions were used.  "Back of a Car" is pretty much the paradigm for my rock drum sounds.  (In fact, I used to even do the snare at 11:00 thing, until about eight or so years ago.  Everybody kept insisting that I put the snare up the center, so I conformed.)  I pretty much get those sounds, but I really want to know how the methodology differs.  

Also, you mention what a big influence the Beatles were, but what about groups like the Byrds?  I hear so much of that, and of course they influenced the Beatles greatly during the Rubber Soul period.  

And one more question for you and anybody else who cares to answer: My Big Star CD is among the brightest I own.  Is this just a mastering guy who really likes high end or were the tracks recorded and mixed that way.  I personally dig it, and it sounds amazing on anything that I play it on, but I can't use the record to A/B during mixes without getting myself in serious treble trouble.
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

Andi Gisler

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2005, 07:10:50 am »

J.J. wrote on Sat, 19 February 2005 02:34

 My Big Star CD is among the brightest I own.  Is this just a mastering guy who really likes high end or were the tracks recorded and mixed that way.  I personally dig it, and it sounds amazing on anything that I play it on, but I can't use the record to A/B during mixes without getting myself in serious treble trouble.

Great point! That's why I'm really curious about the '#1/Radio City' SACD version. I only have a entry level Sony SACD player, some discs sound great (Dylan's 'Love +Theft' fis great), while others are  more like 'Tinnitusville' (some Miles stuff for example).
So again, has anybody heard these new remasters?

Andi


neve1073

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2005, 02:00:26 pm »

"I am the cosmos" does have stunning songwriting and performances on it. It also does not sound very good. It's hard to believe that Geoff Emerrick had a hand in that production.

-jason
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compasspnt

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2005, 03:50:20 pm »

J.J. wrote on Fri, 18 February 2005 20:34

... Big Star is always mentioned in my top five influences.  I almost slapped a A&R guy at Atlantic east coast when he told me he'd never even heard of them!



It's about time a few of 'em got slapped!

Quote:

I've always been very curious about what mics and positions were used.  "Back of a Car" is pretty much the paradigm for my rock drum sounds.  (In fact, I used to even do the snare at 11:00 thing, until about eight or so years ago.  Everybody kept insisting that I put the snare up the center, so I conformed.)  I pretty much get those sounds, but I really want to know how the methodology differs.



Well, I don't remember exactly what was done on which song now, but there were general ways we would do things.  First, I don't remember for sure who played drums on this cut...it may have been Jody, of course, but it may have been Richard Rosebrough also...

We usually mic'd very simply...nothing out of the ordinary mic-wise or position wise.  Neumann's (87, 67) or Shure (57, 545) or EV (RE15, 20) were common.  We'd use more condensers for drums than a lot of people do today.  Usually not any far-away overheads, but a mic may well have served more than one drum, that is, snare + hat, or snare + hat + rack tom, etc.  Sorry I can't get more specific.  I do remember that when I went back in about '96 to final mix (for the first time) the old Alex Chilton solo stuff I'd done in '69, I was somewhat shocked to find all of the drums on one track!  But it really sounded good in most cases...there was a place or two I would have liked more bass drum, or more snare, but generally, cool.  And there was a real power to  the  drum track...it may have all been compressed together, but if not, at least the tape had done it!   Of course, Radio City was done about 4-5 years later, so I'm sure we were using more tracks by then...but the drums weren't ever spread across 8-12 tracks at that time, like people do today.  Decisions were made, and the drum sounds sort of melted/compressed together 'on their own' within a minimum analogue track count.

Quote:


Also, you mention what a big influence the Beatles were, but what about groups like the Byrds?  I hear so much of that, and of course they influenced the Beatles greatly during the Rubber Soul period.



The Beatles were certainly the model for most of our Big Star shenanigans, but yes, the Byrds were an influence.  Beatles were the most important for Chris Bell.  His mother was British; he and I were totally into the Brit-invasion music...we wanted to create something similar to the Beatles.  But Alex wasn't as much into them.  He had hung out with McGuinn a little bit, and was a big Byrds fan.  He was also a part time resident of the folk scene.  But he was even more a Beach Boys fan.  I personally hear a lot of Wilson in his writing, although he certainly put on a bit of a McGuinn voice at times; and he did own a 12 string!

