I hope you enjoy it.
This journal will not be posted daily due to a lack of overall time.
I have a 10:55 PM flight from JFK this evening and I am packed on time for once. We had been out running errands and when I returned home there is a message from the airline saying that my flight was canceled. On one hand it's a bummer because I need all the time I can get to mix and master this project with John and Bobby. However leaving home has always been the hardest part of the business for me so now I get 1 more night and day with my family. John and I decided months ago about which songs we were going to use and the record company agreed before we signed the contract. I feel that we picked the best material to represent this band. We have chosen to keep the track list private for now but I can say that the cross section of songs should provide something for everyone!
A big black car has arrived to carry me off to JFK so this time it looks like I am really going. I have said my teary good byes and headed out to make R&R music in England. Although I have been going to John's for over a decade I still get a thrill from the fact that I am going to do another musical project in the UK. After all I was a kid during the British invasion and all of my dreams from that era are still intact. Seated in 3K on a jumbo jet I began my air travel at 11:20 PM EST. I was parked in a very comfortable seat and after a fine meal I drifted off to a fairly sound sleep. The trip is about 6 1/2 hours long which is a drag no matter how you slice it. The trick is to sleep as long as you can and wake up in England. Its very much like being beamed over by Scotty or something like that. Anyway in the states I am an early riser and in England I have late night R&R type hours so all I have to do is go to sleep on the plane around 12:00 am or so and sleep for about 5 good hours. When I get to England its 10:45 am UK time so I start my day and work through until about 3:00 or 4:00 am which is 10 or 11 in NY. I nod out about 5:30 or 6 am and wake up at 10:00 or 11 am and start the day at noon. The point is there isn't much jet lag......until I go home.
We recorded these shows with digital machines and we want to transfer the digital tracks to analog tape in order to gain tape compression which adds the warmth to otherwise very sterile tracks. To do this we must listen to the digital multi track tape and decide which version of which song to use. Then Bobby transfers the 24 digital tracks to 2" 24 track tape. We were going to ship our digital machines from my studio in NY to John's which would have been costly. Enter Steve Winwood. He's an old friend of Bobby's and John's. It seems that Steve had just the machines that we needed and since he and John are neighbors it was no trouble at all for Steve to have his tech James run them over to John's and set them up. Excuse me neighbor but could I borrow a cup of sugar and a rack of digital multi track machines?
OK back to work. Remember we recorded 42 shows so choosing the final versions will be a serious task.
John and I have spent the past few months listening to rough mixes that I did in NY with our FOH soundman Joe Berger. Before I left for England we had it narrowed down to about 11 shows. There were 2 main shows that would provide most of the material but we picked the other 9 shows just in case. We have already decided on the songs now we must pick which shows to take them from.
I arrived at John's at about 1:00 PM and we spent a few minutes catching up. He showed me some of his latest acquisitions from his post tour travels. He does buy the coolest stuff and it ranges from a hand made jewelry box that looks like a roll top desk to these giggling stuffed animals that vibrate around as they laugh.
I sent John's dogs collars for Christmas that have red L E Ds on them like his basses. Scarlet the white wolfhound was wearing hers when I arrived so I turned it on and we all laughed as she blinked around the kitchen. These are the same type of collars that Cody (my dog) wore on the tour bus when he was out with us last year. It prevented him from getting stepped on at night. I can't wait to fire Scarlet's up at night and watch her bound all over the grounds at Quarwood. She looks like a big white Cody and she is a great help when homesickness sets in. Anyway by 2 PM the Cotswolds were shakin' all over as we put up the 1st track. . Listening to these recordings in the studio was like being transported back on to the stage. What a great rush. I love what we do! Anyway we listened to several tracks and found 5 of the 12 we need. We were listening to Horror Rock from the Nashville show and all of a sudden we heard Godfrey make a mistake that was so bad that we both laughed until the tears were rolling down our faces. Godfrey makes very few mistakes on stage so that fact magnified this mistake to the 10th power. John kept saying "play it again, play it again" and we'd listen and crack up over and over. Needless to say we won't be using Horror Rock from the Nashville show for anything other than blackmail.
