In My Next Life …

In my next life, I want to be Al Schmitt. I didn’t know this until I read his obituary today. Schmitt, who passed away on April 26th at age 91, won more Grammys than any other recording engineer and producer – 20 – across six consecutive decades. He worked with Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Jefferson Airplane, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Steely Dan, Bob Dylan, and the list goes on.

Five of Schmitt’s Grammys came in 2004 for his work on Ray Charles’ Genius Loves Company, which won nine award that year, including Album of the Year. The album featured collaborations with many artists, hence the title. The duet with Norah Jones, reprising an early Charles hit, “Here We Go Again”, won Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (that’s Billy Preston playing the Hammond B3). The duet with Gladys Knight, “Heaven Help Us All”, won Best Gospel Performance. That song was first recorded by Stevie Wonder.

Schmitt collaborated with another studio engineering legend, Roger Nichols, on Steely Dan’s album Aja, a masterpiece of recording. Schmitt mixed one of the album’s hits, “Deacon Blues”. At the same sessions Schmitt and Nichols worked on the song “FM (No Static at All)”, the title theme and only original song on the soundtrack of the movie FM. The work on Aja and “FM” won Schmitt two of his Grammys.mi

“I cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long”

Perhaps Schmitt’s most moving piece of engineering was the “duet” of “Unforgettable” between Natalie Cole and her late father. Schmitt mixed the vocal track from Nat King Cole’s 1951 version of the song with Natalie’s 1991 performance. Apparently, some of the musician’s in the studio for the 1991 session had played on the original, too.

YouTube Just Got Even Better with Music Vault

Yesterday, Music Vault began the process of uploading thousands of concert videos to YouTube.  Search for “Music Vault” on YouTube to see a link to the new channel. Thank you Bill Sagan!

[ Dear Readers, we’ve noticed that three of the links on this post have gone dead.  In fact, for reasons unknown to us, it is hard to search the offerings of the Music Vault channel on YouTube.  We’ll update you if we figure out why.  In the meantime, while the Music Vault channel is still worth checking out, it is hard to search.  HarryDJ ]

Music Vault, which has its own website that launched only a couple of months ago, is part of Sagan’s on-line music empire that includes the subscription concert audio archives of Concert Vault, rock & roll memorabilia website Wolfgang’s Vault, indie music site Daytrotter, and on-line publication Paste Magazine. Learn a bit more about how Sagan got started in our earlier post.

While the Music Vault collection is heavy on classic rock, it also includes new music and fabulous jazz performances. Here is a sample to whet your appetite.

Ray Charles covering Paul Simon.

U2 covering Bob Dylan.

Louie Armstrong performing a song he recorded in 1949 that Fats Domino would later cover.

And it doesn’t get any more indie than Rubblebucket (get past her funny hat, this is a pretty interesting band)!