Andy Johns – RIP

What a dreadful week it’s been. Ramone, Ebert and now Andy Johns.

What can you say about a man who tracked and co-produced Marquee Moon? About a guy who engineered Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street? Led Zeppelin II, III, IV, Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti?

Well, he had the pleasure to record some great players and he rewarded them with great sounds (great drum sounds especially). He shepherded some crazy musicians through their craziest periods, while being far from abstemious himself. But I’m inclined to remain sceptical about some of the wilder claims made of Andy Johns – you don’t end up with that man’s discography if you don’t remain at least functioning. He could make you feel like you were in the room with the band – that’s a cliche and an overused phrase, but that really was his and his brother Glyn Johns’ defining trick: they could defy the laws of space and time to put you in the same space as the artist while they recorded, while appearing to do nothing more than place mics and move faders. Andy Johns worked the mixing console like it was the TARDIS.

The man’s recording and mixing philosophies pretty much define the old-school approach: get the sound in the room, make sure the part’s right, mix as you go along, don’t mix instruments in solo. His work speaks for itself. Put Rocks Off from Exile on and turn it up. Instant adrenaline rush. Nothing else like it. Whatever your favourite Andy Johns record is (even if it’s a damn Clapton record), blast it today. Really blast it. Send the man on his way.



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