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A close pal of mine, Paul Mex, booked a session for me to master an album called Thing From The Crypt and asked if the band could also attend the session. I saw no reason to say no but when they arrived they brought with them the album tapes of a compilation with each track having been laid down by different artists, using different recording techniques and different recording facilities! Nightmare!
Some tapes were recorded at fifteen inches per second while others were at seven and a half inches per second. There must have been about 30 guys crammed into the studio, who’d also gone to the expense of hiring a small coach to bring them all the way from Watford! All of them from the different bands wanted to hear and of course, see their record being master lacquered and my dear old mate Paul had booked a two-hour session for the entire process!
I didn’t have enough time to copy each track up to the same speed, so I edited them all together onto a reel, manually slowing down or speeding up each track as it arrived! For example, I'd have to slow down the capstan motor, push up the fader and re-equalise the track ready for the next one all in the space of about three to four seconds. Believe me when I say my adrenalin was flying out of my ears as I made each transition for the entire compilation of maybe sixteen tracks.
Talk about a Monty Python sketch! The bands swapped over as one band’s track finished and the other’s was about to begin and all wanting to witness and hear as their tracks were being mastered onto the master lacquer. Now when I look back, I wonder how in hell I ever managed to get that master cut in one day.
Paul complemented me, saying how funny it was and that he’d never seen anything go so fast in all his life; me working nineteen to the dozen and concentrating like you wouldn’t believe, while the relevant bands darted around trying not to get in each other’s way and at the same time trying to get a ringside seat while their particular tack was being mastered! Basically, if I’d have made a single mistake I’d have had to start all over again from the beginning and I had no intention of that being allowed to happen.
At the end of that two-hour session my fingers ached like never before and I also felt like I’d just ran and won the London Marathon.
I’ve kept in touch with Paul over the years and we still talk and have a laugh about that day. From his point of view it was all very funny, but from mine, not so funny; being full of nerves, stress and mental exhaustion!