Instrumentalist-Drums: Jimi Bott
Michael Fremer Rated 9/10 Music, 10/10 Sonics in his July 2013 reviews on www.analogplanet.com!
Audio Beat Rated 4.5/5 Music, 5/5 Sound!
Half-Speed Mastered 45rpm 180g Virgin Vinyl!
Pressed at Quality Record Pressings!
Reference Recordings is back in the swing of things! Creating LPs that is.
For many years, RR has been searching the world over for the best possible vinyl mastering, plating and pressing facilities so they could re-enter the LP market. They now have a production chain that allow them to produce LPs to meet their high standards and satisfy their customers' demands, who have been waiting for these LPs for a long time!
Assembling the Team
Disc mastering is done at half-speed to insure maximum accuracy. The lathe system has custom electronics by Nelson Pass. The simple signal path contains no compression, equalization or unnecessary circuitry. RR Chief Engineer and Technical Director, "Prof." Keith Johnson consulted on the design of the system and helped with the rebuilding of the lathe and electronics, which is owned and operated by long-time mastering expert Paul Stubblebine. "Prof." Johnson has pronounced it equal to the challenge of our master tapes!
Once successful results were achieved in disc mastering, Reference Recordings faced the difficult task of choosing the best plating and pressing facility to manufacture the discs. Fortunately, the new Quality Record Pressings plant in Salina, Kansas was coming on line, and they felt that waiting for this plant to open was well worth it. A crack team of experts was assembled to design and run the plant, employing many unique techniques and features that clearly set QRP apart from all other pressing plants. The 180-gram deluxe vinyl pressings from QRP are truly exceptional.
Multiple Configurations for Reference Mastercuts
Depending on program lengths, some releases are cut at 45 rpm, some at 33-1/3 rpm. Some are single discs, some double. All feature deluxe gate-fold jackets crafted by Stoughton Printing . An unusual feature of new RR masterings is called the "FDS finish": the end of each side will have a 30-second band of silent grooves before the "pull-away." No one today uses a record changer, and the silent grooves allow time to lift the arm before the always-somewhat-noisy tie-off. (Some 1950s vintage Capitol Full Dimensional Sound pressings sported this feature.) RR founder, J. Tamblyn (Tam) Henderson deserves special recognition for identifying the value of this unique production feature and reintroducing it with the new Mastercuts.
Note: Half-speed Mastering involves a capturing process in which the original recording master is played back at exactly half of the recorded speed. A sequenced cutting lathe is then timed at exactly half of the playback speed. This process allows twice as much time to carve a groove that accurately represents the sound on the master tape. Half-speed mastering allows for cleaner reproduction and also permits extended high frequency response, extending into the ultrasonic region.
'Prof.' Keith Johnson's First Blues Recording! 13 new MacLeod originals highlight this richly detailed recording, done at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, CA. by Reference Recording's Grammy® winning engineer.
Produced by Doug MacLeod and Janice Mancuso the 13 tracks on "There's A Time" showcase his soulful vocals and trademark guitar sound backed by Denny Croy on bass and Jimi Bott, one of the most recorded, awarded and respected blues drummers in the world.
Doug says: "Making this album was different than any other one I've done in the past," recalls MacLeod about the sessions. "They put Jimi, Denny and me on this huge soundstage at Skywalker Sound in Marin County and we sat around in a circle where we could see each other. We played live, no overdubs, just three guys playing some music together."
"Simply put, Jimi and Denny are two of the finest musicians I have ever had the pleasure to make music with. I've been known to change arrangements on the spot: add a bar here, take away a bar there. I go with the feeling of the moment. Both Jimi and Denny have this uncanny ability to follow that - even under what could have been pressure circumstances for other musicians."
A perennial Blues Music Award nominee, MacLeod has been nominated for Acoustic Artist of the Year. (Drummer Jimi Bott is also a BMA nominee).
Doug is a throwback musicians in the great tradition of the traveling bluesman from the genre's classic era, having apprenticed with some of the best as a sideman with such legends as Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Big Mama Thornton and George "Harmonica" Smith. During that time, he developed his unique, unorthodox and powerfully rhythmic acoustic guitar style, which he puts to great use on "There's A Time" playing on a variety of guitars with such pet names as "Moon" (a National M-1 Tricone), "Little Bit (a Gibson C-100 FE) and "Owl" (a National Style "O"), plus a National El Trovador 12-String.
The other element of Doug's style is his remarkable ability as a storyteller, another trademark of the classic itinerant blues musician. Listening to the songs on There's A Time is like attending a master class on storytelling, as MacLeod weaves tales that are visceral, insightful and often humorous.
