I had an analog studio until about 1998. My tape machine, a Teac 80-8, had about 25 years and tens of thousands of hours on it and was becoming dangerously unstable.
Providence smiled on me and at the moment I began to despair at the lack of money I had to replace the tape machine, Digital workstations were becoming affordable to those who could figure out how to make the way out on the edge gear work. I was and did convert to digital and continued writing and recording. The Teac didn’t come out of storage for ten years after I went digital. I decided to sell the Teac before it became of no more use than a boat anchor with VU meters. Before selling it–a distinct point of no return– I decided to digitize whatever seemed worth keeping. The Ringos’ Under The Double Eagle sessions were all I decided worthy from the dozens of reels of tape I had stored.
There were problems with the transfers but digital editing allowed me to fix all the damage to the tapes and problems with the transfers. Once that was done, I had an interesting project ahead of me I figured would take a few months to finish. After I had the edits made to patch all the tape fubars, I started hearing things I’d always hated and decided to fix those. Then I had to come up with a basic sound design I could live with. At this point, I’m six months into the project and can’t see the end. I found this project to be consuming all my creative energy despite there being no particular reason to do it in the first place. It isn’t as though The Ringos have a nation of fans waiting for this or anything else. But like any worthy adversary, this project demanded I see it through.
By the time the project began to take shape, I realized there was something quite different than a mere remix coming out of the sessions. One song was missing completely and three others–unfinished from the original sessions–were now complete. Eventually, I discovered I had used alternate takes of songs instead of the originals. I figured out that the project had become something different if not all together new from the original 1991 release. I was ok with this idea. It was my project and I had to please nobody but me.
More iterations followed. Hundreds of mixes were completed only to be scrapped. At the 18 month mark, I began to feel this twenty year old project hang on me like God’s own millstone. New projects were going unrecorded. Older ones were left fallow. The question of why do it at all nagged at me? I suppose it seemed unfinished despite the release from 1991.
Almost as soon as we finished it, I stopped being happy with the original release. Despite being satisfied with the performances, the energy, and the production, the mixes were weird. It was what we wanted at the time but they sounded dated and stupid as soon as we finished them. I made mistakes in both the sound design and execution of it on the original mixes. We got what we were after–a huge overblown ’80s ROCK SOUND with some nasty digital and analog noise thrown in for good measure
Why did everybody think all those digital effects boxes made every guitar player sound like the second coming of Hendrix, Hank, and Jesus rolled into one? Why did we all think that replacing real drums with grainy samples saturated with white noise reverb patches made every drummer sound like John Bonham. I don’t know. Why do so many recordings from the ’70s sound so great to me now and so boring to me then?
Regardless of the shortcomings, we finished. We not only finished it, we packaged, distributed, promoted, toured on it, and actually sold about 1000 copies.
I don’t know that this turned out “better” than the first go around but it is finished again and that’s it.
That is the whole of my explanation. This is the stuff one must carry around in order to do whatever one has to do. It is also everything else besides that.
It is finished. Onward.