Henry Moyer -- one-time VP of ABC Records -- told me that ABC threw out
their multitracks as a matter of policy. Steely Dan had theirs saved,
especially after the album "Katy Lied" which came out.
due to some snafu, with a dbx test tone through the whole album, a problem
that they were able to minimize, but not eliminate. Becker and Fagan refuse
to listen to this album as a result, to this day.
One interesting test case I have noted is Joe Walsh's track "Life's Been
Good," which is a staple of classic rock radio -- I'm sure you all have
heard it. It was released on MCA's FM soundtrack LP in
1978 -- so, before MCA took control of ABC, basically with a mop and a
bucket, in 1979 -- but it was recorded at ABC Records in LA, where Walsh
was under contract. There are a couple of sections
in this long song where the texture sinks down to nothing more than a
sequence from Walsh's ARP synthesizer. A few years back, this section came
over the radio with an overwhelming amount of
hiss and crackle. A little later I made note of a version where the hiss
and crackle was contained, but the synth lost all presence. Recently, I've
noted that they are playing a version which has pretty good
resolution in that section, and I guess they must have found something in
terms of a multitrack. And no, it wasn't due to my reception of the radio
stations; that hiss and crackle in the first transfer was
LOUD, actually rose out of the compression of the signal.
I'm pretty sure we'd be hearing a lot more from Three Dog Night on classic
rock radio if there were decent tapes to work from. It is not that their
music has become so dated that no one wants to hear it,
though some may argue that. While it is awe-inspiring how a label so
successful in the 1970s could -- through wasteful spending and bad
management -- be done and gone by the end of the decade, but
even more so that so little remains of their legacy in terms of
high-resolution sources. JMO.
David "Uncle Dave" Lewis
On Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 7:36 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> Hi Steven:
> Gaucho was mixed at Sigma Sound NYC. I was the summer lackey and one of my
> jobs was to clean up the "tape vault" (ie storage closet with a semi-secure
> padlocked door). I vaguely remember seeing some "Gaucho" tapes there at
> that time (summer of 1982), but it might have been rough mixes or safeties.
> I think Steely Dan and MCA were pretty tight about keeping track of their
> tapes, so it's surprising the multis went missing. A bigger problem would
> have been Donald Fagan's first solo album, which was done on the 3M Digital
> (actually a co-development of 3M and the BBC) system. I hope they were able
> to dub the multi-tracks (and the master, for that matter) before the last
> working 3M ceased working. Maybe there still is a working 3M somewhere.
> I've heard conflicting reports about Hollywood.
> But Universal had a hard time finding the multi tracks of Gaucho and Aja,
> eventually turned up after several weeks of searching.