Book Review: Behind the Boards II

Riding off the success of his first edition, author Jake Brown recently released Behind the Boards II, the second volume of accounts by record producers and engineers on the making of some of music’s greatest hits, offering a mix of interviews and narration that reveal how famous songs like The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Elton John’s “Rocketman,” and Lou Reed’s “Take A Walk On The Wild Side" were created.
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Riding off the success of his first edition, author Jake Brown recently released Behind the Boards II, the second volume of accounts by record producers and engineers on the making of some of music’s greatest hits.

Published by Hal Leonard Books, the first anthology brought readers right into the studio, with detailed accounts on the making of singles and albums that included Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” This second edition continues to uncover great stories with a mix of interviews and narration, revealing how famous songs like The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Elton John’s “Rocketman,” and Lou Reed’s “Take A Walk On The Wild Side" were created.

Among these vignettes, Brown describes the use of certain pieces of equipment to get certain effects, such as with Nigel Gray’s use of an EMT plate to “channel the band’s reggae roots” while recording The Police’s “Walking on the Moon.”

“Back then, I only had the one EMT plate at the studio, although I did have things like flangers, stuff like that, and did use a flanger on a few things here and there on Reggatta de Blanc, and another thing I used to do quite a lot was and AMS digital delay. That was probably the most expensive piece of equipment in the studio,” Gray is quoted saying.

The profiled songs also describe the talents of some of music’s greatest artists, like Whitney Houston, who recorded “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” with Narada Michael Walden.

“Whitney never did warm-ups, she just comes in and blows…She had it like that, that was her gift…I liked again a C-12 or SM-7 microphone on her, Whitney would sing for about three hours at a session, and then I would get as many takes as I could get out of her before I could see she’d gotten tired, and given me her best stuff, then she’d go home and I’d comp the best bits together,” recalled Walden.

This new collection of stories is great for any producer, engineer, or music fan interested in the behind the scenes production of their favorite songs.