'Rave On Buddy Holly'

Jul 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly

No one can say what styles of music rock ’n’ roll icon Buddy Holly might have recorded had he lived to see his 75th birthday this year. Would he have been into New York art-punk when Lou Reed and Patti Smith came along? The electronic blues of Florence and The Machine? The neo-soul of Cee Lo Green? No telling, but we do know that these artists and countless other have been inspired by all the music Holly put out before he died at age 22. Rave On Buddy Hollyisn’t the first tribute to Holly’s legacy, but it celebrates him in spectacular, eclectic fashion. Collection producers Randall Post and Gelya Robb assembled a variety of performers who stretched their own musical boundaries to reinvent 19 unforgettable songs. “The impetus to do this came through Paul McCartney’s publishing company,” explains Post, who has developed a relationship with MPL Music Publishing through his work as a top-end film music supervisor. “Paul has been a fan of Buddy Holly since there first was Buddy Holly.” >{?Post and Robb say that musician/producer Matt Sweeney also helped with A&R on this project, signing and producing three of the artists who participated: Julian Casablancas, who performs a cool, gritty rendering of the title track; Kid Rock, who has a surprisingly soulful take on “Well All Right”; and the Black Keys, who offer a spare reggae styling of “Dearest” to lead off the album.

Roy Hendrickson’s setup for the Paul McCartney sessions

Roy Hendrickson’s setup for the Paul McCartney sessions

The low-key Black Keys effort is followed by Fiona Apple and Jon Brion’s true-to-the-original version of “Everyday.” And then McCartney really tears things up with a hard-rocking, distortion-heavy version of “It’s So Easy,” a song the former Beatle has performed in concert. The McCartney track was recorded live in Avatar Studios’ (New York City) A room, with producer David Kahne and engineer Roy Hendrickson behind the Pro Tools rig. “It was set up as a traditional rock recording gig,” says Hendrickson, “where you would have everyone play together. Paul was playing and singing in his own booth—a large one—the guitar amps were in other iso booths and everybody else was in the main room.”

McCartney’s bandmembers are those Kahne brought together to play on the album Driving Rain: guitarist Rusty Anderson, bass player Brian May, drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and keyboardist Paul “Wix” Wickens.

Hendrickson says he set up the usual miking scheme that he uses in A: Sennheiser 421s on toms, Shure SM57 and AKG 451 on snare, 421 on bass drum, a pair of 451 overheads and a couple of Neumann U87 room mics. He captured guitars with 57s and a Royer ribbon mic; bass went direct. McCartney’s vocals went into a U47; his voice is clear and unmistakable despite copious amounts of distortion. “We recorded his voice that way,” Hendrickson says, laughing. “That is just the U47, a mic pre and the [Neve 8088] console turned up really hot.

“That whole session was so inspiring to me,” Hendrickson says. “Everybody was so full of energy, super-focused, and it was just a really great time. I’d be in the control room, just laughing, smiling from ear to ear.” Producer Kahne then took the tracks upstairs to his Cubase/Sequoia-based studio at Avatar to mix. His setup allows him to access his racks of vintage outboard from his computer, though he says this was a pretty straightforward mix. “It was great to see Paul and all the guys having so much fun in the studio,” he says.

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