Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stranger Than Fiction: The Bizarre Journey of Kings of Leon

Rock Royalty: From Holy Rollers to Rolling Stoners

First of all, I realize I am very late the the KOL party here. I paid no attention to the band at all. Heck, I thought they were from England.

But lately, my wife has been having a love affair with their music. She's totally in to it; maybe too much (I'm afraid she's going to accidentally call me Caleb one of these nights). So I started paying attention. The music of the brothers Followill is very very interesting. I hear all kinds of diverse influences blended artfully together. In one song I thought I heard undertones of Psychedelic Furs, Pearl Jam and Morphine. Yet it's all very new and original-sounding at the same time. The Kings are drawing me in to thier sound and their...thing; their vibe -- whatever you want to call the intangible aura that true rock music has.

Finally, somebody got a record deal that DESERVES a record deal. The Kings have talent in spades. And, most importantly, soul, which I believe is sorely missing in most modern music.

Maybe their fresh sound in a result of the boys growing up without the usual rock-pop influences; without the pablum of commercial radio.

So then I read their history. Holy crap! What a story: Their dad was a Pentacostal preacher. I know from my years in Texas what that means. They are the "Throw down your crutches!" people. They are the snake-handlers and the lay on-ers of hands people. From tent to tent the boys went in a purple Oldsmobile while papa preached...while daddy ranted and raved all over the deepest of backwater south. It's the stuff of gothic fiction.

Now they jet from country to country playing sold out stadiums where people worship THEM as idols. They themselves are god-like snake-handlers of rock. Currently KOL are up for three Grammys. What a story! What a great AMERICAN story they are.

While reading their bio I found that they are produced by (and early songs co-written by) none other than my old associate and Boston rock veteran Angelo Petraglia. Go Angelo, Go! He moved to Nashville years ago and has been working as a songwriter and producer with some really accomplished names in Americana, Country and Rock. Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Patty Griffin and Brooks and Dunn are just a few names on Angelo's resume. I worked with him when he was in Boston with both Face to Face and The Immortals. I overdubbed and mixed the Immortals' "Two Sisters" on the acclaimed North by Northeast compilation back in '91.

Angelo worked with and developed KOL from the beginning, when the brothers were young and as raw as sugar cane. But he saw the talent and helped them develop it. Here's a nice piece about Angelo and his work with the Kings.

The kids started their lives rallying against the Devil and his deeds.

Now they play his music.

The Devil's, that is....


Here's a great Sound on Sound Magazine Article on the recording of Only By The Night: Secrets of the Mix Engineers: Jacquire King

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tyler Crashes Perry's Party

After all the buzz coming from both Joe Perry and Steven Tyler about Tyler's immenent departure from Aerosmith, what happened last night in New York stunned everybody, especially Joe Perry. When The Joe Perry Project went back stage at New York's Irving Plaza for a quick pause before their encore, the last person they expected to see was Mr. Tyler himself. But there he was, in the well-worn flesh. Apparently Tyler asked to sit in, and Perry oblidged. From his comments today, you'd gather that Perry did it as a favor to Steven and as a treat for the fans, not because he relished jamming with his old buddy. Once onstage, Tyler shouted something about not quitting Aerosmith, then, as soon as he finished barking out "Walk This Way," Tyler bolted in to the New York night. Today, undeterred, Perry stated to that the band is still planning to move forward without Tyler. Check out the full article and Perry's comments here.

Here's the YouTube of the "incident"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rockin' New Joe Perry Solo LP Was Produced Dangerously!

Danger! Joe Perry, Live Wire!

Edmeston, NY - October 6, 2009 - Engineer Pablo Arraya recently completed Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry's solo record, Have Guitar, Will Travel, where he acted as both the recording engineer for the final tracks and the mix engineer as well. Perry's solo album was released today, October 6, 2009. Arraya, a Grammy-winning engineer, brought his newly purchased Dangerous Monitor ST monitor controller to Perry's Boneyard Studio in Boston for the project. "The decision to buy the Monitor ST was directly related to working on the Joe Perry album," states Arraya. "His vintage Neve console has an amazing sound, and I wanted to add a more modern and flexible monitoring path. When I came in to the studio, Joe asked me to listen to a lot of Hendrix, Doors, AC/DC, and a lot of early Rolling Stones. He told me he wanted to get that sort of sound and feel. Perry told me 'I don't want it to sound pop-y and modern' - that was his vision at first, and things evolved from there."

On the Monitor ST choice, Arraya says, "Of all the things in a studio, the monitor section is an important one. It was time to do an upgrade to a better monitoring section - I had used the ST at a different studio and I loved how it felt, and Dangerous Music has a reputation for making great sounding gear." Arraya had been speaking with mastering engineer and good friend Dave Kutch, "He literally sold it to me on his recommendation - it was a no-brainer."

