Appendix II

Awards and Notable Projects

Among the thousands of projects I’ve mastered, a select few have broken through the proverbial noise floor to receive accolades or an award. In this appendix, I list some of these projects and discuss the back story that illuminates how the project was mastered and how I became affiliated.

Awards and Notable Projects

Various Artists: “Gathering of Nations PowWow—A Spirit’s Dance”

  • Award: Grammy® Award
  • Back Story:

In 2009, my friend Syd Alston from Disc Makers referred Derek Mathewes to me, as Derek’s prior Mastering Engineer was no longer available. Derek, along with his family, organizes and runs the Gathering of Nations PowWow (and record label) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They record all of the performances and dances, which are then mixed and mastered and released as an album. I was a little concerned when Derek explained the project to me—as I wasn’t sure about how complex the mixing would be. Since I’d spent five years recording and mixing before focusing on mastering, I agreed to the task of mixing and mastering simultaneously. Derek and his family came through for a three-day session, where we completed approximately 20 songs.

In 2010, they came back again, and I mixed and mastered “A Spirit’s Dance.” Later that year, the record was nominated for a Grammy® Award in the Best Native American Album category. Come May 2011, in true Hollywood fashion, we were picked up from Capitol Records in a Hummer limousine and dropped off on the red carpet at Staples Center for the Grammys. To our delight, the album won. I am grateful to have contributed to such an important project—the additional recognition it received was well deserved.

Tupac Shakur (2PAC): “Lie to Kick It” From “R U Still Down? (Remember Me)”

  • Award: Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Certified 4x Platinum
  • Back Story:

In the early 1990s, I worked as a staff engineer at Paramount Recording Studios in Hollywood. One day in 1993, the office manager told me, “I put you on a session with this rapper, Tupac. He’s kind of blowin’ up.” I didn’t think too much of it, as I’m pretty levelheaded and had worked with several name artists by that point, as well as on countless rap sessions. The day of the session (Studio A), I aligned the Studer A800 machine. Tupac came in and introduced himself. He was very polite, possessing a reserved and gentle demeanor. Then a two-man video crew showed up along with six or eight other rappers that included Richie Rich, Warren G, and Big Syke. I transferred a track to the 2” tape and was playing it on the Urie 813 main monitors when they all began freestyling. The video crew was filming—so this freestyle session is easy to find online (I’m the one with the white t-shirt not freestyling). Then I cycled the track on loop playback as Tupac jotted down lyrics as the track played. I had set up a Neumann FET 47 through a mic pre on the SSL console and an 1176 compressor to record the vocal track. He rapped a few passes of the verses and hook, which I recorded, and that was it. This track, “Lie to Kick It,” ended up on Tupac’s first posthumous album on Amaru Records, “R U Still Down? (Remember Me),” selling over 4 million copies.

Figure AII.1

Figure AII.1Grammy ® Award and Certificate for Various Artists, “Gathering of Nations: A Spirit's Dance”

Figure AII.2

Figure AII.2RIAA Certified 4x Platinum Award for 2PAC “Lie to Kick It” from “R U Still Down (Remember Me)”

Mariah Carey: “Loverboy” Single

  • Award: RIAA Certified Gold and Billboard #1 Top 100 Chart
  • Back Story:

My good friend, excellent recording engineer and onetime roommate Michael Schlesinger, had engineered a number of Mariah Carey singles in 2000. He was working with producer Damian Young, who had strong connections at radio station Power 106 in Los Angeles. Fortunately for me, Michael insisted that I do the mastering at Capitol (there is always fierce competition amongst Mastering Engineers to work on name artist releases). One of these tracks, “Loverboy,” was a radio hit. I remember requesting the Weiss DS-1 multiband compressor/de-esser/limiter for the session, and I ended up using it as an additional element in the mastering chain.

Figure AII.3

Figure AII.3RIAA Certified Gold Award for Billboard #1 single, Mariah Carey “Loverboy”

Poison: “Twenty Years of Rock”

  • Award: RIAA Certified Gold
  • Back Story:

Capitol catalog producer Kevin Flaherty enlisted me to remaster this collection of Poison songs from analog tapes. These recordings were produced in the era of ½” tape masters—a punchy and rich format to work from—contributing to the success of the mastering. The collection spanned the band’s career, so was heavy with rock radio hits, also bolstering the potential of the release. The band performed in Studio A soon after the release of the collection and I had them sign my copy. In a classic Spinal Tap moment, the CD circulated to all band members and then back to C.C. Deville, who dutifully signed it a second time!

Iggy Pop: “A Million in Prizes: The Anthology”

  • Back Story:

Of the many projects catalog producer Kevin Flaherty and I worked on, this 2CD career retrospective of Iggy Pop’s ranks among my favorites. Although it hasn’t won an award, it has emerged as the definitive Iggy Pop collection. From a mastering perspective, the collection of recordings came out consistent and impactful despite spanning 30 years. As a fellow Michigander (Mr. Pop hails from Ann Arbor, where I attended the University of Michigan) and fan of early punk rock, as well, I had a pre-existing appreciation for the songs. So it naturally was a thrill for me to hold, and use as source material, the original mix tapes from Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany, where the seminal albums “The Idiot” and “Lust For Life” were recorded. Both albums were produced by David Bowie, who also co-wrote many of the standout songs. On the song “Lust for Life,” I used image-enhancing M/S encoding in parallel—and Mr. Flaherty later received a note of appreciation and acknowledgment of the sound of the project from Mr. Pop himself … which was fantastic to hear.

Figure AII.4

Figure AII.4RIAA Certified Gold Award for Poison, “The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock”

Pat Benatar: “Greatest Hits” and “Synchronistic Wanderings”

  • Award: RIAA Certified Gold
  • Back Story:

Both collections were compiled and remastered from original analog source tapes. Although the “Greatest Hits” collection went gold, a few years earlier the 3CD set “Synchronistic Wanderings” utilized many of the same analog source tapes, so the two make for an interesting comparison as they are spaced six years apart—and I mastered them in different studios at Capitol. “Synchronistic Wanderings” was mastered through the Neve mastering console in recording room 2 (RR2) and has a sound characteristic of the Neve and also a slightly lower level. “Greatest Hits” was mastered in Mastering Studio 2 using a point-to-point mastering chain without a console.

Figure AII.5

Figure AII.5RIAA Certified Gold Award for Pat Benatar “Greatest Hits”

Heart: “Greatest Hits 1985–1995”

  • Award: RIAA Certified Gold
  • Story:
Figure AII.6

Figure AII.6RIAA Certified Gold Award for Heart “Greatest Hits 1985–1995”

This was a collection for the Capitol catalog department, again utilizing original analog or digital master tapes. This was an era of songwriting collaborations for Heart, and many of these charting songs spent time in heavy radio rotation, contributing to this collection’s success. The album sold steadily and achieved gold status a few years after its release.

15031-3520-BM2-Figure-007.tif in art log

Awards Conclusion

It’s impossible to predict which project you’ve mastered that will go on to be highly regarded, sell millions of copies, or even win an award, so treat each project as if it is destined for wide acclaim. It is a great thrill to read in the trades that a project you mastered has received accolades. Good luck to each of you in developing musical networks and mastering compelling projects!

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