James Guthrie (record producer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other persons named James Guthrie, see James Guthrie (disambiguation).
James Guthrie
Born (1953-11-14) 14 November 1953 (age 60)
Edmonton, Middlesex, England
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Audio engineer, record producer
Years active 1973–present
Associated acts Pink Floyd

James K.A. Guthrie (born 14 November 1953 in Edmonton, Middlesex) is an English recording engineer and record producer best known for his work with the progressive rock band Pink Floyd, serving as a producer and engineer for the band since 1978. He is the owner and operator of das boot recording in Lake Tahoe, California.

Early years[edit]

Guthrie began his career on 1 October 1973 at Mayfair Studios[1] (in the previous location of 64 South Molton Street) in London, as a trainee tape operator and later assistant engineer, initially trained by studio owner John Hudson. A year later he moved to Audio International studios, working under Richard Millard. One of his earliest credits is as an assistant engineer on the first two albums by glam rock singer Alvin Stardust. During this time he first worked with Greg Walsh (who would later go on to produce Heaven 17 and Tina Turner among others), whom Guthrie asked to join his FOH production team for the live performances of Pink Floyd's The Wall in 1980 and 1981.[2] By 1976 Guthrie was employed as one of the engineering team at Utopia Studios which also included John Mackswith and Ian Cooper. During his tenure he worked as the engineer on The Bay City Rollers' Wouldn't You Like It? release (produced by studio owner Phil Wainman), and for producer Barry Blue on Breakout by The Dead End Kids as well as the first two albums for London-based R&B band Heatwave (Too Hot To Handle and Central Heating), which would yield the hit singles "Boogie Nights", "Always and Forever" and "The Groove Line". Utopia was also where he first worked with Andy Jackson (Jackson apprenticed as an assistant engineer under Guthrie's supervision),[3] whom Guthrie later introduced to Pink Floyd and was hired as the band's primary engineer (a position Jackson still holds, as the Senior Mastering Engineer for David Gilmour's studio Astoria UK).[4] In addition, Guthrie is also credited with suggesting Jon Carin as a keyboard player for Roger Waters' touring band[5] (making Carin one of a select group of people to have played with both Waters and Gilmour, and an incarnation of Pink Floyd), and arranged for Kashmir lead vocalist and guitarist Kasper Eistrup to audition for the same tour (as documented in the film Rocket Brothers), as well as introducing vocalist Rachel Brennock (his then-girlfriend,[6] who used the stage name Rachel Fury) to Pink Floyd,[7] she joined the touring band from 1987 to 1989.

Guthrie later worked at other London-area studios such as The Manor, Advision, and Britannia Row. His initial producer credits would be for singer-songwriter Arlen Greene (co-producing the song "The Jazz Pianist" in 1976) and Fury (their only known single "Miss Demeanor/Stay On Your Feet" in 1977). Guthrie's connection with GTO Records landed him engineering and production duties on the second and third albums for The Movies (Double A and Bullets Through The Barrier); followed by work with Runner (producing their only release, which made the Billboard Top 100). After producing the Judas Priest track "Better By You, Better Than Me" for the album Stained Class, he was selected to produce their follow-up album Hell Bent For Leather (aka Killing Machine).

By 1980, Guthrie's body of work in regards to engineering, mixing, and production would include a total of six hit singles on both the British and American charts: the first three singles from Heatwave, Marshall Hain's "Dancing in the City", Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" and The Pointer Sisters' "He's So Shy".

Pink Floyd[edit]

In mid-1978, Guthrie received a request from Pink Floyd's manager, Steve O'Rourke, to meet with him regarding potential production projects. First was a pitch to produce singer/songwriter Tom Robinson (and the end result was his production of "Our People", the b-side of the "Bully For You" single in 1979). The other was for Pink Floyd, about to embark on their new project, a concept album which was eventually titled The Wall. Based on his previous production credits and after meeting with Guthrie, Roger Waters believed he would be a good fit. Guthrie accepted the assignment with the request that he would be allowed to engineer the record himself.[8]

Guthrie was the only member of the production team to be awarded by NARAS for his contributions, receiving the 1980 Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical.[9]

A case can be made for Guthrie's involvement as an important element of the timeless sound Pink Floyd was able to achieve with The Wall. David Gilmour stated in a March 2000 interview with Record Collector, regarding the contributors, "Another crucial figure is James Guthrie. The album's wonderfully clear and punchy, and very modern-sounding."[10] Nick Mason also acknowledged Guthrie's contribution specifically in regards to the drum sound in an interview with TapeOp magazine: "James Guthrie was great on The Wall - I thought he did a great job."

