Partners in Crime
I have been lucky enough over the years to work with (and pick up tips from) some of the world's top producers/engineers including:
The younger brother of Glyn Johns, Andy is legendary for his production and engineering work with Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Free, Van Halen, Eric Clapton and many more. I worked with Andy on the Perfect Timing album from the McAuley Schenker Group in 1987. Andy was a great proponent of groove and was a big fan of the Keith Richard style of guitar playing. Andy was just pure rock and roll and his approach to recording and production is all based on feel, contrasting rather with Frank Filipetti's style. It was also fascinating to witness some of the production and engineering tricks he pulled out of the bag! Andy always told me I should write a book on getting around the idiosyncrasies of tuning a guitar which I'm still intending to do sometime.. [Related blog post]
Frank produced and engineered Foreigner, KISS, The Bangles, Survivor, Carly Simon and Meatloaf, amongst many others. I worked with Frank on the McAuley Schenker Group album Save Yourself in 1989 (recorded in LA and mixed in NYC). It was really Frank who first really impressed on me the importance of groove above all else. Frank was an early adopter of digital audio and transferred all analogue tracks for the Save Yourself album to a 48-track digital Sony machine for mixing at Right Track. One of the most meticulous (and funniest) people I have ever worked with.
Steve is known for his work with Rolling Stones, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Grace Jones and Jeff Beck, and became a protege of Trevor Horn with whom he formed a production team. Steve was the engineer for a session I did with Lionheart with Hugh Murphy at the production helm, the session being recorded at Hugh's personal studio. Hugh had already made a name for himself as producer of Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street and brought Steve into the session as engineer. Steve was (and probably still is) on the cutting edge of technological production and together with Trevor Horn was responsible for some of the most ground breaking sounds of the 1980's. His incredible attention to detail and mastery of technology is something which inspired me greatly and I've been an equipment manual-reader ever since!
Kevin is most famous for his work with REO Speedwagon (Hi Infidelity featuring the single 'Keep On Loving You'), Saxon and MSG. I worked with Kevin on Lionheart's Hot Tonight album recorded in LA in 1984. This was at the time when US AOR was famous for its tightly produced, big glossy sound (a la Journey, Toto etc). Up to that point Lionheart had been very British sounding, but we got the full works with the AOR gloss! Whether that was actually good for Lionheart is debatable, but at the time we thought so. I learnt tricks from Kevin like the American way to fatten up backing vocals, and how to get the classic AOR gloss sound (remove the high-band Dolby card when mixing).
John produced the Thin Lizzy albums Jailbreak (which included The Boys Are Back In Town) and Johnny The Fox. I worked with John on 2 Liar albums in 1977 and 1978 - Set The World On Fire (recorded in The Who's Ramport Studios in Battersea London) and the second in Stevie Wonder's Crystal Sound Studio in LA (and unfortunately never released). As a studio rookie I learned quite a lot from John - (most of which was non-music related!) but the one thing which stuck was the importance of checking mixes in the environment they will be heard. Will Reid-Dick, who later went on to work with Motorhead, Rory Gallagher and The Runaways, was engineer on both the Thin Lizzy and Liar albums, and I went on to work with him when he produced and engineered the Tytan Rough Justice album.