So far we have used 3 reels of 2" tape which run at 30 ips (inches per second) which means that they last about 15 minutes. We printed the 5 tracks onto the 2" tape and called it a good 1st night.
Bobby and I started our day at noon and began by looking for more performances to transfer. We were joined by John around 2 and spent the rest of the day choosing the rest of the tracks. This is very hard because you can listen to the 1st 3 1/2 minutes and everything’s great then all of a sudden someone plays a blaring clam and that’s it for that version. So its on to the next and so on and so on until your ears are bleeding and your head is splitting. Just when you think you’ll go mad from it all and it looks like you don’t have a track that will work….. you hear the one that kicks you in the ass and you say…"see, I knew it was this one." As we were going through the different shows we came upon the show from Dodge City. I remember Dodge well. John is a major cowboy enthusiast so we had to make a trip to the legendary Front Street to see the "old" Dodge and of course Boot Hill. It was cold that day which didn’t help when we were reading the grave stones of buffalo hunters that had frozen to death. So here we are listening to the Dodge show. Now I must tell you that there were not a lot of people at this show. It was a big venue but there was no advertising so there wasn’t much of a crowd. Why play a gig like this you ask? The reason is that we were recording each show for the album. We like to play 5 or 6 nights a week. If we take too much time off the band gets cold so we wanted to keep playing no matter what. We had a bunch of missing dates in our schedule that were supposed to be filled. The dates never came in and here we are in the middle of the country with a giant hole in our calendar. So we decided to contact an agent that we met earlier in the tour and asked her if she could find us some gigs to fill in the holes. Some of the best performances were at these shows so we are very glad we played them. Since there were so few people at this gig we were fooling around a lot on stage and we were saying some pretty funny stuff. There were these 2 guys at the show that were simply out on the edge of sanity. One guy was jumping up and down totally out of time with the music. He had his arms down at his sides and it made him look like a spawning salmon. The other guy would run across the room at full speed and then collapse by relaxing his entire body and slide across the floor in front of the stage until he skidded to a stop. We were just about crying as this was happening. The funniest thing is that when we were listening to "Had Enough" in the studio everyone on stage was laughing so hard that we couldn’t sing our parts. When we muted the vocal tracks everything sounded normal. We were playing the same as we always played but when we added them back in it sounded like we were laughing over a music bed or something like that. We just couldn’t sing. I remember that John was so into playing that he didn’t notice all of this strange behavior. Then when he looked up he thought we were laughing at him for some reason until he saw the spawner and the sprawler. Then he too joined the laughing fit we were all having. Well enough of that. When we finished work later that night Bobby made a traditional Irish meal of colcanon & gamon with his wife Mia. We sat in John’s dining room and enjoyed some fine food and had a few laughs. Later we were joined by Nicki & Helen. They are friends of John’s and Lisa’s so its into the bar to tell stories and have a little party.
We deserved it after a long day.
Day 4 Wednesday
The Go-Go twins (Godfrey & Gordon) arrived today. They have been dubbed with Go-Go by John. Its because of the "GO" in both of their names. They came in early at about 11:30 AM. Bobby and I were working in the studio and John still hasn’t come down stairs yet. We listened to some of the tracks with them and they ran off to get some sleep. Bobby and I were joined by John and carried on working.
John & I had Indian food in town. We were talking about the live album and we both agree that it represents our band well. This is definitely a LIVE band and should be recorded live. Somehow there is always something missing from studio recordings. I guess it's the adrenaline. Since I am a drummer and I love the rush of playing live. Its like being in a battle or some kind of test of physical skill. When everyone is playing all out it is so intense that nothing else can compare to it. I have always liked physical things like skateboarding, skiing, moto-cross etc. And playing in "this" band is like all of those combined. When John and I go at it in his bass solo its like being in the ring with Ali.