"When I got the Monitor ST, I hooked it up at Joe Perry's studio first," says Arraya about working on the Aerosmith guitarist's solo album. "I chose the Dangerous Music Montior ST over the Neve consoles' controls. I knew a lot of the mixing we were going to do was going to be like Hendrix-stlye, Doors-style, very 60's style mixing, where your drums are panned to one side, the bass to the other, your vocal shows up half way through the song. So I wanted to be able to have something to mute the left and the right speaker easily. On Joe's Neve console, you can't do that."

Comparing the Monitor ST to the sound of a large format console's monitoring, Arraya added, "When you bring the volume on the ST all the way down you still feel the punch of the kick and the power that's coming through the mix. And it doesn't matter what level it's at. That transparency for me is very, very important.

Since the studio does a lot of vocal overdubs, the headphone out puts and talkback get used a lot at Audio Piranha, "One of the things I like about the Monitor ST is that the mic for talkback is very dynamic, the person in the vocal booth can hear real well on their headphones. It sounds great. The headphone amp is really clean too. The Monitor ST is a very flexible box. I love the fact that you can do mono, the Dim function works really well, the ability to add the sub-woofer with the filter - that's a great option - calibrating the speakers is really easy; and the options for the inputs are super easy to use too." Another thing he likes about the Monitor ST, "When we want to update to 5.1, it's adding a box and you're there, you don't have to buy a whole new setup."

Pablo Arraya started his career with Sony Music Studios in 2000 after graduating from Middle Tennessee State University. The Native Bolivian quickly moved up the ladder to become one of the most requested engineers inside Sony's wide stable of talent. His diverse cultural background made him a versatile engineer. His engineering experience brought him to the attention of some of the most demanding international acts leading to a Grammy(r) in 2006 for Nancy Wilson's Turned To Blue album. Arraya leads sessions for all styles of music, and handles any studio situation with ease. He recently opened a new studio with the Audio Piranha Group on Park Avenue in Manhattan. Contact Pablo Arraya through the Audio Piranha Group website: Here

Visit Joe Perry's website for the latest news about his solo album Have Guitar, Will Travel at:

Monday, September 28, 2009


SSL, You Sexy Mynx, You!

Analog Planet has been tapped as a dealer for the SSL SuperAnalog Range! That includes the awesome X-Desk mini mixer! How cool is that? More on this later!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Annual TEC Awards Will Miss Les Paul

With the annual AES (Audio Engineering Society) Convention fast approaching, it occurs to me that there will be a big part of the show missing this year: The presence, participation, and indeed, the spiritual leadership of Les Paul himself. For decades LP was a mainstay at the convention, walking the floor, shaking hands, meeting and greeting, and generally blessing the event like The High Pope of Audio. Most AES goers, myself included, consider Les Paul the father of modern recording.

Most notably, Mr. Paul will be missed at the annual Mix Magazine TEC awards ceremony (which accompanies AES every year), where he always presented the annual Les Paul award. The coveted award is given to the artist who, like Les himself, has most creatively blended musical achievement with the art and science of recording. Les presented the winner with, what else? A Les Paul guitar!

"Wow, this thing's heavy!" Les Presents THE AXE to 2007 Winner, Al Kooper

The list of Les Paul award-winners is impressive; artists like Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Brian Wilson, to name a few. Les Paul Winners 1991 to present

Here's a vid produced by Mix about The TEC Awards and The Les Paul Awards: TEC & Les Paul Award Highlights

This year's AES Show is at New York's Javitz Center. Appropriately, the 2009 TEC Awards will feature a special tribute to the beloved Mr. Paul...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Big Man of Memphis! 1941-2009

As I watch the Ted Kennedy funeral motorcade on TV, I'm reminded that the world lost another great American this month: Jim Dickinson, the legendary musician/engineer/producer of Muscle Shoals and Ardent Studios fame. He was one of the architects of the American sound, and specifically the Memphis sound. The Big Star Records Jim produced in the early '70s did a lot to change my musical direction, when they re-emerged in the '80s as alternative music prototypes for bands like REM and The Replacements. Those records were way ahead of their time and they sounded really fuckin' cool.

That was just the beginning of the Jim Dickinson legend and legacy. The man cast a big shadow.

Jim Dickinson on AllMusic

A Hot Blog About on a Cool Memphis Cat

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How Blue Are You?

Although no one would mistake me for being a big fan of Jazz, much less an aficionado, I do appreciate it as an American art-form. When I was younger I'd go to Jazz dates and snap my fingers like a Beatnik. The groovy hipness of 50's Jazz and Bebop works for me. And I dig Dixieland. I like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, and of course there's Miles Davis. 50 years ago his Miles-tone LP, "Kind of Blue" was realeased. Not only was it a breakthrough in Jazz and music in-general, it was an incredible recording, from an audio standpoint.