Guthrie's initial involvement with Pink Floyd was to last nearly five years; in addition to engineering and co-production duties on The Wall, he also served as the Sound Mixer (supervising the Front of House engineering team) on most of the performances of The Wall live as well as actual recording of some of the performances (he would later provide the mix and production for the release Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81), as well as Sound Coordinator on the film adaptation Pink Floyd—The Wall (he would engineer the music for film as well as produce it in collaboration with Waters and Gilmour). Guthrie received a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Film Sound in 1982 for his work on the film, (along with sound editor Eddy Joseph, production mixer Clive Winter, and dubbing mixers Graham Hartstone and Nicholas Le Messurier). He was then asked to co-produce (along with Michael Kamen) The Final Cut, the last release of Waters-era Pink Floyd. According to Andy Jackson, who served as engineer for the recording along with Guthrie, the use of the name "Max" in the songs "The Gunner's Dream" and "Paranoid Eyes" is an appropriation of Guthrie's nickname (the members of the production team - Guthrie, Jackson and Kamen - each had nicknames), which Waters had originally included as a joke, but decided that it suited the overall concept and created an actual character in the narrative with the name.[11]

Guthrie appears in at least three documentaries about Pink Floyd: in The Lost Documentary (filmed in August 1980 and never officially released but was made available in 2004), he is interviewed and receives an onscreen credit as "Sound Mixer". In The Other Side of The Wall (chronicling the making of Pink Floyd The Wall) he appears onscreen during a sequence depicting recording of additional music for the film but is neither credited nor interviewed; and in Retrospective: Looking Back at The Wall (included on the DVD release of Pink Floyd—The Wall) he is interviewed and receives an onscreen credit as "Music Producer" in the second half of the documentary. Guthrie also appears in the "Editing and Music" featurette for the DVD release of The Last Mimzy, in a sequence which depicts recording for the Waters song "Hello (I Love You)" but is neither interviewed nor credited; as well as the music video produced for the song. He was also interviewed (without onscreen credit) for the electronic press kit used to promote the release of Pulse in 1995. A little-known feature of the Waters DVD release In the Flesh is when the viewer selects the option for "A/V Setup" the menu screen shows a looping film of Guthrie (as well as his assistant Joel Plante) at the recording console inside Le Mobile Remote Recording Studio, used to record the audio for the CD and DVD releases.

Post-Wall era[edit]

In 1986 Guthrie emigrated to the United States, first residing in Los Angeles where he and his business manager/partner Larry Belling owned and operated Slippery Studios, a recording facility specifically geared towards sessions for film. Guthrie eventually settled in Lake Tahoe, California where he designed his own home-based studio, das boot recording (named in tribute to Guthrie's love of WWII-era American submarines).[12] Guthrie and his assistant engineer, Joel Plante, supervise every remastering of the Pink Floyd back catalog, as well as mixing and mastering of various works (some for 5.1 Surround Sound), including Pink Floyd-related releases.

In the 1980s, Guthrie would produce a number of other releases, including Heatwave’s fourth album Candles (co-produced with lead singer Johnnie Wilder, Jr.), Queensrÿche's major-label debut The Warning, Ambrosia's concept album Road Island (the final release of the David Pack era), and three tracks on The Boomtown Rats' In the Long Grass. He would also work as an engineer on various releases, such as Kate Bush's Hounds of Love (the orchestral session used for the track "Cloudbusting") and The Dream Academy's Remembrance Days; as well as contributing miscellaneous music and sound design for films such as Lethal Weapon, The Dead Zone and Lifeforce. Guthrie has also produced tracks for Toto and Danish rock band Kashmir, among other artists. Guthrie would also become the engineer who has mixed the most releases utilizing QSound technology, nine in all.[13]

Guthrie's primary responsibility was (as it is to this day) to serve as one of the final authorities on the audio quality of Pink Floyd and Floyd-related releases. He has mixed and/or mastered nearly every Pink Floyd and Floyd-related release since 1978, and could be considered to be Pink Floyd's archival engineer. Others have referred to him similarly, such as mastering engineer Doug Sax ("He has also been the Floyd's quality control man ever since The Wall.")[14] and musician/Pink Floyd associate Jon Carin ("He is the keeper of the audio flame.")[15] In 2002, Guthrie was selected by the band to engineer the 30th Anniversary reissue of The Dark Side of the Moon in the SACD format, providing the mix and mastering for 5.1 Surround Sound. The final product was the biggest-selling Surround Sound release of 2003, the winner of three 2003 Surround Music awards, and received overwhelming praise from the technical press, including Jerry Del Colliano of Audio Video Revolution ("If you were to own only one SACD, Dark Side of the Moon is it.")[16] and this summation from Matt Rowe of The Digital Bits: "The way I see it, James Guthrie should be asked to do every 5.1 SACD project from here on out. For every band."[17]

