Not long to go now until Christmas, although you’d never know it here in Connecticut. The temperatures have been positively spring-like with some days being in the balmy 60s. Facebook certainly enables me to get in the mood though, with all your seasonal postings (mostly guitar related). I particularly liked seeing the Christmas trees made out of guitars and even drum sets! Very creative. I’m sure there are more than a few fans, musicians themselves, with a guitar or two on their own personal Christmas shopping lists.
On my list is a new vinyl turntable. A while ago, I decided to throw all my old vinyl out and then at the very last minute, decided not to. I had too many great memories invested in those LPs. I remembered that I also had some old JBL studio monitors stashed away, identical to the ones Bill Szymczyk and all the producers would have used at Criteria Studios in Miami, where we recorded several albums in the 1970s. I decided to rig up a system to recreate how I would have actually listened to the music as it went down in the control room and later, as I’d listen to the final mastered recordings that were produced back then. Incidentally, as our fans will know, Wishbone Ash has recently released the Live at Metropolis vinyl disc as well as a vinyl version of Blue Horizon. Vinyl is popular once again and we actually still have some of those discs available for the connoisseur should you wish to pick one of those up on our upcoming European tour (wishboneash.com/tourdates) or from our webstore (http://wishboneash.bigcartel.com)
The Wishbone Ash disc I chose to spin on my new turntable was There’s the Rub. The sound was immediately there and it was novel to hear the songs in order with the correct gaps between tracks and to go through the process of turning over the disc for the second side featuring the track FUBB, while sipping on a nice glass of wine. All of this got my juices flowing, and so next up was the album Hotel California by the Eagles another Szymczyk produced disc featuring twin lead guitars aplenty. How would the guitar solos sound coming directly of the vinyl platter? Not bad, as it turns out. Definitely different from the digital version I’d grown accustomed to in recent years. The same goes for the bass end and drums. This was an interesting experiment because the two albums are related.
Our recording sessions in 1975 were kind of like the sound check for this global hit by the Eagles. I know Bill honed many of his editing and tape-splicing chops a lot by working with us and the same goes for his recording techniques. The Eagles were loading their gear into studio 3 while we were in the process of reviewing our final mixes in the control room there. Both discs have a lot of similarities in their production values, being recorded in that same studio, mixed in the same control room (on those JBL monitors) with Bill and his engineer, Alan Blazyk, handling the engineering. As a side note, while I was listening, I remembered how taken aback Bill had been when he’d met us at Miami International Airport and instead of Ted Turner walking to greet him, the new guy, Laurie Wisefield, turned up. No one had informed Bill of the personnel change! No matter, he still got to record some stellar guitar tracks and then, directly after six weeks in the studio with us, even more stellar guitar with the Eagles, culminating in their worldwide classic album.
Anyway, as all these memories came flooding back during my reacquaintance with my vinyl collection, I was reminded how Christmas is like this, a time to reflect and a time to recharge batteries. I’m rarely able to do this kind of thing so I’m enjoying the vinyl experience as well as catching up on my reading as well as following the current political scene in the USA. We had the last Republican debate last night. The recent terrorist events in Paris and San Bernadino have certainly brought out the sabre rattling from the candidates.
All that aside, I must quickly let you know that we have been fulfilling mail orders for the Live at Le Triton DVDs that we recorded in the Spring of this year, in Paris. It was a great 8 camera shoot and a fine production by Christian Guyonnet. There’s just time to get a few more orders sent out if you are living in America.
Please note that this will ONLY ship to the U.S. The European version is coming very soon and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available for mail order that side of the Atlantic.
So, if you live in the U.S.A. you can click here to order your copy now!
They will of course also be available on our upcoming European tour dates at our merchandise stall in operation at each venue. The band will be on hand to sign copies in that case. Solid Rock House Records have now taken over the licensing and distribution of this DVD for Europe.
Speaking of France, we’ve added a short tour of that country, including Le Forum in Paris for the month of March. In addition, we’ve also tacked onto the end of our mammoth jaunt around Europe in January and February, 4 Italian dates, including Rome. Once again, please visit wishboneash.com/tourdates
For those of you who fancy an in-depth rock and roll read over the Christmas holidays, Amazon still has my biography Eyes Wide Open available. (find it on amazon.co.uk or amazon.com)
I wish to thank all of those who’ve already bought it and who have personally taken the time to pass on their feedback to me. It’s been a truly gratifying experience and if, like those old vinyl records, my book has sparked some personal memories for you of those glory days in the 70s, all the better. Our musical generation certainly was blessed in that regard and I’m very mindful of how important music can be as a backdrop to people’s lives, including my own, obviously. It absolutely heightens personal experiences.
Finally, all that remains is wish each and every one of you a wonderful Christmas season at home or on vacation with loved ones and we thank you sincerely for your continued support of Wishbone Ash and all this band has done over the last 45 years and continues to do. See you in Europe in 2016!