By Steve Harvey.
New York (October 25, 2011)—At the AES Convention this past weekend, the Grammy SoundTable’s “Sonic Imprints: Songs That Changed My Life, played to a packed house.
The event, whose theme proved so popular last year that it bore repeating, featured a panel comprising Ken “Duro” Ifill, Steve Lillywhite, Ann Mincieli, Phil Ramone and Al Schmitt, with Chris Lord-Alge moderating, discussing the music that resonated with them and set them on their career paths.
Lillywhite kicked off with U2’s “Vertigo,” on which he worked, mixing with no automation on Sting’s mobile SSL E Series desk. “It was a performance, like the old days,” he said.
It was The Beatles that set engineer Mincieli on a path to build Manhattan’s latest high-end facility, where she has collected much of the equipment with which they recorded. Her “retro-futuristic” work with Alicia Keys often involves live musicians playing takes all the way through a song, she shared: “We try to remember where music comes from.”
A conflict in the control room landed Al Schmitt his life-changing gig, taking over the engineer’s seat on the first album—by Henry Mancini—to be awarded Record of the Year by the Recording Academy. “It’s a great way to change your life,” he said of the 1958 direct-to-two-track project.
Phil Ramone, too, benefited from studio politics when “Everybody’s Talking,” sung by Harry Nilsson, was re-recorded for the film “Midnight Cowboy.” “The word ‘producer’ in front of your name will change your life,” he observed.
Hearing A Tribe Called Quest for the first time made Duro want to become an engineer. “I wasn’t even sure if I could do it,” he admitted.
Just remember to be humble, commented Lord-Alge. “Who’s on the front cover? We’re not.”
The Recording Academy