We did a little shopping after dinner and headed back to Quarwood to finish our work day. After we were done the Go-Go twins joined us and we wound up playing poker in the bar. John went out 1st followed my me and then Godfrey. I am not sure but I believe Lisa was the big winner for the night. I hope she was because she wiped me out!
Day 5 Thursday
I have decided to lose the time line on this journal for a couple of reasons. Number 1 I can’t get to it everyday because some days we work until we drop and there’s no time or energy for a journal. Number 2 mixing is boring and there is not much to talk about from day to day. Sometimes you will have trouble with routing or a bad input. Maybe you are deciding to use different outboard equipment on an instrument but these are mostly tech decisions and don’t really make for interesting reading. To say something like " we added 2db of 500 Hz to the low end mono signal for John’s bass which made it come alive and stand out in the stereo field" would be like reading popular science for most people. Maybe I’ll ask Alan to create a tech section of the page for those who are interested in this kind of thing. Even though it is tedious I still enjoy it. I have been recording in professional studios since I was about 15 so its fun for me to use all the tricks that I have learned over the years. I always ask questions and retain most if not all of what I am told. I have worked with some of the top engineers and producers and always picked their brains for new tricks. I have had the pleasure of learning from some great people. Working with Bobby certainly has its rewards. He is a total pro and has more than a little knowledge about "live" albums.
More transfers today and more searching for the right tracks.. Godfrey & Gordon are here to listen to their parts on the recordings. You will always notice bad notes or flubs on your own performance faster than someone else. So to save time we brought them in so that we could make good decisions about which performances to use. Even though we have picked the 12 songs we may change some of our choices and print different ones. You have to be mercenary with these decisions otherwise you’ll get caught up in a whirlpool and never make any choices. If you analyze the tracks too much you will always find flaws. That will eventually drive you crazy and you’ll never make any decisions. There are things in my drum tracks that I would change if I could but then it wouldn’t be live. So you make the best decisions that you can and get to it. As I said we taped 42 shows which is good and bad. Good because you have a lot of material to choose from and the odds are that you’ll find tracks that everyone is happy with. Bad because you can go nuts trying to narrow it down. Godfrey and Gordon have agreed with our decisions although they both found little faults with their performances. That’s going to happen no matter what. We all play on a very consistent level and improvisation is a big part of our live performance. But improv involves risk. We play on the very edge and laugh it off when someone makes a mistake. If you give them a hard time about a flub they will tighten up and not take as many risks and there goes the spontaneity of the performance. As we were listening back to these performances we would look at each other from time to time and smile as if to say "yeah, I remember when we did that….." and then we’d carry on listening. Those "risks" are the magic moments of a live show and when they pay off they pay off big. That’s the beauty of playing live. If you’re in the audience when it happens you become a part of that moment. For me a live album is about energy and spontaneity. When I was a kid my band learned My Generation from "Live At Leeds." In 1987 John joined us for a performance at the Vic Theater in Chicago. We played My Generation and John said " you guys even learned the mistakes." Well we didn’t know they were mistakes we thought that was the way it was supposed to be so that’s how we played it. The point is that the mistakes become as important to the recording as the rest of it. A live recording is like a documentary where a studio album is more like a movie. With a studio album you can cut, paste, add or delete things as you go……But LIVE is live and that’s that. All you can really do is mix and use outboard equipment to get the most out of the tracks that have been recorded. We will use a special device made by Eventide to bring the vocals to life. It is very hard to record good vocals with this band. The stage volume is so intense that the open vocal mics pick up everything which causes all sorts of sound problems. When the tracks bleed through the vocal mics it makes it harder to isolate the vocals while mixing. So any effect or EQ that you add will be added to the instruments that bled onto that track. Joe managed to mute the vocal mics when we weren’t singing. When we did sing we had to be right on top of the mic so they didn’t have to be turned up as loud. I use a headset mic so I don’t have to worry about bleed as much because I am always "in front" of my mic so I get in the way of any extra sound. The others walk away from their mics which are on stands. This leaves the mic open with nothing to block the extra sound from bleeding in. The only open mics we use are on vocals, drums & guitar. Everything else is run direct. This means that a direct signal from the instrument goes into the mixing board without going through speaker cabinets first. In John’s case the signal is split and also goes into his stage speakers but Gordon goes direct and doesn’t hit speakers until Joe sends it back through the PA and monitors.
