Janis' Diary - Part 6

Here we were, ready to mix, and I was all set to go down and lend a hand each day. Only, Jeff didn't need a hand. In the old days, there would be 24 faders and sets of knobs, controlling everything from volume to echo. When we mixed Between the Lines, it was Brooks Arthur as lead engineer/producer, Larry Alexander as second engineer, and me as the spare hands. Brooks would usually take the vocal fader(s), Larry would take the rhythm section (drums, bass, rhythm guitar), and I'd mix the rest - any other guitars, keyboards, strings etc.

Nowadays, the mixing board is automated. You do a few passes to get your levels correct (volume), then set your echoes etc, tweak it, and sit back. Of course I'm simplifying horribly - Jeff normally spends at least one day per mix, and he works the entire time. But really, there was no need of my extra hands. And one of the reasons I work with Jeff is that I love the way he hears - I love his "ears".

So we fell into a routine. Jeff would start mixing in the morning, and call me when he felt he had a rhythm going. I'd stop by the studio, listen a few times, maybe say "I'd really like more of Dugmore here" or "Harry's voice should be louder", or once in a great while "Gee, I liked it better when the high hat was on the left". Having given my input, I'd leave. When Jeff was almost completely satisfied with the final mix, I'd come back, and offer any comments. In that manner, we mixed in half the time mixing normally takes, and I had the luxury of being surprised a couple of times a day by echoes, effects, placement.

When the mixes were completely done, we moved into listening - checking the mixes against all kinds of stereo systems, from our cars to the cars of friends, store audio systems (helps to have friends at Target!), boomboxes, and whatever else we could manage). Then we began tweaking on that basis. "Marching On Glasgow" seemed quiet compared to the rest of the album, so we raised its level. Harry's voice wasn't loud enough in "Forever Young", so Jeff raised it two db.

I called Eric at Independent Mastering and set up mastering for two weeks from that date.

Maude and I met for a last time to discuss the photo choices for the booklet, and she began emailing me PDF files of layouts - should the title be between the fingers, or on the hand? - above, below? Did we like this tray card image, or the other one Lisa sent? How can we get the inside of the booklet to feel like the cover? Was I sure the credits were correct? How about the legal lines, copyrights and publishing?

Meanwhile, Tina and I began compiling the "comp" list, ta list of he people who'd receive complimentary copies from me as the artist. Tina and Karen McWhorter of Oh Boy, along with their publicist and my publicist, began compiling the "reviewers" list - magazine, newspaper, radio people who needed advance copies of the CD in the United States.

We mastered for a whole day, then took two days "off" to listen to the first "reference CD". I made a couple of changes - mostly volume and timing between the songs - then had the mastering lab run a second reference CD. I listened to that for a week, passed it around to the production team, made one more minor change, and ordered four copies for the four record companies involved. And we were done. Or so we thought.

Meanwhile, Maude brought in the retoucher to clean up some shadows and the like on a few photographs, then the entire artwork package went to be separated into film and digital format in Quark, which was the standard we'd chosen for all our master artwork discs. After proofing after proofing, I finally picked up the final discs on November 13th and brought them to John Leonardini (who'd co-produced the live CD package). John would make copies for all our affiliates worldwide on November 14th, then ship them out to make our deadline.

Except… John went to make copies and insert some legal lines, and we discovered that the lab had sent non-editable copies! I called, and they explained that it was done that way to avoid user error! No no, I explained in turn, the foreign affiliates have to be able to edit these and insert their own legal lines and logos and label information! If we had to wait, we'd miss our deadline! Fortunately, they uploaded the entire mess onto John's own server, and we were gold.

Except... that in laying them out, we discovered three more proof-reading errors, one of them critical.

John to the rescue, downloading fonts and fixing them, then making all the copies. Early the next morning, we shipped one master music disk and two master artwork disks to each affiliate, and I hand-delivered them to Oh Boy.

The album was officially finished.




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