Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties (Pimlico)
Only rarely does a book appear whose merits exceed the hyperbolic hosannas of back-cover blurbs. Such a volume is the newly released Second Revised Edition of Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties by the late British writer Ian MacDonald.
Combining musicology, articulation, and the ability to tell a story well, MacDonald lets the chronicle of The Beatles and the explosive era to which they were symbiotically related emerge, song by song. He repeatedly reveals the nature of the creative process that undergirds their work, both in its human elements and in the ridiculously inspired application of audio experimentation by George Martin and his team in the comparatively primitively equipped environs of Abbey Road. Unequivocally, he concludes, “The Beatles’ way of doing things changed the way things were done and, in so doing, changed the way we expect things to be done. That the future is partly a consequence of the existence of The Beatles is a measure of their importance.”
Throughout, MacDonald writes about the people who made this possible with the kind of subtlety, lucidity, and celebration of essential detail for which one hungers in any genre. And be forewarned: One skips the footnotes at one’s peril.
A work of power and significance, this book must be embraced by anyone who would know what makes great music great.
Miking Guitars in the Studio: Steven Lee
This well-paced DVD gives a good, basic grounding in recording acoustic and electric guitars in the home studio. It demonstrates the recording process using a PC-based recording system and a Mackie mixer, and the 10 chapters are presented logically, starting with some good basic studio theory and including signal path, different types of A/D converters, how to set up headphone mixes, and so on. The acoustic guitar chapter also includes demonstrations of stereo miking, using pickups, and some common multiple mic phasing problems.
Moving onto the electric guitar, the chapter starts a little confusedly with a demonstration of re-amping, but then you get some solid information on amp recording with a lot of the different miking possibilities explained, demonstrated, and explored. I liked the fact that instead of always reaching for the EQ, Steven shows you the different tones available by using three different mics on one speaker. Excellent advice!
The last chapters tell you how to build a fort to baffle off the amp (and give you lots of mixing tips). And then there’s a nice little bit on guitar intonation adjustment and the-oh-so-important “please tune often” request.
This DVD gives a lot of helpful info and tips on mic choices and mic placement, recording direct and then re-amping, and noise problems and their solutions. He also gives you some good tricks: using different rooms (including putting the amp in the bathtub — cute!), and my personal acoustic guitar favorite, the ear and body mic set-up.
A friendly and professional DVD.