I am very behind in this journal......
It was snowing this morning. Big flakes were falling everywhere and it looks a Christmas card. The weather changes so fast here its hard to decide what to wear. OK now back in the studio to make our latest.....opps! After all we did do Success Story "live." Mixing can be tiring because you have to listen to the same song for hours. But when it starts to come together it is worth everything. One problem that we have encountered is that sometimes a track will drop out, have a buzz or some other phenomenon that goes with recording live. The trouble is that you really don't know until its too late unless you have someone listening to the performance as its going down to tape. Even then you can't save that track without some studio wizardry. For example when we mixed Shakin' All Over last summer we found that the bass was missing a channel on the recording. John is supposed to be recorded on 3 tracks. A stereo signal (2 tracks) for the top end and mono (1 track) for the bottom. We found out that only 2 were printed. During this tour we were using whatever PA system was at the venue. This meant that we were at the mercy of the gear. We have a tech rider in our contract that states our requirements for that type of thing. But that doesn't mean that it will all perform up to spec. We need a certain amount of channels to accommodate our setup. Sometimes there are more than we need and sometimes not. Joe Berger to the rescue! Joe had recorded John on 3 tracks as usual but since he had extra inputs he was able to record a 4th direct inject signal from Johns rig. That simply means that we had a clean signal from John's bass on tape. When we found the bad track on Shakin' Joe asked the crew to bring in John's rig without the speaker cabinets. Joe took this 4th mono track out of the tape machine and ran it back through John's rig. This allowed Joe to rerecord the 3 bass signals back onto the tape and thus the track was saved.
We have had to do a similar thing this time.
This entry is a little less technical……
When I was preparing for my trip to England everyone that knew I was going asked me to bring them back Britannia Bear. Those of you that know what I’m talking about have already been struck by the dreaded Beanie Baby virus. For those of you who don’t Britannia Bear is a Beanie Baby that was only released in England and sells in the states for up to $500.00. Godfrey has a daughter that collects them so he MUST find the little brown bear with the Union Jack embroidered on his chest. When we were out on tour last year Godfrey would pop into all of these shops looking for beanies. At the time the rest of us had no idea what all the fuss was about. When I returned home after the tour even the corner deli was selling these small, half filled stuffed animals for incredible prices. I noticed that every time I brought my wife in there she was looking at the Princess bear. This is a purple bear with a white rose on her chest and she is named for the late Princess Diana. Some of the proceeds from this bear go to Diana’s charities. All of these beanies are supposed to sell for about $5.00 but Diana was selling for $40.00 in this deli just before Christmas. As I did my holiday shopping I kept seeing the bear in different shops for better prices. Long story short I bought it for my wife and created my own beanie monster. I have since discovered that my friend Zo has 2 kids that are into it. In fact several friends of ours "without children" are into it. You know who you are!
OK so now Godfrey, Gordon and I are going into the little town near John’s to look for Britannia bear.
Gordon has no idea about beanies and John has a vague idea but very little interest. As it turns out John was given a spider beanie during the tour. It was named Spinner. Godfrey told him all about beanies and even though John is a collector of various things he just didn’t really care. So here we are in a 500 year old English village looking for a beanie baby. I was curious to see if the fad is as big here as it is in the states. IT IS!!!! Gordon went to have breakfast. Godfrey and I walked into a gift shop and saw a shelf full of the little buggars. They had some of the new ones including a bunny that I decided to bring home as an Easter gift. It was 5 pounds so I bought it and we started to leave. Then against all hope I asked " Have you seen Britannia?" The lady replied "I have Britannia in the back." I asked how much and she said 25 pounds (about 40 bucks) so I bought it. Then I asked if I could have another one and the lady said "only one to a customer." I said to Godfrey "don’t you want one for Jamie?" He said yes so another 25 pounds was added to the bill. Then we saw Gordon in the window of the breakfast place. I went in and said "you have to go in this shop next door and buy Britannia for me." He looked at me like I was nuts but he agreed.
