We thank Jakko for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about the "Paris 75" show from the latest "Minstrel In The Gallery" reissue, Jethro Tull ,his own views on mixing 5.1, what he would like to see in 5.1 and his recent time King Crimson. I was lucky enough to have gotten in touch with Jakko a few weeks back, he so kindly gave up some of time to answer these questions.
How much freedom did you get in the remix? Was Ian very active in the process or did he leave it to you completely?
Well with regard to the Paris show, Ian had pretty much written the whole thing off. He was convinced that the tapes were in such a mess that we'd be unlikely to salvage sufficient listenable material to make it worthwhile. So I offered to mix a track or 2 in an attempt to show what could be done. From that point on I shared my progress with Ian sending mixes for approval and comment. It was pretty smooth on that front as I think his expectations were low. Previously, when I mixed Ian's most recent solo album 'Homo Erraticus', he was very specific about changes, but happy to let me try stuff and take some liberties (Including some uncredited backing vocals that I did on 2 tracks).
What were you presented with tape wise for the Paris live stuff, multi track? 8, 24 track?
I was given digital transfers of what I assume were 24 track tapes. I say assume, because the track sheets are from another studio altogether, and rarely have more than 14 tracks used, so they could be 16 track's copied onto 24.
To your knowledge is there any other material at all on the Paris 75 live tapes that wasn't mixed onto the released version?
There's at least one reel missing, which I'm told was utilized for used for the mix of 'Criteque Oblique' on the 25th anniversary box, but it's been lost and separated from the other reels since then.
What do you if anything about the whereabouts of the missing film?
No one seems to know anything about the missing film. Tim Chacksfield who puts these things together for the label is very conscientious and will have explored every conceivable avenue to locating both the film and the missing tape reel!
Is the overall speed/tempo on the release of the live Paris as it was from the tapes or was it corrected in production. If so how did you determine what the proper tempo was?
I assume this question refers to the sections I utilized to replace the hole in the live recording left by the tape running out, and a new tape threaded on. I'd love to tell you that I achieved this by days of work time stretching the multi track to achieve a smooth unnoticeable series of edits between to two, but that would be a fib. It's testament to the band and the solidity of Barriemore Barlow that I didn't have to do anything to the tapes. I tried a number of edits in and out till it worked. Obviously in the world of digital I'm not limited to a straight razor blade edit through tape and was able to do a 'tooth' shaped edit in the multi track to accommodate a note from either side of the edit point.
Being that the Paris live was to be "produced" for video disc, are there overdubs on the original tapes or the released material?
No, The only overdubs where on the film for the title track. Filmed and recorded live, then some bits overdubbed after. The rest is all live as one, including the string quartet.
Is there a full recording from the "next day" when they recorded without an audience?
No, that's not a complete set either, otherwise I'd have used it. There's some bits of songs, that are completely missing from the missing day 1 reel, but they're incomplete.
Musician, producer and mixing engineer? Which gives you greater satisfaction.
They all have their joys and stresses. Getting back to playing live has been a great thrill. I'm enjoying being in a band again, the fact that that band is King Crimson !!! Amazing I get a great deal of satisfaction from producing, writing and recording too. Mixing albums from my youth is an extraordinary privilege. However sometimes there is weeks of work sorting through stuff and technical problems before you actually get to the mixing part, and I could do without that bit.
Revisiting much loved and classic albums must be a daunting task, how do you prepare and what processes do you adopt?
Well, I try to be true to the music and the era it was made in. I try to limit myself to the kinds of effects that were available back then. But I have the benefit of automation, whereas back then it was all hands on the faders and something of a performance creating a 'final' mix. So I can keep tweaking the detail. On the whole I take the performances as they are. I have, though rarely, tuned the odd note. Not on a Tull album I hasten to add, but the odd wrong bass note or a string that's gone out of tune, I've tweaked back in. No one's noticed so far! In the end it is my take on it, but based on the original. As most of these things end up in 'boxes' that contain the original mix, it strikes me as pointless to slavishly recreate that mix again. The 5.1 is different. There are no rules or comparison. I try to place the listener in the middle of the music and limit the amount of 'flying around' with the faders. It's been interesting reading the forums. Which I know I probably shouldn't do. with regard to ELP, for instance. There's a couple of dedicated fans who state (as if it's fact, not an opinion) that I've used different takes in 5.1 mixes to those on the stereo. Which of course is nonsense, as largely I begin by editing out the unused takes and over dubs (as per the original) and commence the stereo, then I make the 5.1 from that. I assume hearing things anew in their own space away from the crowded sonic stew of the stereo, the original parts and overdubs sound completely different. To the point where there convinced it's a different take.
What are the differences between your approach and Steven Wilson's?
Although I'm friends with Steve, we live quite near each other and do try to meet up when we can, I can't say I'm familiar with his mixing work or approach, so I'm not in a position to answer that question.
If you could what would be your choice of any album by any artist you could remix?
You mean the ones Steve Wilson hasn't already mixed, or is about to?!! Well, stuff that's left that I'd love to do would have little commercial value as 5.1 mixes, so I doubt anyone would get to do them even for free! but top of that list would be 'Legend' by Henry Cow and 'Pawn Hearts' by Van Der Graff Generator. Some Joni Mitchell or Zappa, neither of which will happen. XTC's Sky Larking, 'As I say Steve has probably done half of these already!' The first Hatfield and the North Album Some Gentle Giant!! Tears For Fears 'Sowing The Seeds "There's a fair list once I start thinking about it.
Does your opinion of the music or the style of the music effect the work. Crimsons music is so sonically different than Tull.
Not really. It's all music and as I say a respect for the music, along with how and when it was created kind of sets up the approach. I'm both a fan and a musician so like to think that those things in form how I do them
What's the status on the next King Crimson album and do you expect further tours if the U.S.?
I'm quite near the end of an elaborate 2 1/2 hour version of all the tunes we played live in the US last year. Culled from separate performances from across the states. We've written some new pieces that we'll be playing on this years tour across the UK, Europe, Canada and beyond. There is a general plan in place for ongoing KC, but nothing in stone beyond this year as yet.
How did you come to do this job, was it on recommendation from Steven Wilson? Or Ian's knowledge of your other jobs.?
Well Steve has very kindly recommended me for various jobs. One of which was Ian's last solo record. I enjoyed working with Ian very much on that and he appeared very happy with what I did. They subsequently asked me to mix the live DVD of TAAB, so the label asked if I'd be up for looking at the mess that was the Paris Live tapes! Ian said he was happy for me to try, but had reservations about the viability due to what he'd heard of the tapes.
Would you and have you been approached to do any more of the Jethro Tull catalog?
There have been general discussions and availability checks. I think they embarked on this re-releasing project with Steve on board, so I'm there on the subs bench when Steve's too busy or away on tour. I'm honored to be asked to be honest.
What is your favorite Jethro Tull/ Ian Anderson LP, and why?
Well there's a thing. It's hard to choose. The choices all get mixed up with the time I heard this stuff and its significance to me growing up. But Thick As A Brick, Benefit, Aqualung, Songs From The Wood are all up there. Can't choose
My personal thanks to Jakko for
taking the time to answer a few questions.