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Author Topic: What tape did we use for this album?  (Read 1474 times)

Offline High and Outside

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What tape did we use for this album?
« on: January 09, 2024, 06:10:33 PM »
The story of The Band's album Stage Fright is pretty convoluted. That album was mixed four times in four different studios by two different engineers.* The band listened to all the mixes, and chose the one they liked best for each song. As a result the assembled master tape had some tracks mixed by Todd Rundgren and some songs mixed by Glyn Johns.** The mixes were quite different in overall balance and level, plus the Glyn Johns mixes were Dolby encoded and the Todd Rundgren mixes had no noise reduction. This makes things very hard for cutting LP's, since when you're cutting for vinyl you have to run the tape for each side from beginning to end without stopping. It would be very challenging to make all the changes necessary from one song to the next in the 2 to 3 seconds between them. So the cutting studio did what was often done in a case like that: they made an EQ copy, incorporating all the changes, and cut the lacquers for the original LP release from that copy.

To make sure no one would use the original mix reels by mistake, they labeled them "DO NOT USE" in big letters. When they sent the tapes back to the Capitol vault, some vault guy saw that, and dutifully filed the original masters where no one would find them. And for decades all issues of the album in all formats and in all territories were sourced from the EQ copy.*** But when Capitol was getting ready to release a new CD version in 2000, a very tenacious and perspicacious reissue producer name Cheryl Pawelski and her colleagues searched the Capitol vaults until they found the original tapes. The CD they produced came from the originals. We knew the story, so we made sure we were using the original tapes too.

* There was a rumored additional mixing session booked with a third mix engineer. We're still trying to get confirmation of that story. But apparently no mixes came out of that session.

** The three Glyn Johns mixes on the record are: The Shape I'm In, All La Glory, and The Rumor.

*** one more wrinkle: DCC did an audiophile CD release in 1994, before the Capitol reissue, and theirs was all Glyn Johns mixes. They used the first mixes that had been done by Johns. (He mixed the whole record a second time, at a different studio, and three of those mixes wound up on the original LP, the Capitol reissue and our Tape Project reissue.)  Anyway, the the DCC release, with the earlier Glyn Johns mixes, presents an interesting take on the album; it sounds great; and it's well worth picking up if you can find one. But we went with the versions chosen by the band originally.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2024, 11:26:32 AM by High and Outside »
Paul Stubblebine
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Offline tapepath

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Re: What tape did we use for this album?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2024, 09:17:45 AM »
Great story, thanks, Paul!