Here's a nice blog on that topic:

BlemBlog: "Kind of Blue"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Soul of '69

'Stock Stage '69: Santana Sacrificing with his Serpentine SG Special

There's a lot of coverage going on right now of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. There were some great and historic performances of course -- Hendrix, The Who, CSNY, Sly, Janis, and more. But there was one that for me has always stood out. Not only is it my favorite performance from the festival, I think it's one of the most electrifying performances in rock history. Thankfully, it was captured on film.


Soul Sacrifice!

The band was tripping their socks off, and you can tell! Carlos is on fire, teetering right on the edge of losing control. He has famously said that he was hallucinating so hard, he thought his guitar was a snake. He literally couldn't feel the stage under his feet. Yep - playing a snake while hovering - there's one for the ages.

And the raw spitfire tone of his SG Special and its P90s will raise the hair on the back of your neck.

The percussionists, Greg Rolie on B3, the teenage Michael Shreve on drums; it all came together in a red-hot explosion of Latin rock. Transcendence was achieved by Carlos and company on that muddy day in Bethel. If you can't feel this energy, you have no soul to sacrifice.

If you don't believe me, dig the clip, baby!

Soul Sacrifice on YouTube

And whatever you do, STAY AWAY FROM THE BROWN ACID!

Here's a great little article on Gibson's web-site written by my old friend Ted Drozdowski. "The SGs of Woodstock"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Audio Zen, by Audient

"Ohms...Ohms...Ohms...Ohms..." Enlightened Mixing with The Zen.

EXCITING NEW PRODUCT ALERT! The new Zen analog console from Audient is a truly trancendental piece of gear, offering in-demand analog features and DAW control for a really affordable price. How would you like 16 dual-path channels, WITH mic-pres, DAW-control AND moving faders for $15K? And that's dollars, not Pounds! And the best part is Audient's high-quality sound -- clean but with a hint of classic British color. My mixing chakra is resonating with joy!

Here's the Zen of Zen

You know what I like about Audient? And what I have ALWAYS liked about Audient? They make useful gear at the right price. The price-point vs the high-level of performance is always great with Audient. The gear always sounds excellent, works well (good ergonomics) and it's never the most expensive gear in the store. That's what ya call VALUE, son!

Audient doesn't make something and put it out there and hope people buy it-- they look at what studios need and what kinds of budgets are there and then they make gear that answers the call.

Always great bang for the buck -- That's Audient.

With Zen, Dave and Gareth have done it again. The mixer is a perfect example of Audient's smart marketing. Form and function!

Can't wait to get my hands on it, and I'm psyched to be a dealer for it!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's About Time (constants)!


Pendulum Audio is finally on the eve of shipping it's new and highly-anticipated Opto-Compressor for the API 500 format. Appropriately, it's called the Pendulum OCL-500. Based on the same proprietary opto-cell circuitry found in Pendulum's hugely popular OCL-2 stereo tube comp, the OCL-500 provides smooth transparent compression in a single-wide mono "Lunchbox" module. The OCL-500 uses clean solid-state make-up gain, avoiding the inherent problems encountered when trying to run tube amplifiers on 500-format power. Pendulum's OCL-500 is slated to ship any day now $1295.00 These will immediately be on back-order, so Analog Planet will be happy to get your name in the queue for the first run. Place your order now!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Finally, Gibson Issues Pearly Gates!

I have been hoping for years that Gibson would do this. Of course there's no way in hell I'll ever afford it. But a guy can dream...

See Gibson's Devine Guitar

"Baby, Gimme Dat Axe, haw haw haw haw!"

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heil Turns Up The Volume!

Click here to visit YouTube to watch a very interesting biography of Bob Heil and his gear.

The Heil PR40 on Analog Planet

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Heavenly Tone of Pearly Gates...

Billy and Pearly '75 -- Tone made in Heaven, Texas

Just a quick one. Every guitar-player eventually dreams of a '59 Les Paul flame-top. The reason is that this generation of the venerable Gibson is said to have the fattest, sweetest tone of any electric guitar ever. In the world of guitar, the '59 is known as "The Holy Grail". Jimmy Page, Dicky Betts, early Clapton, Peter Green, Gary Rossington, and my favorite, Billy Gibbons all crafted their sound with '58 or '59 'bursts. Gibbon's '59 LP Standard has been called the Holiest Grail of all -- perhaps the best Les Paul tone ever heard. Appropriately, he named his axe Pearly Gates. You can hear Pearly on all of ZZ Top's early recordings. Miss Pearly's loaded, searing, harmonic-laden tone was the stuff of my rock-star dreams as a kid.

