The Magic Box

Up is Louder!
(loud is good)

Can you keep it down out there, were makin' a record!
June 1 - July 25,1988 - CSNY Mix - Studio A

Usually no one mixed in A, because at that time there wasn't any automation and the mindset was "it's a tracking room, we don't want people camped out for 3 or 4 weeks in the one of the best rooms in town, mixing". Only old school guys could do a good record without automation anyway (Glyn Johns and Don Smith mixed in there). Niko Bolas had spent a couple of months at Neil Young's ranch with the Record Plant truck recording "American Dream" in the barn, basically live, and it was mix time.

We had two Sony's in the control room, and Tim Mulligan was setup in one of the iso-booths with a couple more. My idea was to use all "real" echo except for Niko's EMT 250, and mostly it worked. We had a couple of chambers, a plate, the 250 for the drums, a 4-track for slap, and a couple of PCM 42's.  Niko picked up an old Fairchild spring reverb from somewhere, and it was the main reverb on a couple of songs until it died. We did use an AMS DDL on Stills' Hendrix solo on "Nighttime" and some Rev7 chorus somewhere (and Joe's Chorus), but that was about it.

This was the beginning of the "CD only" product era and Niko, working with Neil and Tim were innovators in getting analog type sounds with digital. Neil has always been a critic of Digital (and a long time user), and likened it to "looking out a clean window with a screen on it". They developed the "Digi-Tube" concept using tube gear to warm up the hardness, and experimented with recording levels to maximize the sampling window. Another angle was to mix listening through the 1630, so you could hear the effect of the filters and compensate.

On the third night, Brian Scheuble (Bean Schwable) got sick? and Shelly asked Niko if I could fill in on the Don Henley record. Henley had been there forever, working two weeks, then taking two off doing "The End of the Innocence" with Kootch and Shelly.

After about a year Geffen was asking for SOMETHING!, so it was an all-nighter comping a vocal (Don comped syllables) and ruff mixing "The Last Worthless Evening" in the Mix Room. Shelly bailed at about 1am which pissed me off at the time, but he brought me a bottle of champagne the next day as thanks. That was the only time I ever worked on the record, and I got "Additional Engineer" credit on one of the biggest deals of 1989/90.

Niko was always "go,go,go" when he was close to getting a mix, and I ran the 1630. The counter was off while doing a mix of "Compass", Crosby's big doper retrospect, and I erased part of a good mix and freaked.  We did a playback later and all of a sudden there's a big hole for about 10 seconds in the last verse, No fun. I had Bill Dooley fill the hole from another take the next day and bought him lunch. That was the only thing I ever erased at A&M, with a lot of hours having the red light on.

I went on vacation and Tom Banghart filled in, and when I got back they were about done. We did remixes of some songs July 23-25 during the Voices record.

Some good one's:
Stephen Stills showed up pretty high one day in army fatigues with these big binoculars looking around the studio, talking about when he was in Vietnam.

Crosby's classic quote "you gotta have a bunch of guys around to make a record", which was definitely true in this case. Real men only on this CD.

Niko blew about 50 NS-10 components on the project (Mark Harvey started
charging after about 10). I had a Makita  behind the console and if Neeks
blew one before the first chorus, I could swap it out before the end of the
song. I remember mixes going to tape with just tweeters blasting.
Man, we laughed.

The Master 1630 take sheet.

The record got Niko nominated for a Mix Magazine "Technical Excellence" award for engineering, and they sent a guy over for interviews. Niko said something like " I just mixed it, you know all the stuff, go tell him whatever he want's to know". I was really nervous because it was giving away the secrets, and showed up with a couple track sheets and some mix notes and answered the questions. The price of a Fairchild 670 jumped from $3500 to $8000 in a year. Go Figure.





  Bob Vogt - Recording Engineer
A&M Studios
The High Bias Years  1986 - 1996

  Bob Vogt 1998 - All Rights Reserved

Get a free CD