A Note From James Winn ’68 on the Remastered LPs

By July 16, 2016 Uncategorized 10 Comments

My Comrades:

I have been working on this project since shortly after the 50th anniversary of the group in 2009, and in the process, I have learned a lot about audio editing, and have twice upgraded my software and hardware. I’ve had help from Music Directors Greenstein, Bassett, Cilley, Baker, Merritt, Parsonett, Fuhrer, Worthington, and Smith, and for three of the albums, I partnered with Larry Walker ’70, who did the mastering after I had done the editing.

Here is a brief summary of my editing practices, album by album. In all cases, the folder containing the edited tracks also has a Word file giving details of the editing process.

Saturday Night Concert (1961). The original mono recording was made live at a high school on Long Island. I’ve cleaned up the sound as much as possible, rechanneled to stereo, and used eq and reverb to give the group a more transparent and present sound. For more details see “Some notes on the editing of Saturday Night Concert” in the download folder for that album.

The “Girl” Album (1963). Absent from the discography on the old Footnote website, this album is notable for some fine solo singing by Joel Rosenman ’63 and Dave Smith ’65. It was made on one microphone, and not all of the soloists got close enough to the microphone to create ideal balance. Still, I have been able to make notable improvements in the sound, within the limits imposed by the original. Again, details are available in the download folder.

The “Blue” Album  (1964). In remastering this album, I was helped immeasurably by receiving two near-mint copies of the LP from Kendall Blake ’67. It features an excellent group, very badly and cheaply recorded, with boomy, diffuse bass covering everything else, and a lot of flatting (presumably the result of not having the time or money to make alternate takes). Remastering this album, which I first purchased in the fall of my own Freshman year, has been a labor of love, with the emphasis on labor. I hope members of this group will finally hear something more like their actual sound.

The “Grove” Album (1967). This was the first Footnote album recorded in stereo, using excellent microphones, and with time for many takes. In the current project, it was the first album I attempted to edit, and I learned a lot from doing it. I have since received much better source LPs than the ones I first used, and used that better source to re-edit eight of the tracks.

Another Summer Gone (1969). A superb group, recorded at Capital Studios in New York. I was very fortunate to have a pristine reel-to-reel tape, miraculously preserved by Larry Walker ’70, as a source, and this was the first album on which I had help from Larry at the mastering stage.

Spun of Gold (1971). An album recorded over several years, with three different music directors, many personnel changes, and at least two different recording studios. I edited it, in some cases heavily, and Larry magically mastered it to produce a somewhat more unified sound.

Eight to the Bar (1976). Like its predecessor, an album made at various times and places. Again, Larry’s mastering was a great help, especially in rescuing “Lady of the Island” from a fog of reverb.

Best Foot Forward (1980). An uneven album, with some tracks needing nothing at all from me, and others requiring heavy editing. All copies appear to have some pressing flaws, which I have been able to correct in part with two kinds of anti-noise software. I was hoping Larry would master it, but as a result of his brain surgery, he was not able to carry on with that part of the project. So the mastering here is mine as well.

On the Road (1983). The best-sounding LP since Another Summer Gone, with a fine group producing a very spacious and satisfying sound. Lightly edited for the most part.

Out Cattin’ (1986). Chip Smith created WAV files for this album himself, and did not want additional edits, so this appears only in its “original” version. A fine group, decently recorded.

Something’s Afoot (1988). This LP, the last Footnote recording before the CD era, is almost as elusive as the “Girl” Album. Chip Smith dug a safety cassette out of his garage, which proved to be a better source than any surviving LP copy. Only two tracks—“I May be Wrong,” and “Long Ago and Far Away”— have been edited; the rest are identical in the two versions.

Finally, as a way of introducing my fellow Footnotes to the riches of this archive, I have put together a two-CD set called Best of the LP Era. The first CD, “The Footnote Tradition,” includes songs that have been in our repertoire for decades; it will surprise no one that it includes nine arrangements by Michael Greenstein ’65. In choosing from numerous recorded performances of these and other perennial Footnote favorites, I’ve asked Mike and the other arrangers to choose the performances they believe are closest to their intentions. This disk should help Footnotes young and old brush up on “core repertoire” in preparation for reunions; it may also usefully remind us all of how some of these songs were originally performed. The tracks are presented in chronological order, beginning with four arrangements by Steve Teich ’62, the first Footnote music director, and ending with an arrangement by Demetri Copounas ’87.

The second CD, “The Innovative Footnotes,” features songs that were recorded only once during the LP era. With the possible exception of George Bassett, I believe every Footnote listening to this CD will hear something he has not heard before. The Footnotes have always been eager to learn and record new repertoire, and several of the LPs in the archive draw on brand-new material for more than half their selections. Many of these new songs did not remain in the standard repertoire, but most of them are preserved in the Footnote arrangement book. This disk will remind us all of how fortunate the group has been in having creative arrangers willing to push their groups to master new musical challenges, and I hope that present and future groups will consider reviving some of these songs.

If you hear anything that you think might be improved, don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.

All life’s joys (now including listening to these recordings),

James Winn ’68

winnjama@bu.edu

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