I’m having a blast mixing the new EP ‘Amerikana’ with Bill Bottrell. After nearly a year of listening to my album running in ProTools through small speakers on the Nutmeg, it’s a joy to hear each discreet channel flowing into the warmth of the immaculate 1970s Neve 8078 board in Studio B at Glenwood Place in Burbank, one of LA’s best studios. Everything sounds huge and clear, but classy as hell. We mixed ‘Road To Reno’ and ‘Toad Lickers’ in the first 2.5 days, and we’re now in the thick of ’17 Hills’, the EP’s centrepiece. Mark Knopfler’s lead guitar is lyrical and glowing; Natalie MacMaster’s fiddle is pure fresh air; Bruce Kaphan’s pedal steel swoops and soars; and Jeffrey Wash’s fretless bass is soothing, and reminds me of Fleetwood Mac’s first ever instrumental hit ‘Albatross’.
And right next door to us in Studio A is Mike Shipley. Bill and Mike between them have engineered much of my best work: Bill co-produced ‘Aliens Ate My Buick’, while Mike engineered the mixes for ‘The Flat Earth’ as well as Prefab Sprout’s ‘Steve McQueen’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Dog Eat Dog’, and Def Lepperd’s ‘Pyromania’. And aside from work with me they have each made records in the past that are towering landmarks in the production world—just think of Mike’s work on stuff like Mister Mister’s ‘Broken Wings’ or The Cars’ ‘Drive’, which helped define the ultimate glossy 80s sound—then fast forward to BIll’s productions with Sheryl Crow such as ‘Santa Monica Boulevard’, or on my own ‘Pulp Culture’, which in their way signaled the end of the 80s gloss and the move towards the dryer, grittier, in-your-face sound of the 90s.
Here’s a pic of the three of us today, reminiscing and having a great time (while helping keep the struggling studio business afloat!) Left to right: Bill Bottrell, Thomas Dolby, Mike Shipley.