He went into the shop and awkwardly asked to buy the bear and we left after the purchase. Now here I was with 2 bears and Godfrey with 1. On the way back to John’s Godfrey and I are laughing and carrying on like we had just bought a sack of diamonds for $20.00. Gordon asked what the big deal was and we proceeded to enlighten him. When we got back to John’s we entered the kitchen triumphantly and announced our conquest. Lisa flipped out saying "my mother collects those….." and so another victim is added to the list. John is witnessing this frenzy and inquires about it. By the end of the explanation John is ready to scour the Cotswolds in search of the rare prize saying I’ll take 10 of them. What does this have to do with the album? Not much but it does have a lot to do with the band. No matter what we manage to have a good time together and we all genuinely get along. Its nice to work with people that you like.
Once again we watched The Godfather. Only this time it was the full chronological directors cut with never before seen footage. I was ejected from the room for reciting the dialog along with the movie. It is one of my favorites. Godfrey leaves tomorrow morning and Gordon the next day. We have started mixing and the tracks are really starting to come alive. John decided to pan the bass and guitar hard right and left which is a good idea. This way their sounds are not interfering with each other. Gordon and I are in stereo. We used a few tricks to bring John and Godfrey a little more into the center of the stereo field.
When I listen to the band on stage from behind the drum kit John is on my right and Godfrey is on my left. My tom toms go from the highest on my left to lowest on my right. The hi hat is on my left and so on. But when you mix a record you mix it from the audiences perspective. That means that everything I hear is reversed in the stereo field. If you were to listen to this record with head phones you would hear John on the left and Godfrey on the right. However if you reversed the headphones you would be listening to it the way we hear it on stage.
Mixing this album is wearing me out. It's one thing to play this music for a couple of hours a night live. It's another to get slammed for 7 to 10 hours everyday without a day off trying to make everything live together and sound natural. One great thing is we patched in a vocal processor that really makes the vocals come alive. The songs are really starting to sound great. I respect Bobby for being able to harness all the energy that is printed on these tapes. We were listening to an all out jam in the middle of one of the songs. Bobby said it was so wild that he couldn’t describe it. I said it's a lot like standing in front of a train. He agreed and we continued mixing. While we are mixing we are listening to near field monitors (small bookshelf speakers). When we want to hear the entire frequency spectrum we listen through a pair of giant studio monitors that are NOT bookshelf speakers. The studio is the very best listening condition available. I like to listen on as many different speakers as possible. I listen to all kinds of speakers including boom boxes and a little 4" speaker in mono. We listen at all volumes and basically hear it under all conditions. I even take rough cassette mixes in the car. Once John and Bobby leave the studio they don’t want to hear another note until the next day. I use that time to totally drive myself insane by listening to it all night. That way they are fresh when they listen to it again and I know every snap, crackle and pop that is on there. In the end the tracks sound great and we are proud of them. I still get a rush when Bobby cranks up the big speakers and I feel like I’m in a Maxell commercial. We finished approving the art work today so everything is ready for the packaging end of things. We are all a little weary of discussing release dates, track list etc. because of past experiences. We decided to post the lyrics to the songs on this page for download when the album comes out. That will give us more room for other things in the CD booklet.
Godfrey’s gone and his room is neat as a pin. One thing about being on the road with Godfrey you never know whether he had maid service or not because his room is always so neat. After going to Godfrey’s room you want to run back to your own and clean it up. When Gordon and I looked in his room here we laughed and said "It looks like a brochure for a bed & breakfast." Gordon leaves tomorrow and we will carry on mixing until the thing is done. It seems I have less and less time to write in this journal. That means that we are working hard and making progress.
