brian's soapbox
DECEMBER 2013

EXPERT OPINION - LETTERS

 

As always, the opinions expressed in these pages are purely and personally those of myself, Brian; they are not the official views of Queen, or of any other organisation or individual.

Reference:
- Lame Claims
- Stereo and Freeview Notes

 

COPYRIGHT NOTE:
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Cheers ! Bri
- ALSO APPLIES TO FOREIGN SITES AND TWITTER


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**Fri 20 Dec 13**
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R.I.P. DAVID RICHARDS

Sadly, today we lost a hugely talented Engineer and Producer,

David Richards,

who did a wonderful job in many of our Queen tracks.

A very sad day.

Bri

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TRIBUTE TO DAVID RICHARDS

Brian, David Richards and Roger

A sad day in Montreux and for Queen people around the world.

Today we lost a very fine rock music producer and a great friend. Very sad to say that David Richards passed away today in Switzerland - after recurrent bouts of illness.

We, as Queen, met David when we first stepped into Mountain Studios in the 1980s - and we instantly 'clicked'.  Dave was one of those people with a magic touch. Softly spoken and always absorbed in his work, David became our producer/ engineer of choice for half a dozen Queen studio albums - which is quick to say, but sums up an enormous volume of work. He had an innate talent for blending sounds - it was as if the studio was an extension of his body, so intimately in control of its workings was Mr Richards.

David saw us through the changes from Analogue to Digital recording - but everything still ended up physically on reels of tape in those days. David was particularly adept at manipulating tape, synching up more than one multitrack at a time so we could effectively work on an unlimited number of parallel instrument tracks in any one song at a time. With us he pioneered the use of 'slave' reels which were used to store material which was to be needed later, freeing up the ‘master’.  In those days prior to the now all-pervasive hard disc and Protools technology, David used an early programming technique to make rhythmic loops from drums and sometimes bass, which he had an uncanny knack of combining with already recorded backing tracks, giving them a distinctive 'easy' feel.

While we were out on our various tours, David worked successfully in Mountain Studios with other artists - notably David Bowie, Chris Rea and Iggy Pop ... Always at max quality.

David was our lynch-pin during all those final days when we knew Freddie was near the end. When, months later, we got close to assembling the final versions of all those precious fragments into the tracks which made up the ‘Made in Heaven’ album, most of which we'd worked in Roger's and my own studios in England, we once again returned to Montreux and David.  Together we tied up every loose end, polished and fine-tuned the mixes.  

One of my favourite moments with him was the creation of "Track 13" for that album. David and I lit up joss sticks and candles in the control room, powered up every machine in the building, and sat 'painting pictures’ with synthesisers and samplers against a slowly changing backdrop of drones - for the whole night - something like 8 hours, by the time it had evolved.  Roger wafted in, enjoyed the vibe, and played a 'solo' half way through, and wafted out.  Then somehow we got to a place where it seemed like the music had taken us all the way through some kind of worm-hole and out the other side. In the refreshing emergence we thought we could hear Freddie laughing - still not sure where that particular sample came from, but we left it in ... it's all mixed in with echoes of classical themes - the music seemed to have a life of its own. And - no - we didn't take any drugs !!! 

Well, dear David ... We will miss you badly.  But I’m happy that we saw you one more time just a few days ago at the opening of the Queen Studio Experience.  I'm happy that, in my small speech, I remembered to say that one of the greatest reasons for always coming back to Montreux was David Richards.  And I'm happy you said afterwards, "I'm one of the luckiest men on the planet, to have shared all those times with you guys". 

I would add, "And one of the most talented". 

Rest in Peace, David. Our recorded music will carry a testament to your great work forever. 

 

Bri

 

David Ricahrds - Stereo

David Richards, Engineer/Producer to QUEEN.

Bri

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**Fri 20 Dec 13**
MIXING DESK
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Replying to a question - SEE LETTERS

In Montreux, in the Queen Studio Experience, It's a classic Neve desk, Ian, with Flying Faders. I will ask Justin to give some more details, if he has a minute.

As regards 'the sound', really everything has an effect. Certainly, even used 'flat', a mixing desk of this kind has its own characteristics. But when the EQ (equalisation, or sound spectrum modification) controls are brought into play, the differences in sound between desks become large.

The old analogue mutitrack recording machines had differing effects on the signal, too, but more down to what they LOST - and, to my ears, subtle effects, unless they were wrongly set up.

But the greatest influences on sound are the room, the microphones and how they are deployed, the way people actually play or sing, and the way the engineer and producer choose to operate the gear.

Again, Justin may want to add something here.

All the best.

