Down the rabbit hole I go again . . . now I’m on the other side of the studio glass.
Before there was Dolby, before there was digital anything, recording engineers were a crucial part of the production of music. I’m sure they still are, but certainly not in the same way. Plenty of mistakes happened because there was no way to fix them. Ah, the Stone Age of the 1970s, when you could hear the hiss on an album and actually loved it. When music was recorded on tapes that had to be rewound on reels. When Glenn Berger was all of 17 and about to enter a magical world.
The author of Never Say No To A Rock Star, now a psychotherapist, was lucky enough to get hired to work at A&R Studios in New York City when he was really just a kid. More than 40 years after he was hired to work with Phil Ramone, motivated by a therapy session, he decided it was time to tell all.
There’s some great stories in this book and some of them are not all that flattering. I scoured the Internet trying to find a reaction from those he skewered, but came up empty. Darn it. I won’t go into who looks good and who doesn’t, because then you might not read the book!
Berger seems to have an incredible memory about events and conversations, but I sincerely doubt that after all this time, they are 100 percent accurate. There’s a lot of artistic license taken and considering the amount of drugs that were consumed and the lack of sleep that he endured for years on end, I’m a little dubious. Maybe that’s why I can’t find any reaction from the superstars mentioned.
Even though I doubt the veracity of the stories, I still enjoyed reading them. Who doesn’t want to know what Paul Simon, Mick Jagger, and James Brown were REALLY like? And for those of us dinosaurs who lived through the ‘70s, the references to the equipment in the studio are a great reminder of the history we lived through and helped create. Because he now works in the field of the mind, Berger has an interesting take on the connection between music and emotions. I suspect that his view of the world he once inhabited is now colored by his years as a therapist, but not in a bad way. It actually makes this a unique, dare I say, one-of-a-kind look at the music business.