Right after the recording of Fred McDowell at the Village Gaslight I just put the mono tape on the machine at WKCR and played it straight through right on the air. No edits, no nothing, I probably hadn’t even listened to it, since I knew nothing of the country blues anyway. It was more than half a year later when Tom and I cooked up the idea of starting Oblivion Records and making Live in New York our first release.
One session I’d engineered for avant-gardist Gunter Hampel had made it to album, but, other than handing the tapes over, I had nothing to do with it. So when we arranged for manufacturing Oblivion’s first LP with the Viewlex Corporation in Happaugue, New York (for a minute, the corporate owner of Buddah Records) down expressway from our Long Island homes, I had no idea what was needed. It turned out to be OK since Viewlex pressings we reso crummy it didn’t particular matter (the whole package of 2000 LPs, color covers and all, came to $1800).
I wasn’t so great as an engineer, but with practice I’d become a killer audio tape editor. Back in the day that meant actually cutting 1/4” magnetic tape with a razor blade and putting it together with some specialized sticky tape. Tom had reviewed the tapes with his usual incredible attention to detail and we settled into Studio A at WKCR to make a master tape of the LP.
I don’t think we were so stupid not to make a dub of the master and edit from there (my memory’s too hazy, and the original tapes are lost somewhere in the possession of Tom’s widow). But we started in on the first track, determined to make each side of the LP sound like a continuous live performance. In a fourteen hour marathon I think we partially succeeded. Some of the edits are a bit iffy, but all in all I think we pulled it off.
Later, Tom decided our first track, “Shake ‘Em On Down,” wasn’t strong enough, and insisted we edit in a two guitar version we recorded at the uptown radio station studio in WKCR. I wasn’t astute enough yet about the music to argue, and cut it in. I’m not sure it sounds live, but we never got a complaint. Here’s the original live track, you be the judge.0 comments Tagged: Live in New York, Mississippi Fred McDowell, OD-1, recording, WKCR,.