New York (November 17, 2006)–Every artist has his or her creative space, and same thing goes for audio engineers as well. Bringing a bit of that into the public’s view, then, is always good for showing the world what engineers do–and a new book on the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, and two DVDs, covering last year’s Paul McCartney tour and the Hard Rock Café’s memorabilia collection, do just that.
Exile On Main St.: A Season In Hell with the Rolling Stones (Da Capo Press)
Robert Greenfield’s book is mainly concerned with the decadence surrounding the Stones and their hangers-on during the long, hot summer of 1971, but it does occasionally delve into the actual taping of the titular album. Interviewed for the book, engineer Andy Johns recounts the trials and tribulations of recording in the humid basement of a rented villa in the south of France. Along the way, you also get the history of the famed Rolling Stones Mobile recording studio, a rundown of some of the equipment used, the troubles of soundproofing rooms that might have been used for torture by the Nazis in World War II, and other general chicanery (aiming to save the Stones a few dollars on their electric bill, the Mobile was illegally tapped into a utility pole out on the street). While the band doesn’t play a note of music until halfway through the book, it still may be of interest for those with high interest in the album and a likewise high tolerance for lurid tales.
Paul McCartney: The Space Within Us (A&E Home Video)
This documentary covers the Beatle’s 2005 tour across the United States, but unlike his previous few DVDs, which covered his concerts straight on, this one hones in on the fan experience, showing how his music has affected the lives of everyone from the average Joe to former President Bill Clinton. For engineers, though, the highpoint may be part of a DVD “extra” entitled More About Us, which briefly interviews McCartney’s longtime FOH engineer, Paul “Pab” Boothroyd, about what it’s like to work with the most famous boss in rock n’ roll. Fleet-eyed gear heads will be able to spot the Digidesign Venue console and Midas XL-4 desk that graced the FOH position last year, as well as other key bits of equipment.
Hard Rock Treasures (MPI Home Video)
This intriguing DVD follows Don Bernstine, head of memorabilia acquisition for the Hard Rock Café, Hotel and Casino, as he travels the world in search of musical artifacts. While the idea of using items of great historical significance to decorate a restaurant may be offensive to some–last year’s Rock and Roll Archaeologist (Sasquatch Books) by Peter Blecha devotes many pages to just that topic–it’s impossible not to get caught up in Bernstine’s excitement when he visits the guitar vault of Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) or gives Peter Frampton one of his old guitars back in exchange for the Heil talk box used on Frampton Comes Alive. There’s also a number of moments for the pro audio community, such as when James Lott, chief engineer at Sun Studios, points out some of the niceties of his facility; or when the history of LA’s Ocean Way Studios (once United/Western, where most of the great Beach Boys songs were recorded) gets recounted while Brian Wilson presents a guitar to Bernstine. Home studios belonging to Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and Scotty Moore (Elvis) are briefly visited, as are the recording/warehouse spaces for Metallica, Aerosmith and Styx, and there’s plenty more of interest to audio pros and the average music fan alike on this extensive, breezy DVD.