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Inside A & R Studios, new book "Never Say No" and Interview with Author Glenn Berger

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  • Inside A & R Studios, new book "Never Say No" and Interview with Author Glenn Berger

    A&R Studios became famous as the empire of the late, great Phil Ramone, a gifted engineer and producer who had "ears" and made many splendid records with the top selling artists over many decades. (Some of those audiophile favorites were done by Ramone).
    A new book, entitled "Never Say No To A Rock Star" by Glenn Berger is a first hand account of a young kid who gets a job as a "schlepper" at A&R and manages to work his way up to the youngest senior engineer in A&R's history. Along the way, Ramone takes Glenn under his wing--not exactly an easy job given the demands of the work, the crazy hours and the stress of getting it "right." Berger's gift--and what makes this book such a splendid read--is his refreshing candor, mixed with the awe of a kid who is sitting in on sessions with the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and the artist that seems to tower above almost everybody- Frank Sinatra. This is not a name-dropping memoir with the "dirt" on celebrities- instead, it conveys a sense of wonder, and no small amount of terror, in recording these artists, working under the mercurial Phil Ramone (who exhibits moments of absolute genius in crisis) along with lots of detail on the sessions themselves. Highly recommended. Here's the review: http://thevinylpress.com/never-say-n...-glenn-berger/

    And here's an equally fascinating interview with Glenn Berger, who is now a "shrink" in Manhattan: http://thevinylpress.com/interview-g...-no-rock-star/

  • #2
    Thanks for that interview Bill. It was interesting to read Glenn's perspective on making the recordings. What audiophiles perceive as magic (tubes, tape), Glenn sees as a royal PITA.

    One thing caught my eye though. Glenn complained about the LP never sounding like the tape. I wonder how much of that was due to the playback system of the day and whether Glenn would have the same opinion today hearing a modern analog turntable?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

    Comment


    • glennberger
      glennberger commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Myles! In answer to your question, we would listen to the discs under optimal control room listening conditions and compare to the tapes. Magician mastering engineers like Bob Ludwig (and many others too numerous to mention) would do a great job getting our stuff on vinyl, (which was a real art - I don't understand what mastering engineers actually do now!) and the great engineers like Ramone knew how to mix for vinyl, but no matter how good of a job they did, vinyl was an inherently limited medium - especially as you got to the inner grooves. It was particularly painful to listen in the best conditions, because that was when you could really hear the difference!

    • MylesBAstor
      MylesBAstor commented
      Editing a comment
      Hi Glenn! Welcome to Audionirvana and look forward to reading your posts!

  • #3
    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
    Thanks for that interview Bill. It was interesting to read Glenn's perspective on making the recordings. What audiophiles perceive as magic (tubes, tape), Glenn sees as a royal PITA.

    One thing caught my eye though. Glenn complained about the LP never sounding like the tape. I wonder how much of that was due to the playback system of the day and whether Glenn would have the same opinion today hearing a modern analog turntable?
    I'm glad you caught that Myles. I figured it supported your view of the merits of tape v. vinyl records. Glenn is hopefully going to visit and we're going to play some of the records he worked on. I doubt that will answer your question but it ought to be fun anyway. As to what he heard at the time, I suspect any "normal" phono replay system from the era* would fall down badly against playing the two track over the big monitors in the control room or mixing studio- my experience- i was never in A & R- but in other studios- was that it was very dynamic, loud and chest thumping. (Maybe not something that we'd think of as "refined" but very immediate, very visceral).
    To the extent they were cutting acetates to see what the record sounded like on consumer formats like "vinyl" (and presumably, having some plated and pressed, I don't know), I think the goal was to make sure the mix down would sound "good" on normal consumer end product. What's crazy is, many of those records sound pretty amazing decades later, so whatever "compromises" they might have made don't seem to be compromises at all. Glenn recorded that Phoebe Snow record- pretty killer. Phil of course, has a long, long list, including Dusty's "The Look of Love" up through that Shelby Lynne "Just a Little Lovin" album (with Al Schmitt).
    I don't think Glenn is down on the tubes and tape, i just think he wanted us to put it into perspective from the standpoint of working tools- splicing, azimuth issues (there's an amazing section of the book where Ramone avoids absolute disaster by realigning the playback heads on the fly throughout the playback of an entire album's worth of stuff to make a decent master/safety to get it out the door), maintenance, wear and tear of 24/7 operation in a busy studio, etc.

    ____________________
    * I also don't know what turntables most studios used then. Perhaps stuff like Garrard 301 but by the early '70s, those were long in the tooth. You saw the bit making the rounds after the last Munich show about the Neumann turntable- I think it was Frank Schroeder who had one- Neumann made the tables specifically to check the cuttings done on their lathes. Those turntables are quite rare- overbuilt and apparently sound great today.

    Comment


    • #4
      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
      ________________________________________

      -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
      -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
      -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
      -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
      -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
      -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
      -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
      -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
      -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
      -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

      Comment


      • #5
        If I may add, my experience with old vinyl in reissuing jazz on CDs is that the original vinyl records in most cases did not sound very good and surely not close to as good as the original tapes I was working with in moving the analog sound over to digital. Most of the vinyl versions which had been published in the past did not sound good and I was sometimes shocked at how good the original tapes sounded in comparison. Many times by the time they made the tape for the vinyl it was several generations down the tape copy line and then EQ'd for vinyl. I can tell you that today the transfer from analog tape to vinyl is much better without question. That is, if you pick the right mastering engineer, pressing plant, the vinyl will be closer to the tape than generally was true many years ago (but not always true as there were many fine records made years ago). With that said, so far tape sounds clearly better to me than even expertly done vinyl as obviously it is one major generation removed from tape as it is a conversion to another medium (vinyl in this case). This is from my recent experience working with the old Columbia recordings at Sony Entertainment in the last 6 years.
        JLH

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