So the other day I was looking for info on Seymour Duncan's Pearly Gates guitar pickup, which I want to fit in to my Les Paul, and I came across the above image -- I'm guessing it's circa '75. It's the baddest pic of Reverend Billy and Pearly I've ever seen. The "Rio Grande" amps in the back are simply Marshall 100-watters re-tolexed and re-badged for ZZ Top.

The Story of Pearly Gates

YouTube vid of Billy playing Pearly, 1980

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Large (and Very LOUD) Legacy of Bob Heil

"Woo You Weel....Wike We Woo?" The Squakin' Heil Talk Box

Bob Heil is truly a unique dude, and one of the real living legends in the arena of pro sound. And I use the word arena in the quite literal sense, as it was Heil's pioneering designs and high-powered hardware that so many of the classic supergroups trucked around from arena to arena during rock's glory days. His credits are astonishing when you add them up. From taking cast-off theater equipment to build The Grateful Dead's notorious Wall of Sound, to being the engineering mastermind behind sound systems for The Who (can you say Quadraphenia?), Joe Walsh, ZZ Top, Humble Pie and many others. Heil was literally one of the agents of change that took live sound reinforcement from the dark ages of the 100-watt Shure Vocal Master to the fully modular, crossed-over, bi-amped, triamped, multi-channel mega-ton mega-watt monster of the modern day. And lest we not forget that wierd, wonderful device called the Heil Talk-Box, made famous by Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton and Joe Perry. Oooh-wah-oo-wah, baby! And all the while, Mr. Heil has continued to stay active in his first love, amateur "ham" radio.

The Great Wall of China Cat Sunflower

One thing Heil had not done until recently, was to design and build microphones. over the last decade or so, Heil, along with lifelong friend Joe Walsh, began to revamp the dynamic microphone. For 40 years the industry has been using the same tired old dynamics, so Heil set out to create a newer better transducer for broadcast, stage and studio. The result is the startlingly good line of Heil microphones, quickly becoming embraced by the professional music and sound industry, as well as broadcast, podcast, VO and ham radio. The Heil dynamics' sonic purity, detail and quietness not only beat the usual crowd of dynamics, they rival much more expensive condensers. Analog Planet proudly offers the PR Series, among others. In addition to all being excellent vocal mics, the PR20 and PR40 are our new go-to mics for snare and kick, respectively, and the PR30 may be the best electric guitar dynamic since the Sennheiser MD421. I personally own a couple of these, including a Classic Pro (a PR20 element inside a replica body of the 1950's RCA 74 ribbon) which I use as my personal voice mic. Check out the PR series here.

Heil's Fantastic 40: The PR40 rocks for numerous applications

In four decades in the business, Bob Heil's still as excited about his endeavors as ever. He's easy to get on the phone, and when you do, it's like a pep-talk. His contagious enthusiasm is like that of a 20 year old!

Bob Heil when he WAS 20!

Much has been written about Heil and his accomplishments, as a quick Google search will show. Here are more resources to explore about the iconic Bob Heil:

Heil Mics on Analog Planet
Heil Sound Homepage
Blog 2006
Blog 2007

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bye Bye API -- Hello Pacific-AAAAH!!!

The vaunted A-Designs Pacifica Dual Solid-State Mic Preamp. As Rachel Ray would say, "Yummo!"

I know it's been forever since I blogged. You know how it is -- you get busy, then the stock market tanks, then comes the holiday season, then your toddler starts projectile vomiting, yada yada yada. Sheesh!

Anyhoo, in this first blog of '09 we're singing the praises of the A-Designs Pacifica, the discrete transistor preamp based on the legendary Quad-8 Pacifica console of the 1970s. Over the years, API has been widely heralded by engineers -- myself included -- as being the ultimate "American" sounding mic-pre circuit. Well, maybe not. Read this letter I wrote to A-Designs last week:

For 20 years the API 512 was my go-to mic-pre for pretty much anything and everything in the studio. Lately, I’ve been finding that I go to the A-Designs Pacifica instead. Why? Because it has everything I like about API and then some. It’s midrange character reminds me of the API but the Pacifica is less mid-forward and in general rounder, bigger and more open than the API. It has more high and low frequency response, sort of like a 512 with the “loudness” button on. As a result, the A-Designs is more detailed and airy, while having the fast dynamics that I always liked about the API.

I noticed this when I had a 512 and an A-Designs P-1 Pacifica module side by side in a 500-rack. On a male vocal, using a Mojave MA-200, the P-1 gave a bigger, more present sound. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy the sound of British iron (Neve,Trident, Daking) as much as the next guy, but ultimately I guess I lean more on the versatility of that clean, fast “American” sound. The Pacifica, with its Quad Eight heritage, may be the ultimate American preamp. Move over API!

A-Designs Homepage

Pacifica on Analog Planet

The Heritage Desk! A real Quad Eight Pacifica console, circa '79, rocking on in Austin.

It's All About The Tone, Baby!