Brian

Expert comments ! From: Justin Shirley-Smith

The console at Mountain Studios was a 1975 vintage Neve 8048. The Studio Experience exhibition features a specially created faithful and full-scale representation of that desk. The main surface of this is a 2D printed image formed from over 300 separate photographs of the original Neve modules. The frame and trim were constructed with reference to the original 1974 Neve drawings. This replica console was the work of the brilliant Nigel Knight and his talented team at RMA Ltd in UK. The original Neve console is now owned by Svenska Grammofonstudion of Gothenburg in Sweden, who kindly allowed it to be photographed by Andrew Guyton for this use.

The original desk was updated in the late 1980's with Neve 'Necam' moving faders but the image in the exhibition shows the original 1975 manual faders … and in the spot where originally there were sixteen red group faders, we have put some real red faders so anyone can mix a Queen song there once more.

As Brian says, every piece of equipment has an effect of some kind. The only points I would add are that the old Neve was of the very highest quality available in its day and, even now, this type of desk is globally sought-after particularly for it's microphone amplifiers which many people love … including the happy owners in Sweden!


Best wishes

Justin

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**Wed 18 Dec 13**
MRI TWO TORN DISCS
- AND GREAT GEMINIDS PICTURE

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My MRI says I have two torn discs, pressing on a nerve. Well, at least I know I wasn't imagining the pain now ! Thanks for your concern.

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Now that's what I CALL a great Geminids picture. Beautiful. From my favourite spot !!

Bri

Geminid  Meteors over Teide Volcano

Astronomy Picture of the Day
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131217.html
Geminid Meteors over Teide Volcano
by Juan Carlos Casado (TWAN, Earth and Stars)

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**Wed 18 Dec 13**
ANTI-FOX HUNTING POEM
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[In reply to a letter sent in with tremendous poem - see LETTERS]:

Many thanks Kathryn. Well worth putting up here. For all to see and ponder.

 

Sporting Colours

Red is for them in their showy, red jackets.
Mounting their horses with inflamed egos
And blood-stained thoughts.
I only have to think of them and I see red.
The bugle sounds,
Release the hounds.

White is their colour. 
Not pure, virgin white, but pale, deathly white.
Barks of excitement, tails wagging,
Milky, white teeth that rip life from flesh.
Their noses smell fear,
A fox is near.

Grey is for the saboteurs.
That solid, steely, grey of determination. 
Waiting patiently in neutral,
Grey shadows of bush and bark
To hinder and thwart
This bloody sport.

The fox’s colour is brown, reddish brown;
The colour of decaying blood.
Running frantically from hoof and hound,
Across acres of woodland as fast as it can…
So much for the ban!

Katherine Truepenny

Very best

Bri
X

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**Tue 17 Dec 13**
COLLIBUS CD TEASER
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Like it heavy ? And insanely deft ? Collibus CD teaser to whet your appetite !

Collibus - The False Awakening (Album Preview) - http://youtu.be/bkGY96xyP2o

Bri

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**Mon 16 Dec 13**
MRI SCAN AND WOLVES
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Got myself an MRI this morning. Could hardly walk. I hope I am as fixable as my iPhone !

Help our American friends stop slaughter of Wolves and Coyotes for 'derby' fun. Unspeakable bastards.

Help Stop "Coyote & Wolf Derby" in Salmon, Idaho

Bri

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Sun 15 Dec 13**
HAVING A BAD DAY
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I'm having a bad day. Knee pain now dwarfed by crippling pains in glutes, which I've had since Vegas iHeart. Then my iPhone died. Great.

No, my iPhone is REALLY dead - you can't even turn it off. Heading for an Apple store. Salutations to the folks at Apple Store Regent Street. Replaced my iPhone screen. Fixed ! Luke Barnes and Sharon Gitau I love you !!!

Bri

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**Sat 14 Dec 13**
FAME, BUTTONS, BADGERS, MOON LANDER
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Fame at last !

WESTERN MORNING NEWS
Call for vote on badger culling - 12 December 2013

Actually (last para): Simon Hart, Conservative MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said farmers have "been through hell", and that they were "the celebrities we should be listening" to rather than Queen guitarist Brian May.

This guy didn't have the guts to mention me by name in the debate. Luddite.

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Our Queen meeting ? Thanks for asking. We pressed two important buttons. 2014 is going to be an interesting year for us. News very soon.

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… Great Badger Inspiration. Thanks Charlie.

Charlie O'Malley Badgers at dawn - http://youtu.be/W7vKuVbPs64

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The ground-breaking 'Future of the Badger Cull' debate last week in full. As text HERE and on video HERE

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Enjoyed myself on the roof ! I Caught 4 Geminids here. You can see they all radiate from same spot, near Castorpic.

4 Geminids - Bri's roof

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Well Done the Chinese ! Lander on the Moon ! http://english.cntv.cn/live/

Bri 

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