from the desk of H. Bowie...

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“Records we made together in the sixties”


These days most engineers confronted with a displeasing sound reach for the knobs on the console and tweak the high, mid or low frequencies. When that process is inflicted on more and more tracks of a multi-channel recording the sound passes through dozens of transistors, resulting in a narrower, more confined sound. With the added limitations of digital sound, you end up with a bright and shiny, thin and two-dimensional recording. To my ears anyway.

When John [Wood] heard a sound he didn’t like, he would lift his bulky frame off the chair and lumber down the stairs, muttering all the way. I began to be able to predict whether he was going to try a different microphone, reposition the existing one or shift the offending musician to another part of the studio. When I listen to records we made together in the sixties, I can still hear the air in the studio and the full dimension of the sounds the musicians created for us. I can hear the depth of Nick Drake’s breath as well as his voice, the grit in the crude strings of Robin Williamson’s gimbri and Dave Mattacks’ drum technique spread out warmly in aural Technicolor across the stereo spectrum.

Joe Boyd, 2006

From the book White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s

© 2006 Joe Boyd

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