Last weekend I was listening to a fascinating radio interview, which Cerys Matthews did with engineer and producer Tony Platt – noted for his work with Bob Marley, AC/DC and a diverse range of other major artists. There were some great insights into the making of legendary recordings, including a discussion about Bob Marley and the ‘commercialisation’ of his track Stir It Up. Lots of nuggets of info from what one might expect would now be fading memories, but recalled with consummate assuredness.
I dug out some of the albums that had featured in the programme, and whilst I had this one out, I thought I’d photograph it for Tape Tardis.
What a cracker it is too. It’s the 1993 album Feels Like Rain, from blues legend Buddy Guy, on high quality chromium dioxide audio cassette. Produced by John Porter and engineered by Tony Platt, the recording is steeped in rich blues authenticity.
Buddy Guy is one of the select number of artists primarily known for his mastery of a musical instrument – in this case blues guitar – but whose brilliance as a singer outshines most of those who’ve made their name purely as vocalists. And that’s as evident as ever on this album. The enthusiastic lead guitar does command a great deal of interest, but most listeners will focus on the singing, which is a natural, spectacular centre of attention.
Special guests appearing on the recording include Bonnie Raitt, Paul Rodgers and Travis Tritt, as well as Little Feat originals Bill Payne and Richie Hayward. This mob-handed, star-turn augmentation was pretty much the done thing with albums servicing the blues revival of the early ’90s – helping to boost sales with a wide appeal, to fans of all the personalities involved.
But it also typically worked very well musically, and it certainly does here. The recording is packed tightly with quality content, and there’s never a dull moment. It’s much more like a hits compilation album than a regular studio album in its consistency. Anyone with a penchant for blues would, I’d guess, find themselves flipping this a few times in the deck before they put it away. It’s a masterpiece, from a master, surrounded by a wealth of star talent.
The cassette is on the Silvertone label, and there’s no song and dance made about the chrome tape formulation, or the noise reduction. There’s a single Dolby badge on the inlay, and the cassette features the Dolby badge plus a Chrome symbol – that’s it. It’s also true that as with most of these CrO2 pre-records, the Dolby Noise Reduction is barely needed. The tape is very quiet where it needs to be, unlike the album I played straight after it, which is a normal ferric pre-record and proved much, much more hissy.
For the photo, I’ve placed the cassette and its inlay on top of the vinyl cut of the 1991 Buddy Guy album Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues.