May 2nd, 2010

Around 1987, not long after I built The Workshop (my little recording studio in North Hollywood), I was contacted by a songwriter named Craig Russell who wanted to record five of his newest tunes; all rough sketches when he first brought them in. What Craig expected was an engineer. What he got was an engineer/producer/collaborator who was also the rest of the band. Craig and I got along great and had a lot of fun with these songs. So much so that a year later he came in again to record six more.

We recorded the tracks at my studio, as well as Bob Worster’s 2 inch, 16 track joint in the Valley, and did the mixes at my studio and at Chick Corea’s place in Silverlake called Mad Hatter (They had an amazing Neve console!). We mastered with Eddie King (Bruce Hornby’s engineer) at King Sound. Below are all eleven of those tracks.

Details: There were no more than 4 musicians on these tracks at any given time, but mostly it was just Craig on acoustic guitar and vocals, and me on everything else. For about half of the tracks we brought in Dave Meros to play bass, and Skip Edwards played keyboards (mostly Hammond) on about 8 or 9 of them.

Personnel and individual song details are listed with each track (Hope I got them all right!). The ultra-curious will find more details after the last song (like equipment, etc.)

It should be noted that the Craig Russel project was about the last thing ever recorded in The Workshop. My wife and I were in the process of getting a divorce in which the house and all the studio gear had to be sold. None of it was my choice, but a lot of it was my fault, which made the loss all the more devastating, and when The Workshop died, so did an important part of me. For the next 12 years I didn’t write a single song.

“Equal Ground”


(1989. Craig Russell, Skip Adams, Dave Meros and Skip Edwards. Recorded and mixed at The Workshop)

“Walk Like A Man”


(1989. Craig Russell, Skip Adams, Dave Meros, Skip Edwards. Basic tracks recorded at Bob Worster’s place. Overdubs recorded at Bob’s and at The Workshop. Mixed at Mad Hatter)

“Things We Do and Say”


(1989. Craig Russell, Skip Adams, Dave Meros. Basic tracks recorded at Bob Worster’s place. Overdubs recorded at Bob’s and at The Workshop. Mixed at Mad Hatter)

“Jewel In Your Crown”


(1989. Craig Russell, Skip Adams, Dave Meros, Skip Edward. Can’t remember the conga players name. Recorded and mixed at The Workshop)

“Here Today”


(1989. Craig Russell, Skip Adams, Dave Meros. Basic tracks recorded at Bob Worster’s place. Overdubs recorded at Bob’s and at The Workshop. Mixed at Mad Hatter)

“No Kiss Goodbye/ Pray For Love”


(1989. Craig Russell, Skip Adams, Skip Edwards. Recorded and mixed at The Workshop. Note: The beginning of the original “No Kiss Goodbye” master was damaged. What you hear is all there is. Also, in case you don’t notice it, this track is actually two songs that were made to “cross over” during mastering.

“Another Thing Coming”


(1987. Craig Russell, Skip Adams, Skip Edwards. Recorded and mixed at The Workshop)

“Lead Or Follow”


(1987 Craig Russell and Skip Adams. yes, that’s my plunking on the piano and organ, too. Amazing what you can do with midi! Recorded and mixed at The Workshop)

“The Naked Truth”


(1987 Craig Russell and Skip Adams. Recorded and mixed at The Workshop)

“Too Many People”


(1987 Craig Russell and Skip Adams. Recorded and mixed at The Workshop)

“Way Back When”


(1987 Craig Russell, Skip Adams and Skip Edwards. Recorded and mixed at The Workshop)

Equipment Details:

The Workshop: Fostex 16 track recorder with Dolby C (15/30ips), Otari 2 track recorder, Allen & Heath 24 input/8 buss console, 2 Neuman U87 tube mics (and an assortment of lesser mics), Urei 1176 compressor, a homemade mic pre using a vintage API 312 circuit, and a couple of Lexicon reverbs and delay units.

Guitar: All the electric guitar parts were recorded using an Ibanez Pro-line with Ultrasonic pickups through a dual signal path. The first went through a Cry Baby wah-wah, a Boss OD2 and a Tube King overdrive pedal into a 1959 Tonemaster amp (one 8 inch Jensen speaker, one power tube and one preamp tube delivering 10 watts. The amp only has one knob; volume) miked with a close Shure SM57 and a U87 room mic. The second path went through a Korg A1 (guitar processing unit) and a rack mounted SansAmp straight into the console. Both mics and the processors made up three recorded channels. The signals were then mixed to taste.

Other gear included the Steinberg Pro24 DAW for recording and editing midi, a Roland S-50 sampling keyboard, a Fender Precision Bass, and various synthesizer modules. One thing to note is that the drums for the 1987 sessions were programmed on an 8bit Korg drum machine, and the 1989 session were split between an Alesis SR16 drum machine and various samples on the Roland keyboard triggered using the Steinberg DAW.

Autotune and/or micro-editing? Ha! Dream on ’cause it didn’t exist.

There ya go! More than you really needed to know :)

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3 Responses to “chp 29: The Craig Russell Project”

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  2. Dave Merps says:

    Hi Skip! Long time no see. Hope you’ve been great.

    I came across this blog via Google Alerts. Very cool. I forgot about that project until I played a couple of the samples you have above and then it was “OH YEAH”. ;-) That stuff sounds cooler now than it did then, because, well, the 80s kinda sucked with all the glam bands, cheesy synth stuff, etc.

    The songs from that project still sound really fresh and withstood the test of time well.

    Very cool. . .I still have the cassette of that, I just dug it out. ;-)

    Would you happen to have a cleaner version of that stuff that I could get? (CD, mp3, whatever).

    I see a couple other ones up there that I remember, too. Man, time flies. . .

    Thanks! Dave

    • blumuze says:

      Hey Dave! I had no idea how to get in touch with you until now. Amazing. Yes, I’ll send you a copy of the wav files, or would you prefer CD audio?