Friday, April 07, 2006

Q : When is a Studio a Workshop?

A : When it's an LP by Chet Aktins. Stopped by Half Price Books today & picked up some vinyl by The Faces, Hendrix, Bryan Ferry, David Essex (in Quad) and this gem by Chet Atkins. It's part of the RCA Living Stereo series & has a "Miracle Surface." Turns out from the sleeve notes (which track Chet's early career) that the album tracks were recorded at a studio then Chet retired to his "workshop" to finish the album on his own. Apparently his rig includes a 3-track recorder, a single-track recorder, a jack panel, a voltmeter, a signal generator & a distortion meter, some constructed by Mr. Atkins himself. I also spotted a scope, a speaker cabinet & some homebrew rack gear. A head demag'er is lying dangerously close to the recorder mind you.

So how does Chet's workshop sound? Nice, full & well rounded. Good detail in the bass and a surprisingly fat sound considering it was recorded in 1961. A recording to be proud of. The guitar work is impeccable of course.

The only theory I can espouse for the Workshop title is that, reading between Pulitzer journalist & author David Halberstam's sleeve notes, a Studio is a place for hire whereas a home set up would be a Workshop. For further enlightenment I contacted Halberstam's publisher to see if I can shed some more light on this.

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