Joe Jackson's Rain

Feb 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Barbara Schultz



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A break in Berlin (L-R): Graham Maby, Dave Houghton and Joe Jackson

A break in Berlin (L-R): Graham Maby, Dave Houghton and Joe Jackson

Gardner was also creative with capturing natural reverb: “The studio in its heyday was used for Foley,” she explains, “so besides there being different surfaces on floors and different types of acoustics and props in rooms, behind where we had the grand piano in the main room was a large staircase. Underneath the stairs was a cellar, so I left the door open and put a microphone in there, which I faced toward the wall. The room sounded like a chamber, which I recorded and used as an effect. I also used a Neumann SM69 stereo microphone, positioned high in front of the drums in the main room to capture the room sound of the drums.”

Gardner also makes a point of mentioning that her experience recording these wonderful musicians in a gorgeous old studio was all the better because the facility provided an excellent assistant engineer, Yensin Jahn. “He was really brilliant and knew the studio really well. He and Christian Bader, who owns Planet Roc, did their best to make sure everything ran as smoothly as possible, that we were all comfortable and well looked after. Christian was also responsible for getting me the large range of different vintage Neumann microphones, which we tried out on Joe's vocal before settling on the U87.”

Before leaving Berlin, Gardner and Jackson put together rough mixes of the tracks for him to take to New York City, where the album would be team-mixed by engineers Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade, who also mixed Volume 4.

“Julie's tracks are beautifully organized and very musical,” Slade says. “It's a pleasure working on them. We've worked on two albums together, but we've never met,” Slade says.

Slade and Kolderie have known each other since they were in bands together in college. They've been working as a production team since the late '80s, when they opened Fort Apache Studios in Cambridge, Mass. Together, they worked at their craft and their business, and in time began attracting major-label clients, such as Hole, Warren Zevon, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Radiohead.

Jackson's manager had heard their mixes of the first two Radiohead albums and liked the idea of pairing them with Jackson. Kolderie and Slade mixed Volume 4 in Steve Rosenthal's studio, The Magic Shop (New York City), and Jackson was happy to return there for Rain.

“We like The Magic Shop. It's a nice, funky studio, it's got a great sound, a great custom Neve board — we love that board, and we've mixed million-selling albums on it,” Kolderie says.

Another key benefit of working on Jackson's projects at The Magic Shop is Rosenthal's supply of well-maintained analog gear. Kolderie and Slade played the recordings back on a Studer machine and mixed to an Ampex half-inch ATR 102. They also took full advantage of the studio's vintage outboard pieces.

“We dug around in the basement of The Magic Shop, and we came up with an old Aphex professional sound enhancer, a broadcast unit — you have to adjust it with a screwdriver,” Kolderie recalls. “I remembered they used to use that for Warren Zevon to get that L.A. piano sound back in the '70s. We slapped it on the piano, and it really made it stand out and sparkle, and gave it that sound that Joe was looking for.

“They also have a fantastic old Gates SA39B tube limiter — I have one at my own studio, too — and I swear by it,” Kolderie recalls. “It's from the '60s. I got mine from a guy I know that bought old radio stations and sold them off in chunks. It's the kind of thing that in an old radio station would be the last piece in the chain; it was meant to drive the long transmission line to the tower.”

Kolderie says he also used the studio's Alan Smart C2 limiter across the stereo bus, a TC Electronic Finalizer and a couple of UREI LA2 limiters, but he points out that most of the work happened inside the console: “Other people have outboard modules of consoles like that, but The Magic Shop has the whole console, so you don't need a lot of outboard there. You don't need to patch in something else to make it sound good.”

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