In recent years, Guthrie has worked on a number of projects, including an eponymous-named remix of the Blink-182 song "I Miss You", mastered releases for Kate Bush and Gilmour, as well as co-produced the track "Hello (I Love You)" for Waters (which appears on the soundtrack for the film The Last Mimzy) and performed the remastering of the 1984 Gilmour release About Face and the 40th Anniversary reissue of Pink Floyd’s debut release The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Guthrie was also part of the Pink Floyd crew for the band's reunion performance at Live 8, assisting with the live video feed mix for television broadcast; and subsequently provided the live mix for Waters' appearance at Live Earth.

In 2011 Guthrie contributed to two major reissue projects for Kate Bush and Pink Floyd. On Bush's release Director's Cut he performed the mix of the revision of "The Song of Solomon" as well as the mastering of the album in collaboration with Doug Sax and Sangwook "Sunny" Naam of The Mastering Lab. The trio also performed a remastering of The Red Shoes from the original analogue back-up copies of the master recording. For the Pink Floyd reissue campaign entitled Why Pink Floyd...? the entire back catalog of the band has been remastered by Guthrie for release in a variety of deluxe editions and box sets. In conjunction with the campaign was the release of his 5.1 mix and mastering of Wish You Were Here for SACD by independent audiophile distributor Acoustic Sounds. 2012 would see Guthrie returning to producing with The Dreamer's Machine, the debut album by singer-songwriter James Carrington, which he co-produced and mixed.

In 2014 Guthrie was invited to be the Guest of Honor for Princeton University's Pink Floyd: Sight, Sound and Structure academic conference - which took place April 10th-14th - sponsoring a 5.1 demonstration of The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here albums and the world premiere of the Surround Sound mix of Roger Waters' 1992 release Amused to Death, as well as delivering a keynote speech on his work with Pink Floyd in addition to his insights regarding the roles of production and engineering in recorded music.[18]

Selected discography and credits (Pink Floyd and related releases)[edit]

Selected discography (as producer)[edit]

Awards[edit]

  • New Musical Express award for Best British Engineered Record ("Dancing In The City" from Marshall Hain's Free Ride), 1979.
  • Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, 1980.
  • BAFTA award for Best Film Sound, Pink Floyd—The Wall, 1983.
  • Surround Music Awards, 2003
(all for the 30th Anniversary Edition of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon in SACD/5.1 Surround Sound):
Best Multichannel Reissue
High Fidelity Review Listener’s Choice
Best of Show.
  • Guthrie would also be nominated for the Grammy for Best Surround Sound Album in 2004, for his work on the DVD-A/5.1 reissue of Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cunningham, M. "Welcome to the Machine", Sound On Stage, May 1997
  2. ^ Fitch, V. and R. Mahon. Comfortably Numb, page 135
  3. ^ Bailey, C. "Interview with Andy Jackson", floydianslip.com, January 2001
  4. ^ White, P. "Andy Jackson: Recording David Gilmour's On An Island", Sound On Sound, July 2006
  5. ^ Blake, M. Pigs Might Fly, page 374
  6. ^ Fitch and Mahon, page 35
  7. ^ Mason, N. Inside Out, page 287
  8. ^ Fitch and Mahon ibid.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Whitlock. K. "Pink Floyd – Behind The Wall", Record Collector, March 2000
  11. ^ Bailey ibid.
  12. ^ Richardson, K. "Tales from the Dark Side", Sound & Vision, May 2003
  13. ^ "Who's Using QSound Audio Technology: Recording Artists A - D". Qsound.com. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  14. ^ "Doug Sax takes us to the Dark Side", news.acousticsounds.com, March 2003
  15. ^ Danesh, A. "Interview with Jon Carin", brain-damage.co.uk, August 2007
  16. ^ Del Colliano, J. "Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon SACD", avrev.com, March 2003
  17. ^ Rowe, M. "Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon SACD", thedigitalbits.com, April 2003
  18. ^ https://pinkfloydconference.princeton.edu/schedule/

Bibliography[edit]

Books

Articles

External links[edit]