A lot of time has passed since I have written in this journal. Gordon has been gone for a quite few days now. We have had a couple of interesting dinner parties including Mothers Day which started off with a beautiful day. Mothers Day comes earlier in England than it does in the US.. The days have been filled with work and no time for anything else. This is a very demanding project to mix and requires our full attention at all times. I do feel that it will all be well worth the effort. It is sounding better by the day and I am now able to take a step back and see a larger picture. It is all the things that it should be so far. We have decided to leave a lot of it raw. It is a live album and it should be as "real" as possible. You have to remember that when we recorded these shows the 24 track machine was being run by Joe Berger who is also running the FOH (front of house) sound. That means he is mixing the band live and recording the show on tape. In a lot of cases we have picked performances that have technical errors in them. Mostly little things like a vocal mic that’s not loud enough or some other small detail that is very much a part. of live rock and roll.
We just finished another one. Wow it's another great mix. We’re getting pretty far along and everything is very close to being on schedule. I won’t say that it has been without its obstacles but all things considered….so far so good. I have returned home to get ready for another incredible dinner gathering at John’s. Bobby’s son Ben and Bobby’s friend Jess are making a small banquet for the troops. I have to begin the mastering tonight by topping and tailing each completed mix. This means that any unwanted noise must be removed up until the songs starts and right after the songs end. We use a PC based program and hardware for mastering. Its made by Soundscape Digital and its called SSDHDR1 version 2.03. John and I both have these units in our studios so instead of carrying tapes back and forth I can carry everything stored on a removable / dockable hard drive that is about the size of a video cassette.
Almost time for dinner…
Here we are 12:00 PM in the middle of mixing the last track. I started putting the tracks together in a running order last night after we finished mixing. John and I have decided on the initial order but that may change. I was having producers anxiety over the past few days. Wondering if this was too loud or that was not loud enough. Plus all the realities of a live album like crowd noise mic leakage etc. In the end we have left it pretty real. When I woke up this morning I listened to a cassette that I made last night and it put all my fears to rest. It sounds great! There is no perfect way to mix a live album. That’s part of the beauty of it.
There are people that believe that its easy to mix an album. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. The fact is that every song is different, every studio is different and everyone’s taste is different. Remember you are mixing to please the band who are never satisfied, the record company, the world and yourself. Not necessarily in that order. You have to have a lot more than instinct to mix although that is a prime ingredient. You have to have experience from hands on work. Its very easy to sit at home and say "oh I would have done this or that" but doing it is another story. It's not simply a matter of making things louder or softer it has a lot to do with the frequencies of each sound and how they "live" together. And frequencies come from more places than just the instrument. They come from the signal chain, mic pre amps, the out board gear, additional EQ modules and a myriad of other places. So every time you introduce another factor into the mix you have to deal with how it effects everything else. You must understand each piece of outboard gear or have someone there that does. That’s why in addition to my own experience I rely on 2 other VERY experienced professionals in this situation. John and Bobby. No one knows John’s bass sound better than John. Bobby has had a lifetime of experience with "power rock" so he is no stranger to a project like this. I have spent my own share of time on the front line as well. I respect their opinions and they respect mine. We always manage to find a common ground that works for all 3 of us. The thing is that after a few hours of the same song your ears start to play tricks on you. So we rotate our time in the studio. Bobby is there more than everyone else but even he gets a fair amount of breaks.
I just took a break and went outside though the studio doors. I was looking out over the main view from John’s and noticed 2 cool looking birds on his lawn. Not women……real birds. It’s just about spring and flowers are blooming and there are birds everywhere. Lately when I walk from my cottage over to John’s ( about an 1/8 mile) I have been noticing more and more signs of spring. Its really beautiful here and it makes it easier to do all of this intense work.
