Q – I was wondering if you could fill us in on how you put a compilation like this together. When you have selected the tracks they are off to Germany to be produced. How is this done? Is it with courier as a master disk? Sent electronically? Who does the final mastering and do you get to hear this master before it is available to be shipped?
A – The last few years have prepared me for this type of thing, although never for a project of this size. Making The Collection I spoke with the mastering Engineer in London by phone and we chose a song which we thought was the best sonic yardstick to try to match the rest of the tracks to – My Bag – Bob Ludwig’s mastering of this track was excellent. So any tracks which sounded much brighter than this one would be softened and others which were duller would be brightened. Similar adjustments would be made to tracks which seemed relatively uncompressed. There is nothing you can do to ‘uncompress’ a track which is overly compressed. I just hope I don’t have too many. Then a CD was sent to me to audition. That one we got right first time. For Music in a Foreign Language I was in London for the mastering and then a CD was sent to me. I wasn’t happy with a couple of songs so they were redone. So long as we have a couple of weeks for this process we should be fine.
For ‘Ashtrays’ we will have to be less picky as most of these songs were never collected before in groups of more than 3 or 4. Still, the protocol will be the same, I’ll choose yardstick tracks for each CD, I’ll make suggestions for individual tracks, gaps between tracks, relative volume, etc and the German Engineer will send me Cds to audition.
The actual files to make the CDs from will come mostly from the existing CDs – this is not a remastering project. The other files come from my own archives. A decision was made to only include songs mixed for release, and this has meant that most of the tracks were at least in DAT form (although old DATs can become corrupted). So far only 2 tracks are from cassette and 2 from mp3, the rest are from DAT, CD or production CD. If we do the ‘demos, etc’ collection, it will have to be much more of a Lo Fi thing.
The files from my archives have been uploaded to the Tapete website and then downloaded into Germany. Tapete also had to buy a few CD singles which I didn’t have!
I’ve just completed a filemaker database of the 54 songs with catalogue numbers, songwriting, production and mixing credits. Sound file source is also noted.
Next I have to come up with a running order and then sleeve notes. Then to the Dublin recordings…