Like the old masters who taught him, MacLeod's songs are based primarily on his own life and experiences, instilled with the spirit one particular influential bluesman once told him: "Never play a note you don't believe, and never write or sing about what you don't know".
In a career that spans over 30 years, Doug's songs have been covered by such artists as Albert King, Albert Collins, Joe Louis walker, and Eva Cassidy. Two of his songs were on Grammy-nominated albums by King and Collins. He's co-written tunes with Dave Alvin and Coco Montoya, and his songs have been featured in many TV movies, as well as the hit TV series "In The Heat of the Night".
"It's simple music, performed with love...What a performance it is too, haunting and powerful, with dynamics that emphasize the drama in the stories of the songs. Its unrushed, unhurried nature lets it sit like a warm blanket wrapping you in the imagery it calls to mind...The songs are not hidden, the playing is not either and everyone is on top form, something special is going on here and as a listener you feel part of the magic...Part of the magic is down to the quality of the sound...the sound has real presence and a sense of space, it has punch and power aplenty...This is as near to a faultless disc as I have heard in a long time. From Dougs high-toned voice that calls to mind Robert Johnson, to the choice of the right instrument for the song, to the attention to detail in the recording, every care has been taken to make sure that this is the best album it could be. Its alive, honest and moving and as a blues fan I can ask for nothing more." - Ian McHugh, UKjazzradio.com host
"There's A Time is his moment. Recorded live with no overdubs at George Lucas' Skywalker Sound, this intimate audiophile quality recording (with bassist Denny Croy and drummer Jim Bott) is a mostly laidback affair that finds MacLeod imparting a timeless quality to a baker's dozen originals. His expressive vocals are almost Skip James wistful. On guitar, he strums and slides through an apocrypha of alternative tunings played on a rich cache of classic six- and twelve-string acoustics. This master storyteller has a knack for exploring the space between the notes, delivering quiet, thoughtful asides and blues sermons, sometimes saturated in Jack and Coke or steeped in the swampy mysticism of the Delta blues tradition. Fans of John Hammond Jr., Chris Thomas King, and Eric Bibb take note." - Greg Cahill, The Absolute Sound, May/June 2013, Music 4/5, Sonics, 4.5/5
"[A]s if great music alone were not quite enough, the quality of the sound is equally impressive... This is the first blues release by Reference Recordings, and its quite an accomplishment for a freshman effort. Ive heard most of Reference Recordings' LPs over the years, and for my money this is the best-sounding yet. Forget the ones on your personal list; Ill wager that you will find the sound of this new release to be even better. Its just MacLeod solo on one of several guitars, with bass and drum accompaniment on a few tracks. The background is dead silent, allowing you to hear every low-level sound. The foldout cover describes and provides pictures of the Gibson and National guitars MacLeod plays, and they are so well captured that I found myself listening over and over again just to soak up the individual character of each instrument." - Dennis Davis, theaudiobeat.com, Music 4.5/5, Sound 5/5
Click Here to read the entire review!
"Recording engineer Keith O. Johnson, best known for the spacious, wide sound stages and thunderous dynamics found on References classical music recordings, shows here that he can capture the enormous Skywalker space without losing the players in a watery reverb grave. Yes, you'll see and feel the vast space referenced in the room's reverb but the images are stable and sufficiently intimate to sound close by. Johnson is well known for capturing an orchestra's lower registers. Here he perfectly gets the string pluck and body of Croy's 1948 Kay double bass as well as the punch of Bott's kick drum. The bottom end of this recording is positively awesome. If it sounds muddy, blame your system not Johnson's recording." - Michael Fremer, analogplanet.com, Music 9/10, Sound 10/10
180g Virgin Vinyl
Half-speed Mastered by Paul Stubblebine
Pressed at Quality Record Pressings
Deluxe Stoughton gatefold jacket
Doug MacLeod, guitar, vocals
Denny Croy, bass
Jimi Bott, drums
LP1 - Side 1:
1. Rosa Lee
2. Black Nights
3. The Up Song
LP1 - Side 2:
2. My Inlaws Are Outlaws
3. The Entitled Few
LP2 - Side 3:
1. A Ticket Out
2. Run With The Devil
3. St. Elmo's Rooms and Pool
4. I'll Be Walking On
LP2 - Side 4:
1. East Carolina Woman
2. The Night of The Devil's Road
3. Dubb's Talking Religion Blues
Recorded May 23-24, 2012 at Skywalker Sound, Martin County, California.
Recording & Mastering Engineer: Keith O. Johnson