21 days 2 hours and 38 minutes. I landed 3 weeks ago, went to work without a day off and here we are with a complete album that is a dream come true for me. I will do some quick mastering tomorrow and that as they say is that. I fly to the states on Wednesday and deliver the master to the record company on Thursday. I will e-mail the specs for the final art work to the office tonight. Could it be that after all the Van-Pires disappointments that we will finally get a record out? I hope so……I think so……..I know so!
Autograph night tonight. Bitsa has received a lot of mail for John and I get to deliver it across the sea.
Some of it is fan mail or requests for this and that. John enjoys it all! He does take the time to listen and respond when he can. Sometimes it takes months before he can get to it but he usually does. He loves his fans and from the load of stuff I brought from the office…..they love him too! We are getting more and more JEB fan mail which is cool. We all agree without YOU there is no reason to play…
Last full day. I leave tomorrow so we must finish everything today. As I said I will top and tail each song and get the time between them sorted out too. The total running time must be under 72 minutes. A CD only holds up to 74 minutes of music. Ours has to be over an hour and under the limit of 72 minutes set by the record company. When I strung the tracks together end to end there was 61 minutes and 7 seconds of music. I leave on the 24th so this project must be mixed and mastered by Wednesday.
The whole thing is 68:08 in length that may change by the time it hits the street. During the master transfer I noticed a glitch in the play back. John and I had to sit there and go over every track to make sure that nothing else was wrong. We have mastered this on a digital hard disk system. That means that you can "slide" things around to get the song timing just right and so on. After the music is loaded onto the disk the whole thing is very much like a word processor. In fact many of the basic edit commands are the same. What we found was a section that was supposed to be moved globally. One section of the track was not moved and when we heard it we decided to look for other anomalies. This took about an hour. We finally agreed to put the thing to bed. Now all that was left to do was make 4 real time digital transfers to DAT. 68 minutes plus…. times 4…….never. I just didn’t have enough time to make all the transfers so I can only make 2. One for me to take to the states and one for John. He and Bobby can make the rest of their copies after I am gone. 5 am and I am called it quits. I didn’t fall asleep until 6 am. It reminded me of the Van-Pires sessions when I was making transfers right up until the time I left for the airport. Talk about hurry up and wait. So anyway I woke up at 9 am and Bobby came over for breakfast about 9:15. We talked about the album for a while. He said he thought it was great and that he was proud of it. Bobby has heard his share of live albums so it was a big compliment. We said our good byes and I waited for Chris to drive me to Heathrow.
I got to the airport, checked in and headed for the duty free. The 1st thing I bought was a walkman so I could listen to the tape on the plane. If I discover any problems I can fix them in my studio before I deliver the master. Then a few presents for the folks back home and I am off to the Virgin Airways lounge. They have great food, virtual games and it’s a very comfortable place to wait for your flight. Time to board the plane. I am in seat 5K but strangely it’s the 1st seat in the row at the very front of the plane. There is no seat next to it……YES…now I can rock out! I have brought my in-ear monitors with me. They will plug right into the walkman so I can really hear the tape under great conditions. I listened to the tape once through, then I watched the new Star Trek movie. I put my monitors back in and I faded in and out with the tape blasting away. Several rotations of the tape later we land in NY. I cleared customs in a flash and headed out. I saw the limo driver holding a sign with my name on it. I flagged him down and we headed out to the car. On the way to the lot he turns to me and says "Is your first name Steve?" I said yes and he smiled and told me that he was a fan which made me smile. He said it had been a long time since he had seen me play and asked about John and what we were doing. I told him about the live album and asked him if he’d like to hear it. He got very excited and we popped it in the deck as soon as we hit the road.
I told him to crank it up. He did and guess what………the stereo shut down. No kidding the thing just blew out and stopped playing. I laughed and said "now I know we did a good job." I couldn’t believe it.
We blew up the guys stereo in the first 15 seconds of the tape. I immediately called John on my cell phone and declared……"I think we’ve got something here!"
Steve Luongo 3/99
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