Quote:

And one more question for you and anybody else who cares to answer: My Big Star CD is among the brightest I own.  Is this just a mastering guy who really likes high end or were the tracks recorded and mixed that way.  I personally dig it, and it sounds amazing on anything that I play it on, but I can't use the record to A/B during mixes without getting myself in serious treble trouble.


This is one of the small points I have always taken with the BS recordings.  I thought at the time that the mixes were too light in low mids and bass.  Now, I love these records, and have started listening to them again, enjoyably.  And you're right, they do sound good on almost any system.  But I did indeed always think that, to my personal taste, they were tilted a bit towards the high end.

But when I go back now and listen to the first, original mix masters here, they aren't THAT bright...so I think there was perhaps some excess added in mastering.  I haven't heard the SACD version, so I  can't comment on that.

John Fry was the actual mix engineer, but he was heavily influenced conceptually by Chris on #1, and by LX on RC, so either, or both of them may have contributed to treble mania.

But none of this takes anything away at all from the amazing songs and sounds on those recordings, in my opinion.

Terry
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2005, 05:22:07 pm »

Terry, thanks for responding.  BTW, Jody said that he did "Back of a Car."  You can tell the difference between his tracks and Richard's tracks because Richard has his toms tuned really, really low, like on "Daisy Glaze".

re: condensors on drums - I always used condensors on toms, at least.  I never understood the fascination with MD421s, which I think sound so woolly.  The only reason I use dynamics today is because I fell in love with the D19C.  
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

J.J. Blair

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2005, 11:57:37 am »

Terry, here's another BS question for you:  Why was "O My Soul" done in mono?  

Also, the bass on "September Gurls" sounds like something being picked with flatwound strings.  I can't quite figure out what bass it is.  Doesn't quite sound like a Fender.  Is it a Gibson EB-1 or Gretsch? (If you have any recollection.)
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

compasspnt

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2005, 02:41:47 pm »

J.J. wrote on Sat, 26 February 2005 11:57

Terry, here's another BS question for you:  Why was "O My Soul" done in mono?


We always loved and preferred mono, but of course everyone was asking for stereo (it's still that way with me now!)  I think I  remember that the mono rough mix just sounded so good, and they weren't ever  able to reproduce it properly in stereo.

Quote:

Also, the bass on "September Gurls" sounds like something being picked with flatwound strings.  I can't quite figure out what bass it is.  Doesn't quite sound like a Fender.  Is it a Gibson EB-1 or Gretsch? (If you have any recollection.)



A lot of the bass was done on a Rickenbacker with flatwound strings.  A little bit on a Hofner.  This may have been the Rick.  But I think there was a Gibson bass around at times.

Terry
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2005, 06:14:46 pm »

A-ha!  I knew I heard flatwounds!  I've never actually heard them on a Rick, though.  I'm so used to that Rotosound tone of Chris Squire's, that when I weighed that option I thought it didn't sound like a Rick.  I have a late '50s Hofner.  I can totally see that being the sound.  I have four hollow bodied basses, as well as a Danelectro, which is kind of a semi hollow.  They are the greatest sounding things, especially when played with a pick.

It's amazing how few bass players these days are hip to flatwounds.  The bass I record more than any other is my '69 P Bass with flatwounds, set up Jamerson style.  It just sits in a track beautifully, no matter what kind of music.  It always freaks out bass players when I ask them to try it, because they have usually never experienced the awesomeness of the flatwound.  I hate having to explain to bass players that their instrument is not called a "midrange."
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

compasspnt

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Re: Big Star/ # 1 Record
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2005, 07:40:36 pm »

I absolutely LOVE flatwound strings!  Everyone is always trying to get every bass note even, get the bass to "pump," make sure they have a solid low end.......but they're never using flatwounds!  This would solve half of their problems, right away!  Just because the sound doesn't "click" on every note, doesn't mean it isn't a great bass; this is not normally a lead instrument.  Almost all of the classic songs from the 60's & 70's that people are trying so hard to emulate had flatwound bass.
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